T.J. Watt isn’t concerned about DPOY. The only acronym he’s focused on is SB — Super Bowl. Though if Watt can win the first one, then the Steelers will have that much better chance of winning the other. Speaking with reporters yesterday after the first day of training camp practice, Watt said he’s paying little attention to the NFL award race.
“It is what it is at this point,” Watt told reporters via the team’s YouTube channel. “It doesn’t matter. Winning the Super Bowl is all that really matters in the grand scheme of things. Like I said, I’m coming out here. I love football and I still love it.”
Watt finished as the runner-up for the award last year, narrowly losing out to the Rams’ Aaron Donald. Watt had better stats, leading the league in sacks and tackles for loss. Donald is the best interior defensive lineman in football and regarded as the league’s premier defender. So he took home the hardware. Two years ago, Watt lost out to Stephon Gilmore, whose six interceptions were evidently enough to edge out Watt’s 14.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles.
Watt is looking to become the Steelers’ first player to win DPOY since Troy Polamalu did so in 2010. But his focus is on improving his game and helping the new and young faces in his room.
“I am trying to get better each and every day. There are so many aspects of my game that need work. To have guys like Melvin and new guys that come in and I can continue to learn from them and improve my game so that’s what I’m most excited about this season.”
Watt won’t have the benefit of empty stadiums like he did last season. In 2020, he took advantage of the fact, relying on TV tape to listen to QB cadence and offensive line calls. With stadiums expected to be at 100% capacity this year, that element goes away.
Still, Watt is expected to have a strong season as one of the league’s top edge rushers. Through four years, he already has 49.5 sacks. Since 1960, that’s tied for the seventh most of all-time only behind names like Reggie White, Dwight Freeney, and older brother J.J. Watt. Through five years, the record for sacks is Reggie White with a ridiculous 81 of them. If Watt can have another 15-sack season and boost his career total to 64.5, he’ll be tied for the sixth-most unofficially (since 1960) and tied for fourth-most officially (since 1982).
But for Watt, the only trophy he cares about holding is the Lombardi. It’ll be up to him and this Steelers’ defense to remain a top unit as the Steelers’ offense, to some degree, reinvents itself.