2022 Offseason Questions: Can T.J. Watt Go Back-To-Back As DPOY?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Can T.J. Watt go back-to-back as Defensive Player of the Year in 2022?

While it was no surprise, there was probably some relief last night as J.J. Watt announced his baby brother T.J. as the recipient of the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award. It was a long time coming, after he had finished as first or second runner-up over the previous two years.

T.J. is now one of only 40 players to have ever won the award, something that his brother has done three times himself. Eight players have won it multiple times. In addition to J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald and Lawrence Taylor have also won the award three times.

But only those three-time winners have ever won the award in consecutive seasons in its history. Watt’s older brother did in 2014 and 2015. Can baby brother achieve that? Well, it’s certainly a possibility, but what are the odds of it actually happening? It’s interesting to note that T.J. is actually now older than J.J. was when he won his third.

Watt just became the third player in NFL history to record 70 sacks or more within his first five seasons, and he’s coming off of his most productive year as a pass rusher, so that’s a good indication that he is still very much in his prime—or even still getting better.

Still, history tells us that it’s incredibly difficult to repeat. There will always be players who have standout seasons. It took Watt shattering the Steelers’ all-time single-season sack record to finally break through, though he did earn 42 of the 50 total votes, the others going to Donald and rookie Micah Parsons.

Of course, I’m sure many in the comments will be quick to point out that Watt should have already been winning his second consecutive this year, believing that he deserved his first in 2020 more than Donald deserved his third.

While I’m inclined to agree, that’s unfortunately neither here nor there, other than to simply point out that he has proven capable of stringing together Defensive Player of the Year-worthy seasons. He did become the third player ever to repeat as sack king in consecutive seasons this year.

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