T.J. Watt Talks Physical Mindset Defensively: ‘I Love Clanging and Banging With These Guys’

On Movin’ The Chains on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt talked about the physical attitude the Steelers bring year in and year out.

“My brothers have played other places and they’ve talked about how they don’t tackle live as much as we do here, we tackle live every day,” Watt said. “We’re in pads, multiple periods. So, it’s all about setting a tone and we know that we’re a young team and the only way to get better is to have those reps. It’s alright if you mess up, you just have to be going a hundred miles an hour and you can’t make the same mistake twice. That’s the difference between professional and amateur stuff. So, I love clanging and banging with these guys and we have to find our identity and that’s what we’re here to do.”

Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t as young as the offense, but that physical play benefits guys on both sides of the football. On offense, guys get used to the physicality of the NFL and how the Steelers want to play. Defensively, they get into the attitude of being a physical, hard-hitting group early which helps breed that style of play when things start to matter.

It’s important for the Steelers to set that physical tone early, especially this year. The defense is more than likely going to carry this team, and to do so they’re going to have to be the physical, aggressive unit they’ve shown they can be. Obviously, they need to improve from last year when they finished last in the NFL in run defense, but the defensive unit is this team’s strength.

Watt will be the anchor of the unit as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but he’ll have a lot of help from guys like Cameron Heyward, Minah Fitzpatrick, Alex Highsmith, Tyson Alualu and others. Pittsburgh has guys who should be above-average starters at every position on defense, and the unit will have to set the tone early. Getting in that extra work in pads and having those extra reps is important, as it helps adds toughness and the benefits of that repetition will show itself in the regular season.

Offensively, it’s a group that’s going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL every day. Even if the results don’t show themselves in camp, the hope is that the level of preparation against a unit as good as the Steelers will make them better when they go up against other teams. Although they’re going up against their teammates, the defense doesn’t want the offense to win in situations, and they’re going to do everything in their power to stop them. Getting that level of intensity and those reps against what should be a top defense should only serve to help out the Pittsburgh offense when the regular season rolls around.

Pittsburgh’s always been known for having a physical and hard-hitting defense. Obviously, the guys on the team love playing that way, and it’s clearly a mindset that they focus on as soon as training camp starts. It’s one that usually leads to a higher level of play on the defensive side of the ball, and the Steelers are certainly hoping that will be the case again this year.

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