2020 South Side Questions: Will T.J. Watt Win The DPOY Award?

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 win the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2020?

T.J. Watt is on pace to record 53 tackles with 25 for loss with 16 sacks, 11 passes defensed, and two interceptions, plus 25 quarterback hits. What the does not have this season, which frankly is baffling, is a single forced fumble. He had six in 2018, and then eight in 2019.

Last season, he recorded 55 tackles, with 14 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, two interceptions, and eight forced fumbles, but he ended up finishing third in the voting for the Defensive Player of the Year polling, with New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore winning the award. Gilmore had six interceptions with 20 passes defensed and two touchdowns along with 53 tackles.

Currently, Myles Garrett with 9.5 is the only player with more sacks than Watt. Aaron Donald also has nine, and nobody else has more than eight. His 28 hits (according to NFL data) is nine more than anybody else. His 14 tackles for loss are tied for second (with Vince Williams) behind only Roquan Smith. Both Garrett and Donald only have seven tackles for loss. Garrett, however, has four forced fumbles, and Donald has three.

Meanwhile, the latest Patriot, cornerback J.C. Jackson, has six interceptions and 11 passes defensed with two fumble recoveries. Cornerbacks rarely win the award, but could it happen two years in a row? Probably not, considering the Patriots’ performance as a whole this season.

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