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T.J. Watt Address DPOY Snub: ‘Using it as Motivation’

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt addressed his Defensive Player of the Year snub on Friday following cryptic tweets.



Pittsburgh Steelers Falcons T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt gets blocked by two Buffalo Bills, Aug. 19, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Over the last 24 hours, the only topic that seems to come up in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the Defensive Player of the Year Award, which T.J. Watt lost to Myles Garrett. Watt finished in second with 19 first-place votes, but it was not enough to earn it over Garrett, who won by 25 points on the voting scale.

Watt skipped the NFL Honors ceremony altogether despite being in Las Vegas. While other attendees, including Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, were appearing on the red carpet before the 9 p.m. Eastern awards show, Watt posted a picture of his wife, Dani, with the caption “Playing Hooky” on Instagram.

Watt later Tweeted, “Nothing that I’m not used to,” in light of learning the news that he would not win the award.

Since that day, the discourse has only intensified, with Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons believing that Watt is not even one of the top five best pass rushers in the entire NFL. He told that the Zach Gelb of CBS Sports.

“I think I’m probably the best pure speed pass rusher,” Parsons said. “But if you’re talking about defensive ends, run and everything, but if you’re talking about pure pass rusher, I would say if you look at my win rate, I was the best one this year. So, it would be me. And then I would say Myles, then Maxx, then Nick Bosa, and then I would say — I mean, look at the stats. The stats don’t lie. He was fifth or sixth, but I think Alex Highsmith might have had a better pass rush win rate. And he had a more double team rate than T.J. Watt if you really want to be statistical. Like, this isn’t my stuff. I’m not just pulling it out of my hat.”

But for the first time since he lost the award, Watt addressed the snub. In an interview with JP Acosta of SB Nation, Watt shrugged off most of the drama and said that he would use it as motivation.

“Yeah, I think that’s up for everybody to kind of debate,” Watt said. “It was just one of those things where if people were seeing why I wasn’t there, I wanted to let them know why I wasn’t there. And it was a situation where it is something I’m truly used to at this point, so I’m using it as motivating going forward.”

If you are looking at why Garrett won the award, you will not find it in traditional counting stats. Watt, who won the award in 2021, was the most statistically dominant defensive player in the NFL this season by traditioning counting stats. Watt had 19 sacks this season and set a modern NFL record as the first player to lead the league in sacks for a third time since it became an official statistic back in the early 1980s. Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams unofficially led the league in sacks five times the 1960s. Watt also led the NFL in sacks in 2020 and 2021, when he tied the all-time single-season sack records, drawing even with Michael Strahan’s mark of 22.5.

But Garrett won in metrics like Pass Rush Win Rate and Pressure Rate while being double-teamed at a higher rate. That led to Garrett securing his first Defensive Player of the Year Award over Watt. For those Pro Football Focus metrics, Pass Rush Win Rate is where Garrett soared above the league. Garrett was graded as having a 27.3% win rate, the highest in the league. He was also assigned 60 hurries compared to 47 for Watt.