As it turns out, T.J. Watt is pretty good. And not only is he very talented, he is supremely motivated, and determined to be the best player he can possibly be. The third-year Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker is trending toward a career year after making the Pro Bowl in 2018, but even that doesn’t appear to be enough for him.
Through seven games, Watt has registered six sacks, producing three forced fumbles, recovering three fumbles, and he also has an interception. He has been one of the most critical players on defense, not just in taking the ball away, but in general terms as well. But he wants to take it a step forward still.
“As a defensive player you can impact the game on every single play”, Mike Prisuta quoted him as saying, via the team’s website. “When you do get those chances, it’s about capitalizing and making the most of them. It’d be a good play just to be able to get the sack and get the quarterback down. Why not make it a great play and at least go for the football and try to rip it out?”.
Since the start of the 2018 season, Watt has now forced nine fumbles after doing so six games last year. He also had three games under his belt in which he has been able to dislodge the ball multiple times. While he is not dropping into coverage as much as he did in his rookie season, he has also shown that he can do that, including two interceptions in his career.
Pro Football Focus recently put him on their Mid-Season All-Pro team as the highest-ranked edge defender, noting that he has not only he highest overall grade at the position, but also the highest grade as a pass rusher.
But he’s still trying to make a bigger impact. It’s nice to get sacks, but better to force fumbles. A good play in coverage could be a lot better if you take the ball away, too. “Trying to take plays from good to great is the field that I’m in”, he said.
I think it’s fair to say that we have certainly seen traits of greatness from him over the course of the past season. But you know he is going to be his own toughest critic, certainly tougher than his older brothers, J.J. Watt and Derek Watt.
The youngest Watt brother dismissed any talk of personal accolades for his performance. “We’re in week six or seven ,whatever it is, I’m trying to get wins, man”, he said. “Me being an All-Pro player or Pro Bowl or any of that stuff isn’t necessarily going to help contribute to the record. I’m trying to get us a win on the board this week”.
How do you go about doing that as a defensive player? Most simply, take the ball away and bring it back for a score. Alternately, prevent the offense from taking it for a score when they get a takeaway. Knock them out of field goal range. Things of that sort.