It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers are very lucky with elite-level defensive talent in the top seven with reigning Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt and All-Pro inside defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.
So far this offseason, the duo — who have wreaked havoc on the NFL in the 2021 season to the tune of 32.5 sacks, 36 tackles for loss, 56 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles, four digs fumbles, 16 pass breakups and one interception — earned the Steelers duo moniker, according to CBS Sports, and ranked No. 5 in the NFL on NFL.com’s duos rankings.
Now Watt and Heyward maintain the Individual ranking of CBS Sports’ No. 1 EDGE and No. 2 interior defensive lineman Jeff Kerr, which ranked the two positions individually on Tuesday morning.
Watt, who won the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, tied the NFL’s single-season sack record and earned another First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl accolade, ranked #1 in Kerr’s EDGE rankingsmoving ahead of Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, once again settling the AFC North debate.
“The reigning Defensive Player of the Year deserves to be No. 1 on this list heading into 2022. Watt’s greatness deserves more than a few paragraphs. Watt finished his 2021 season leading the league in sacks, quarterback hits (39) and fumble recoveries (three). He averaged 1.5 sacks per game and finished with 12.5 sacks in the second half and overtime – which also led the league. Kerr writes regarding Watt as his pick for the league’s top EDGE defenseman. “He’s only the fifth player to lead the league in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hits in a season – joining DeMarcus Ware, JJ Watt, Chandler Jones and Aaron Donald.
“Watt’s 0.94 sacks per game average is the highest in league history, as he and Reggie White are the only players to have more than 13 sacks in four straight seasons (72 sacks in 77 games in career). Only White (nine), Bruce Smith (seven) and Kevin Greene (six) have more 13 sack seasons than Watt – including four 13+ sacks in his first five seasons to tie with White for most in the league. history of the NFL.
Watt is on the Hall of Fame beat just five seasons after beginning his career as a former first-round pick in 2017 at No. 30 overall. He’s a true game wrecker for the Steelers, one who can single-handedly turn the tide of a game with a well-timed blow in football once he gets to quarterback.
Somehow Watt still remains underrated as there is still a discussion between him and Garrett as the NFL’s best defenseman despite knowing the numbers Watt is posting which is not comparable than to the Minister of Defense himself. He’s the best point guard in football and arguably the best player in the NFL, period.
Opposite Watt, Heyward is carving out a Hall of Fame career for himself, especially late in his career as he continues to rack up All-Pro accolades. For his efforts, Heyward landed at No. 2 in CBS Sports’ interior defensive line rankingsjust behind Los Angeles star Aaron Donald.
“Heyward is the other great defensive lineman on the Steelers roster (yes, there are two), turning another dominating season into his third first-team All-Pro selection in five years. Heyward has practically all done for the Steelers, finishing with 89 tackles, 17 quarterback hits, 10 sacks and nine passes defended. Kerr writes about Heyward’s ranking in the top 10 of the iDL rankings. “Also excellent against the run, Heyward was second among inside linemen with 46 rush saves and finished with an incredible 3.7% missed tackle rate (great for any lineman). Heyward’s nine passes defended led all inside linemen and were five more than Donald and Derrick Brown (second on the list).
“Heyward leads the NFL in tackles among all defensive linemen with 322. He leads all interior linemen in tackles for loss (59) and is third in quarterback hits (99). He has 193 solo tackles since 2017, second only to Buckner among inside linemen. Heyward’s 43 sacks over the past five years trail only Donald.
If Watt wasn’t on the Steelers, chances are Heyward would get some serious NFL DPOY support and recognition over the past few seasons. While Donald steals a lot of attention due to his impressive strength and explosiveness, Heyward quietly continues to progress, dominating the competition week after week, living up to the Steel City standard that those before him have set on the line. defensive.
Having two of the best 1-2 players at their respective positions in the NFL is a great defensive start for the Steelers under head coach Mike Tomlin. It remains to be seen how well that translates to wins going forward as the Steelers go through an offensive transition. They are, however, well placed with Heyward and Watt setting the tone each week.