2020 SCU Awards: Steelers’ Offensive Player of the Year

Steel City Underground presents the 5th annual SCU Awards. Our panel of contributors all voted on various awards for the Steelers based on their performances in 2020. Comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our winners and nominees.

Steel City Underground grants the Offensive Player of the Year award to the offensive player that had the strongest performance, or greatest impact, on the Steelers’ 2020 season.

This was one of the most difficult awards for our team to pick a clear winner. Unlike T.J. Watt, who won Defensive Player of the Year by a wide margin, no player performed head and shoulders above their teammates on the offensive side of the ball. For a team that finished twelfth in scoring on the season, no individual player on offense really had a consistently dominant season.

Despite an early-season stretch where the Steelers had a 100-yard rusher in four of their first five games of the season, Pittsburgh’s running game was stagnant, to say the least, in 2020. Likewise, the offensive line also performed poorly and no player stood out, other than rookie Kevin Dotson who only started four games.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had a respectable season, catching 97 passes for 831 yards and 9 touchdowns, serving as a reliable receiving option for Ben Roethlisberger, and playing well in the clutch.

Fellow wide receiver Diontae Johnson had a solid second year, despite sustaining multiple injuries, and caught 88 passes for 923 yards and 7 touchdowns. However, he had an inconsistent year and made far too many mental mistakes, forcing Mike Tomlin to bench him against the Buffalo Bills in week 14.

Chase Claypool had one of the best rookie wide-receiver seasons in franchise history, catching 62 passes for 873 yards and 11 total touchdowns (9 receiving, 2 rushing), but did not necessarily play well enough to win Offensive Player of the Year honors.

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Ben Roethlisberger

With three receiving options having fairly strong seasons, it should be no surprise that Ben Roethlisberger ultimately won Steel City Underground’s Offensive Player of the Year award.

He completed 399 of 608 passes for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.

But most importantly, he led the Steelers to an 11-0 start, the longest winning streak to start a season in franchise history. No player on offense was more important to that winning streak than Roethlisberger, who elevated the team in close games against the Texans, Eagles, and Ravens.

Though “Big Ben” was a significant reason why the Steelers slumped at the end of the season, losing five of their last six games, he also led the Steelers to their largest second-half comeback under the Mike Tomlin era against the Colts in week 16 to secure the AFC North division title.

While Roethlisberger’s performance fell off at the end of the season, culminating in a four-interception game against the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, he was the most valuable offensive player for the Steelers in 2020 and had the greatest impact on the season.

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