T.J. Watt being recognized by his teammates as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Most Valuable Player for 2019 meant something to him, a fact that he could not deny when he stepped to the podium earlier this week to acknowledge and accept his honor. And that is exactly what it is, in his own words.
“It’s quite an honor, and I can’t really hide how I feel about it, because it’s voted on by the peers and the guys that I’m around on a daily basis, so to be recognized as the team MVP is special to me, and it’s special to everybody in the locker room, because it’s not just me, it’s this whole team collectively”, he said.
Watt, for example, is one of five Steelers to be named to the Pro Bowl this year, including three defensive players, also flanked by Cameron Heyward along the defensive line and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end.
“I can only speak from a defensive standpoint, but we’re so close as a unit, and I’m just having so much fun with this group. We’re still far from done, so that’s what makes it even more fun”, he said, as he and his teammates prepare for a crucial Week 17 game that will help decide whether or not they have the opportunity to play next week.
Through 15 games, Watt has recorded 14 sacks, which is officially tied for the third-most in team history, behind James Harrison’s 16 in 2008 and Mike Merriweather’s 15 back in 1984. Both Kevin Greene and Keith Willis reached 14 sacks, in 1994 and 1983, respectively. Watt’s seven fumbles this season are tied for the most by any Steeler since at least 1993, as far back as Pro Football Focus’s numbers go.
In spite of his extensive individual success, he nevertheless shies away from the spotlight. “I don’t like to be singled out on this defense because there are so many other guys you can single out”, he said. “I think you look across the starting defense and even the guys that fill in behind us, there are so many playmakers and so many guys that don’t necessarily get the recognition”
“If you turn on the film, and you watch the amount of double teams they take, or the guys they take away in the passing game”, he added, “it’s remarkable how we’re working together as a unit, and that’s what makes things so fun, is you can’t really eliminate one guy from this defense, because there are so many more playmakers”.
It’s a virtual necessity that the Steelers get this stellar level of play on defense to which Watt refers in order to achieve victory tomorrow evening against the Baltimore Ravens, but of course even that may not be enough to get them to where they want to be.