JJ Watt has gone from Central Michigan to pizza delivery guy to Wisconsin defensive standout to first round pick in the NFL Draft. It was a long road for Watt, but he has made it to the NFL and had an enormous impact on the Texans defensive turnaround this season in just his rookie season. The Texans put together the best season in the history of the franchise and won their first playoff game. However, after beating the Bengals in the first round the Texans ran into the Ravens and came up just a little bit short of getting to the AFC Title game. Their loss to Baltimore has left a lot of people wondering what could’ve been.
The Texans were one of the most injury-riddled teams this season and it’s a testament to the front office, the coaches, and the players that they were able to overcome them enough to have the kind of success they did this season. The Texans played much of the year without their best defensive player, Mario Williams, and it was late in the season when Matt Schaub went down. As good as their defense was and as good as the running game was that was the moment that the Texans Super Bowl dreams were officially crushed. Heading into 2012 Houston will be heard from again, they are on the rise, and should be one of the favorites in the AFC.
JJ Watt joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta on Mayhem in the AM to talk about delivering pizzas before starring at Wisconsin, how that experience helped change his life, the defense for the Houston Texans this year, the defensive guys being in such great shape in Houston, what it is that makes Wade Phillips so good as a defensive mind, what he made of the fan support this season, and if he ever thinks about what could’ve been had Matt Schaub played this year.
On delivering pizzas before starring at Wisconsin:
“When I left Central Michigan I had a plan. I knew I was going to end up at Wisconsin and I couldn’t enroll until the fall so I needed to have something to fill that transition period and I worked at Pizza Hut for sixth months and went to a local college there in my hometown. Then I walked on with the Badgers and I guess the rest is history from there. It was a humbling experience, it brought me back to earth, and it was a good experience. I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t done that.”
On the Texans defense this year:
“It was great. I mean the way our guys played together, the way we played for each other, it’s awesome and obviously we had a great defensive year. Played very hard and had a big turnaround so it was good for us and can’t wait to get back to work for next year.”
How the Texans defense stayed so good in terms of conditioning:
“We work very hard at that. In season and out of season we work very hard and we’re very proud about that. Obviously that’s a good way to keep your adrenaline going all year, stay in shape, and make sure you never run out of energy so we’re going to do the same thing this offseason and go to work.”
What makes Wade Phillips such a good defensive coordinator:
“I think one of the best things he does is keep it simple. He’s very calm, he’s very confident in his defense, he never gets flustered, and he keeps his defense so that we can play fast. Once you get to this level everybody is a good football player and it just comes down to utilizing everybody to the best of their abilities. I think he does that just by making sure we don’t have to think too much out there. We just get to show off our skills and play fast.”
On the Texans fans:
“The fans are crazy, they’re better than ever, and they can’t wait. They’ve been itching for victories out here, they’ve been itching for playoffs, and now that they’ve gotten a taste of it, they want more. We can’t wait to give them more. After that Baltimore loss in the playoffs we came back and there were probably 1,000 fans waiting for us at Reliant Stadium after a loss. It was crazy.”
Whether or not he wonders what could’ve been had Matt Schaub played in the playoffs:
“No. We never second guessed it. The media does that a lot so if that’s what they think they can speculate about it but we were happy with our quarterback and we’re excited about this year.”