The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Myles Garrett will finish the season with more sacks than T.J. Watt.
Explanation: These two former 2017 first-round draft picks have been competing to be the sack champion, at least of the AFC North, for the past few years now, and this year is no exception. Garrett currently leads the league with 9.5 sacks, while Watt is third with seven sacks in just five games.
Garrett is dominating offensive lines this year, and he has a better complementary player across from him in Jadeveon Clowney. The two of them have among the very highest pass rush win rates of all edge rushers in the league, and they’re feeding off of each other—though Garrett is doing most of the heavy chewing.
Think about it. Garrett is already on the doorstep of double-digit sacks—and he still has another 10 games to play. And he’s playing with by far the most talented defense he has ever played with before. You think that’s not helping him?
Just because Garrett might theoretically finish the season with more sacks, as this section is speculating, though, doesn’t mean he’s the better player, or even the better pass-rusher. Watt does have the higher win rate, even if he hasn’t converted as many opportunities into sacks, and he’s affected many plays without a takedown.
Garrett has 9.5 sacks, yes. In seven games. Watt’s seven sacks have come in just five games. While he did cost himself a game due to injury, he still has 11 games left to go, and is averaging more sacks per game played, so over the long haul, he will come out on top.
And Garrett got nearly half of his sacks in just one game, 4.5 coming in a single afternoon. He has five sacks across the other six games he’s played. Over a longer sample size, the impact of an outlier figure gets diminished.
Another feather in Watt’s cap is that he is only getting healthier than he was at the start of the year, and, at least at some point, he should expect to get more help, once Stephon Tuitt gets back. He and Tuitt have worked very well together over the years. The left-side duo combined for 26 sacks last year.