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Texans coach Bill O’Brien argues that using J.J. Watt as tight end no ‘circus show’


During the Houston Texans’ 45-21 dismantling of the Tennessee Titans, all-world defensive end J.J. Watt once again showcased his supreme athletic ability by once again playing on the offensive side of the ball.

The results off Watt’s foray into playing tight end at the NFL level yielded familiar results, as the 6-foot-5, 289-pound defensive force caught a touchdown pass, his third of the season.

Watt’s ability to find the end zone is not limited to when he’s on offense, either. He has also returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns as well this season.

Some may make the argument that using Watt as a tight end is nothing short of gimmickry, akin to William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s goal line antics with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien strongly disagrees with this notion, arguing instead that he is simply utilizing Watt’s very rare set of football talents and that it is not a “circus show” at all.

“He’s got great ball skills, so that’s why we move him around and use him a little bit on offense,” O’Brien said, via a Houston Chronicle report (via Pro Football Talk). “Because it’s not a circus show. It’s what is best for our team. And we feel one of the things that is best for our team is when we get down in there close, we’ve got a guy over here that’s a 6-foot-7 frame, physical player, he’s got really good hands, he’s instinctive, he’s smart, he’s got tight-end experience … so why not use him?”

O’Brien obviously is correct in his assertion that Watt possesses a very unique skill set. Watt, after all, played tight end in both high school and college, so he has some experience at the position.

Taking a look at the Texans depth chart at the tight end position reveals a dearth of experience and talent. Further, Garrett Graham, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin, the three tight ends on the roster, have a combined six years of NFL experience. It’s also worth noting that neither of the three names possess the capacity to strike fear in the hearts of opponents and defensive coordinators.

It’s not as if O’Brien is risking Watt’s health and availability, either, by playing him extensively on the offensive side of the ball. If that were the case, perhaps some case could be made for why the team shouldn’t use Watt in this manner. Simply put, running out routes from the one-yard line and catching a football entails a small risk of injury.

Watt is being heralded as a possible NFL MVP candidate, although he should be considered a long shot at best, given that no defensive player has won the award since 1986 when Lawrence Taylor accomplished the rare feat. Anything Watt can do to bolster his unlikely campaign for MVP honors, including catching some touchdown passes, can’t possibly hurt his prospects.

(photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)