Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt has faced the Cleveland Browns three times so far during his career. He has put up six sacks combined in those three games, including three in the season opener between the two teams this year.
Tomorrow will be his fourth game. He has registered at least one sack in every game he has played against them so far. Will he continue to have that success? If he does, it will come against former Steelers right tackle Chris Hubbard. And Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson intends to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Jackson was asked about Watt during his pre-game press conference and whether or not their offensive gameplan placed an emphasis on him. He said that there is “a huge emphasis” on Watt “because he can do it again”.
“We have to make sure that does not happen. He is a really good football player”, he went on. “Plays hard. Obviously, can rush. Plays the run well. They even ask him to drop from time to time. He is an all-around football player. There is no question that we have to know where No. 90 is”.
Though Watt has six sacks this year, they have all come in just two games, meaning that he has failed to record a sack in four of the six games in which he has played. This seemingly led one reporter to ask if it was really necessary to pay such mind to him, but Jackson responded, saying, “he warrants attention”.
While Watt shared in the league lead in sacks two weeks ago, seven players have since surpassed his total of six, though in fairness that includes his having a bye week. The current league leaders are now Aaron Donald, Danielle Hunter, and J.J. Watt, who is of course T.J.’s older brother, on his quest for a record fourth Defensive Player of the Year Award. They all have eight sacks.
And the Browns have a pass-rusher about whom Randy Fichtner and the offensive coaches ought to keep an eye on in Myles Garrett, who is fifth in the league with seven sacks. He also has three forced fumbles on the season, two of which came against the Steelers in the season opener.
The AFC North is the only division in the league in which every team has at least one player on their roster who has recorded at least five sacks so far on the season. Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap has five sacks, and for the Baltimore Ravens, both Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith have five and a half apiece.