There are three players tied for the most sacks in the NFL right now. Two of them are brothers. Has that ever happened before? I truly don’t know, and also won’t be doing the research, because frankly it really doesn’t matter. What matters if that one of them plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As of right now, nobody in the game has more sacks than second-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt. But he has to share that distinction with his older brother, J.J. Watt, both of whom—along with Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins—have six sacks in five games.
J.J., a 2011 first-round draft pick, has been nothing short of a beast when healthy over the course of his career. He earned Defensive Player of the Year honors three times in a four-year span from 2012 to 2015, and perhaps would have continued to do so until injuries sabotaged his past two seasons. He is also the only player ever to record 20 or more sacks more than once.
But he wants his little brother to get back into his shadow. After T.J. recorded three sacks on Sunday, and J.J. had just one, he was told afterward that the two brothers are now tied for the league lead. He took to Twitter, writing at T.J., “stop copying me bro”.
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 8, 2018
It was more than sacks, though. They also have the same amount of tackles for loss with seven, and nearly the same number of quarterback hits. J.J. has 10, while T.J. has nine. The tackles for loss rank fourth in the league, while J.J. ranks fourth in hits and T.J. ranks tied for fifth.
If there has to be a player for a Steelers defender to copy, I don’t mind at all if it ends up being J.J. Watt—except for health concerns. T.J. has missed one game in his career so far due to a minor injury, though he also missed almost all of training camp and the preseason this year before coming out with a three-sack showing in the season opener.
Where he has surprisingly yet to make an impact is in coverage. He had an interception and seven passes defensed during his rookie season last year, but he hasn’t gotten his hand on any passes so far during the 2018 season.
He has been dropping somewhat less—though still more than the average—which helps partially to explain that, but while it’s nice for him to be putting up sack numbers, I like to see him as a complete player who makes an impact in all three phases of defense—as a rusher, against the run, and in coverage.
That is one area where he can separate himself from his big brother, at least in interceptions, as he only has one in his career. But he does have 49 passes defensed, I’m sure the vast majority, if not all of which, came at the line of scrimmage, not exactly in coverage.