HTX Texans
J.J. Watt Dance Master

J.J. Watt's supporting cast needs to be shown the money now: Keeping Case Keenum at QB key to retaining rightful MVP's help

J.J. Watt's supporting cast needs to be shown the money: Keenum key

J.J. Watt Texans dance Jags
J.J. Watt spent most of the Houston Texans' season-ending win over the Jaguars dancing. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
J.J. Watt Jared Crick Texans Jags
Rightful MVP J.J. Watt's helped Jared Crick develop into a mini force of his own. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Kareem Jackson Texans tongue
Cornerback Kareem Jackson is the key to everything the Texans do in the offseason. Lose Jackson and everything is suddenly dicier. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Brooks Reed Texans Jag tackle
With his long-hair flowing behind him, Texans linebacker Brooks Reed has spent the last month of the season making plays. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Texans Jags defense Watt Cushing
The Houston Texans defense turned into a dominant unit over the last three weeks of the regular season. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Case Keenum Texans Jags run
Keeping Case Keenum as an effective, low-priced quarterback would allow the Texans to spend more money on retaining their defensive core. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
J.J. Watt Texans tunnel
J.J. Watt headed into the offseason having put on another show. He also happened to make 20-20 sack history in the process. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
J.J. Watt Texans dance Jags
J.J. Watt Jared Crick Texans Jags
Kareem Jackson Texans tongue
Brooks Reed Texans Jag tackle
Texans Jags defense Watt Cushing
Case Keenum Texans Jags run
J.J. Watt Texans tunnel

J.J. Watt breaks into a shimmy, rolling his hips like he never could in that omnipresent Verizon commercial. The most dominant defensive football player of this generation is forever dancing in the Houston Texans last game of the season.

It's almost like Watt's determined to prove to everyone that he really can dance — while winning the NFL MVP.

When you're this good, why not multi-task? So Watt breaks into dance after his first sack, after his second sack and after the safety that accounts for his third. He shimmies after nearly every time that "Turn Down For What" — or "Turn Down For Watt" in Texans land — song blares over the NRG Stadium sound system. Which seemingly happens after almost every defensive play on this rollicking Sunday Funday.

Watt's day ends with those three sacks (making him the first player in NFL history to record two separate 20-sack seasons), a forced fumble, a safety, six tackles and a 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It doesn't add up to a playoff berth for Bill O'Brien's great first-year turnaround story, but that should hardly deny Watt his rightful league MVP.

  "I love this team, love this city. I have a lot of friends here. And I almost feel like we're finally here (as a team). It'd be sad to leave." 

MVP voters who won't vote for Watt now because of no playoffs are essentially saying their decision hinged on whether the Baltimore Ravens would choke enough to completely blow a playoff berth. How does that make sense?

No, Justin James Watt is the 2014 NFL MVP. He earns it by getting the most out of his freakish athletic ability on every single play.

"I’m trying to make sure they get their money’s worth and our fans get their money’s worth because they deserve that," Watt says. "I was a kid once. I grew up watching a team, I know what it’s like.

"You want to be that superstar that every average Joe would be if he was a superstar."

Watt is that worthy $100 Million Superstar, but even a supernova needs some support. And that's why O'Brien's team finds itself at a critical telling point. Watt played at a superhuman level all season. But the Texans truly took off when the rest of the defense caught on, giving defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel the confidence to unleash his full array of disguised coverages and fronts. Over the last month of the season, the Texans arguably played the third best defense in the entire NFL, behind only the defending champion Seahawks and maybe the Rams.

Now a huge chunk of that defense — six of the 11 starters — are up for free agency and another vital piece (cornerback Johnathan Joseph) could be facing the kind of pay cut scenario that everyone else is trying to force onto Andre Johnson. Watt's great, but he needs many of these guys for the Texans to go anywhere in the future.

This Texans defense can be great. If its key pieces are kept together.

"This is something we can look at and build on," safety Kendrick Lewis says after the Texans play lights-out defense for the third straight week. "We have to pick up where we left off. I believe in the defense that we have here, the type of attitude that we have.

"It is like blood in the water. We want a taste for more."

Kareem Jackson's Future Keys All

Cornerback Kareem Jackson is the No. 1 must sign by far, but the Texans would be wise to re-sign Lewis, nose tackle Ryan Pickett (a perfect veteran fit for Crennel's defense) and linebacker Brooks Reed who has been a consistent playmaker for weeks now as well.

"Of course," Reed responds when asks if he wants to return. "I love this team, love this city. I have a lot of friends here. And I almost feel like we're finally here (as a team). It'd be sad to leave."

 The most disruptive force in football will be one lonely $100 Million Man, if Houston doesn't retain much of this company. 

Desire doesn't necessarily equal reality in the hard-line NFL though. If O'Brien gave Case Keenum a real chance at quarterback, the Texans would have more money to bring back more of their defensive core — and add more important pieces. But it'd be a stretch to expect this coach to think that way.

It'd be a shame to see this emerging defense disbanded though. Watt & Friends aren't just making Blake Bortles — an offensively challenged rookie who likely would have been the Texans quarterback if Jadeveon Clowney wasn't in the draft — look lost. They flummoxed Andrew Luck and Joe Flacco in back-to-back weeks too.

"Our defensive kind of changed late in the year," Reed says. "We ran a lot more disguises, made it hard for quarterbacks to see what coverages we were in. It's allowed a bunch of guys to make plays."

Watt is not the only making them now — the way he was during that 2-14 nightmare last season. Jared Crick — the third-year defensive end who is under his rookie contract for another season —  sacks Bortles, drops a running back for another loss and knocks down a pass against Jacksonville. Reed runs sideline to sideline, tracking running backs with his long hair flapping behind his helmet. Jackson . . . well, the once-mocked Jackson just changes everything for these Texans.

The most disruptive force in football will be one lonely $100 Million Man, if Houston doesn't retain much of this company.

"I’d definitely love to be back," Jackson says. "At the end of the day, I understand the business side of it. For me, I just have to sit back and just see what happens."

This Texans defense has come too far to lose key pieces and essentially be left needing to start over learning Crennel's complex schemes in training camp. Watt's the MVP that everything centers around, but he cannot be Bob McNair's only big defensive buy this football year.  

There's a solution staring the Texans in the face: Give Case Keenum the chance to be the effective, low-cost winning starting quarterback. Develop a passer with tons of potential and keep the supporting stars on the other side of the football.

"We have a chance to be a really explosive defense," Joseph says.

Only if they're not torn apart. Even a shimmy-happy MVP cannot do it all by his lonesome.