Houston Texans star J.J. Watt acknowledges that 2019 All-Pro defender T.J. Watt has the same job description – seek out and sack the quarterback – but that’s as far as the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is willing to go in conceding similarities with his brother.
If the fourth-year Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker is going to be equal, according to J.J. Watt, he’ll have to do something very specific and very impressive.
J.J. Watt leads a talented trio of brothers
Another NFL season is on the horizon, and the Watt brothers have returned in force.
J.J. Watt enters his 10th season at defensive end for the Houston Texans with the hope of making it through the year after missing 32 games over the past four seasons. The five-time first-team All-Pro earned NFL Defensive Players of the Year recognition in 2012, ’14, and ’15. Despite the numerous injuries, Watt has piled up 96 sacks in 112 games.
T.J. Watt is in his fourth season at outside linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His 14.5 sacks last season raised his career total to 34.5 and earned him first-team All-Pro status for the first time.
The third brother is Steelers fullback Derek Watt, who played the previous four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, primarily on special teams. He has just 19 career carries and one touchdown.
J.J. Watt has high expectations for T.J.’s future
With Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup at quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers are poised for a bounce-back season after going 8-8 and finishing far behind the Baltimore Ravens (14-2) in the AFC North last season.
The defense will be counting on the continued emergence of T.J. Watt, who has progressed from seven sacks as a rookie to 13 in 2018 to 14.5 last fall. He set a personal high by playing 87% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps in 2019.
Big brother J.J. Watt will be watching closely.
“I’m really excited about it,” he told Pro Football Talk. “I love watching him play. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to have conversations with him. It’s fun to talk in the offseason, work in the offseason. Obviously, Derek being on the other side of the ball, we can’t necessarily have the same conversations about what it takes to rush the passer and things like that.”
T.J. Watt will have to do this to be his big brother’s equal
The rivalry on the field between T.J. and J.J. Watt remains friendly, helped by the fact that they play in different divisions and on the same side of the ball. Even in those rare instances in which the Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers face off, the brothers won’t be across from each other on the line of scrimmage.
The closest thing to real competition between them is comparing the numbers on the stat sheet on Sunday nights.
“For me and T.J., playing the same position, fighting for the same things, trying to one up each other at all times, there’s nothing better than that,” J.J. Watt said. “Me and T.J., personally, there’s obviously a whole lot of competition going on, and I have no plans on letting my little brother win anytime soon.”
What does T.J. need to do to earn recognition as his big brother’s equal?
“Once he has three defensive player of the year awards, I’ll start to see him as a peer.”J.J. Watt
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.