TJ Watt’s been nothing short of a record setter through the first four years of his career. And he’s close to setting another. With just 1.5 more sacks this season, he’ll set the official mark for most sacks in his first four seasons as a Steeler. Temporarily sitting in first place is LaMarr Woodley, who racked up 39 from 2007 to 2010. Here’s the top five since the stat became official in 1982.
1. LaMarr Woodley – 39 (2007-2010)
2. TJ Watt – 38 (2017-2020)
3. Joey Porter – 30.5 (1999-2002)
4. Chad Brown – 30 (1993-1996)
5. Keith Willis – 25.5 (1982-1985)
By season’s end, Watt should blow by Woodley for the Steelers’ record. But don’t go thinking he’s on pace to set an NFL record. Reggie White comfortably holds that top spot with a whopping 70 in his Hall of Fame career. If Watt can pick up another ten sacks, he will move into the top ten on that list surrounded by some well-known names. Guys like Richard Dent, Demarcus Ware, and of course, older brother JJ Watt.
Watt has a strong chance to pass up Woodley this weekend against the Eagles. Right tackle Lane Johnson missed most of Sunday’s win over the 49ers with an ankle injury, forcing rookie Jack Driscoll to step in. Carson Wentz and the Eagles have been among the most sacked this season, sacked at least three times in three games including a whopping eight times in a Week 1 loss to Washington.
At the risk of sounding homer-ish, Watt is on a special track in his career. In just four seasons, he’s nearly halfway to the franchise sack record held by James Harrison’s 80.5. He’s already made two Pro Bowls, one All-Pro team, and will add to those numbers over the years. He’s only 25, I know, but already on a serious path to end up in Canton someday.
Of course, you could’ve said the same about Woodley at this stage in his career. Watt’s unlikely to suffer the same weight and injury pittfalls that cut Woodley’s promising career short. You already know this by now, so does the NFL, but Watt is the real deal. And this time next year, he’ll be locked up on a mega-contract, one that’ll likely make him the highest paid defender in football.