Not 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.
And today he added one more honor beside his name, Steelers Most Valuable Player.
"It's quite an honor," said Watt. "I can't really hide how I feel about it because it's voted on by the players, my peers and the guys I am around on a daily basis. To be recognized as the team MVP is special to me. It's special to everyone in the locker room. It's not just me, it's this whole team collectively. I can only speak from a defensive standpoint, but we are so close as a unit. I am having so much fun with this group and we are still far from done, so that is what makes it even more fun.
"I don't like to be singled out on this defense because there are so many other guys. You look across the starting defense and even the guys that fill in behind us, there are so many playmakers, so many guys that don't necessarily get the recognition. It's remarkable how we are working together as a unit. That's what makes things so fun. You can't eliminate one guy from this defense because there are so many playmakers."
Whether he likes it or not, his teammates have singled him out.
"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.
"He works hard every day, makes corrections, studies, he is an all-around player. He is about football all day. That is all he talks about, football and competitive stuff. He goes about his business and makes sure he is getting better each time he is out there. He never wants to make mistakes, never wants to not play well, and wants to play at an elite level and shows up all of the time."
Watt is on pace to break the Steelers single season sack record, currently sitting at 14 sacks, just two shy of tying James Harrison's record of 16 sacks set in 2008, and two and a half away from breaking it with one game left. His 14 sacks have him sitting in first place in the AFC in sacks.
Watt got a big jump on closing in on the sack record as of late, and that's part of why he was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November.
During the stretch Watt recorded six and a half sacks, 16 tackles, 11 solo stops, nine quarterback hits and forced two fumbles.
"He's had a great year," said Mark Barron. "It's obvious to the people around here who have been paying attention to what is going on with Pittsburgh football. 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."
"He is competitive in the game in the locker room, the finger soccer. He walks around saying he is the king. Just watching him go out there and perform on the football field is all I need to see to know what kind of competitor he is."
For the season Watt has a team high 33 quarterback hits, which ranks first in the NFL, has seven forced fumbles, second in the NFL, and four fumble recoveries, tied for second in the NFL.
"He better get Defensive Player of the Year," said Cam Heyward. "He is having a hell of a season. When we need a big play, he is always stepping up. He is giving us a shot. With all of his stats combined, nobody is putting together a season like he is doing."
Take a look at some of the best photos of T.J. Watt during the 2019 season
What Watt has accomplished:
- Watt ranks in the top-five in the NFL in sacks (14.0, 4th), quarterback hits (33, 1st), forced fumbles (7, 2nd) and fumble recoveries (4, t-2nd). Watt also ranks tied for eighth in tackles for loss (14).
- Watt could become the first player in the NFL to rank in the top-five in the NFL in sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hits, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries in a season since his brother, Houston Texans' J.J. Watt, did it in 2014.
- Watt's 13 combined interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries are the most by an NFL player since Chicago Bears' Charles Tillman in 2012 (15).
- Watt's 13 combined interceptions, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries are tied for the sixth most by an NFL player since 2000.
- Watt's 6 total takeaways (interceptions and fumble recoveries) rank tied for third in the NFL.
- Watt is the only NFL player since 1990 to register at least 2 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries and 7 forced fumbles in a single season.
- Watt ranks first or second on the Steelers in sacks (14.0, 1st), tackles for loss (14, 2nd), quarterback hits (33, 1st), forced fumbles (7, 1st) and fumble recoveries (4, t-1st).
- Watt has recorded at least 1.5 sacks in 8 career games, including 4 such games in 2019.
- Watt's 33 quarterback hits lead the NFL.
- Watt's 7 forced fumbles rank second in the NFL.
- Watt's 14.0 sacks rank fourth in the NFL.
- Watt's 14.0 sacks in 2019 rank tied for third in single-season franchise history. His 13.0 sacks in 2018 are tied for the eighth-most in a season by a Steelers' defender since the statistic became official in 1982.
- Watt is the only player in franchise history with 13.0 sacks or more in multiple seasons.
- Watt's 4 fumble recoveries rank tied for second in the NFL.
- Watt's 14 tackles for loss rank tied for eighth in the NFL.
- Watt's 13 combined interceptions (2), forced fumbles (7) and fumble recoveries (4) lead the NFL.
- Watt was the first Steelers player with at least a half sack in 9 consecutive games since LaMarr Woodley had a streak of 10 such games (franchise record) that spanned the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
- Watt was the first Steelers player with back-to-back seasons of at least 10 sacks since James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley (2008-10).