The Pittsburgh Steelers enter Week 9, their bye week, with a 6-2 record. This is good enough for sole possession of first place in the AFC North, and tied with the Patriots and Chiefs atop the AFC standings.
With the team’s arrow pointing up, as Mike Tomlin would say, and at the mid-way point of the season, you have to ask who would be the team’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) at this stage of the game?
The offense has been under-performing the entire season, but Antonio Brown certainly could make a case to be the MVP after eight games. Other than that, I wouldn’t consider many offensive players, maybe Le’Veon Bell, to be in the running for such an award.
On the other hand, the team’s defense has been a shot in the arm for Pittsburgh, and the main reason for the team’s overall success. There are a lot of players on the defense who could be given votes for the MVP of the team, but only one truly stands out to me.
Nothing against a player like Ryan Shazier, but Cameron Heyward has been hands-down the team’s MVP to this point. For an outsider looking at Heyward’s stats, you might think I have lost my mind, but if you watch Heyward closely you would know exactly why he is the team’s MVP.
Through 8 games, Heyward has 27 total tackles, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 5 tackles for loss. Some players have flashier numbers, but Heyward has been dominant, but more important — consistent.
With the injuries to Stephon Tuitt, it has been Heyward who has not just been the defensive captain, but the anchor to the entire unit throughout the first half of the season. Why has the secondary improved so much? Heyward, and company, are getting pressure without having to blitz a lot. Without Heyward, this likely wouldn’t be occurring as much as it is now.
The Steelers are 6-2, and, in my opinion, their record might not be as good if it weren’t for Heyward. In 2016 fans saw what life without Heyward was like when he was injured with a torn pectoral muscle and lost for the year, and in 2017 it has been awesome to see him not just return, but return with authority.
Who would you give the first-half MVP to? Let us know in the comment section below!