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Saturday, October 6, 2012
Jets brace themselves for high-Wattage foe

By Matt Ehalt

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- J.J. Watt's numbers speak for themselves.

Through four games, the Texans defensive end has 7½ sacks, 32 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, five pass deflections and two fumble recoveries. He's had at least 1½ sacks each game for unbeaten Houston.

J.J Watt
J.J Watt
"The guy is obviously struggling," Jets head coach Rex Ryan joked.

On Monday night, though, it might not be a laughing matter. The Jets will have to find a way to keep Watt from creating havoc when they host the Texans at MetLife Stadium. Watt leads a defense that has 13 sacks this season, tied for fifth in the league.

"He's a heck of a player and it's going to be a difficult test for us up front," Jets center Nick Mangold said. "Especially since you consider they got a whole bunch of other guys that can rush the passer. It's going to be a challenge and a heck of a day for us."

To know how effective Watt has been this year, one just needed to listen to Ryan gush about him Wednesday. The Jets coach said Watt would be the defensive player of the year thus far, and relayed a story about how his brother, Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, talked about how he wanted the Cowboys to draft Watt last year. Rex Ryan said he told his brother that Watt would be a great pick.

The second-year end has certainly been all that he was hyped up to be, as he has helped transform Houston's defense into one of the most stout units in the league. Houston is tops in yards allowed per game, third-down efficiency and points per game. Having Watt bringing pressure on quarterback helps the team post such great numbers in those categories, and he was recently named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for his efforts.

"The person that lines up against him will definitely have a challenge," Jets tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson said. "He's a good player."

Ferguson complimented Watt as a talented player who plays hard, and said Houston's line is technically sound and plays together. Ferguson and right tackle Austin Howard will have the unenviable task of trying to slow down Watt as he moves around on the defensive line in Houston's 3-4 system.

The Jets struggled against San Francisco's relentless pass rush this week and could have another rough week if they don't figure out a way to stop Houston's attack on Monday. While Watt has produced eye-popping numbers, Ferguson wasn't concerning himself with the stats.

"Not really focused on that," Ferguson said. "(It's) great that he has talent and great he can do some nice things, but we go out there, we analyze film, we analyze tape and then we play our game."