Micah Parsons made some buzz on Thursday night when he said Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt should not have won the Defensive Player of the Year Award over Myles Garrett on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Garrett earned 23 first-place votes, while Watt earned 19 first-place votes, and Garrett beat Watt by just 25 points in the final voting. Following Garrett and Watt was Parsons and Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby.
“Horrible take!! Myles was the better player!! Reality of the situation ! Myles Faced way more double teams and affect on qbs! Fans please stop looking at stats and look at film please,” Parsons said of the situation.
And the Steelers star did face fewer double teams. 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.
Joining the Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports, however, Parsons went even further than those comments. When asked to list the best pure pass rushers in the NFL, Watt was not included in Parsons’ top five.
— Zach Gelb (@ZachGelb) February 9, 2024
“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 ass.”
For what it’s worth, Highsmith did have the better pass rush win rate according to PFF, edging out Watt at with 18% while Watt had a 16.9% pass rush win rate.
Watt was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year by the 101 Committee, and won recent anonymous player and fan votes for the award. But Garrett won the Pro Football Writers version of the award and took home more hardware on Thursday night.