While the talk around the Pittsburgh Steelers has been focused on the health of Ben Roethlisberger this offseason, the team’s defense should be considered a major talking point entering the 2020 season.
After all, it was the defense which kept the Steelers competitive in 2019 as the offense failed to hit 30 points scored throughout the entire season. It was the defense, led by T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick which did what they had to do, often scoring points, to get the team the wins necessary to remain in playoff contention.
Last season the Steelers led the league in turnovers, but also in sacks, with 54, and are just a glimpse into the legitimacy of the unit moving forward. How good can the Steelers’ defense be in 2020?
According to Watt, who joined SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday, the sky is the limit.
“A lot of people like to bring in when Minkah [Fitzpatrick] was able to come in the back end and kinda solidify our defense. We kind of brought him in with stride, and just able to have that extra half a second, or quarter second, whatever it takes to be able to get to the passer. As a pass rusher we welcome that with open arms.” Watt told hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan.
“You think about getting a guy like Stephon Tuitt back this upcoming season, I think the sky’s the limit for our defense.”
Tuitt is a name not being discussed much, even though he was lost for the majority of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Maybe it is Tuitt’s laundry list of injuries he has suffered throughout his brief NFL career, but if Tuitt is able to return, and stay healthy, it can not just ease the blow of losing Javon Hargrave, but catapult the defense to new levels.
Ultimately, Watt just loves the group of guys he takes the field with every week.
“I really like the guys we have in the locker room and we are just going to continue to grow off of each other and build the off-field camaraderie to make us better.”
The question I often ask is how good can this Steelers defense be, from a statistical standpoint? Can they eclipse 60 sacks in 2020? Can they best their league-leading 38 takeaways next season?
Reaching some of these milestones would indeed be rarefied air for the defense, but as a unit who has continued to improve every season, just like Watt has since entering the league, you learn not to count them out.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 regular season.