J.J. Watt is now an Arizona Cardinal, and after the shock subsided and Watt had a chance to speak Tuesday, his reasoning seems to be rather understandable.
Watt pointed to a number of different factors -- yes, the weather was included -- that influenced his decision to head west in speaking with reporters at his introductory press conference. Chief among them was the existence of and potential carried by one player: quarterback Kyler Murray.
"The longer I looked at it, the more it just, signs kept pointing back down here," Watt said. "There's a lot of exciting things about what's happening down here in Arizona. I've always said you have to have a quarterback in this league to have a chance, and there's a young, extremely talented quarterback here who can do big things and is going from Year 2 to Year 3 and can take an even bigger jump to continue to grow and progress and be even better. Then you've got DeAndre Hopkins who's one of the best wide receivers in the league, I'm obviously very familiar with."
Watt doesn't play on Murray's side of the ball (unless Arizona wants to insert him as a goal line pass-catcher as Houston occasionally did), so there had to be more to it than a franchise quarterback. Familiarity sure helps a person make a decision.
"You've got a defensive scheme that's led by Vance Joseph, who I was with my first three years down in Houston under Wade Philips," Watt explained. "And Vance runs a similar scheme to Wade, which is a scheme I'm very familiar with and very comfortable with and excited to play in. You got guys like Chandler Jones and Budda Baker and guys all over that defense that are really young and exciting guys ready to get after it and ready to fly around and make some plays. I'm just very excited to be here and I'm also not going to lie to you, it doesn't hurt when it's 65 degrees and sunny outside when I woke up this morning. It's pretty nice."
Watt earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors in his second and third professional seasons with Houston, the final two of Phillips' tenure as defensive coordinator there, kicking off a stretch of four straight campaigns in which he earned both accolades. He broke 20 sacks in his second year, finishing just two shy of the all-time single-season record of 22.5 set by Michael Strahan. And Watt was named AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in that same season, introducing himself to the NFL in a big way.
Similar schemes and faces encouraged Watt when considering Arizona. So did the existence of a former teammate in Hopkins.
"It never hurts to have one of the best wide receivers in the game going out there and stumping for you, especially a guy who's a friend that I've known for a very long time," Watt said. "It doesn't hurt to have a guy that can catch a ball anywhere on the field and score touchdowns and catch a Hail Mary over three guys, that doesn't hurt either to have on your team. I'm very excited to be back on the team with him.
"I'm very excited to be able to have a front row seat to watching the plays that he makes, especially with him and Kyler connecting and some of the things that they're able to do between the two of them on the field in Kliff (Kingsbury)'s offense. I'm excited about that and it'll be nice to have a little Gatorade on the bench and just watch them go to work."
When he isn't refueling with the official sports drink of the NFL, Watt will have to rely on the fuel stored in his own tank. When asked how much of that finite supply is left, he was succinct in his response.
"A lot," Watt said. "A whole lot."
Watt will take the field in the familiar No. 99 he's worn for the entirety of his career, but in a new shade of red. Opposing quarterbacks will hope he isn't seeing red too often in 2021.