The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2022 season.
Player: T.J. Watt
Experience: 6 Years
The 2022 season was obviously frustrating for T.J. Watt. While he only missed seven games, he wasn’t himself for basically nine of the 10 games he did play. That’s because he suffered a pectoral injury at the end of the opener, an otherwise very good game for him.
He missed the next seven games as a result. He avoided surgery on the pectoral injury, but ended up having a procedure done on his knee. That reportedly delayed his return a bit until after the bye. Yet he was far from full capacity when he did return.
Watt has been more open about that since the season ended. He’s talked about how he didn’t start to feel like himself until the final two games, and even then it wasn’t the same. It’s too simplistic to just look at stats, but really, finishing with 5.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss—that’s not him.
But he had his brothers, for one thing, to lean on. Both had gone through similar or worse pectoral injuries themselves and were able to advise him in his recovery. Protecting him from himself, for one thing.
By the late stages of the season, Watt grew tired of answering questions about his health. At one point when asked how he felt, he simply said that it doesn’t matter at this point and that he’s going to play anyway.
The good news is that there’s no reason to think we won’t be getting the usual T.J. Watt back in 2023 when he has the opportunity to fully recover. His injury shouldn’t hinder him in any way going forward. If anything, it will be a reminder to him of the time lost and the ground he has to cover to make it up.