It’s never fun to see a player injured, especially one of J.J. Watt’s caliber, but the week 3 match-up against the Houston Texans might have gotten a lot easier.
According to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, Watt underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his back and will likely miss 8-10 weeks, with 8 weeks the “best-case” scenario.
The Patriots will host the Texans on Thursday, September 22nd in prime time for the third week of the season. That match-up is 9 weeks away, which means that there’s a very real chance Watt will not be ready to face the Patriots- and even if he is, he won’t be near 100%.
If Patriots head coach Bill Belichick were in charge of the Texans, he would rest Watt for the full 10 weeks, and possibly for an 11th week, to ensure his star player was at 100%. Belichick held linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower out for extra time in 2015, even though they were ready to play, because he had his focus on health for the postseason. Texans head coach Bill O’Brien is a Belichick acolyte so there’s a chance he follows his mentor’s footsteps. Back injuries are not something to play around with and could derail Watt’s Hall of Fame caliber career.
New England will be fielding back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo during the suspension of Tom Brady and my big concern for the Texans game was how Garoppolo would handle the pressure from Watt. With Watt less than 100%, Garoppolo’s time on the field will be a little bit easier.
The week 3 prime time game might not feature the best offensive player (Brady) or defensive player (Watt) in the league, which is probably not what the NFL signed up for when they scheduled this match-up.