Jadeveon Clowney is healthy and coming off a breakout season. J.J. Watt also is healthy and ready to resume his potential Hall of Fame career.
For Houston Texans fans, those are fun facts. For Clowney, the potential is scary to think about.
“It’s crazy,” Clowney said of the Texans’ pass-rushing duo to the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson. “I’m looking forward to it.”
When the Texans drafted Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, they had dreams of putting him as a bookend with arguably the game’s best, Watt, on the other side.
But knee injuries sabotaged Clowney’s rookie season and then slowed him in 2015. Watt, meanwhile, racked up two Defensive Player of the Year awards in those seasons. When Clowney finally got healthy and earned his first Pro Bowl bid last season, it was Watt who missed most of the year with a back injury.
But now Watt’s been cleared and Clowney’s knee issues are in the past. Finally, the Texans’ 2014 visions are coming to fruition.
“When I was healthy, when I got healthy, he got hurt,” Clowney said. “When he was healthy, I was hurt. We’ve never really been on the field together at the same time healthy.
“I feel like we can all be out there together, me and him and the rest of guys and just stay healthy, we’re going to be a special defense.”
In just 25 career starts, Clowney has 10.5 sacks and 99 tackles and has developed into one of the league’s best run stoppers. In 83 career starts, Watt has 76 sacks, 379 tackles and is arguably the league’s best defensive player. Those two, combined with fellow Texans’ pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, who’s logged 19.5 sacks in 25 starts the last two years, have Clowney envisioning the Texans repeating as the top defense once again in 2017.
“I just want us to be the No. 1 defense again,” he said. “That’s big. They got to pick out how we’re doing that every year. They keep asking how we’re getting this.
“We keep competing with the best. We’ve got a lot of good guys around us. No matter how we’re getting it done, as long as it’s getting done, that’s all that matters.”