The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: T.J. Watt
Position: Outside Linebacker
Experience: 3 Years
He may not have been honored with the formal distinction of being the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2019 season, but T.J. Watt most certainly established himself as one of the elite edge defenders in the NFL during his third year in the league, an integral piece in the Steelers’ resurgent defense that has many excited for the unit going forward.
A 2017 first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin, Watt was hoping to join his older brother to become the first pair of siblings in NFL history to have both won the Defensive Player of the Year award. J.J. Watt is a three-time winner and is one of the most remarkable players and human beings among athletes in this generation.
T.J. has very much followed in his footsteps, even if he might not be quite as elite at the top end of the scale. Make no mistake, however, his 2019 season was fantastic, registering 14.5 sacks with 36 quarterback hits, with 14 tackles for loss, a league-leading eight forced fumbles, four fumbles recovered, and two interceptions, one of which occurred in the end zone.
Perhaps more important is the fact that he has now established a two-year pattern of elite numbers, having put up 12 sacks with six forced fumbles a year ago, plus 12 tackles for loss. It was really in the second half of that season in which he seemed to begin really putting things together.
I can see no reason not to believe that the should be every bit as good and as impactful during the 2020 season as he was in 2019. He has the sort of composition that will drive him to constantly strive for greatness while feeling as though he has never reached it, unless he forces a turnover on every single play.
Up next is contract considerations. He isn’t guaranteed to get a new extension this year, as he will still be under contract through 2021 because of the fifth-year option, but they’ll want to get him locked up sooner rather than later. And he’ll be worth it, whatever the cost.