TJ Watt’s not only having an unbelievable season, he’s making the teammates around him better too. Robert Spillane had an excellent interview on The Pat McAfee Show explaining why. They touched on a variety of topics, all worth checking out, but Spillane’s explanation of Watt’s value was eye-opening.
Spillane said Watt gets the group together each Friday to share his findings of the QBs cadence and offense’s verbal cues.
“You’re getting a lot more verbal cues from the offense,” Spillane said when asked if the lack of crowds made picking up on those cues easier. “And TJ is the leader of our defense in terms of listening to that cadence. He [gets the group together] every Friday before our meetings. Just getting in there with him and realizing how he just studies voice inflection has provided some understanding to what I need to learn. Sometimes you can hear little calls the offensive linemen make and pick up on that throughout the game. So that’s what I’ve been able to do.”
Watt was on McAfee’s show earlier this year and said he’s watching more TV tape than ever before. Coaches tape doesn’t have any audio but TV tape – the stuff we watch each Sunday – opened up a different view of the game with small or no crowds.
“This is the first time I’ve been able to hear almost everything,” he told McAfee in early October. “This is the most TV copies of games that I’ve watched. I’ve watched pretty much every single game of our opponent on TV and just kind of close my eyes and listen for as much information that I could possibly get to help me and then relay it to my teammates and use it to our benefit.”
It’s certainly benefitted Watt. His nine sacks this season are tied for second most in the league. That’s the same number as Aaron Donald and only a half-sack behind Myles Garrett (who is out this weekend after being placed on the Reserve/COVID list). Watt’s burst off the ball looks even better this season. Some of that is his innate physical ability, those Watt football genes run in the family. But some of it is his film study paying off, timing up the snap and whooping the tackle off the edge. Like here. This one led to a Cam Sutton INT against the Browns.
While we’ve talked about it on the site and on the podcast, Watt’s work ethic, film study, and football IQ are critically overlooked parts of his game. When you couple his talent with his mind and desire to be among the greats, you have one of football’s scariest defenders in football. He’s upped his game to a new level and by the summer, should get rewarded with a mega long-term deal.