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.