2020 South Side Questions: Will T.J. Watt Break Steelers’ Single-Season Sack Record?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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 break the Steelers’ single-season sack record in 2020?

It’s early, but it’s inevitable. This question may be asked every year for a while, at least until he breaks the record—and then we’ll be asking in later years about whether or not he will break his own record. Will T.J. Watt secure for himself the Steelers’ single-season sack record?

Set by James Harrison in 2008 at 16, the Steelers’ single-season sack record is not actually exceptionally high, globally speaking. 56 players have posted more than 16 sacks in a single season, and 67 times a player has had at least 16 sacks. There probably aren’t too many teams who actually have a lower record threshold.

Nevertheless, that’s the Steelers’ record, the previous record owned by Mike Merriweather when he recorded 15 sacks in 1984. Watt nearly reached that mark last season with 14.5 sacks, the third-most ever in a single season in team history, which ranks tied for 101st-most. Kevin Greene and Keith Willis each had 14.

So far this year, he has 3.5 through three games, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL right now behind Aldon Smith, who has 4. After finishing with 13 in 2018, he only has to continue the same growth has he took from that year into the next to reach 16.

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