Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has played in only eight games over the course of his last two seasons, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he still expects Watt to be ready to go on Sunday.
“We expect every player that we play against to be at their best,” he told reporters during a conference call Monday morning. “We always expect their best performance, and we usually get that. That’s what we’ll expect from J.J.”
Watt — who underwent season-ending surgery after suffering a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg during Week 5 last year — was the league’s sack leader in 2012 and 2015. Throughout his seven-year career, he has earned first-team All-Pro honors four times and NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors three times.
“J.J’s a great player,” Belichick said. “He’s very talented. He’s got great motor and is very instinctive. He’s a very smart player, as well as one that has outstanding physical skill. So, we always expect their best and prepare for it.”
Belichick said Houston’s front seven, led by former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, is “a group of outstanding players.” Not only does he admire their depth, but Belichick also lauded their versatility in creating different schemes.
“They’re amongst the very best in the league,” Belichick said. “They have good depth, so they rotate some players through there that are maybe not quite as good as some of the other ones, but they’re still really good players.”
“One of the things the Texans do a good job of is they don’t always line up in the same place,” he continued. “So, sometimes finding them or identifying where they are is a little bit of a problem — not that you can’t find a guy, but depending on what you have called and where he’s located, then that might change what your anticipated matchup on the play is and then what it really is could be two different things. They do a good job of creating problems on that.”
Belichick was also very complimentary of Crennel, a former colleague whom he tabbed as “one of the top coaches in the game.”
“Nobody’s better than Romeo in running a defense and creating problems for the offense,” he said. “It’s just a very challenging situation for us or any team that plays them, but in this case, this week us.”
The Patriots host the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. Sunday.