The Athletic Highlights Najee Harris As Steelers’ Top Team MVP Candidate In 2022

Pittsburgh Steelers’ star outside linebacker T.J. Watt has already made team history in the black and gold, winning three straight Team MVP awards. He’s certainly going to be in line for a record fourth-straight following the 2022 season, assuming he’s able to stay healthy and produce at his expected level.

Last season, in the midst of tying the NFL’s single-season sacks records with 22.5 and breaking the Steelers’ single-season record of 16.0 set by James Harrison in 2008, Watt became the only player in team history to win the award three straight years, and the fifth player in team history to win it three or more times.

However, one name, according to The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, could challenge Watt for his fourth straight Team MVP award. That would be none other than second-year running back Najee Harris.

In a piece for The Athletic that dropped Wednesday morning highlighting each beat writer’s pick for the Team MVP that they cover, Kaboly settled on Harris, going against convention regarding Watt and is otherworldly dominance.

“T.J. Watt was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 with 22 1/2 sacks, so it’s easy to go that route again. Thinking differently, Najee Harris might be even more important to the success or failure of the 2022 Steelers,” Kaboly writes for The Athletic Wednesday. “With a new quarterback under center for the first time since 2004, the Steelers not only want to establish the run but need to establish the run with Harris. The running back has gotten bigger and especially stronger after a rookie season that saw him play better down the stretch without much help from his offensive line.

“The Steelers upgraded their guys up front and wouldn’t be against another 381-touch season like he had a year ago. They have openly talked about limiting some of his snaps but no mention of scaling back his touches.”

Harris is certainly a fine choice for the Steelers’ Team MVP award in 2022, especially with the rebuild occurring on the offensive side of the football. It’s very clear that the Steelers are building around the star running back, aiming for a powerful rushing attack.

Not only will Harris’ play determine a significant portion of the success or failure of the Steelers’ offense in 2022, so too will the play of the rebuilt offensive line in front of him, featuring two new starters in center Mason Cole and right guard James Daniels. It’s still not a great offensive line overall, but it’s improved — at least on paper — from last season, highlighted by Daniels.

Pittsburgh wants to establish the run early and often with Harris, especially with new quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett in the fold. If the Steelers can do that, Harris could have a huge year, which would put him right in the running for the Steelers’ Team MVP award, ending Watt’s reign, at least for one year.

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