The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.
It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.
Let’s get to the scenario...
Scenario: T.J. Watt will break his single-season sack record in 2022
Why it will happen: As T.J. Watt enters his sixth NFL season, one thing Steelers fans have seen year by year is an increase in sacks. While sometimes the jump is as small as 0.5 sacks, like when T.J. Watt went from 14.5 in 2019 to 15.0 in 2020, the number has always gone up. Not only that, T.J. Watt will be just as good, if not better, in 2022. Getting 22.5 sacks last season, Watt did it only appearing in 15 games and playing less than 50% of the snaps in three others. If he can remain fully healthy, T.J. Watt will continue to add his numbers. Even if Watt misses a game, he still hasn’t just as good of a chance to add another 0.5 sacks to his yearly total again for 2022.
Why it won’t happen: Although T.J. Watt has increased his sacks each year, there is going to be a turning point eventually. It’s not like he’s going to be 40 years old and getting 42 sacks in a season. But the bigger reason T.J. Watt doesn’t have to surpass his sack total from 2021 is because the Steelers defense will hopefully be better so he doesn’t have to do so. In 2021, the absence of T.J. Watt was huge as the Steelers were 0-4-1 when Watt didn’t play at least half the defensive snaps while they were 9-3 when he was on the field more than half the time. If the Steelers defensive line can keep from being decimated by injuries once again this season, and if the overall defense ends up being better, the Steelers won’t have to rely on T.J. Watt to win them games as much and can instead spread out the sack numbers to both more players and in greater quantity.
Prediction: As much as I want to agree with the scenario, I’m actually going to disagree. It’s not that I don’t want T.J. Watt to break the NFL record for sacks in a season, I simply don’t want him to have to do it. When Michael Strahan set the mark of 22.5 in 2001, he followed it up the next season with only 11.0 sacks. I don’t see T.J. Watt dropping off that far, but it’s hard to put up back-to-back seasons of 20 sacks in the NFL as, using retroactive stats at Pro Football Reference which go back to 1962, Deacon Jones has been the only player to do so in 1967 & 1968. What I do expect from T.J. Watt is for him to break the Steelers record for all-time sacks. Needing 9 sacks to surpass James Harrison‘s 80.5, I’m hoping Watt sets the record prior to the Steelers bye week in 2022. Another record Watt can shoot for in 2022 is to tie Reggie White as the only player since sacks became an official individual stat in 1983 to have 15 or more sacks in three consecutive seasons. Watt is the only player in the NFL with at least 15 sacks in each of the last two years, and was only 0.5 sacks away in 2019 from already tying this record. So even if having the most sacks in an NFL season is not something Watt sets in 2022, there are still plenty of records to break.
Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.