For the last two seasons, Pittsburgh Steelers OLB T.J. Watt has been a viable candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. It was the most egregious in 2020 when Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald won it with a less than stellar campaign, especially when he completely faded down the stretch in December and his team blew a chance at the NFC West Championship.
Watt was poised to join Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison to become the 7th Steeler (8th overall) to earn the honors. Watt was twice named Defensive Player of the Month, led the NFL in sacks (15) and TFL (23) while eclipsing Donald in tackles (53 to 45) and QB hits (41 to 28) in one less game. And while a non-factor in December as his Rams let the division slip through their fingers, Watt picked up his game and helped seal the AFC North by generating a strip sack fumble that led to a decisive score.
While a lot of voters have an anti-Steelers bias (there is no way Aaron Donald earns more Defensive MVPs than Joe Greene in any lifetime), Watt and the rest of us are tired of hearing their excuses.
In 2021, Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett is getting a lot of press. The helmet swinging assault artist who complained about being tested for banned substances because his arms are like tree trunks doesn’t seem to get that his size is unnatural and the rage that comes with using said substances has been consistent with his behavior. Nonetheless, Garrett is leading the NFL in sacks with 12 as well as TFL with 12, outpacing Watt who has 11.5 sacks and 11 TFL, in two less games (one due to a groin injury, the other due to a bye week). Garret hasn’t generated a turnover of any kind, while Watt has 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries, one of which directly led to a Steelers defeat of the Browns. The week before, Watt’s strip sack sealed the Steelers up for an OT win against the Seattle Seahawks. That is back-to-back weeks Watt clinched games with defensive plays.
Watt is by far the best defensive player in the league. He’s attained 60 sacks in just 69 games (tying Steelers legend Joey Porter) — the 4th fastest player to reach that mark. Watt and Steeler Nation are waiting for the next weak excuse to not give Trent Jordan Watt his due, but we’re once again going to call you out if you homer him over out of spite and jealousy again.