It’s time for the third annual SCB End of season awards. We’ve expanded in the past year, so now have 5 voters on each category instead of just 3 last year. If there was any votes that weren’t unanimous, the other votes are listed as honorable mentions. If there aren’t any, that means that all 5 of us were in agreement.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Most Valuable Player
Honorable Mentions: DeAngelo Williams
2014 Winner: Ben Roethlisberger
2013 Winner: Antonio Brown
I don’t think there was really ever any doubt that Ben was extremely important to this team. I give a ton of credit to coach Tomlin and the defense for surviving without their star Quarterback, but seeing just how good this team is with him in there shows he takes them to another level. We’ve seen despite how awesome Le’Veon Bell is, this team can survive without him. I think if Antonio Brown missed time, the other receivers could pick up the slack, but Big Ben is the one guy the Steelers couldn’t compete (for long) without.
No disrespect to Antonio Brown, but I think the Steelers locker room tends to vote elsewhere because if they were truly picking the MVP, then Big Ben would take it just about every year.
Offensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: The whole O-line
2014 Winner: Antonio Brown
2013 Winner: Antonio Brown
Since we started doing these awards, we’ve never named anyone besides AB. Antonio Brown has to be one of the most consistent players in NFL history. He almost never goes into a game without making his impact felt. I still think that he can’t be covered one on one, despite his matchup with Richard Sherman this season. I believe if Sherman doesn’t get away with grabbing Brown all game, that there’s a much different story there. The Denver game against Chris Harris showed how amazing Brown is even against the best of the best.
Antonio Brown now holds 2 of the 4 best seasons in NFL history in terms of number of receptions. He fell just 8 catches shy of breaking the all time record this season. If he and Ben played a full 16 games together I think he would’ve surpassed that easily.
Defensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Mike Mitchell
2014 Winner: Cam Heyward
2013 Winner: Lawrence Timmons
Back to back DPOY awards for Cam Heyward, and I think plenty more are going to come before this guy retires. Cam is totally a throwback type of player for the Steelers; hard nosed, no-nonsense, team leader type of guy. Mike Mitchell has played better and got 1 vote, but Cam is a monster every single week. He deserved his first pro-bowl trip this season, even though he was left out.
There were votes among us for Mike Mitchell. Who would have guessed that last season?
Rookie of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Bud Dupree
2014 Winner: Martavis Bryant
2013 Winner: Le’Veon Bell
I guess Boswell isn’t technically a rookie, since he spent time on two pre-season training camps, but for our awards we don’t care. This one was a 3/2 split in votes, with one more for Boswell over Dupree. I actually picked Bud initially, but changed my vote to Boswell after thinking it over. As far as draft picks, there was no other option than Bud. Dupree has made a few nice plays on his athleticism alone, but he still has a lot of work to do. We’ve seen if Dupree learns the nuances of the position, his physical skillset is incredible.
Dupree has played decent for a rookie but really trailed off in the second half of the season. Even those he’s “just” a kicker; Chris Boswell has become one of the best players at his position since taking over kicking duties for the Steelers. Next year’s kicking competition between Boswell and Suisham should be a good one.
Comeback Player of the Year
DeAngelo Williams & Mike Mitchell
Honorable Mentions: Marcus Gilbert
2014 Winner: Maurkice Pouncey
2013 Winner: Heath Miller
With a tie, the comeback award is co-owned by Williams and Mitchell. DeAngelo Williams was signed after being cut by the Panthers last off-season, and the signing went unnoticed by many people at the time. Almost a full season later, it’s looking like Williams may have been the best free agent signing in the league this year. Williams has been every bit as valuable as Le’Veon Bell was, and doing it all at 32 years old.
Breakout Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Roosevelt Nix, Alejandro Villanueva, Stephon Tuitt
New category added this year. Sort of funny that Mitchell is both a comeback player, and a breakout player. Mitchell won comeback based on his level of play prior to coming to Pittsburgh, but broke out in a Steelers uniform for the first time this season. I think many of us rolled our eyes (myself included) last season when Mitchell hinted that his play may have been due to playing with two groin injuries. Now though, I’ll admit I was wrong and it looks like that was absolutely true.
Least Valuable Player
Another new category, and no honorable mentions here, it was unanimous. I feel kinda bad piling on Antwon Blake so much, because I think the guy works hard and I love his disposition. Antwon Blake is exactly what you want in a end of the roster cornerback; he’s a physical guy that’s a very good special teamer, and while he struggles quite a bit in coverage, he can tackle when he’s healthy and has plenty of starting experience if he’s pressed into action. It’s not his fault that the coaching staff continues to play him when there are more capable players on the roster. Nonetheless, this award was an easy one to hand out.
Coach/Coordinator of the Year
Keith Butler & Mike Munchak
Honorable Mentions: Todd Haley
2014 Winner: Todd Haley
2013 Winner: John Bicknell Jr.
Another shared award. Keith Butler stepped in for a legend in Dick Lebeau, and I’ve been shocked at how well he has the defense playing. Butler took over a defense with a couple of nice pieces, but a terrible secondary. In his first season, he’s not perfect, but he has brought back the pass rush that’s been absent for several years now. Butler’s edge rushers aren’t on par with some of the historic ones that Lebeau coached, so he’s gotten creative and aggressive with his blitz packages, utilizing defensive backs and 5-technique ends in the pass rush. If he can get a couple of corners next season, the Steelers might be the most balanced team in the league offensively and defensively.
Mike Munchak has quietly made a unit that was also once a weakness, play very very well. If Munchak doesn’t have the line playing as well as it is, it wouldn’t matter how talented the team is at skill positions. Under Munchak this season, Marcus Gilbert and David DeCastro have had pro bowl worthy seasons. He’s also managed to keep the line playing at a high level with Alejandro Villanueva and Cody Wallace starting most of the season.
Offensive Lineman of the Year
Honorable Mentions: David DeCastro
2014 Winner: Kelvin Beachum
2013 Winner: Ramon Foster
Marcus Gilbert might be the next Antonio Brown for the Steelers. What I mean by that is, a player that seemed to get a big contract extension based on potential more than production; and it works. I felt Gilbert was overpaid based on desperation by the Steelers, but he was one of the top right tackles in the league this season. If he keeps improving, we might be saying they got a steal in a couple seasons.
Defensive Lineman of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon
2014 Winner: Cam Heyward
2013 Winner: Cam Heyward
Cam takes this for the 3rd consecutive season, but I will say that it wasn’t as cut and dry as usual, even though it was unanimous. Tuitt and McLendon had great years as well.
Play of the Year
Landry Jones Connects with Martavis Bryant for an 88 yard TD vs. Arizona
Honorable Mentions: Le’Veon Bell’s Walk-off TD against the Chargers
2014 Winner: Brown Game Sealing TD vs. Cincinnati
2013 Winner: Brown 1-handed TD catch vs. Chicago
This is where all of us almost always disagree the most. The winning play was one made that was the final nail in the coffin against the Superbowl contender, with Landry Jones at the helm for the Steelers’ offense. Jones hung tough in the pocket to find Martavis, who showed incredible acceleration and elusiveness on the play to outrun the entire Cardinals defense.