Antonio Brown was voted team MVP by his teammates, so we thought why not hand out some of our own awards for just the Steelers’ team.
There were some categories that were unanimous, and a few where we disagreed.
Most Valuable Player
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger
Our MVP was the same as the one selected by the Steelers locker room by a vote of 2 to 1. It was a close vote in everyone’s minds with Antonio getting the edge, with SteelDad saying “I would have gone with Ben but those early turnovers were the difference.”
Brown put up some impressive numbers, finishing the season with 110 receptions for 1,499 yards (both good for 2nd in the NFL) and 8 scores. Brown was also a model of consistency this year getting at least 5 catches and 50 yards in every game (the first player to do so in 16 games).
Not only was Brown the team’s best receiver, he held down the punt return spot the entire season finishing in the top 10 in the NFL in punt return average, and had 5 returns of 40+ yards.
Offensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger
It’s a sweep for Antonio Brown! Steel City Retro and I swapped votes here. I went with Brown and he went with Big Ben. To me, your MVP is the guy that you couldn’t win games without, and your offensive player of the year is the stat stuffer. Brown certainly did that, as mentioned above.
Defensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Heyward, Jason Worilds
This one was pretty close to being Heyward, and if he played all season it probably would be. However, despite not being the flashiest player on the defense, Lawrence Timmons was the rock on the defensive side of the ball.
From week 1 against the Titans to week 17 against the Browns, Lawrence Timmons flew all over the field making plays.
Rookie of the Year
No honorable mentions needed here. It was a clean sweep for Bell. Le’Veon broke the franchise record for yards from scrimmage previously held by Franco Harris. Had Bell played in all 16 games I don’t think there’s any question he’d be in the conversation for the NFL offensive rookie of the year.
Bell seems to be a perfect fit in today’s pass happy NFL with great hands and some pass blocking skills. Le’Veon Bell juked, trucked, and stiff armed his way into the hearts of a lot of Steelers fans this season, and could give the Steelers a dangerously balanced offense down the road.
Comeback Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Troy Polamalu
While Heath Miller’s season wasn’t exactly on par with the one Adrian Peterson had last season, any player coming back from ACL surgery shouldn’t be expected to be back at 100% quickly. Heath struggled early on in the season, however his presence on the field did plenty for the offense that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
This vote was very close between Heath and Troy Polamalu. Troy played in all 16 games which we all know is rare for him. If you look strictly at numbers, Troy didn’t have a great season… But Steeler nation knows better. Troy played as much ILB as he did safety this season and held his own in the middle of the field.
Coach/Coordinator of the Year
OL Coach, Jack Bicknell Jr.
Honorable Mentions: Carnell Lake, Todd Haley
Steeler nation saw something we weren’t used to seeing in the second half of this season… Ben Roethlisberger playing healthy. The Steelers have often relied on a hobbled Big Ben late in the season, because the offensive line play is so bad that Ben routinely takes 4 or 5 sacks per game.
While the early part of the season looked to be much of the same, the line finished with 7 sacks given up in the finaly 7 games. Coach Bicknell was challenged with replacing his pro bowl center after the first series of the season, and then challenged even further when the impressive Velasco also went down.
Offensive Lineman of the Year
Honorable Mentions: David DeCastro, Fernando Velasco
Anyone notice that you haven’t heard Ramon Foster’s name much this season? For an offensive lineman, that’s a great thing. Nearly every team has a few star plays, but championship teams fill in the rest of the spots with guys that can make plays when they need them to, and to play consistent football. Ramon Foster is one of those guys.
Kevlin Beachum has played great football at the LT spot for the Steelers, but don’t discount the veteran presence next to him helping him out.
Defensive Lineman of the Year
This pick seemed pretty obvious to all of us. Heyward was one of the best players on the defense once he took over the starting spot in the middle of the season. Had Heyward started every game, I think you might see him playing in Hawaii.
Cameron Heyward is not only a nasty run defender, but he might be the best pass rusher from the DE spot that the Steelers fans have seen in some time. It will be exciting to see Cam grow into his position, and play a full season.
Play of the Year
Antonio Brown One-Handed TD Catch
Honorable Mentions: Lateral play in Miami, Various Le’Veon Bell plays
In an otherwise pretty painful game to watch for Steelers fans, Antonio Brown made possibly one of the best catches in football this season. Brown was able to get his fingertips on the ball to keep it alive and then bring it in, in an amazing display of concentration.
Had Antonio Brown displayed some of that concentration on the lateral play vs. Miami, that would’ve easily been the play we chose here. It would also probably have a fitting nickname by now, and be seen on highlight reels along with the Immaculate Reception and the Music City Miracle.
I’d also like to say that when we discussed play of the year, that Le’Veon Bell’s name came up a couple of times. Bell didn’t have any Sportscenter worthy 80 yard runs. He did however show some impressive displays of power and vision. Maybe Steelers fans like us just can’t get past the days of old, because a nice 5-10 yard run still gets us excited.