For the second year now, we at Steel City Blitz have released our thoughts on the award winners for the Steelers’ 2014 season. These are a result of voting from the 3 of us here at Steel City Blitz. I’d say this year was much harder than last year in some categories, especially offensively because so many guys had really good seasons.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!
Most Valuable Player
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell
2013 Winner: Antonio Brown
With all due respect to Bell and Brown, Ben just played the best season of his career, in a very good career. There’s a reason quarterbacks tend to win most of the MVP awards. In games where Ben wasn’t at his best (like the Jets and Saints games) the offense looked completely out of whack.
Ben’s already been a winner, but this year he also proved that he can fill up the stat sheets, finishing tied for the lead in passing yards with Drew Brees. Ben has transitioned from playground ball to a really deadly pocket passer under Todd Haley… while still making plays with his feet from time to time.
Personally I don’t understand why Ben hasn’t been in the actual NFL MVP discussion. I won’t argue he should win it over Rodgers, but I think he’s at least in the conversation.
Offensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell
2013 Winner: Antonio Brown
This was almost Bell, but Bell had some down games this season… Antonio Brown was the most consistent player in the NFL. Brown also put up a historically great season catching 129 passes (2nd most in NFL history) for 1700 yards and 13 touchdowns (all 3 franchise records).
I’ve actually heard Antonio Brown’s named mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Rice this season. Brown, like Rice, has become one of the best in the game despite not running a 4.3 forty time, or being 6’4″ or having some insane vertical.
Again, no disrespect to Ben or Bell, this is a tough choice, but we go with the guy that had one of the best seasons by a receiver in NFL history.
Defensive Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Lawrence Timmons
2013 Winner: Lawrence Timmons
Last year we were closing to picking Heyward, but he had only played half the season. After a full season’s worth of work it’s clear that Heyward is the best player on the Steelers’ defense.
Heyward will probably never get the recognition he deserves league-wide because of the scheme he plays in, but Cam’s 7.5 sacks this season is the most by a Steelers DE since Aaron Smith’s 8 in 2004. If you’re getting mentioned with Aaron Smith, you’re doing something right.
Rookie of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Stephon Tuitt
2013 Winner: Le’Veon Bell
This is really a no brainer. I think that guys like Shazier and Tuitt could end up with better careers when it’s all said and done, but Bryant showed while he still need work his physical skill set is really dangerous already.
Once Mike Tomlin unleashed Bryant, he was instant offense scoring 8 touchdowns in just 10 games, and making one of the most memorable plays of the season when he beat Leon Hall in Cincinnati for a 94 yard touchdown catch.
Comeback Player of the Year
Honorable Mentions: William Gay, Sean Spence
2013 Winner: Heath Miller
Last season was supposed to be when the Steelers investment in the offensive line was finally supposed to pay off. Plans had to change however when center Maurkice Pouncey went down in the very first series of the season.
Pouncey worked his way back and anchored one of the best offensive lines the Steelers have seen in a very long time. He, along with the rest of the line, opened holes for Le’Veon Bell and have allowed Big Ben to have maybe his best season ever.
Coach/Coordinator of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Dick Lebeau, Mike Munchak
2013 Winner: John Bicknell Jr.
Talk about hell freezing over. That’s right, Todd Haley is our coordinator of the year for the Steelers. Many fans may disagree with this one, but I’m not sure how you can’t give Haley credit for finishing with the #2 offense in yards in the NFL (trailing New Orleans by 0.3 yards per game).
The offense still tends to stall in the red-zone too often, and sometimes Haley’s play calls seem too cute, but this offense is one of the best in the NFL, and nobody would have predicted that a few years ago. It’s time for Steeler Nation to admit they were wrong about Todd Haley.
Offensive Lineman of the Year
Honorable Mentions: David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey
2013 Winner: Ramon Foster
I won’t go too in depth here, because we’ve had entire write up’s dedicated to Beachum like this one. What Beachum has done despite his small stature, and late draft position is really incredible.
There’s plenty of lineman that had great seasons for the Steelers, but Beachum has locked down the most important spot on the line.
Defensive Lineman of the Year
Honorable Mentions: Brett Keisel
2013 Winner: Cameron Heyward
This was another easy one. See the reasons above for why we love Heyward. Cam takes this award for the 2nd consecutive year.
Play of the Year
Antonio Brown Touchdown Catch vs. Cincinnati
Honorable Mentions: Ben’s TD vs. KC after being leg whipped, Martavis’ 94 yard score in Cincinnati
2013 Winner: Brown 1-handed TD catch vs. Chicago
The three of us really struggled to pick one play to name play of the year, so we decided to choose the one that sealed the AFC North division crown for the Steelers.
The Steelers needed a big play from Brown in order to put the Bengals away, and they got it from their most consistent player. Brown stopped on a dime and had Bengals safety George Iloka completely turned around, before racing for the nail in the coffin touchdown.