It’s what many linebackers are measured by. What they strive for. What gives them their greatest satisfaction in the game, outside of winning that is.
For T.J. Watt, sacks are the pinnacle, the ultimate goal to help the defense.
This year Watt delivered with 13 sacks, six more than his rookie season when he had seven sacks.
But he wasn’t satisfied. Not even close.
“I wanted more sacks,” said Watt. “I wanted a lot more sacks.”
Watt led the defense in sacks, the only player in double-digits. He also had 21 quarterback pressures. Again leading the defense. And he forced a team high six fumbles.
Satisfied? Not even close.
“I wanted more tackles for losses,” said Watt. “I wanted to win a lot more games. I wanted more sacks.
“It’s all on me. I think I did a good job of trying to evolve my game as the season went on. That is what I am really proud of. Trying new moves. Trying new ways to get to the quarterback. I wish I would have started that a lot earlier. This is only my fourth year playing defense so I am still figuring a lot of that stuff out. I just felt like I was close a lot of times. I felt like I could have gotten a lot closer. I am just happy we were able to rush a lot more and be able to affect the quarterback more. I hope next year will be something special.”
It’s those quarterback pressures, getting in the face of a guy and changing a play, that doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet. But they are plays that are vital for the defense.
“That is the thing. We want to be able to affect the game any way possible,” said Watt. “Obviously a sack is the holy grail of stats for a pass rusher. But any way you can affect things, you can get his feet moving, you can bat a ball, you can hit his arm, any way you can affect the speed of the quarterback and the receiver, you can affect the timing of the passing game is huge. Even though it’s not always in the stats, the coaches see it, the guys in coverage see it and overall it makes the team better.”
But those sacks … that is something everyone sees. Especially the fans. And Watt loves it when he can fire up the Heinz Field crowd with a sack, and then his electric celebration afterwards.
“I was talking to my grandma and she said ‘Why are you so mad after the sack?’” shared Watt. “I told her I wasn’t mad, I was trying to get the crowd involved. She was like ‘Oh, okay.’
“It’s a feeling like no other. It’s indescribable. You kind of black out and go crazy. You kick the leg up and it’s like wow. The fans respond to it like no other. I love being able to control 65,000 plus people. When you do a move and they go crazy, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.
“That is probably the biggest thing that (my brother) J.J. (Watt) has taught me, celebrate. You have a sack in the National Football League, at the highest level, it’s very hard to do so why not throw a party when you do it.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that sometimes gets lost. It’s so hard to play at this level. To do at such an elite level, you have to look around and taste the fruit. You can’t climb the tree and not taste the fruit every now and then. You never want to be satisfied, but you also have to enjoy the experience. I think that is a big part of why I love doing what I do.”