In his first time speaking to the media in 2020, Steelers All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt answered a variety of questions on Tuesday. After turning in a performance in 2019 which had him as a finalist for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt is still looking to take his game to the next level. According to Dale Lolley of DK Pittsburgh Sports, T.J. Watt is looking to be a game wrecker who other teams have to specifically scheme around when facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
TJ Watt: "I want to be able to be a game wrecker, a guy other teams scheme around. And I know Bud (Dupree) does, as well." #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 25, 2020
Whether or not T.J. Watt is already that player for the Steelers defense is up for debate. With 14.5 sacks and 8 forced fumbles along with two interceptions in 2019, teams are paying attention to everything T.J. Watt is doing whenever he is on the field. Add in his 36 quarterback hits and 8 passes defensed, it seems there is little and Watt’s game teams don’t have to take into account.
As mentioned in Lolley’s quote, Watt also believes Bud Dupree is looking to be the same type of player for the Steelers. While Dupree added 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles of his own, he still does not command the attention his fellow outside linebacker does when it comes to the Steelers defense.
But when it comes to being a “game wrecker,” the Steelers have multiple candidates along the defensive front. Cameron Heyward has proved to be one of the premier defensive lineman in the NFL with only the Rams’ Aaron Donald holding any kind of advantage on his production. Throw in the return of Stephon Tuitt who was well on his way to leading the Steelers defensive line in sacks in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 6, the Steelers defensive front is one where it is difficult to exploit a weakness. Add in the Steelers’ play makers in the second and third level of the defense, and all of these players working together is only going to help each one individually.
T.J. Watt recognized the teamwork aspect of this Steelers defense and acknowledged it really doesn’t matter who is making the plays as long as the players are being made according to the Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
'We don't care who is making the plays as long as we are all making them together.' - @_TJWatt— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 25, 2020
Not only has Watt acknowledged his counterpart on the other end of the line in Bud Dupree, Watt has been impressed with Steelers rookie Alex Highsmith and believes he is ready to give either of them the needed break throughout the game which will allow them to perform at an even higher level.
T.J. Watt on @highsmith34: 'He has done a great job being ready. He knows the defense well. He can fill in when need. Bud and I can't play every single snap to play to the fullest of our potential.'— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) August 25, 2020
There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Steelers defense in 2020. With the loss of only one starter in Javon Hargrave, the Steelers are hoping the return of Stephon Tuitt can more than cover the loss. Add in an offseason (although not the typical one) for Minkah Fitzpatrick and an expected second-year progression for inside linebacker Devin Bush, this Steelers defense has the pieces to be something special.