Mike Tomlin wasn’t the only one Joe Haden spoke glowingly of Wednesday. Haden also gave big props to Cam Heyward. And how could you not? Heyward is arguably having the best season of an already-great career and you can make a case that for 2021, Heyward is the best defensive lineman in football. Even better than future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald.
Haden spoke to what makes Heyward so dominant.
“He’s a constant professional,” Haden said via Steelers.com. “He takes care of his body in amazing ways. He just does everything in the right way… everybody wants him to be on this team and especially just the leadership and then his production. We wouldn’t be talking about Cam as much as we do if he wasn’t producing on the field. And he does all of that at the same time, being just a great leader.”
Heyward is producing on the field as much as any interior defender. Glance at a box score and on the year, he’s racked up 36 tackles (5 TFL), with five QB hits, two sacks, five pass deflections, and one forced fumble. Our defensive charting has him down for 15 pressures as well, three coming in Week 6’s win over Seattle. Turn on the tape and his impact is even more evident, collapsing the pocket, stuffing gaps, and making high-effort tackles downfield.
This year, he hit the 60-career sack mark, making him only the third defensive lineman in team history to achieve such a goal, joining legends Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood.
Heyward has an outside shot of joining Greene in Canton (Steelers’ fans know Greenwood should be in the Hall already) though it’ll take a couple more big-time seasons. His relatively low sack numbers may ultimately hurt him. More Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams would help, too. According to Pro Football Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor, the average Canton-bound DT has 93 sacks, eight Pro Bowls, 5 All-Pro teams, and a 116 HOF score. Heyward is short in all those categories: 4 Pro Bowls, 2 All-Pro teams, 60 sacks, and a 47.6 Hall Score.
But Haden and the Steelers knows the immense value Heyward brings.
“It goes without saying, we appreciate everything he does.”