Chiefs vs. Texans: How Kansas City Can Stop J.J. Watt

Stopping J.J. Watt hasn’t happened much since he entered the league in 2011. He’s been as dominant as anyone in the past 2 seasons, totaling 24 sacks in his last 22 games.

As Andrew Kulha mentioned in his post yesterday, the Texans’ weakness on defense is against the run – and that’s good news for the Chiefs, as they boast one of the best running backs in the league in Jamaal Charles. One would think that to neutralize a pass-rusher of Watt’s caliber, the Chiefs will run directly at him with Charles to keep him on his toes. I say, not so fast. This strategy works against pass-rushers like Dwight Freeney, for example – who tend to be undersized and use speed to their advantage. It also works against guys like Freeney, because they rush from the same spot an entire game.

J.J. Watt, however, isn’t just a pure pass-rusher. He’s a mountain of a man, standing at 6’5” and almost 290 lbs. He had 81 tackles last season, and plays the run as well as he plays the pass. Additionally, he plays all over the defensive line throughout a game, making him the assignment of an entire offensive line, not just the best lineman on the unit. In other words, you can’t just plan on running right at him to neutralize him.

Your second option is to employ the double-team. However, watching the Chiefs play defense like they have, we have seen first-hand what happens when a player (Poe) is double-teamed by an offensive line: someone else (insert Chiefs defensive player here) gets freed up in the process.

Last week, the St. Louis Rams silenced Watt, holding him to 0 sacks, and 0 tackles in the game. It was the first time Watt was absent from the stat line since Week 13 of his rookie season (2011), and only the second time he’s put up zeros for a game in his career. How did they do it? Nick Wagoner of ESPN quoted Rams coach Jeff Fisher in his piece on Monday:

“Our plan was, No. 1, going in to recognize his ability, his strengths and the fact that he’s an outstanding player,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “And then try to design an offensive plan that we can get away from him and not run towards him or get him doubled, and the guys executed very well.”

Fisher’s game plan was simple: play the game away from Watt. While the Chiefs can’t let him dictate where they go on every single play, they can give Alex Smith the power to call his plays at the line after he sees where Watt is lined up. If I was Andy Reid, I would could call packaged plays all game, and let Smith use his “gigabytes” to choose the best play at the line.

What’s your game plan, Addicts? Should the Chiefs take a page out of Jeff Fisher’s book? Should they use the double-team? Play coach in the comments below.

Topics: Alex Smith, Andy Reid, J.J. Watt, Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Druw

    I say use what works best for us. Reid seems to be evaluating things as the game goes on. I think we are hyping them up way too much,not trying to take away from them being a great team with great players. Let defense work their magic,offense needs to show some improvement in the passing game,and scoring more points that I know we can get.

  • chiefridgy

    This game scares me

    • KCMikeG

      Cleveland next week and Bills on the road concern me more – nothing scares me anymore!

  • Horace Lee Madre Jr

    DO WHAT EVER YOU HAVE TO! This one SCREAMS trap

  • tomflex

    The Chiefs should focus on exploiting the weaks spots on Houstons defense, planning your game around not getting beat by one guy is exactly how you get beat. Trust your players to step up to the level needed to slow Watt down
    Other things I’d like to see….
    1.Early lead …keeps defense out of attack mode.
    2.Stop running on first down…. 2 yard gains on 1st down gets JJ in in the face on 2nd.
    3. Quick passes…..or git rid of it.
    4. Screens…use JJ’s aggression against him.
    5. For this game take some chances…the defense got you covered.

    • Tony Harris

      Great choice on point “5.”. I would say That x20. Take chances.. take chances.. TAKE CHANCES. This team has not taken any chances this year. This has been a good thing so far but Alex has no idea what he or his team is capable of. Take chances and if you happen to make a few mistakes, this defense has your back. This defense is too good for our offense to be playing conservative. If we can get the chinks out of the armor now then come playoffs we have a real shot at being special.

      • tomflex

        Yea Tony I think it’s great that Alex is so intent on protecting the ball but there is a difference between open and wide open. Open in the NFL is a often just a half a step……wide open…..when the defender
        totally blows his assignment or falls down. Now since we are so conservative and checking down all the time, our pass to that wide open reciever is gonna sail 10 feet over his head. Even the short passes after awhile become sloppy without that feel you develop throwing various distances. Alex has to start trusting his receivers to come down with the ball…he has to trust himself to put the ball there and…If neither can manage that one part of their respective SOP’s….what are all those millions they are getting paid for?
        I wouldn’t say these things if I didn’t believe in them

    • KCMikeG

      Agreed. Why don’t we run the quick slant inside to Bowe anymore??

  • Calchiefsfan

    Whatever the Rams did it worked to a T. Copy it and blow them out at Arrowhead.

  • berttheclock

    Excellent points, especially about Smith being able to call audibles. Many love to compare this team with the 2003 team. One huge difference was in 2003 when Al Saunders would not allow Trent Green to audible.

  • Neal Schemonia

    I dont think game screams trap the fact is kc has always had a knack of making back ups look like hall of famers. Ryan fitz 2 weeks ago looked like mike vick running around for 20 yard gains and rushing tds. The defense just has to keep playing stellar and we gotta pound it with number 25. If it were at Houston id say trap game but were at home and it looks more and more like the Arrowhead of old. One game at a time.

  • berttheclock

    The key to this game is not stopping J J Watt. It is stopping the backup Keenum. In college at Houston, one of this biggest games was coming off the bench and throwing 4 TDs. His father taught him pocket presence and he has learned to stay in the pocket far more than just using his legs, although, he can do some running. Why wasn’t he drafted? He is only six feet tall and you know the many prejudices in the NFL about shorter QBs. He lost a year to being injured. He red shirted another year when he was behind Kolb. But, remember one thing about him. He played QB in high school in the State of Texas and that state is famous for placing their HS QBs at higher levels. Reminds me of Chase Daniel. Shorter former Texas HS QB.

    • jbyrd

      I believe the reason he wasn’t drafted is the fact that he is a “system QB”. The UH Cougars run a wide open, spread offense which enables their quarterback’s to rack up massive yards. However, when their “system QB’s” progress to the next level, they are very seldom more than a flash in the pan. Andre Ware, David Klingler and most recently Kevin Kolb ran very similar offenses at UH but have had limited success in the NFL.

      • KCMikeG

        Great points. Plus the level of competition played against then compared to now is night and day.

  • berttheclock

    Just love trivia about the NFL. Case Keenum once hooked up with Donnie Avery for a 64 yard TD against East Carolina. Please, Alex Smith, do review that tape.

  • ArrowFan

    He is basically another version of Tamba and we all know how to stop Tamba. You simply hold him:)

    • cd3382

      Haha! Good point. Tamba leads the league on getting hold and almost sacks.

  • Davé

    “gigabytes” rofl.

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