Bud Dupree finally broke through in 2019, reaching double digit sacks for the first time in his five year career. T.J. Watt also reached double digit sacks in 2019, leading the team with 14.5 sacks. The last Steelers duo to record double digit sacks in the same season was James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in 2010, the last in a three year streak where both recorded at least 10 sacks.
If Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt can both reach double digit sacks in 2020 they will be the first pair to do so for the Steelers since Woodley and Harrison, Additionally, they would be the first to do so in the NFL since 2014 when Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes both reached double digit sacks in consecutive years for the Buffalo Bills.
Only 5 pass rushing pairs have pulled off back-to-back seasons of both getting at least 10 sacks in the last 20 years, and only James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley were able to pull it off three years in a row.
The Steelers have been near the top of the NFL in sacks since 2015 when Keith Butler took over as defensive coordinator and the Steelers drafted Bud Dupree. Since T.J. Watt joined in 2017, the Steelers have led the league in sacks. In 2019 the Steelers faced the 4th fewest passing attempts, yet still led the NFL in sacks due to an impressive 9.5% sack rate.
The table appears to be set for Watt and Dupree to repeat their accomplishment and be the first pass rushing pair in 6 years to both reach double-digit sacks in consecutive years.
They aren’t the only ones to have a shot though, as three pass rush duos recorded double digit sacks in 2019, and one other pair is still together, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in Green Bay.
More impressive that just sacks alone, Dupree (4) and Watt (8) forced 12 fumbles in 2019, tied with Chandler Jones (8) and Terrell Suggs(4) for the most in the NFL by two teammates. They also trailed only Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler Jr (36 combined) for the most tackles for a loss by a pair of teammates with 30.
The Steelers had one of the most impressive pairs of edge rushers in the NFL in 2019. If they can do it again in 2020, they will pull off something truly great.