2023 Offseason Questions: Will T.J. Watt Retake DPOY Throne Next Season?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Will T.J. Watt retake the Defensive Player of the Year throne in 2023?

That T.J. Watt would not repeat as Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 was made apparent very early in the season. But that was only because he suffered a pectoral injury in week one. It occurred toward the end of what was a very good game for him, picking up where he left off.

He was not quite the same player when he did return to the field, at least not initially. He has since told reporters that he didn’t really start to feel healthy until the final couple of games. And even then he was likely far from 100 percent.

But he should be for the start of the 2023 season. So can he be the same player that he was a season ago? The kind of guy who tied the NFL record in sacks? As long as there are no lingering complications from his injury, I see no reason to doubt it.

By all accounts, he certainly seems to put in as much work as he always has. And if anything he’ll only be hungrier now. If there were any concerns—which there shouldn’t have been—of complacency after finally winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award, those should now be set aside.

Although he was named to the Pro Bowl, the best argument for that is the results the team put up without him on the field. The Steelers obviously struggled when he was gone. But while his loss was great, equally at issue was their lack of quality depth.

Fear not, though. Watt only missed four games in his first five seasons, and there’s no reason to believe significant injuries will suddenly become his pattern. We can never predict exactly what will happen, but he should have as good a chance as any to compete for the Defensive Player of the Year Award again next season.

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