Could Steelers T.J. Watt break single-season sack record in 2022?

T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

T.J. Watt has proven that he is very much capable of breaking Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record. Could this upcoming stretch see him officially do so?

To the dismay of Steelers fans everywhere, star linebacker T.J. Watt was not able to officially break the single-season sack record that has stood for over two decades now (Michael Strahan, 22.5). Instead, he had to settle for merely trying it last year.

But looking on the bright side, Watt’s quality of play hasn’t indicated that 2021 was his only chance of breaking the record, as he has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, he is expected to surpass the Steelers franchise sack record this Fall (James Harrison, 80.5).

A player’s talent isn’t the only deciding factor in breaking a record as monumental as Strahan’s, though. There are multiple pieces to the puzzle that are out of Watt’s control, and they predominantly revolve around two things: injuries and scheduling.

Something that seemingly played a hefty role in Watt falling just short of the finish line last year was him missing two games in the regular-season stretch due to sustaining injury. Assuming that he would have recorded just one sack in each game he missed, he would have exceeded the sack record by a rather promising margin.

If he stays healthy enough to adequately perform in all 17 games for this upcoming run, him knocking on the record’s door for the 2nd-straight year feels almost like a guarantee. But whether or not he actually breaks through ultimately comes down to what all 2022 will have lining up in front of him—literally.

According to Pro Football Focus’s final OL rankings from last season, the Steelers defense faced a top-10 offensive line on three occasions in 2021, with Watt being present for two of them (both times being against Cleveland).

Keeping with those same rankings, that means that the Steelers defense will be facing a top-10 offensive line five times in 2022. So in that regard, this year’s path to the sack record will be no easier than last year’s. And of course, that fact makes the aforementioned need to stay healthy even harder to meet.

Must Read. NFL player comparisons for Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III. light

In short, the chances of the upcoming season being the one where T.J. Watt breaks Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record feels a tad unrealistic. While it obviously could happen, the answer as to whether or not it will feel like a “no,” unless he somehow stays perfectly vigorous all year long while noticeably outshining his 2021 showing every step of the way—which is unlikely.