T.J. Watt: ‘I Believe I Was Born To Play Football’

For some rookies, the first NFL game is a deer in the headlights moment. A new scheme, playbook, the speed of the game. It’s a lot to take in. For T.J. Watt, it’s hard to tell if this was his first game or 100th.

After the win, one in which Watt notched two sacks on his first two pass rushes, he said he felt comfortable on the field. Whether that was playing the heavy amount of snaps he did, 63 on defense alone, flipping both linebacker spots, or seeing time on special teams.

“I’m never going to turn down reps,” Watt said via Steelers.com, asking about his snap count.

It was mostly a result of the team having only three active linebackers, Watt included. Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, and Keion Adams all sat out with injury. That left the Steelers with just Watt, Arthur Moats, and Farrington Huguenin.

Watt said his experience in college, playing both outside linebacker spots and getting work on special teams made last night easier and him more confident.

“I felt like I belong here. I came into this game with a certain amount of confidence because of the work I put in…I came in here like it was a job. Like I came into every college game. I came in here expecting to do my job and put on display what I’ve been working on. I feel like I did that.”

The box score, even realizing both his sacks weren’t a 10 on the difficulty scale, would agree. We have Watt charted down for 4.5 pressures, two sacks, and a pass deflection. He averaged a pressure once every 7.1 rushes. That’s just one game, and partially against backups, but to compare, James Harrison had the best pressure rate last year, averaging one every 14.5 tries.

“This is where I’m supposed to be,” Watt said. “I believe I was born to play football. That’s why I went out there and did what I did.”

Watt will have bad days ahead. It’s only natural. But he appears to have the poise, confidence, and work ethic to overcome them.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Jeff McNeill

    He seems to have perspective and the correct attitude.

  • It certainly helps when your older brother is a former DPoY.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I loved the first sack just because while being engaged with Flowers he kept his eyes on the QB and as soon as he stepped up, Watt shrugged off the lineman and wrapped up the QB! The second one, even though he came unguarded, he didn’t fall for the fake hand-off stayed with the QB and wrapped him up like a quesadilla! Loved it!

  • kev4heels

    Home run pick. The guy is just too determined to fail.
    It’s obvious he works his butt off on the field and in the classroom.
    Just needs more experience and a bit more strength.

    I will also add that JJSS was a favorite of mine in the draft.
    I didn’t put him in any mocks b/c I didn’t think we would take
    a WR that high. I was extremely pleased we got him. Steelers fans
    are going to love this guy.

    In fact, I think the first 3 draft pics (at least) will be here for at least 2 full
    contracts. Conner and Holba are likely logntime Steelers as well.
    Great draft.

  • NinjaMountie

    Look, I understand that the sacks weren’t all that impressive in that they happened due to him totally beating the OT. However, when watching him play you could only compare him to our last two first round OLBs. Honestly, he looked better than both and especially JJ. He seems more aggressive and he appears stronger and bigger than I thought he was. While I was excited about the pick before I’m even more optimistic.
    As Alex said, there will be bad days ahead but I see the potential for a very good player.

  • falconsaftey43

    Off to a good start

  • Jaybird

    Yeah that second sack was no gimme. He sniffed that fake out and showed great athleticism sticking with the QB. I also liked the authority and aggression in which he slammed the QB down.

  • hojo

    I hope the desire to step out of his brother’s shadow becomes fuel for him.

  • Bob Sacamano

    I want to see TJ slam Brady like that.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He’d probably get two personal penalties.

  • WilliamSekinger

    JJ is on record as saying TJ is the better player at this point in TJ’s career. That is scary when you think about it. The kid still has an unbelievably high ceiling.

  • afrazier9

    I love the guys personality which translates to his play a hard workers mentality. I didn’t really agree with him playing basically the whole game except for offense. Don’t want to burn him out early. I do understand the basic concept and the lines were short for this game, but maybe you don’t play him on specials team the whole game SMH same mentality with the running backs running them to the wheels fall off.

  • pittsburghjoe

    just like colin holba. now pipe down.

  • StolenUpVotes

    Dude is going to be a very good player in this league

  • VaDave

    And a daily pee in the cup penalty…

  • VaDave

    I believe him. He was born to play football.

  • dany

    I hate when people put down players like Bell for not being 100% about football like it’s all that matters, but yeah I want a guy like Watt on my team!

  • DoctorNoah

    I just want him to surpass his brother like Eli never did. Low bar…

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Lol! They’ll give all those to Harrison!

  • Ace

    Absolutely. The COD he showed there to recognize, stop, turn, accelerate and grab the Qb was something this team is missing. Showed off his extreme athleticism. Nice to have a guy be able to finish plays, something the team has issues with at times.

  • VaDave

    Probably. I wonder how many mason jars Bryant is going to have to fill?

  • Jimbo

    JJ looked better than the other JJ. Glad they drafted him.

  • Bob Sacamano

    MB better be drinking lots of fluids or he’ll be dehydrated thanks to commissioner Goodell.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    If he has a good preseason game, every mason jar ever made.

  • Aaron H

    Dave Tee said he believes TJ will be a better player than his brother. Even if that never happens, he is clearly a quality pick.

  • Big White

    If you project just on the Watt name, Melvin Gordon should rush for 2,000 yards in San Diego this year.

    Derek Watt is the fullback

  • John Noh

    Didn’t hear his name once. The way it should be!

  • ryan72384

    The sack where he didn’t go for the fake was impressive because he reacted and closed the gap quickly and made a sure tackle. Looked aggressive and powerful all night. Definitely going to be a solid player you can just see it. He’s way bigger than I thought he’d be as a rookie. I will say though that he didn’t look as explosive as I was expecting him to be and didn’t really consistently beat either tackle with any passrush moves. It was just kind of bullrush or try and go outside and dip which he did bend and get the corner a few times that I saw. Can’t complain though. First game and you can tell he belongs. The strength and athleticism is already there

  • Kevin Artis

    He’s done more than Jarvis Jones did his entire 4 years in pittsburgh in one preseason game.

  • Jaybird

    Your boy Hilton had a heck of a game by the way!

  • Although they weren’t extremely difficult, a lot of guys still miss the sacks on plays like those. TJ made it look easy. I also saw him bend the edge and come close, beating their OTs a couple of times. Most impressive.

  • Brenton deed

    My thoughts exactly, he seems to have bulked up since the draft??? I know that’s not possible to the degree he seems to have grown but when he was drafted I thought: “he’ll be good in a year when he’s put a bit more muscle on”. He looks good now???

  • StolenUpVotes

    Yes he did!!!

  • Jim Foles

    Moats did fall for the fake on the same play… lol..

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    Exactly why I feel like getting a clean lane to the QB shouldn’t be taken for granted.

  • Lambert58

    Impressive debut from Watt. Looking forward to a great career from the young man.

  • MC

    Weren’t the most difficult sacks but he showed impressive traits to get them in any case. Nice arm extension and push on the first one. Nice reaction and closing speed on the playaction sack. Been awhile since I’ve seen that type of movement from someone his size.

  • Mr. KnowItAll

    …and there goes my beer LOL