During his second season, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt recorded 13 sacks, with six forced fumbles, in what was the best statistical season for an edge defender on the team in about a decade. He proceeded to follow that up with a 15-sack, eight-forced-fumble campaign that saw him graduate from Pro Bowler to first-team All-Pro and a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
With that in mind, people want to know what his goals are for this year. One big, fat, juicy goal dangling over him is James Harrison’s single-season sack record of 16, which based on last season is certainly within the realm of obtainability for him. He is already the only player in franchise history to post multiple seasons of 13 or more sacks while with the organization, players like Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Jason Gildon, and Mike Merriweather having only managed to hit that mark once. That also includes Kevin Greene, but he was only here for three years and did remarkable things throughout his Hall of Fame career.
So is he shooting for 16.5 sacks or more in 2020, specifically? Both Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden weren’t shy about setting interception goals for themselves this year. “I don’t know if there’s necessarily individual goals—nothing public that I know of, I’ll never publish my individual goals”, he told reporters earlier today. But he does have one overall objective.
“I want to be able to be a game-wrecker”, he said. “I want to be able to be somebody that the other team has to scheme around”.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure that he hasn’t already accomplished this goal. That’s not to say that he has already reached the peak of his abilities and there is no further room for improvement, but I would be rather surprised if offensive coordinators weren’t already rather concerned about facing him. And it’s not just Watt, but Watt with Bud Dupree on the other side, who has similar ambitions.
“I know that the same goes for Bud as well, and we push each other each and every day”, Watt said, “and he’s learned some new moves throughout the offseason and so do I. Just making sure that there aren’t many times in practice where we’re just kind of sitting on the sidelines not working on our game. If it’s a special teams and neither of us are out there, we’re trying to be on the sidelines, trying to help each other out, become the best players that we can possibly be”.
Unfortunately, the 2020 season is very likely to be the last for the duo, with Dupree slated to be an unrestricted free agent in March. Watt will be due for a possibly history-making extension next offseason as well, which may make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. If he accomplished his only publicly-stated goal of wrecking games—assuming that he hasn’t already—then he will be well-deserving of that.