On Sunday, the Buccaneers will attempt what many before them have failed at: Taming the beast known as J.J. Watt.
The undesirable assignment falls mostly on the shoulders of right tackle Gosder Cherilus, whose nightmares likely still consist of the Texans’ superstar whipping him on the field.
As the Tampa Bay Times notes, Cherilus, formerly of the Lions and Colts, has faced Watt five times in his career. To say he’s been overmatched would be a slap in the face to Watt, who notched eight sacks in those five games, including four sacks and a fumble return touchdown in 2014.
“He’s in a highlight every week,” Cherilus said, per the Times. “I’m just going to show up and do the best that I can. Hopefully, it’ll be okay.
“He’s not going to give you no day off, no play off.”
If the Bucs are smart, they will give Cherilus help by rolling tight ends and backs to his side. They have to do something to slow down Watt, even if it means triple-teaming him. But even that is nothing new to Watt, who agrees with the strategy. Because … well, he would triple team him, too.
“I think so far this year, there’s already been more triple teams than the past,” Watt said. “But that’s to be expected. I mean, that’s what I would do, too. You have to continue to fight, continue to battle. Like I’ve always said, it makes it that much sweeter when you do get there.”
Watt, now the second-fastest player to reach 60 career sacks, has three sacks this season, and recorded a takedown in his last seven consecutive games.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith knows this will be No. 8 if an emphasis isn’t on No. 99.
“You can say, ‘Hey, he is just another player, let’s do our thing, ” Smith said. “No. It doesn’t work like that. You have to put a lot of the focus on him, and when you’re that type of football player, you have to do what you can to limit the opportunities that he gets, and that’s tough duty. Easier said than done. I don’t think there is too much focus being placed on it.”