In the words of Yosemite Sam (you know you have an 8-year-old when you cite cartoon characters), J.J. Watt’s initials could stand for “Jumpin’ Jehosaphat!” this year.
But on Sunday against the Bengals, the overwhelming favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year didn’t have a sack, force a fumble, intercept a pass, or score a touchdown. More importantly, his team didn’t get a win.
“Losing sucks,” said Watt. “You all know how I feel about it. As an athlete, that is the worst feeling.”
“They had Watt down for seven tackles – four unassisted – and I can’t remember all of those tackles,” said my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham. “He did bat down a pass and have a quarterback hurry when he got a hit on Andy, but he did not wreck the game plan which he has done to almost every team he’s played this season.”
Cincinnati’s ability to neutralize Watt was even more remarkable when you consider that the Bengals lost the primary player assigned to block him. When Andre Smith went down with a triceps injury in the first quarter, Marshall Newhouse had to square off against #99.
“Coming off the bench and having to go up against J.J. Watt is not the easiest thing to do,” said A.J. Green. “Hats off to him today. He played well; he was ready and accepted the challenge.”
“(Watt) makes you honest on every play,” said Newhouse. “Every snap in the first, second, third, and fourth quarter. I think I did pretty well for myself. I hold myself to a high standard.”
Regardless of down or distance, running play or passing play, Newhouse frequently remained standing before the snap or, in football language, in a two-point stance.
“It was a mix (of two-point and three-point stances) and it just depended on the play and where the ball was going,” said Newhouse. “Occasionally it was to make sure I stayed back and make him make the first move.”
“I thought the technique of playing in a two-point stance quite a bit of the time impacted (Watt) a little bit,” said Lapham. “I don’t think he quite knew how to attack that. If you lunge or lean against J.J. Watt you’re playing right into his hands and they didn’t do that.”
The Bengals didn’t leave Newhouse on an island as they frequently used Jermaine Gresham and Ryan Hewitt to assist Newhouse on double-teaming Watt and also adjusted the game plan to account for J.J.’s unique strengths.
“He’s ‘Mr. All-Everything’ so it is hats off to our offense, our O-line, and Coach Hue for putting together a good game plan,” said Rey Maualuga.
“We ran a lot of plays at him, away from him; we were kind of all over the place pass blocking,” said Newhouse.
“He didn’t really have explosive plays like he normally does so kudos to our offensive line,” said Mohamed Sanu.
The bottom line is that the Bengals turned J.J. Megawatt into So Watt?
“Marshall Newhouse deserves a lot of credit, but I thought the entire offensive line really did a good job,” said Lapham. “Across the board every single one of them should take a bow.”
“He’s a fantastic player, but they have a lot of other good players and we knew that we were going to have to block all of them in order to win,” said Andrew Whitworth.
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