Containing JJ Watt is Key for Bengals, Not Beating Him


Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) reacts after a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter of the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Bengals 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

JJ Watt is in the discussion for the AFC MVP award this year and rightfully so. The Cincinnati Bengals will head to Houston to face Watt and the Texans on Sunday and the offensive line will have one thing on their mind, stop JJ Watt to keep Dalton clean. In theory, that is what you need to do to beat the Houston Texans, but it isn’t about stopping Watt more than containing him.

There is numerous things that teams will do to keep Watt from getting to the QB. They will double team him, cheat a little off the line, and run plays away from him. All those are good ideas and should work for a short time. The problem is, eventually Houston will stack the other side, run Watt to the inside, or he will overpower you. How do you contain Watt and how is that different from beating him?

If JJ Watt has his way with this Andrew Whitworth and Clint Boling, Andy Dalton would be have to run a short offense and the big plays would be taken off the table. They would have to keep the ball on the ground and hope that Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill are effective enough to make a difference, something they have not had the luxury of the past two matchups. JJ Watt has 9.5 sacks heading into this matchup.

When you beat Watt, you completely take him out of plays and make him ineffective, which many teams have failed at accomplishing. When you contain him, you keep him away from the backfield or you push him to the outside, giving your QB a few more moments to get rid of the ball. JJ Watt will contribute to Houston in some way and will never be taken out of the game, barring injury, but giving your quarterback time can be the difference between a win and loss. This is how the Steelers and Cowboys both found success against the Texans.

It will be up to this offensive line to control the best defensive end in the game today. If they can find a way to contain him, the Bengals will have a good chance to at their second win in a row on the road. If they can’t, it could be a long day for Andy Dalton and the passing game.