It could be a fun exercise, even if fruitless, to piece together accomplishments by which to judge athletes. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, liked to tout outside linebacker T.J. Watt’s second season as the only player in the NFL last year to post at least 65 tackles, 10 sacks, and five forced fumbles.
Not that there weren’t plenty of players who recorded substantially more tackles, or who had more sacks and forced fumbles. But he was the only one to hit all of those marks. While arbitrary, it’s still an indication of how good of a season he had, at least based purely on statistics.
Another measure by which Watt is being judged to have had a good season is by Pro Football Focus, putting him on the list of players who recorded a ‘pass-rushing triple-double’, which is at least 10 sacks, 10 hits, and 10 hurries in a season. Only 15 players made the list.
The site credits Watt with 12 sacks, 11 hits, and 28 hurries in 2018, which is actually on the lower end of the players who also accomplished the feat if you look at their numbers. Only one player had fewer hurries, for example, and that was a defensive tackle.
“T.J. Watt joins his brother on the pass rushing triple-double list after producing a career-best 52 total pressures last season”, Mike Johnson writes of the youngest Watt brother. “Watt manufactured a 75.8 overall grade in his second season but really hit his stride from Weeks 10-17 by generating an 87.7 overall grade to close out the year”.
“Watt raised his pass-rush win percentage from 12.8% in the first half of the season to 20.7% in the second half”, it went on, “and he recorded a pass-rushing grade of 90.0 from Weeks 10 to 17 that was second only to Von Miller in that span”.
Watt is the first player the Steelers have drafted on defense since Ryan Shazier in 2014 who has really displayed hints of being able to develop into a top-flight player. Others have certainly been good or even very good, such as Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave, and obviously they are hoping Devin Bush will be that same type of player. But Watt’s continued development is absolutely essential for this group.
He certainly seems to be fully committed to being that type of player, and also believes he is on his way after piecing things together in his pass-rush game during the second half of the season, which is something that he has talked about a couple of times in recent months. And that was with an outside linebackers coach they decided to let go this offseason.