T.J. Watt was arguably the Pittsburgh Steelers’ best defender last season. His 13 sacks were the most by any Steelers player in years, as were his six forced fumbles, and he joined Cameron Heyward in the Pro Bowl as well.
In spite of the fact that he made significant strides last year, however, he finds himself far from satisfied, as he told the team’s website. “I feel like it was a step in the right direction for where I want to go”, he said. “I think that is the biggest thing for me, to constantly be trending upwards as a player, as a teammate and as a leader for this team”.
But he added, “it’s about not being satisfied”. He acknowledged that he had a good season in 2018, but added, “I feel like I could have had a lot better of a year. As the season went on I definitely feel like I got better, that I caught fire towards the end of the season as a pass rusher, impact player”.
That midseason development in his pass rush is something that we noted here, and that he noted earlier in the offseason, but that was when he really started to put a plan together for how he wanted to approach tackles, and he expanded the repertoire that he unleashed as well.
“I wish I would have learned it quicker in the season”, he said, “but I am happy it happened, I am happy I was able to learn what I was good at, what I could get better at. Then it’s about working on things I know I can get better at, things I can focus on this offseason. I am not satisfied, so I am going to keep working”.
It’s hard to imagine him ever being satisfied, even if he wins the Super Bowl and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, as James Harrison did for the Steelers back in 2008. He just doesn’t seem like the type of person who is capable of believing that he has ever reached the maximum of his abilities and will continue to strive to do better no matter how much he excels.
“I think the more success you have the harder it gets. You start to figure out this league”, Watt said. “It’s hard to have consistency, it’s hard to duplicate success. It’s hard to get to the quarterback. It’s hard to lead a group of guys. It’s hard to do a lot of things at an elite level, at the highest level, of football”.
“I think the challenge for me this offseason is to find ways to challenge myself”, he continued. “I am always going to be really hungry for success and to be pressed to come back hungrier than ever. I want to perform at an elite level”.
That same attitude is not only going to continue to drive his own success, but turn him into a leader for this defensive team. I believe he is going to take on a significant and more vocal role within the group in 2019 after establishing himself as a top player and playmaker at his position last season.