HOUSTON – J.J. Watt has this thing he keeps saying. He is trying to give the rest of us some idea how it feels to be on the Houston Texans’ defense right now, how it feels to be Watt The Unblockable.
“It feels like we’re little kids in the back yard,” he says.
Watt had two more sacks Sunday in the Texans’ 38-14 win over the Tennessee Titans (1-3). That gives him 7.5 through four games, which puts him on pace for 30, which makes him the early favorite for defensive player of the year honors.
As long as we’re in a tallying mood, let us also observe the Texans: Four wins, no losses, 126 points scored, 56 points allowed. They have led by at least three touchdowns at some point in every game. They scored two touchdowns on defense Sunday – interception returns by Danieal Manning and Kareem Jackson – and Watt recovered a fumble forced by Antonio Smith.
The Texans looked like they might have been the best team in the NFL in Week One, and with each passing blowout it gets more difficult to argue they are not. Even coach Gary Kubiak, who has never met a situation he couldn’t understate, catches a whiff of greatness coming off this group.
“The great teams I’ve been around, the pressure comes from within,” Kubiak said. “They’re really hard on themselves. This team knows how to push itself.”
There are some nits to pick, as there always are. Houston has not run particularly well this season. Certainly not as well as it has the last two years. Arian Foster gained just 86 yards on 24 carries Sunday, which would have qualified as an off day if it wasn’t so normal. He’s averaging just 3.7 yards per carry this season, and Kubiak can’t quite figure out why. He said Foster has been bouncing carries outside, perhaps, too much. And the Texans have a couple new starters on the offensive line. Foster’s game has always been more about vision and speed than tackle-breaking, anyway, so it may be that the Texans just aren’t going to run it as well this year.
Another nit was Houston’s run defense on Sunday. Titans running back Chris Johnson got 141 yards on 25 carries, which was his first 100-yard game since December. Kubiak, however, did not seem overly concerned.
“If we’ve got some leads and people are going to commit to running the football it’s a good thing for our team,” he said. “You have to look at how the game is going, what you’re trying to do to win, and all I know is we’re playing darn good defense.”
So that was pretty much the end of that. This is a franchise that has never been 4-0 before, and nobody on Kirby Drive is going to be dumping on that.
“You couldn’t be any better,” owner Bob McNair observed.
That’s true in more ways than one. Most people thought the Texans were the best team in the AFC South, but a lot of people also saw them as a classic faceplant threat – a young franchise coming off its first big season suddenly has to deal with the pressure of expectation. Dealing with the hype.
But Kubiak doesn’t see any of those kinds of problems ahead for this group.
“These guys have been all business,” he said. “We probably had our best practice Friday we’ve had all year long.”
To illustrate his point, Kubiak tells a little story. Saturday afternoon he had a little spare time, so he went into the Texans’ fitness facility to get in a workout. In there, he found Watt, all by himself.
“He was in there for at least an hour lifting weights,” Kubiak said. “He is special.”
Serious business. On Saturday anyway. Sundays are different.
“I’m just a kid out here having fun,” Watt said. “Playing a game.”