T.J. Watt is having yet another elite season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s dominated on the field and is a frontrunner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Another star defender has drawn continual comparisons to Watt for his standout play, and recently addressed the debate with confidence, but also respect.
Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett is also wreaking havoc on opposing offenses and is on his way to another All-Pro honor and contention alongside Watt for the top defensive accolade. He recently went on the Pat McAfee Show and said this about the Garrett-Watt head-to-head talk:
“I’ve definitely heard the debate,” Garrett said. “Now whether I care, not really. I think TJ’s a helluva player, and he’s fun to watch. I have a lot of respect for defensive guys. I don’t care if he’s in my division or not.”
Garrett Gives Watt Props in the Midst of Heated DPOY Battle
Garrett has grown to be more outspoken on a variety of topics as his profile has ascended in the league. This one was not about to slip away. Garrett gave an answer that didn’t give off pomp, but also showed reverence to a contemporary who has challenged him to be great.
As a top NFL talent, he may say that he does not care, but competitive drive always lies hidden underneath the surface, and prior award races that have not gone in his favor are sure to add fuel to his fire this time around.
Watt and Garrett have an edge over Parsons, as both are currently tied for second in the NFL with 9.5 sacks. Their productivity mirrors each other from a quantitative and qualitative standpoint, and this dates back further than just this season.
Is Watt’s Advantage in Accolades an Underlying Motivator for Garrett?
Both Watt and Garrett came into the league as 1st round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. They’ve both achieved 4 All-Pro team selections and have made life hell for quarterbacks and top-shelf backfields.
Watt has had the edge over Garrett with a 2021 DPOY under his belt and one leg up in Pro Bowl selections and playoff appearances. Garrett had the chance to steal a DPOY in 2020 before COVID-19 robbed him of two games late in the season that killed his chances.
Watt and Garrett’s Career Numbers Make For an Interesting Debate
Only 3 games separate Watt (95 GP) and Garrett (92 GP) in their respective 7-year tenures. Yet, Watt has delivered 180 QB hits to Garrett’s 160, and 87 sacks to Garrett’s 84.
Watt also exceeds Garrett by a margin of 25-17 in the forced fumbles department. This season, Garrett (4 FF) has doubled up Watt (2 FF) in that field.
Garrett gaining the favor of end-of-season voters will add to his trophy case and can at least even the score with Watt as both grow closer to age 30.
After the Steelers’ upcoming game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Nov. 12, they’ll march to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Browns. Watt owns a 10-4-1 record against Garrett for their careers. How their 16th matchup fares will be a huge determinant in the DPOY race.