T.J. Watt Says It ‘Isn’t Acceptable’ For The Steelers To Miss The Postseason

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has been making the media rounds lately, and today he appeared on the Associated Press Pro Football Podcast hosted by Rob Maadi for their Super Bowl Radio Row Lickoff episode. Watt talked about the 2022 Steelers season, and how it was unacceptable given the Steelers’ legacy to miss the playoffs.

“With Mike T at the helm, you always feel like you have a chance to win each and every game. And we didn’t get into the playoffs this year, which isn’t acceptable for the Pittsburgh Steelers from the strong legacy that has been laid from the guys before us. But we finished the season strong still. From where we started to where we ended were a big-time difference of a football team and we just want to continue to hopefully be gaining the right trajectory as we go into this offseason and into next year,” Watt said.

Watt’s correct that each year the Steelers don’t make the playoffs, it’s a disappointment and a letdown in Pittsburgh. This year though, I can understand it a little bit more. With a rookie quarterback who didn’t even start until Week 5 coupled with an injury to Watt that sidelined him for seven games, the Steelers were facing an uphill battle pretty much from the start to make the postseason. After a 2-6 start to the year, their chances for a winning record seemed incredibly slim. But the team rebounded in the second half of the year with the return of Watt, improved play by Pickett, and a run game that finally took off as the offensive line began to get better each week. No one should be all that excited with a 9-8 finish that ends without a postseason appearance, but all things considered, it’s really not that bad of an outcome.

But Watt’s right that the Steelers’ legacy is to be in the playoffs each year, and it really should be to compete in the playoffs and be able to make a run. That hasn’t happened enough in recent years. The team’s dealt with a myriad of factors, from a porous secondary that hindered them in the mid-2010s to dealing with injuries and general decline from former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But going forward, as Pickett develops and continues to progress over the next few years and assuming the defense continues to play at a high level, the Steelers really need to show they can make some noise in the AFC. While another 9-8 season might make good fodder for analysts who can keep talking about Mike Tomlin’s streak of never finishing below .500, that’s not what this team or really any team should aspire for.

The Steelers should be a playoff team as soon as next season. With Pickett on a rookie contract, Pittsburgh needs to maximize the talent around him and make sure this team is constructed to win and win now. With all the money they’ve spent to keep their stars on the defensive side of the ball, they’re built like a win-now team. They just have to play like it going forward.

For all Watt’s accomplished with the Steelers, he’s never been a part of a Steelers team that’s won a game in the postseason. I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s team is the one that gets him (and most of the current roster) over that hump.

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