They say it’s not how you start but how you finish. But when you’re a pass rusher in the NFL, how you start is usually a good indication of how things end. And no one got off to better starts in 2020 than TJ Watt and Bud Dupree.
ESPN’s Seth Walder has a great stat via NextGenStats that show Watt and Dupree tied for the quickest get-off in football, crossing the line of scrimmage in less than three-quarters of a second. 0.72 to be exact. Here’s his tweet of the top five.
Fastest average pass rush get off — the time to cross the LOS — among players with at least 200 pass rushes last season:
T.J. Watt 0.72
Bud Dupree 0.72
Carl Lawson 0.73
Yannick Ngakoue 0.73
Myles Garrett 0.74
3 free agents in that group!@NextGenStats
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) March 9, 2021
Pretty impressive list to be apart of. The contrast between 0.72 and say, 0.90 might not sound like much but in the NFL, a fraction of a second can be the difference between a sack and allowing the QB to get the ball out.
It’s no surprise to know Watt and Dupree do so well here. They’re both explosive athletes but beyond that, are also dedicated to tape study. All through the season, Watt discussed the silver linings of playing without fans. He used TV tape to listen to QBs cadences and linemen calls and time up the snap count better than ever before. All-22 doesn’t provide audio, giving the broadcast copy an advantage for the first time ever.
“Being able to get off the ball is number one as an edge rusher,” he said back in October. “But you have to look at the bright side, this is the first time I’ve been able to hear almost everything. 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.”
Several teammates said Watt would pass along the knowledge picked up from his film study to the rest of the group. Watt ended up leading the league in sacks with 15 sacks while the Steelers finished first in the league with 56. They’ve now gone four straight years with 50+ sacks. If they do it again in 2021, they’ll tie the NFL record.
As Walder’s tweet notes, three of those names are set to hit free agency. Bud Dupree is almost certainly going to be playing elsewhere in 2021. The Tennessee Titans have been rumored as a suitor. Carl Lawson and Yannick Ngakoue are also slated to hit the open market.