The Cardinals needed a lot of things to happen this season for the wins to come, and obviously, many of those marks have not been hit. But one has -- veteran defensive end J.J. Watt staying healthy and playing well for a unit that needed him to do just that.
Watt missed the first game of the season with an injury, but since then has been solid. He leads the teams with 6.5 sacks -- more than he had combined in 2020 and 2021 -- and has been steadily disruptive.
Then came the stat tweeted by PFF's Brad Spielberger on Wednesday, that since Week 7 (which for the Cardinals was the Thursday night win over the Saints) Watt leads the NFL in quarterback pressures with 30.
The numbers are important. Watt was playing well last season before he was hurt, and if he finishes the season well over five games he's going to have his best stats since 2018. He has also ended up playing as many snaps each game as younger defensive lineman Zach Allen. If Vance Joseph had a plan to pull Watt back, that's long gone.
Watt's future is going to be interesting. He's a scheduled free agent after the season (although he will, through the way his current contract is structured, carry a dead money hit of $7.2 million next season according to overthecap.com.) The Cardinals have a lot of difficult roster decisions to make after the year -- and will Watt want to seek out a different team at this stage in his career?
That's for later, though. It was hard not to notice Watt, after his first quarter sack against the Chargers, loudly try to fire up his teammates. It worked for most of the game. Watt has been an important piece, and the stats back it up.