T.J. Watt has been hunting for a Defensive Player of the Year title for two years now. In past years, Watt was passed in favor of Stephon Gilmore and Aaron Donald. Still, with his 17.5 sacks in a mere 12 games, he has perhaps his strongest case to win the award of his career.
In an early NFL awards poll with NFL executives conducted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Watt was voted to be the Defensive Player of the Year at this point in the season. Among those 23 NFL executives that were polled, Watt received eight votes.
Still, he was not the only one to receive a vote among a rather splintered group of executives. Dallas’ star rookie Micah Parsons received four votes of his own, while Dallas CB Trevon Diggs and Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett received three. Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn also received votes.
As the article mentions, Watt leads the NFL with 17.5 sacks, 30 QB Hits, and a sack rate of 6% on his pass-rush snaps. He is on a pace where he could potentially break Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season if he gets red hot over the last three games of the season.
Whether Watt ends up getting the award will come down to his sustained health and his stats over the final three games of the season. If he hits 20 sacks, there is a good chance he takes home the award even if the Steelers do not end up in the postseason at large.