Through 15 games in the 2019 season, Pittsburgh Steelers third-year outside linebacker has put up fantastic numbers. He has 50 tackles with 14 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 34 quarterback hits, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and seven passes defensed. Among defensive players, he is right there in the argument for candidates with the most complete game in the NFL, to be sure.
The former first-round pick has already won the Steelers’ MVP Award, as voted on by his teammates, the first defensive player to be voted the team MVP since 2010 when Troy Polamalu was voted as such. That year, Polamalu also won the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Will Watt follow suit in that same path? If he does, he will have done so against some stiff competition, including the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Chandler Jones, Shaquil Barrett, and Aaron Donald, whom it goes without saying is a perennial contender. But is he thinking about it?
“Not really, to be honest with you”, he told reporters last week while accepting his team MVP Award. “If I do any of that, my brother will humble me really quickly. And we have to win football games. I think we need to take games one at a time, and I think you saw it this past week, we lost control of our own destiny, so now it’s, we have to win this game first and foremost, and if we don’t, we don’t even get to think about the other options, so we have to take care of business first”.
For the most part, not many people are going to care if you are the defensive player of the year if your team doesn’t even make the postseason. It’ll look good on your resume at the end of your career, especially if you’re knocking on the door to Canton, but in such a team-oriented sport, collective failure surely dampens the enthusiasm for such an award.
Still, to win it is better than not winning it, and after all, T.J. has some catching up to do, as older brother J.J. Watt has already been named the Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, and he’s still not done being dominant, even if injuries have hampered him in recent years.
For those who may be keeping score, T.J. would need two and a half sacks today not only to break James Harrison’s team single-season sack record of 16, but also to tie his older brother for sacks in their first three seasons. T.J. is currently at 34, with 14 this season. J.J. had 36.5 in his first three years, including 20.5 in year two. He has recorded at least 16 sacks in four different seasons, most recently in 2018, and in four of the past five seasons in which he has played in more than eight games.