TJ Watt deserves to be named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. But even on the off chance voters snub him, he’ll still be the league’s winner in one category. With 15 of them, Watt will end the 2020 season as football’s sack leader. Here’s the NFL leaderboard.
1. TJ Watt – 15
T-2. Aaron Donald – 13.5
T-2. Trey Hendrickson – 13.5
T-4. Hasson Reddick – 12.5
T-4. Za’Darius Smith – 12.5
Watt set the league’s high mark in just 15 games after being held out of Sunday’s performance versus the Browns. That prevented him the chance from tying James Harrison’s franchise record of 16 but he still ends 2020 as the NFL’s top dog.
Despite all the memorable Steelers’ pass rushers over the last 40 years, Watt becomes only the second Steeler since 1982 (when sacks became an official, individual stat) to lead the league in QB takedowns. The only other was the late Kevin Greene, whose 14 in 1994 paced the group. As you may have read, only weeks before his death, Greene spoke glowingly of Watt. Not even James Harrison’s record season took the NFL’s top spot. His 16 set in 2008 was only fourth in the league, four behind DeMarcus Ware’s 20.
At the feverish pace he’s on, Watt is quickly climbing up the Steelers’ leaderboards. His 49.5 career sacks are already 8th all-time, though again, that’s just since 1982. If the Steel Curtain’s sacks officially counted, Watt would be further down the charts.
Eleven more sacks from Watt next season will vault him into the Steelers’ top five. And if we assume he plays just six more years in Pittsburgh, he’ll need to average just over *five* sacks a season to break Harrison’s career mark. With the way Watt’s career is accelerating, it’s less of a question of “if” he’ll become the Steelers’ all-time leader but how quickly it’ll happen.
It’s an open question as to how many sacks he’ll finish his career with. Barring good health, he’s well on track to hit triple-digits.