The Steelers Pro Bowl selections for 2015 are in, and while no one in Steelers nation is complaining about sending Ben Roethlisberger, David DeCastro and Antonio Brown to Honolulu, there are more than a few Steelers that should probably join them. Here will look at a few 2015 Steelers Pro Bowl snubs, but none is more grating than the Cameron Heyward Pro Bowl snub.
Miller & Williams Lead Possible “Other” Steelers Pro Bowl Snubs
On any city in the road, a catch by 83 evokes “Heeath” from the audience. Yet why Heath Miller is so underappreciated outside of Pittsburgh baffles the mind. A year ago it looked like there might be the first signs that Miller was losing a step, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in 2015.
DeAngelo Williams has also more than made the case that he belongs. Yes, he’s “Only a backup” but one that has carried the Steelers entire rushing offense on his back during Le’Veon Bell’s absence. Honestly, seeing Williams name on the Steelers Pro Bowl squad would have been a shock, but that doesn’t make him any less deserving.
Of DeCastro’s fellow lineman, Marcus Gilbert is porbably the only other contender, although if there was a “team offensive” line vote, then the Steelers offensive line should fare pretty well.
Smarting Over the Cameron Heyward Pro Bowl Snub
If the other Steelers non-Pro Bowl selections are largely explainable, the same cannot be said for the Cameron Heyward Pro Bowl snub. Cam Heyward deserves to be in the Pro Bowl, and snubbing Cam Heyward out of a trip to Honolulu is both inexcusable and indefensible.
- When the Steelers drafted Cameron Heyward in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft Kevin Colbert declared it a “Historic” day for the franchise.
Cam Heyward saw time as a rookie, but largely watched and learned from Brett Keisel as the Steelers attempted to replace Aaron Smith with Ziggy Hood. Heyward saw more playing time in 2012 and, despite out playing Hood on various snap/production measures, Heyward was still third in the pecking order.
- Some less-informed members of Steelers Nation began to call Cameron Heyward a bust.
Such talk was utter foolishness, although John Mitchell, Dick LeBeau and Mike Tomlin’s insistence on starting Hood over Heyward puzzled. After the Steelers 0-4 start, Heyward got promoted to starter, and the Steelers haven’t looked back since. Heyward helped a 2-6 squad transform itself into the 8-8 squad that just missed the playoffs.
During 2014, in his first full year as a starter, Cameron Heyward emerged as a dominant defensive tackle. On the year, he had 7.5 sacks which is impressive, but Cam Heyward really shined during the 2014 Steelers final four games when he stepped up sack the quarterback 3 and a half times as the Steelers defense led Pittsburgh to an 4-0 finish.
- It’s ironic but in no way coincidental that Heyward’s rise coincided with Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and Brett Keisel’s exit from the Steelers defense.
The leaders of one generation of Steelers defense were stepping down, and Cam Heyward was stepping forward to take their place. In 2015 that process has continued, as statistically speaking Heyward is outpacing his 2014 performance as he emerges as one of the unquestioned leaders of the Steelers defense.
- Statistics are nice, but too often they fail to show Heyward’s excellence.
Look at the box score from the Steelers Monday Night win over the Chargers, Cameron Heyward has all of 1 tackle. But Pro Football Focus rated his performance at 9.8 by far the best of a defensive end in the entire NFL that weekend. Heyward might not have been compiling any sexy stats that night, but he was severely disrupting anything and everything that moved in the San Diego backfield.
Its been said that 3-4 defensive lineman often suffer by comparison to their 4-3 companions. That’s true enough as Joel Steed dominated in obscurity during the 1990’s with Pro Bowl recognition coming only before his knees forced him to retire. Casey Hampton himself only made it to 5 Pro Bowls. Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel made it to one apiece.
- That doesn’t remove the sting from the Cameron Heyward Pro Bowl snub
Cameron Heyward belongs on the 2015 Pro Bowl squad. It is an honor he has earned and one that is well-deserved.