Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt got married on Saturday in Cabo San Lucas and that means the 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is off to honeymoon with a little more than two weeks to go before the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for the start of their annual training camp. Once training camp gets underway, Watt will really begin ramping up his preparations for the 2022 season, which gets underway exactly nine weeks from today. If things go well for Watt at the start of the season, he could quite possibly become the Steelers new franchise leader in sacks by the team’s Week 9 bye week.
Watt, as most of you are likely aware of by now, has registered 72 sacks in his first five NFL seasons. He accomplished those 72 sacks in just 77 regular season games played in and that pace is quite incredible. If you need the math, Watt has averaged .935 sacks a game since entering the NFL in 2017. Should he keep that same pace in the Steelers first eight games of the 2022 regular season, which equates to nearly 7.5 more sacks by the team’s bye week. 79.5 sacks would put him one full sack away from tying the Steelers franchise sack record of 80.5, which currently belongs to former outside linebacker James Harrison.
Last season, Watt registered 11.5 sacks in the team’s first eight games of the regular season, and he even missed one of those contests due to a groin injury. In 2020, Watt registered 7.0 sacks in the team’s first eight regular season games. He had 7.5 sacks in the Steelers first eight games of the 2019 season. In short, he certainly could catch Harrison and pass him by the Steelers Week 9 bye week if he stays healthy.
The steelers Week 7 and Week 8 games are both on the road against the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, so if Watt does wind up catching and passing Harrison by the bye week, the event is likely to take place in either of those two games. The Steelers post-bye week game is at home at Heinz Field against the New Orleans Saints.
At worst, Watt should pass Jason Gildon for second place on the Steelers all-time sack list by the bye week. He will enter 2022 just five sacks behind Gildon’s 77 sacks. It took Gildon 158 games to register those 77 sacks, by the way, and that is a testament as to the unbelievable pace that Watt is currently on.
We might see Watt back on television very soon as he has been nominated for a 2022 ESPY in the Best NFL Player category. The other nominees for Best NFL Player are Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, MVP of Super Bowl LVI; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 2021 MVP; and Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, who led the league in rushing yards and rushing TDs. The ESPYS will be shown on ABC on July 20 at 8 p.m. ET.
If you are jonesing for some Watt highlights, below are all his sacks from the 2021 season.