In the 2021-22 season, we all witnessed a truly historic season from stud pass-rusher T.J. Watt, fresh off signing his new mega-deal extension. All he did to validate his massive payday was go out and tie the single-season sacks record of 22.5, set by Giants’ Hall Of Famer Michael Strahan way back in the 2001 season. For the fourth year in a row, Watt netted at least 13 sacks, including six games of two or more, highlighted by four takedowns of Baker Mayfield in a Monday Night Football win over the Browns in January. He was awarded for his efforts, finally bringing home the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award that had eluded him the past two seasons, and which many argue, should’ve been his third year straight of winning it.
So what does he have in-store for an encore in the upcoming 2022 season? Well, according to Kristopher Knox at Bleacher Report, who compiled his list of NFL records he thinks will be broken next season, he thinks Watt breaking his own mark is the one most likely to happen. One key footnote when looking at his monstrous season last year is this: he only played in 15 games, and if we want to get technical, 14.5 because he only played in one half of the other game. If not for those, he would’ve obliterated Strahan’s record, and claimed the sack throne all to himself.
“For Watt, sharing a piece of NFL history isn’t the ultimate goal,” Knox wrote on Bleacher Report. “Unless new Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin takes a surprisingly conservative approach, though, Watt feels like the clear front-runner for this milestone.”
Before he eyes that single-season record, Watt needs only nine sacks to break the Steelers’ all-time sack record, currently held by James Harrison and his 80.5. Sitting at 72, Watt will undoubtedly shatter that record this season, barring injury. This feat will be made all the more impressive when we consider that Watt will only be entering his sixth NFL season. At this point in his career, he’s very clearly on a Hall of Fame trajectory.
Watt will have some company when it comes to the single-season record though, as guys like Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett and Robert Quinn all eclipsed the 15-sack threshold, and were right on his heels for much of last season before his aforementioned four-sack outburst, which put him out of reach. With a schedule that will not require the team to leave the Eastern Time Zone, coupled with an end-of-season stretch run which features several non-playoff squads from last season, perhaps we’ll be in store for another DPOY-worthy campaign in which Watt can finally make the record SOLELY his.
“If Watt can stay on the field for a full season, he could end up having the single-season record all to his lonesome.”