Elite talent among the NFC’s defensive ends kept J.J. Watt out of the Pro Bowl after his great season for the Arizona Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals superstar J.J. Watt appeared to be absolutely unblockable during last Sunday’s 24-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. Unfortunately, the dominating performance wasn’t enough to get the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year into the Pro Bowl.
During an illustrious career that began back in 2011, Watt has received that honor five times. The 33-year-old received each and every one of those invitations when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Did Watt do enough for the Cards in 2022 to deserve a sixth trip to professional football’s version of the All-Star game?
Actually, the Pro Bowl has now been reduced to a skills competition among the participants, and will “feature” a much-safer flag-football contest as well. Even so, it remains a distinguished accolade that should’ve once again been bestowed upon a future Hall of Famer like Watt.
In his 13 starts thus far, Watt has racked up 27 tackles (12 for a loss), 9.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hits and six pass breakups for the Cardinals defense. One would think that numbers such as those would’ve been enough to warrant Pro Bowl consideration for the 6 foot 5, 288 pounder.
Strong competition may have kept Arizona Cardinals star out of the Pro Bowl
Working against Watt was the fact that the competition among the defensive ends was fierce this fall. In all honesty, Watt’s statistics may have paled in comparison to a couple of his peers in the NFC.
Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers tallied 41 tackles, 15.5 sacks and a whopping 38 quarterback hits in 13 appearances. Brian Burns was credited with 58 tackles,10.5 sacks and 18 quarterback hits for the Carolina Panthers. There is one player who was voted to the Pro Bowl, however, who may not have been more deserving of the invitation than Watt.
In 14 games (one more than Watt suited up for), Demarcus Lawrence registered 54 tackles, but contributed just six sacks and 12 quarterback hits to the Dallas Cowboys defensive unit. It’s clear that the 30-year-old Lawrence was better against the run, but Watt was obviously the more effective pass-rusher. On paper at least, the nod could’ve went either way.
Watt clearly deserves to be back with Arizona in 2023. Whether the Wisconsin native wants to remain in the desert is another story. Whether he returns or not, the fans will always cherish the memories of having a great player like Watt all decked out in a Cardinals uniform.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)
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