PITTSBURGH, Penn. (WMTV) -- Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker T.J. Watt has been so good this year, the team didn’t even need to play its final game of the regular season before naming him their Most Valuable Player.
On Thursday, the Steelers announced the one-time Wisconsin Badger was their MVP and made a push for him to be recognized as the best defender in the league as well. Right off the bat, the team said in a statement that “[n]ot only did T.J. Watt have a Pro Bowl season, but in the eyes of many he should be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
“He is having an amazing season. A defensive player of the year season,” said fellow outside linebacker Bud Dupree. “Hopefully he gets that award at the end of the year. It would be great for him and the whole unit.
Cam Heyward echoed the team's belief that Watt deserves the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, pointing out that his success is more than just the numbers.
“When we need a big play, he is always stepping up,” Heyward said. “He is giving us a shot. With all of his stats combined, nobody is putting together a season like he is doing.”
Having already brought home November AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors for his monster stretch, during which the 25-year-old Pewaukee-native recorded 16 tackles, 11 solo stops, nine quarterback hits, and forced two fumbles. He also tallied 6½ sacks in that time and, with 14 on the year, could be on his way to breaking the team’s single-season record of 16, set in 2008 by James Harrison.
In addition to leading the NFL in sacks, he also ranks first in quarterback hits and second in fumbles forced as well as fumbles recovered.
“He’s had a great year,” Mark Barron said. “He has been dominating each and every week. He has been going out and being a catalyst for this team, making plays, taking the ball away. He’s had an incredible year.”
Talking about Watt’s competitiveness in the locker room and on the field, Barron added that his teammate’s performance on the field proves the type of competitor he is.
“He walks around saying he is the king.”