HOUSTON, Texas -- Defensive end J.J. Watt has expressed frustration about the Houston Texans' play amid this losing season on several occasions, but his frustration appeared to boil over after Sunday's 37-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
After acknowledging that the defense had played "horrendously" on Sunday and that this was the most difficult year of his 10 NFL seasons, Watt was asked how the team will regroup heading into Week 17.
In response, Watt went on a rant about how poorly the Texans have played this season, saying he feels bad for the fans and the people "who care so deeply" about this team, seemingly in response to a lack of professionalism in the Texans' locker room.
"We're professional athletes getting paid a whole lot of money," Watt said. "If you can't come in and put work in in the building, go out to the practice field and work hard, do your lifts and do what you're supposed to do, you should not be here. This is a job. We are getting paid a whole lot of money.
"There are a lot of people that watch us and invest their time and their money into buying our jerseys and buying a whole bunch of s--- and they care about it. They care every single week. We're in Week 16 and we're 4-11 and there's fans that watch this game, that show up to the stadium that put in time and energy and effort and care about this. So if you can't go out there and you can't work out, you can't show up on time, you can't practice, you can't want to go out there and win, you shouldn't be here. Because this is a privilege. It's the greatest job in the world. You get to go out and play a game. And if you can't care enough, even in Week 17, even when you're trash, when you're 4-11. If you can't care enough to go out there and give everything you've got and try your hardest, that's bulls---.
"There are people every week that still tweet you, that still come up to you and say, 'Hey, we're still rooting for you; we're still behind you.' They have no reason whatsoever to. We stink. But they care and they still want to win and they still want you to be great. That's why. Those people aren't getting paid. We're getting paid handsomely. That's why. And that's ... that's who I feel the most bad for, is our fans and the people who care so deeply and the city and the people who love it and who truly want it to be great. And it's not. And that sucks as a player to know that we're not giving them what they deserve."
The Texans are 4-11 and have lost four straight for a second time this season. Houston fired head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien after their Week 4 loss, and Romeo Crennel was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
It is the team's worst mark through 16 games since 2017, when quarterback Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in November.
Crennel was asked Monday about Watt's comments, which appeared to call out some teammates, though no one was mentioned by name.
"Well I think that on a football team, there's a lot of different characteristics about a team, and generally the teams that win have better characteristics than the teams that lose. We're a losing team so everything's not perfect," Crennel began. "I can understand J.J.'s frustration because he has been in this league and been a very good player in this league for a while. I'm frustrated because we're not winning. That's what everybody cares about in this business, is did you win or did you lose. When you're losing, nobody is very happy."
The Texans' defense allowed 540 total net yards against the Bengals on Sunday, with Cincinnati quarterback Brandon Allen completing 29 of 37 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans have forced an NFL-low eight turnovers this season.
"I think all the coaches are doing everything they can and I think most of the players are doing everything they can. There are some guys that need more work than others because everybody is a different individual and they're motivated differently," Crennel continued. "You can't just push one button and that impacts everybody. You have to figure out which button to push on different players to get them to do what you need them to do. Then, that takes some time too because some players are not wired to do what I want them to do every time."
"But part of the deal this year is that we haven't really been able to practice the way that we need to practice, haven't been able to meet the way we need to meet so that we can get the best out of everybody," he added.
For the final game of the season, the Texans will face AFC South rival Tennessee Titans who could clinch the division with a win over Houston.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson injured his throwing arm late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but was cleared by doctors to return to the game.
"I haven't talked to the medical people yet and I think they will have an impact on his condition. If he's OK, then I think that we should play him," Crennel said when asked if Watson would be playing against the Titans.
Crennel explained that he expects to put his best players on the field for Week 17 despite depletions due to COVID-19 and injuries. Although the Texans sit at 4-11, Crennel emphasized the importance of the upcoming division game.
"It has meaning because it's a division game for us, all right? That's why it has the most meaning. It means more to Tennessee, it means more to Indianapolis when you look at the final deal. I mean, what do we have on it other than pride? We have the pride of trying to win a game versus a division opponent," Crennel told reporters via Zoom. "That's what we're going to try to do. Plus, if we can win the game, at least we can go out this year with a win and not feel as bad as we presently do."
ESPN contributed to this report.
The video above is from a previous report after the firing of Texans head coach Bill O'Brien.
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