The Pittsburgh Steelers will cast their votes for team MVP later this afternoon.
My vote wouldn’t go to the best player. But value? He brings it in spades.
DeAngelo Williams is the Steelers’ MVP.
He isn’t as talented as Antonio Brown, the best receiver in the league. Or as inherently valuable as Ben Roethlisberger – a quarterback will always have more value. But there’s no fun in picking the layup. As long as 7 is here, he will always take home that honor.
But without D-Will, this offense isn’t the high-powered attack it has evolved into. Imagine a 2015 squad without him Who takes over for Le’Veon Bell? Jordan Todman? Fitzgerald Toussaint? Bring Ben Tate back for Round 2?
Sure, the Steelers probably wind up bringing someone else in. A low-key free agent signing, a mid-round draft pick, the yinzer from Brentwood donates his MCL to Bell. But no solution would’ve been as effective as Williams. Without him, there is no semblance of a running game. As high-powered as the passing game is, and could’ve given the offense a fighting chance, they’re a one-dimensional unit and severely handcuffed.
Could you imagine if last year’s running back depth was thrust into this year’s situation? No DeAngelo? An angry, storming-out LeGarrette Blount? You should shudder at that thought.
Mike Tomlin has always held that “standard is the standard” line. The gameplan doesn’t change. Williams might be the only player you can say that with 100% truth. Nothing changed when Bell went down. Put 34 in, call the next play, go to work.
It isn’t even just about the 900+ yards by the time the season ends. The healthy 4.6 yards per carry. The 11 TDs. It goes beyond that. Williams is arguably the best pass protecting back in the league. You remember him destroying Aldon Smith. It’s his selflessness. A running back living in a passing world, on arguably the most effective passing game in the NFL. All he wants to do is help his team win. That’s what he told the media back in mid-December.
“The amount of opportunities you get out here playing this game. The biggest picture that you see is making it to the Super Bowl and winning it.”
He’s the one who told Todd Haley, upon being asked if he needed more carries, to not worry over the number of touches he received. Just do what is necessary to win the game.
Think Blount would’ve ever replied with that sentiment?
Williams has done everything asked of him and more. That’s not even considering his age, admiteedly not really worthy of evidence in this debate, but makes it all the more impressive. Roethlisberger and Brown are in the prime of their careers. Williams is supposed to be in the twilight. Not capable of becoming the bell cow, and becoming as important of a cog to this offense as anyone else.
Even in games where the running game has been shut down, or taken a backseat to Ben and friends, Williams has had an important, positive impact. I’m not sure if you can say that about any other player on this team. Williams’ greatness stands out through his versatility.
It’s a guy who, just like Bell did in 2014, rarely left the field once he regained the starting role. From Week 9 on, only once did Williams fail to play 90% of the offenses snaps. And that was an 89% turnout in the blowout 30-9 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 10.
Pretend Williams played the entire season at, and we’ll be very conservative with the figure, an 85% clip. That would be almost 20% more than the back who has played the highest percentage, Devonta Freeman’s 66.1%. Williams still ranks with the 7th highest percentage despite basically not playing in five games this year.
Le’Veon Bell will return in 2016 and rightfully take back the starting gig, leaving Williams’ role unclear. If this year is any indication, it could be minimal. After all, he carried the ball just 13 total times in the weeks Bell played.
But for 2015, Williams made us not forget – but deal with – the loss of Bell. And that is a feat I thought no one could pull off.