"I don't know if anybody could have foreseen J.J. being as impactful as he has been this quickly," Texans general manager Rick Smith said.
Part of Watt's success has to do with how Phillips uses him. Unlike most defensive ends in a 3-4 front, Watt is not "two-gapping" often. Phillips turns him loose to get the quarterback.
"When you have a guy like this, we have to let him do what he does best," Phillips said. "I found that out with Elvin way back."
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Watt has played 85 to 90 percent of his snaps at left end, Phillips said. Part of that is because his dislocated left elbow would have been a problem in a right-handed stance. But the elbow is better now.
Watt will move around to avoid the strength of a formation, or to get a particular matchup against a guard or tackle.
Phillips tries to keep Watt away from a lot of double-teams.
"We move him around some, have different 'dogs' where they have to be one-on-one," he said. "If we rush five guys and you have five linemen, they might help with a back or something. But you can get guys one-on-one."
If Watt gets many one-on-ones Sunday, it is likely to be a very happy game for the Texans.