Steelers News

Arthur Maulet Explains Why He Listens To T.J. Watt On Field To Get TFLs

There is so much that goes on within a team that is beyond any one person’s control. Things you don’t coach, or can’t coach, like dictating how players interact with and pass wisdom on to one another. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t expect to get run-key tip-offs from T.J. Watt, for example, when they drafted him in the first round in 2017.

But that’s the kind of player, the student of the game, that he has developed into over the course of his career, and not without influence. He’s talked about the role his big brother J.J. Watt played in teaching him the importance of listening, for example, both on and off the field, and of how Minkah Fitzpatrick’s example improved his study habits.

And it’s not just himself that benefits. Cornerback Arthur Maulet was on 93.7 The Fan on Thursday on the Cook and Joe Show talking about the Steelers, and he was asked about what it was like playing with Watt. He told a story about how the linebacker was telling him that he had a 100 percent run-pass key, at least in one particular game.

“I remember one game he was telling me, ‘I got a 100 percent run-pass key’. I’m like, ‘Yo, what?’, and in my head I’m just like, ‘Nah, no way’”, he told Ron Cook and Joe Starkey. “I listened to him twice and it was run twice. I said, ‘I’m gonna listen to him a third time’, and I wound up getting a TFL”.

A TFL is a tackle for loss, and Maulet has to be talking about the 2021 season, because he only had two last year—one was a sack, and the other came while Watt was out. He had five the year earlier, however, and perhaps it was the game against the Green Bay Packers, when he had two tackles for loss on running back Aaron Jones. He also had tackles for loss against the Ravens, Bengals, and Seahawks, with four of his TFLs coming in the first six weeks of the season.

It’s not uncommon for a team, or even a player, to identify a key, or in other words a tell, something that you see on the other side of the ball that tells you with some reliability what they’re going to be doing. It could be the way a tackle sets whether it’s a run or a pass, for example, perhaps the most common tell.

But if it’s not coming from the coaches, then it takes a real student to find such elements most of the time. And Watt is the sort of player who takes the time to find them. He looks for every edge he can possibly get and he exploits them to full effect. Including letting his teammates in on them, of course.

One hopes he will be on the field for more of the 2023 season than he was last year, missing seven games due to a pectoral injury as well as a knee injury. It may not be entirely coincidental that Maulet’s TFL total dropped from five to two one year to the next. It’s just one of those intangibles you can’t account for when a player like Watt is not out there.

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