Bill Belichick says J.J. Watt has similar traits to Lawrence Taylor

ByTania Ganguli ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 9, 2015

HOUSTON -- Bill Belichick had an up-close view to Lawrence Taylor's career, and he sees a lot of the same traits in Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

"There's been very few players I would put in the same conversations with Taylor, but I would put Watt there," Belichick said. "It's early in his career and he's done a lot already. Taylor did it over a long period of time, but Watt's done it pretty consistently now. He's that same kind of player."

Belichick was the New York Giants' linebackers coach and defensive coordinator for the first 10 years of Taylor's career. During that time Taylor was a 10-time All-Pro, selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times and named the defensive player of the year thrice. Taylor was the last defensive player to win the league's MVP award, winning in 1986.

Watt so far has two defensive player of the year awards and three Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in the first four years of his career. He is the only player in NFL history to have multiple 20-sack seasons. Right now Watt leads the league with 13.5 sacks and four games remaining.

"He's pretty special," Belichick said during his news conference Wednesday. "He does a lot of things well and everybody game plans for him every game. He gets a lot of double-teams, the line slides to his side, teams try to run away from him; he does a good job with all of it. They move him around a little bit, so he's not always in the same place. ... He's done a really good job dealing with a lot of extra attention, similar to some of the things we saw with teams dealing with Taylor in New York. He has that kind of disruptiveness."

Will all that said, Belichick still wasn't ready to rank Watt above the Hall of Famer.

"I wouldn't go above Taylor, because of the versatility that Taylor had in terms of pass coverage," Belichick said. "He was a pass-rusher, a run player and also a pass defender. It's really an elite player, and you're including the kicking game. Of course, Watt's blocked a lot of kicks too. But I think the position he plays, he's as disruptive of a defensive lineman as I've seen in the league, in the same general category as LT."

The Texans play the Patriots on Sunday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.

"He's already earned [defensive player of the year] this year even if he didn't play the last four games," Belichick said. "This might be a good game for him to rest."

Information from ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss was used in this report.