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Steelers’ 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt Responds to ‘Being Better’ than J.J. Watt

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Steelers’ 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt Responds to ‘Being Better’ than J.J. Watt

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick in the first-round of the 2017 draft. The former Wisconsin star has turned out to be one of the greatest day-one steals in the history of the NFL draft.  The Steelers T.J. Watt is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year after tying the record for the most sacks in a season (22.5) Many people think he should have been a two-time winner of the award, coming in second to Aaron Donald despite outperforming the Los Angeles Rams star in every metric.

Steelers T.J. Watt and brother J.J. Watt celebrate after winning 2021 Defensive Player of the Year – NFL.com

Amazingly enough, the two-time current sack champion was initially recruited to Wisconsin not to play defense, but to play tight end on offense.  Plans changed when he dislocated his kneecap and when he came back from rehab for spring practices, it happened again.  The following season, it happened a third time, frustrating Watt into having his knee surgically repaired.

In the summer of 2015, Wisconsin’s new first-year head coach Paul Chryst asked Watt what he thought about switching to defense. At first, Watt was less than enthusiastic about changing to the other side of the ball.

Steelers’ T.J. Watt, per The Pivot Podcast with former Steelers safety Ryan Clark:

“I took it as a slap to the face, like I’m not good enough to play tight end.  And I talked to my brothers a little bit and decided to try playing defense, fell in love with it,” Watt said.”

Watt would fully transition to edge rusher in 2016, thus accounting for his lower draft status due to having played only one full season as a starting edge rusher in his collegiate career.  He was considered to be just a mid-second-round prospect, but Watt certainly proved everyone wrong quickly.

Steelers T.J. Watt

Steelers T.J. Watt was a force even as a rookie in 2017 – Steelers.com

As a rookie, Watt took the starting role from Steelers legend James Harrison and has never looked back.  Watt will overtake Harrison as the Steelers’ All-Time leader in sacks with 8.5 this year and already has 4 Pro Bowls and is a 3x All-Pro.  Watt is ascending to a different level, which starts to beg the question, “Is the Steelers T.J. Watt a better player than 3x Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt?”.

J.J. Watt reached a level of complete dominance from 2012-2015, where he twice topped 20 sacks in a season and was the league leader in sacks for the Houston Texans, twice. J.J. Watt earned his first DPOY in only his second season in 2012 and established himself as a dominant, power-rushing defensive end early in his career.  T.J. Watt, by comparison, is not known for being a power rusher, but he has proven to have elite technique and has been practically unblockable for two consecutive seasons.

There seems to be some resistance by the national media to accept T.J. Watt at the same level as his older brother. But for those who do think that way, T.J. Watt does not lack any motivation to prove anyone wrong.  However, the younger Watt definitely holds his brother with the highest regard.

Steelers’ T.J. Watt per The Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark:

“This is the thing.  This is like a real thing. I do think that it’s misconstrued.  I do think I want people to understand how great my brother truly was in his prime,” Watt said. “I think that it gets lost, and I know he would be upset if I said this, but I think it truly is, it’s like you go back and you look at the tape,  the guy was freaking unstoppable, absolutely unstoppable.  He’ll never say it, but I think people need to go back and look at that.  The guy was doing incredible things for four or five years and I think he can still do it at a high level.”

“I think I am too early in my career to compare myself to him at the moment honestly.”

Given how close the Watt brothers are, T.J. Watt’s commentary about his brother is not just admirable but expected. Nonetheless, one should not assume that T.J. Watt is not competitive and is not affected when he is overlooked.

Steelers T.J. Watt

Steelers T.J. Watt has emerged as the premier defensive player in the NFL, Steelers.com

Ryan Clark posed the question to T.J. Watt about whether or not he should be a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and if he took the Madden rankings that placed Myles Garrett higher than himself personally.

Steelers’ T.J. Watt, per The Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark:

“I say behind closed doors, everything is very personal. But at the end of the day, I also know how to conduct myself and know how to handle certain situations.”

“You’re a fool if you don’t find ways to get motivation out of everything and that’s just the way I look at things,” Watt finished.

 

As far as the NFL media and Madden rankings are concerned, continue to disrespect the Steelers’ T.J. Watt, and see how that continues to work out.

#SteelerNation

PMP; CSM; CSPO and host of the PMI-TB Agile Podcast. A lifelong Steelers fan, I had the chance of a lifetime when I was able to celebrate Super Bowl XLIII with the team. I love talking everything Steelers from the old days to the new and look forward to working with the team to grow this platform to be the premier Steelers site.

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  1. Pingback: Steelers DT Larry Ogunjobi Eager For Opportunity To "Pay Dues" To Past Team Legends In 2022 - SteelerNation.com

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