It is not an understatement to say that Steeler faithful has grown impatient and tired of the limited use of FB Derek Watt. GM Kevin Colbert doled out a 3-year, $9.75 million contract to Watt last offseason after letting go of long-time fullback and fan favorite Rosie Nix. Many expected to see the lesser heralded Watt on the field early and often in his career after paying such a premium at the position and given how effective the Steeler running game was when using Nix over his career.
After seeing just 53 offensive snaps in 2020 (4.73%), many in the media and those watching at home have understandably grown impatient. Some assumed Mike Tomlin and new OC Matt Canada would implement a package of plays to use Watt much more often in Year 2 to boost a run game ranked dead last in the league. However, nothing has changed thus far this season. Watt saw the field for just four snaps (7%) against the Bills and this past Sunday, did not take a single offensive snap.
At today’s presser, Tomlin said Watt is still part of the offense, even if it doesn’t always look like it.
“That’s an option as well,” Tomlin told reporters. “Like I mentioned in regards to no huddle, we’ve got a limited number of snaps that we have available to us from a preparation standpoint. And we make decisions week in and week out based on match-ups and our perceived strengths versus their potential perceived strengths. Derek is a valued member of our team. He’s the captain of our special teams. He’s a very credible fullback. Some weeks he is going to be featured. Some weeks he’s going to not be featured. And sometimes it might not have anything to do with his capabilities. It’s just the nature of this thing.”
As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and when it comes to Watt it is very difficult to take Tomlin’s words at face value. As a team that is always up against it when it comes to the salary cap during the offseason, it is tough to stomach spending over $3 million per year on a player that essentially only serves as a Special Teams captain. It is understandable that solving the offensive line issues in both facets of the offense is more complicated than just having Watt on the field more often.
However, after spending a first-round pick on a running back in efforts to rectify a league worst rush attack, it is more than fair to question why Watt isn’t out on the field to help.