In the 3-4 era, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been at their best seemingly when they had a great set of edge defenders. You had Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene in the 90s. Then you had James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Now they have T.J. Watt…and Bud Dupree? Their combined 26 sacks are the second-most put up in a single season by a duo in franchise history, behind Harrison and Woodley in 2008 with 27.5.
Watt does carry a lot of the water for the duo, but they’re both at a high enough level that Pro Football Focus included them in a list of the top five edge defender duos in the NFL…coming in at number five, admittedly.
“He has seen a smooth progression from solid contributor to player on the rise to bona fide star this past season”, Linsey wrote about Watt. “As a pass-rusher, he can win with speed, quickness and power, and he led the way for what was the NFL’s highest-graded team pass rush in Pittsburgh last season. Watt’s relentless motor makes him one of the better run defenders at the position, too”.
Dupree had a breakout year in his fifth season, putting up 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles, while playing strong run defense.
“Dupree didn’t necessarily record pressure at a higher rate than in previous seasons, but what he did do was capitalize on his opportunities in the form of sacks (11.5) and forced fumbles (four), both well above his previous career highs”, Linsey wrote. “It remains to be seen if he can repeat that performance after getting the franchise tag from Pittsburgh this offseason, but if he can, there is no doubt the Steelers have one of the best edge tandems in the NFL”.
Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead were given top honors for the San Francisco 49ers, followed by Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. I have a feeling a lot of Steelers fans will contest that, so feel free to do so below if you’re so inclined. At three is Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport of the New Orleans Saints, and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram come out in fourth place.
Watt was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season, posting 14.5 sacks. He led the NFL with eight forced fumbles, and he also recorded two interceptions. He doesn’t appear at all interested in slowing down, either.