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Steelers DE Leads NFL in Key Stat in Week 5



Pittsburgh Steelers DL Armon Watts
Steelers DL Armon Watts against the Cleveland Browns, Sept. 18, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers’ defensive line showed out against the Ravens. That’s not new for the team, who has won three games off the backs of the efforts of guys such as T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Keeanu Benton, Montravius Adams, Larry Ogunjobi, and others without Cam Heyward. One of those ‘others’ is defensive lineman Armon Watts, who came over in free agency to join the team.

Watts had his best game as a Pittsburgh Steeler on Sunday. He racked up four pressures on just 11 pass rush snaps. To say the least, that’s an impressive pressure rate for a guy in a rotational role. But Watts had his impact felt, forcing Lamar Jackson to move off his spot multiple times and turning those into negative plays. He led Steelers’ interior defensive linemen on the day with that stat.

However, he led all interior defensive linemen in Week 5 in the NFL in pass-rush win percentage with a 40% mark in that area. That’s just another note showcasing how Pittsburgh persevered up front without Heyward. In a limited sample size, Guys such as Watts have taken full advantage of what the team has given them.

Steelers Watts Adams

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive linemen Montravius Adams and Armon Watts at training camp, Aug. 4, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Watts, a sixth-round pick out of Arkansas in 2019, spent the first three seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. He would then head over to the Chicago Bears for the 2022 season. In his four NFL seasons, Watts has 22 games started and 57 games played, with three straight consecutive full seasons played.

Watts is the one true pass rusher on the depth chart down the list. Guys such as Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal, and Breiden Fehoko certainly have their places, but they do not have the go-to moves that a guy like Watts has in the pass rush game. This summer, Watts explained his pass-rush philosophy with a reasonably simple mindset.

“You don’t have to be smart to knock somebody out,” Watts said.

Watts plays with the motor amped-up and has shown an ability to make some plays to this point. For someone who started this year as a gameday inactive, Pittsburgh got precisely what they needed out of him in the 20 or so snaps he plays weekly along the interior.