The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will T.J. Watt win the Defensive Player of the Year Award?
Sunday, frankly, doesn’t really mean anything for the Steelers, or really for 30 teams in the NFL. They’re not playing in it, and they have nothing to gain or lose by the outcome. But Saturday could be a rather significant one for Pittsburgh, as a number of things will be decided.
Not only is it ‘Selection Saturday’, during which the five modern enshrines for the 2020 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be decided, it’s also the day on which the NFL Honors ceremony will be held, and at which point the end-of-season awards will be handed out.
The one that the Steelers and their fans have their eyes on is, of course, the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and pretty consistently, outside linebacker T.J. Watt has had his name right in the thick of the conversation. He was a first-team All-Pro, putting up 14.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, four recoveries, and two interceptions. He has 27.5 sacks and 14 forced fumbles over the course of the past two seasons.
The last Steeler to win the award was Troy Polamalu in 2010, when he recorded seven interceptions. The Steelers were in the Super Bowl that year. Two years prior to that, they won the Super Bowl, with James Harrison the day before being named the recipient of the award after recording 16 sacks with seven forced fumbles. He proceeded to record a 100-yard pick-six in the game.