On last weeks podcast of The Scho Bro Show, we were tasked with listing our top five players who are most likely to earn team MVP for the Steelers in 2021. Although sometimes picking team MVP is difficult even after the players have played the season, doing it before anyone has taken the field is an even bigger challenge. In other words, it comes down to projecting on who will have a great season for the Black and Gold in 2021.
For this exercise, we each came up with our own top five list counting down to the most likely candidate. For each number, we will highlight the players both Rich (Big Bro Scho) and myself (Dave) chose at each ranking with a brief explanation as to why we felt this player could come through and be voted the Most Valuable Player for the Steelers in 2021.
5. Dave: Ben Roethlisberger
Rich: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Although he doesn’t make a push for team MVP and usually supports others throughout the locker room, if 2021 ends up being Ben Roethlisberger‘s last year in the NFL it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for his team to select him as the Most Valuable Player. In order for this to happen, the offense needs to be as much of the driving force towards success as the defense. If this is the case, Roethlisberger may have to be doing less in the stats category in order to bring about a more balanced team.
As for Rich’s choice of JuJu Smith-Schuster, he felt there is a possibility that a wide receiver could earn the honor and Smith-Schuster seems to be a likely candidate to break out even more in 2021. Hopefully JuJu can be given more opportunities to succeed than 2020 where he caught 97 passes and still was unable to reach 1,000 yards based on the offensive scheme. Add in the fact Smith-Schuster won the award in 2018 and he became the front runner in the receivers’ room.
4. Dave: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Rich: Cam Heyward
My reasoning for Smith-Schuster was almost exactly like that of Rich having him at the number five spot. I just simply had him one spot higher. As for Cam Heyward, Rich believes that if there is another player along the Steelers defensive front who could earn the honor, Heyward would be the most likely as he has continued to get his due acknowledgment as one of the best interior defenders in the NFL.
3. Dave: Devin Bush
Rich: Minkah Fitzpatrick
If Devin Bush returns from injury and leads to Steelers in tackles while throwing in some forced fumbles and possibly an interception or two, he could very well earn the team MVP honors if the defense is what is ruling the day for the Steelers in 2021. Rich’s selection of Mikah Fitzpatrick has to do with the scenario where teams may need to rely on the pass more against the Steelers and the possibility of Fitzpatrick notching a few more interceptions this season.
2. Dave: Najee Harris
Rich: Ben Roethlisberger
Although Rich thought I was crazy, I can see a scenario in which Najee Harris wins the team MVP as a rookie much like Franco Harris did in 1972. Given the fact the Steelers running game was so bad last season, a solid performance would be a huge improvement over 2020. If the Steelers running game can even get up to just being middle of the road in the NFL, Harris would have a shot at this honor. Should the Steelers do the unthinkable and crack the top 10 in rushing, Harris should get the majority of the credit although scheme and blocking are likely to be just as important to the Steelers success as Harris’ ability to tote the rock.
As for Rich’s placement of Roethlisberger, he basically thought it was exactly what I had outlined but just much more likely for the 2021 season then what I was taking into account.
1. Dave: T.J. Watt
Rich: T.J. Watt
Since he’s won the team MVP the last two years, not believing the front runner is T.J. Watt would be foolish. Any player who continues to be in the running for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year is likely going to end up their team’s MVP. Although the Steelers have had players win the MVP three times in a career, they have never had a player win it three years in a row. It will be interesting to see if Watt is chosen yet again of if the team changes it up for one reason or another.
So there are the top five lists of candidates for Steelers MVP in 2021 both by myself and my big brother Rich. How do you think we did? Which one do you agree with more? What would your top five list be? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below!
If you would like to listen to the breakdown from The Scho Bro Show podcast, they can be heard below.