BTSC Mid-Season 'Awards'

We thought we'd just continue to use the midway point of the season as an excuse to roll out some more easy content for us to read and discuss as we wait for Sunday's pivotal AFC North showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. Drinkyourmilkshake and I are handing out some fictitious awards, both good and bad, but mostly good. They are..

Offensive MVP- Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger is pretty clearly the offensive M.V.P. of the Steelers for the first half of 2009.  You could probably argue that Hines Ward, Heath Miller, or even Rashard Mendenhall should be mentioned in the conversations but all of these players have benefited from what Big Ben has brought to the table in 2009.  Roethlisberger is on pace for over 4500 passing yards, and 28 touchdowns and could break Terry Bradshaw's Steeler record from 1979 when he threw for 3724 yards.  If Ben Roethlisberger continues to perform at his current level he will not just be considered the M.V.P. of the Steelers offense he will surely be considered a possible league M.V.P. candidate.  -DYM-

Defensive MVP - Troy Polamalu

Since returning from injury against the Cleveland Browns Lions Week 6, Polamalu has helped stabilize the Steelers defense. In Weeks 2 through 5, the Steelers dropped two games and even in victory against Detroit and San Diego, the defense struggled in the secondary. When Polamalu returned, things gradually have begun returning to normal for the stingiest defense in the NFL last year. Pittsburgh has allowed just two offensive touchdowns since Polamalu's return - one against Cleveland and one against Minnesota. Polamalu also has intercepted a pass in two of his past three games, giving him 3 for the season in just four games of action. Last Monday at Denver, Polamalu helped tip the game in Pittsburgh's favor when he flew in to the Broncos backfield on first down, then intercepted a pass two plays later. What a special player. - Blitz-

Most Improved Offensive Player - Willie Colon

In my opinion, not one player has improved so dramatically this year than right tackle Willie Colon. I don't have sack statistics handy and I don't have the time to try to assess how many rushing yards have come behind his blocks in the running game, but I don't think too many Steelers fans would argue that they're thrilled to not be screaming #74's name on regular occasion, something that was an all too regular occurrence the previous two years. Colon is still just 26 years old, and with 42 games of experience under his belt, it's exciting to think that he still can, and likely will, improve even more. It will be interesting to see what kind of money he commands when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.  - Blitz-

Most Improved Defensive Player- Keyaron Fox

In actuality Keyaron Fox may not be that much improved over last year it could just be he is no longer buried on the depth chart anymore.  Keyaron has been asked to step up to the challenge this season with nagging injuries to former first round draft pick Lawrence Timmons and all he is done is post numbers in the first half of the season that will amount to a career season for the six year vet.  Fox is currently 6th on the team in solo tackles (22) and total tackles (33), and had a game clinching fumble recovery Interception return for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.  The only other player I would probably nominate for this award would be Brett Keisel who has been an unstoppable force this season and is really proving that he was worth that four year extension in the offseason. -DYM-

Most Surprising Offensive Player - The Offensive Line

Perhaps a bit of a cop out to name an entire unit here, but really the play of the offensive line has to be the most surprising development on 2009. There were questions abound about the offensive line heading in to the season, mainly because the personnel was largely the same except for the insertion of Trai Essex in to Darnell Stapleton's spot at right guard. They've been head and shoulders above where they were a year ago though. The Steelers are averaging 4.3 yards per carry this year. That's a .6 yards per carry improvement from a year ago. And since Rashard Mendenhall's been inserted in to the lineup, the rushing game has really taken off.  I'd imagine that the offense will continue to lean on the running game more and more as the season progresses, much like they did against the Broncos late in the game.

In the passing game, Big Ben has been sacked 20 times (24th most), but his sack rate has dropped from 10.4% in 2006 to 8.9% last year to 8.1% this year. Add in the fact that a handful of those sacks are on Big Ben and it's easy to see why Steelers fans are no longer biting their nails each week wondering if their franchise quarterback is about to get lit up and sent to the sidelines with a serious injury. I'd also mention that a high-ish sack number like that is easier to swallow if at other times the line is really holding up and giving Big Ben time. It has been. I can't count the number of times Roethlisberger has had all day to survey down the field. Big, big props to Larry Zierlein (never thought I'd say that) and the whole unit for coming together so methodically and impressively since late last year. - Blitz- 

Most Surprising Defensive Player - Brett Keisel

Some might disagree with this selection, but my most surprising player on defense has been Brett Keisel. We know what The Diesel brings to the table by now seven years in to his NFL career. That's high energy, solid durability, great leadership, consistency against the run, and usually good - albeit not great - pass rushing from his defensive end position. Keisel has 3 sacks this year matching the second highest total of his career (2005), and equaling his totals from the previous two seasons combined. More importantly, Keisel's sacks have come in huge spots the past two weeks. His strip of Brett Favre led to a game-changing touchdown return by LaMarr Woodley and his tireless efforts against the Broncos led to two crucial sacks during Monday night's victory. If he can keep this level of play up for an entire 16 games + the playoffs, the Steelers may just be able to survive the loss of Aaron Smith and finish the year with one of the league's best defenses once again defending the run and the pass. - Blitz-

Most Valuable Rookie- Mike Wallace

There is no real argument over this one, Mike Wallace has been outstanding in his rookie season.  Wallace was taken in the third round and has more receiving yards than any of the ten wide receivers taken ahead of him in the 2009 NFL draft, how about them apples!  Wallace's emergence has been crucial for the Steelers this season with Limas Sweed still struggling to make a difference Wallace has given the Steelers three explosive wide receivers. Wallace has allowed Bruce Arians and company to force opposing secondary's to "pick their poison."  Ziggy Hood has shown promise in his limited playing time, but Wallace is clearly the most pleasant surprise out of the 2009 rookie class.  If you don't think what Mike Wallace is doing is special consider he is on pace to have the most receiving yards of any Steeler rookie besides Louis Lipps in 1984, and Jimmy Orr in 1958. -DYM-

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