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Steelers Cam Thomas, Texans J.J. Watt on opposite ends of defensive spectrum

Thomas will likely be the team’s starting nose tackle when the Steelers host the Houston Texans Monday in Week 7. His play at defensive end so far this season has been decidedly un-Watt-like, to put it mildly.

Bob Levey

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is to the edge as Great White sharks are to the Atlantic Northeast.

They own it.

Watching him against the Indianapolis Colts could be one of the finest performances I've ever seen from a defensive lineman (note: I wasn't alive for the Mean Joe Greene Era of defensive linemen dominance).

Flipping from that game to the Steelers' recent loss against the Cleveland Browns, one main theme rings loudly: J.J. Watt is so much better than anyone else at his position, it's amazing, and the distance between Watt and Steelers DE Cam Thomas is best described in units of measurement only used on Star Trek.

In an upcoming video, we'll highlight Steelers rookie Stephon Tuitt, and provide some reasoning behind why a start is in his (near) future for the ailing Thomas. It's plausible at this point to say, if not for the injury to Steve McLendon, Thomas may not still be on the team.

We're past "what can it hurt?" to start someone new at defensive end. We're now in "it's going to continue hurting until something is done about it." Sound medical advice is to not walk until the compound fracture in your leg has been set and cast, but the Cam-ibia bone is sticking at a grotesque angle out of the Steelers' leg.

And yet, they continue walking - or plodding - on defense.

Watching him at nose tackle, remarkably, was even worse, because now, along with the same plodding and predictable movement off the snap, he's clearly uncomfortable and indecisive about where he should be.

Then you watch Watt again, and it's like going from 20-below to a hot tub. Is it bizarre to honestly be wondering if the difference between the two is because Watt is possibly a future Hall of Famer, maybe even one of the best defensive linemen ever, or because Cam Thomas is playing as if he's gunning for Jonathan Scott's title of "worst free agent signing in team history?"

I'm not even sure it isn't both.

(imagine 2011 Jon Scott blocking J.J. Watt...oh wait, we did see that)

It's likely better for your blood pressure to just mentally ignore the possibility the Steelers may be facing on Monday the best defensive end they've seen in Ben Roethlisberger's career, and focus on Thomas. The Texans have seen better defensive ends. They may see better defensive ends at the snack bar of their local movie theater. And unless the Steelers give Thomas $500 in free credit at the closest concession stand at Heinz Field during the game, the Texans may just plan to run the ball at, around and through Thomas, the Steelers' likely starting nose tackle in place of McLendon.

Then they can just let Watt do the rest. That alone may be enough to keep this game competitive.

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