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Patrick Peterson Sounds Off on T.J. Watt’s NFLPA All-Pro Snub: ‘It’s a Popularity Contest’



Steelers T.J. watt Patrick Peterson
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — T.J. Watt’s status among the NFL elite has been debated heavily this year. No, not the fact that he is elite. But more so, there is the question of whether Watt should be the First-Team All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year over Myles Garrett and Micah Parsons. The official All-Pro vote came out, and Watt is on there over Garrett. But both Pro Football Focus and the NFLPA list have Watt off the mark. Patrick Peterson has seen all the lists come and go.

Back in 2012, when he was in the league, guys were mad over being snubbed from either the Pro Bowl or All-Pro list. Now, those lists have expanded. But one thing remains true for Patrick Peterson, and that is his belief in Watt’s season to land him not only All-Pro, but Defensive Player of the Year.

“It is what it is, but that’s who the players felt were All-Pros,” Peterson said. “We all feel that T.J. is definitely an All-Pro and worthy enough for DPOY. The numbers don’t lie. In today’s game, I’m starting to find out it’s a popularity contest. But it is what it is.”

The argument for Watt not making the list goes beyond the usual box score statistics if that is your argument. Watt has less pressures than Parsons while being equal to Garrett on more reps. Meanwhile, Watt falls below all four in pass rush win rate and comes in fifth in PFF grade. That is where the Steelers star falls short here. For the players, the methodology is likely not all too different, aside from the grade.

Watt is the lifeblood of the Steelers defense. And now, they will be without him in Buffalo for their Wild Card Round matchup. Nothing will replace Watt, who ended up as the NFL’s sack king for the third time in his career, the only player ever to do that. Watt’s abilities can not be replicated, and when Josh Allen is in the picture, things are all the more difficult for the Steelers moving forward into this game. But they will try, and they have capable players to give them a chance.