A year ago, we talked about T.J. Watt’s very real chance to join Reggie White in some elite-of-the-elite company. Watt needed 13 sacks in 2021 to join White as the only players since 1982, when sacks became official, to have four consecutive seasons with 13+ sacks.
Watt, of course, blew past that mark, tying the NFL record with 22.5 of them. Over his first five years, he’s up to 72 career sacks, an absurdly high number reached by only a handful of players over that span, including big brother J.J. Watt, slightly ahead with 74.5
But Watt can again join White in a “only two people to do this” stat in 2022. Should Watt reach 18+ sacks, he and White will become the only players in NFL history with 90+ sacks through their first six seasons in the league.
White, the dominant force he was, racked up 95 sacks over his first six seasons. He burst onto the scene a bit quicker than Watt and got a head start on the sack totals, picking up 18 of them his sophomore season before leading the league his junior year with 21. Watt had just seven as a rookie but quickly exploded that number. Here’s how White’s first six seasons compare to Watt’s first five.
Reggie White Sack Totals (First Six Seasons)
Rookie Year – 13
2nd Year – 18
3rd Year – 21 (led league)
4th Year – 18 (led league)
5th Year – 11
6th Year – 14
T.J. Watt Sack Totals (First Five Seasons)
Rookie Year – 7
2nd Year – 13
3rd Year – 14.5
4th Year – 15 (led league)
5th Year – 22.5 (led league)
A slower, steadier upward climb for Watt than White. White had more sacks after five years than Watt, 84 versus 72, so White’s overall numbers are more impressive.
Still, all Watt needs this season is 18 sacks, just over one per game, to become the second player with 90. And that’s NFL history, not even only counting sacks that became official in 1982, one of my typical caveats. The closest to White right now is Al Baker’s 87 followed by Deacon Jones’ 84.5.
Eighteen sacks in a season is no small feat. But for a guy who had 22.5 of them last year in 15 games while playing hurt virtually the entire year, it’s entirely doable. Should Watt reach that 90 mark, he’ll already be lapping the field for the franchise record, James Harrison’s 80.5, and he’ll join White in incredible company. And oh yeah, be knocking on that triple-digit door that he’ll bust down in 2023.