The Pittsburgh Steelers have found no success when T.J. Watt isn’t on the field, and that continued with yet another loss in Week 4 against the Jets.
It’s getting a little scary at this point. We now have a seven-game sample size of what the Pittsburgh Steelers look like without their star defender, T.J. Watt, and the results are even worse than we could have imagined. Despite a winnable game at home against the New York Jets with 10 days to prepare, Mike Tomlin’s team fell flat once again in the absence of Watt.
Remarkably, the Steelers are now 0-7 all-time when the reigning Defensive Player of the Year isn’t on the field taking that one step further, Pittsburgh lost all four games last year in which he was forced to exit the contest early with an injury (Watt deal with hip, knee, and groin injuries in 2021).
While the sample size is still relatively small (less than half a season combined), statistics show that this Pittsburgh Steelers team just isn’t the same without him on the field. Here is the team’s updated record and stats when Watt doesn’t play, via Pro Football Reference:
The Steelers manage less than half as many sacks when Watt is out of commission and allow nearly a full touchdown more per game. The most notable difference is the record. In 78 games with T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh wins or ties over 69 percent of the time. Without him, their win percentage is a flat zero.
Steelers have lost to some bad quarterbacks without T.J. Watt
This lines up with what we see on the field. It’s hard to argue that there’s another defender in the NFL who is as important to their team as T.J. Watt is to the Steelers. The team quite literally cannot win without him.
This isn’t against the best competition either. Without Watt, the team has lost to the Bears, Bengals, Chargers, Patriots, Jets, and Browns (twice). Though quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert may have beaten the Steelers regardless, Pittsburgh failed to show up against signal-callers like Mac Jones, Jacoby Brissett, Baker Mayfield, Zach Wilson, and even Mike Glennon.
Some of these losses really are inexcusable, but this just goes to show how important Watt truly is to the success of this team. The Steelers simply cannot get any sort of pass rush without him.
Over the past three games, Pittsburgh allowed for a clean pocket against Mac Jones, Jacoby Brissett, and Zach Wilson. This ultimately forced Steelers cornerbacks to get exposed in the secondary, as they were simply asked to cover for too long. Late in all three of these games, the opposing offense was able to wear down Pittsburgh’s defense for long, sustained drives, as Watt was not there to aid in getting them off the field.
While Watt isn’t going to earn any accolades from the sidelines, he’s honestly making a case for Defensive Player of the Year while watching without a helmet. It’s so easy to see what he brings to the Steelers, and they simply are not a good team without him.
Because the team put him on IR following Week 1, Watt is not eligible to return to the team until after the Bills game. According to his initial diagnosis, it may still be a few weeks before he’s able to suit up for the Steelers.