Film Room: T.J. Watt Showing Pass-Rush Repertoire

I think it would be fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers fans are really hungering to find their team’s next elite pass-rusher—or at least anything that comes close to resembling such. Since the dominant pairing of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley fell apart, the team has been searching for edge help, and the results have been underwhelming.

Jarvis Jones cycled in and out over four years. While Bud Dupree has been better, he is still looking to find his game three years in. rookie T.J. Watt already appears to be the best of the three in his rookie season, and is third on the team with six sacks. Sunday was one of the best pass-rushing games of his season to date.

The first example I want to take a look at comes on the final play of the Ravens’ opening drive, which was intercepted. Watt, lined up in his traditional spot off the defensive right edge, played wide as a nine-tech, virtually, but instead of rushing wide, cut inside and harassed Ronnie Stanley. While he wasn’t able to get depth in the pocket, he crashed the throwing lane and got his hands up, which likely affected Joe Flacco’s throw.

Still later in the first, with the Ravens looking at a first and 10 around midfield, the rookie again came in from the same position, but this time took the wide angle. He was able to dip under Stanley and knocked Flacco to the ground, forcing a ball that his receiver had to dive for.

Into the second quarter, Watt was this time meant to be picked up by the pulling tight end, but his speed and athleticism prevented that from happening, again getting Flacco to the ground. Unfortunately the rest of the defense failed to prevent Alex Collins from cutting upfield for 20 yards.

Now into the third quarter, the Ravens showed max protection in the backfield pre-snap, but the near blocker leaked out for a pass. Watt on this rep showed something of his repertoire, swatting Stanley’s hands down to get around him and putting Flacco down once again for the third time of the game.

Now into the fourth quarter, on the final drive of the game, he showed something of a bull rush a few plays before the end, sending the left tackle hopping backwards. Converting speed to power is an essential tool in the pass-rushing kit, so you want to see that, and we did there.

And boy does he have speed, and athleticism. Watt iced the game coming off the defensive left side on the final snap, beating the less limber Austin Howard first with a chop and then by dipping and turning the arc.

It was enough to flush Flacco out of the pocket, and though he has above-average mobility for a quarterback, Watt’s pursuit was relentless. His heady use of his arm to tomahawk the ball out as he sacked the quarterback was a veteran move.

And he’s at the beginning of his career.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Conserv_58

    T.J. has been an excellent and welcomed addition to the defense. Now if they can get Bud to play as instinctually they’d have something special.

  • nutty32

    Icing the game with that last sack coming from the left side made a certain other olb look bad. Elmer J. Fudd Dupree.

  • Ray Istenes

    Granted Brady gets rid of the ball extremely fast. However, if TJ can be that effective on Sunday he will either get a few sacks and/or force Brady to throw the ball away multiple times.

  • Ray Istenes

    His speed, quickness, and motor is showing why Harrison is not seeing many snaps.

  • Brenton deed

    When he was drafted I feared that while he ticked all the boxes he would be merely serviceable… I was wrong again … he’s got that “animal”… Bud OTOH…

  • kev4heels

    Straight stud. So excited to see where he is by his 3rd year in the Burgh. Could be looking at one of the best all-around OLB’s in the game.

  • falconsaftey43

    He’s not throwing it as fast this year. Edleman gone and deeper passes with Cooks has made him hold it a little longer.

    2017 Brady 2.68 (2.76 vs Dolphins)

    2017 Ben 2.53 (2.42 vs Ravens)

    2017 Flacco 2.55
    2017 Dalton 2.49

    2016 Brady 2.57
    2016 Ben 2.59
    2016 Flacco 2.57
    2016 Dalton 2.50

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He just gets it. He takes the shortest route to the QB.

  • Chad Weiss

    This kid has a ceiling sky high. For a guy who everyone labeled raw he sure is one of if not the most nfl ready player I remember in som

  • Sam Clonch

    But we should make him an ILB!!!! (in a sarcastic voice)

  • Michael James

    Now that’s what a promising young pass-rusher looks like!

  • Steel Realist PAul

    That was Deebo 92 playing the right side on the last gif. He washed inside, getting double-teamed and then was submarined by Tuitt. Happens.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Watt has had a strong rookie year. There’s more to it than sacks and stats. He drops into coverage, swats passes, runs down ball carriers and is relentless in every aspect of his game. Maybe Bud should hang with him and the rest of the Watt fam this off-season. Couldn’t hurt.

  • NinjaMountie

    Now if our secondary could just make the QB hold the ball past his first read….lol

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Watt, based on his current pace, should finish the season with somewhere around 50 tackles, 8 sacks, and 1 or 2 picks(he also has 6 passes defended to date). If he does not get any better from here on out and continues to perform at his current level, he will be considered a huge success and an excellent pick. And the best part is that there’s no reason to think that he won’t improve. Barring injury, we’re looking at a high floor, high ceiling player. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  • Conserv_58

    It would be a fantastic idea for Bud to hang with the Watt bros. in the off season. Maybe they could teach him how to recognize what he’s looking at, pre snap.

  • Conserv_58

    Joey Porter and Mike Tomlin said as much during camp.

  • Conserv_58

    I’m hoping that he’s feeling his age and hitting the inevitable wall.

  • Conserv_58

    It didn’t help that he was getting double teamed as Tuitt fell at his feet.

  • Steeler4l1f3

    Damn, he looks good in these reps. Nice bend and hand usage. We need it this week!!!

  • No kidding. He could’ve had a three sack game if Flacco wasn’t getting rid of it instantly.

  • Steelers32

    wish they would play watt and deebo out there more often

  • MC

    Bud’s running up the arc in the third gif leaving a clear lane for a small scramble and passing lane for the dumpoff. The tackle over commits wide early because he knows its coming, you would think when a man that big is kicking back that fast would be susceptible to an inside move, but Bud has no inside move and its hurting this team.

    Watt drafted half a round later and in his first season is already head and shoulders above Bud. Loving this kid so far.

  • FATCAT716

    All I kept saying in that draft is please let him be around for the Steelers. I liked his energy, he played with passion & fire something I like in defensive players. Plus his motor was unbelievable. And his use of his hands made him a must have. His last name helped to