Updated: Jun 6
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt has come up just short in the running for Defensive Player of the Year the last two years. Many believe the Associated Press snubbed Watt last season by selecting Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald as DPOY over him.
The numbers suggest that Watt should have won the award too. In 15 games, Watt led the league in sacks (15), tackles for a loss (23) and quarterback hits (41).
In comparison, Donald finished the season tied for second with 13.5 sacks and was tied for sixth in tackles for loss (14) and tied for fifth in quarterback hits (27). Yes, Watt and Donald play two different positions, and the stats that Donald put up as a defensive tackle are remarkable, but it's still hard to deny that Watt had a better season last year.
NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats also believes that Watt was more disruptive than Donald in 2020. Watt was ranked as the No. 1 disruptive player in 2020, while Donald came in at No. 6.
"Watt led the league in disruptions (80), racking up that total on 435 pass-rushing snaps for a rate of 18.4 percent, which also was the best in the NFL," Nick Shook of NFL.com wrote. "He was tops in pro football in sacks, too, with 15. Essentially, every pass-rushing metric we want to explore responds by shouting "T.J. WATT" at us, as if we're asking a magic mirror who's the most disruptive of them all. He provided league-best production despite sitting out in Week 17, too. Another season like this would be hard to ignore when deciding Defensive Player of the Year."
After the last two seasons and especially last year, you have to wonder what Watt needs to accomplish to finally get over the hump and win DPOY. Perhaps Watt needs to get 20.5 sacks in a season like his brother J.J. did twice -- 2012 and 2014. J.J. won DPOY in both of those years and has won the award three times overall. Maybe if Watt puts up those kinds of numbers, the AP will have no choice but to rightfully name him DPOY.