For the third time in the last four seasons, J.J. Watt’s season has come to a premature end. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year suffered a torn pectoral muscle while making a tackle for a 6-yard loss during Sunday’s win over the Raiders. He confirmed on social media after the game that his 2019 season is over.
“This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal,” Watt said via Twitter. “Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.”
Watt played just three games in 2016 before having back surgery that kept him sidelined the rest of the year. He then broke his leg during Week 5 of the 2017 season. However, Watt returned from those injuries last year, playing in every game and finishing second in the NFL with 16 sacks. He continued to play at a high level this season, accumulating four sacks and leading the NFL with 62 pass rushes.
While the 30-year-old Watt will head back to the road to recovery, the Texans will have to find a way to replace one of their most important defensive players. Amidst injuries in their secondary, the Texans have struggled to defend the pass in recent weeks, allowing 27.5 points per game over their last four games. Issues in the secondary make the loss of a pass rusher like Watt even more damaging to Houston’s defense. Other than Watt, the only other player on the Texans with more than 2.5 sacks this year is Whitney Mercilus, who leads the team with 5.5 sacks.
“It’s the next-man-up mentality,” says Mercilus. “We’ve had injuries in the back end. Those guys have done a great job stepping up making plays for us. It just means we’ve got to double down on some efforts.”