Steelers get four sacks from T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree following swap of positions

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Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree combined for 15 tackles and four sacks in last week’s season opener against the Cleveland Browns.

While this is the second year Watt and Dupree have played together in Pittsburgh, it’s their first season in their current roles. According to Will Graves of the Associated Press, Watt and Dupree flipped sides this offseason as the Steelers tried to optimize the production of the two players.

Watt, who spent his rookie season at right outside linebacker, has been moved to the left side of the Pittsburgh defense with Dupree taking over the pass rushing role on the right side of the front. Watt sacked Tyrod Taylor three times in the 21-21 tie. Dupree managed to drop him once.

“We did a lot of stuff to maximize our potential and opportunities outside and we still had more opportunities to make more sacks we didn’t capitalize on,” Dupree said. “It should have been more than that.”

The move is intended to maximize the skill sets of both players. Watt can be more physical and handle blockers better on the side of the formation more likely to draw tight ends on the line of scrimmage while Dupree can be utilized in a more pass rush focused position.

The first act of the new alignment proved successful for both parties.

“I’m way more comfortable (on the left),” Watt said. “I feel like I can bend more. I’m a stronger player. I can see the quarterback. I can see his eyes. I know what he’s thinking better. I’m a very instinctual player. It allows me to see and read the play better.”

11 responses to “Steelers get four sacks from T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree following swap of positions

  1. They did such a great job that they tied the worst team of the past couple decades. The steel curtain was ripped down when Polamalu retired, they’ve been average at best since. Even Tebow and Bortles shredded them in the playoffs.

  2. Their success wouldn’t have anything to do with the Brownbs starting an undrafted rookie at left tackle would it? Or the poor weather conditions. Nah, they probably both are all world players.

  3. Part of the effectiveness of the switch is also how they are matched up with the DEs in front of them. Last year it was Watt and all-pro Cam Heyward, then Dupree and Stephen Tuitt, or whoever filled in when Tuitt was hurt. That’s one strong side and one weaker side. This year it’s Heyward and Dupree, Watt and Tuitt, so much more balanced.

    The ILB are Bostic, who also had a a sack, and Vince Williams, the defensive signal caller who had 8 sacks last year, and even backup Matthew Thomas has looked good. Pittsburgh can bring pressure from the line, both OLB and ILB, and even the secondary, where CB Mike Hilton had 4 last year, and 1st rounder SS Edmunds can also rush the passer. Pittsburgh led the league in sacks last year and might do it again this year.

    Go Steelers!

  4. I admire the writer for trying to squeeze something positive out of a Steelers’ team that allowed the worst team in football to outscore them 14-0 in the 4th quarter. But come on. Tyrod Taylor just got there. He’s had no time to prepare. Steelers should have won that game by 30 points. Instead, they got Brown stomped.

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