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Ultimate Steelers QB Power Rankings: The invisible hand factor

Behind the Steel Curtain - 1 hour 45 min ago
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, the quarterback who missed making the ultimate Power Move.

If there is nothing as important as an idea, then there is nothing less important than someone’s “Power Rankings.” They are ridiculous during the season, when we can actually rank teams by their win/loss records. They are even more ridiculous during the offseason, when there are no games!

Almost as superfluous is the speculation over who will be QB1 this fall for the Pittsburgh Steelers. These questions will be settled soon in Latrobe and Heinz Field, but as fans, we’re left to guess and second guess all spring and summer. Fortunately, there’s one place that finds meaning in the meaningless by combining the frivolous and ludicrous.

Welcome to the Ultimate Steelers QB Power Rankings(tm).

#4 Mason Rudolph (Previously #2) Reddit Steelers Reddit Strikes Again

It’s been a tough month for Mase. A few short weeks ago, he launched a west coast media tour, making the case that he should be the man in Pittsburgh. This week, Steelers Reddit is upvoting him right off the roster. I personally think the Mason doubters should slow their roll. He has a valuable place on the 53-man roster, even as a third quarterback. His salary takes up less than 1.5% of the roster, so let him keep his hypocycloids! Even if there is an injury in the quarterback room, I’d predict an outside veteran signing before elevating Chris Oladokun. However, the Power Rankings(tm) don’t care about MY level of concern, so Mase slips to the ground floor.

#3 Chris Oladokun (Debut, previously unranked)

Sometimes the secret to achieving power is just showing up. That’s how seventh-round rookie Chris Oladokun finds himself in the No. 3 position. He’s an unknown quantity; a mystery man who, for a moment, has captured the curiosity of Steelers Nation, enough to want to give human Ken doll Mason Rudolph his pink slip. Want to learn more about Chris? Check out Oladokun’s interview with Andrew Wilbar and Jeremy Betz of The Steelers Draft Fix.

#2 Mitch Trubisky (Previously #1)

Our spring time QB1 has been making all the right Power Moves(tm) this offseason. Now he has a powerful legend in his corner.

“Mitch Trubisky might wind up going to the Pro Bowl this year, I’ll be the first to say it.” - Ike Taylor, “Bleav in Steelers

Ike is in fact the first person to say this in 2022. A quick Google search of “Mitch Trubisky Pro Bowl” comes up with 746,000 results, but absolutely none after his embarrassing 2019 interception.

Unfortunately, the party poopers at Pro Football Focus (PFF) have unleashed their highly anticipated QB Food Pyramid, and #BiskyBusiness is in Tier E, giving him the quarterback nutritional equivalent of trans fats, oils and sweets.

Pro Football Focus PFF is clearly #TeamKenny

Mitch also celebrated probably the biggest moment of his life this month, welcoming to the world his first son, Hudson. Hud Trubisky is admittedly a pretty tough Yinzer name. However, it was a missed opportunity for an Epic Power Move(tm). Everyone knows the power of the firstborn’s namesake. It can unite feuding families after generations of war; it can be given to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for fame and fortune. Imagine if Mitch had named his son Rooney, or Daniel, or Myron. He would now be overflowing with black and gold power and would instantly be named QB1. I guess now he’ll actually have to prove it on the field.

Congratulations to the Trubiskys! pic.twitter.com/oTdEXpC6Dj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 12, 2022 #1 Kenny Pickett (Debut, Previously unranked)

Who cares about small hands when you have the backing of the Invisible Hand? There are few things that can push the Power Needle(tm) more than a marketplace fueled by cold hard cash. And the money changers are already declaring Kenny QB1!

I really need that jersey!! https://t.co/TJFjxyi36q

— Tev (@WolfofHigherEd) May 17, 2022

The official Steelers stores are now stocked to the teeth with Pickett #8 jerseys. Can teams even sell merchandise of a player who’s not officially under contract yet? WHO CARES! Get your jersey now! Don’t wait to see if Kenny wins the starting job. Buy with confidence! Where are the Trubisky #10 jerseys? Nowhere to be found. No one is asking for them. Rumor is you can find them at the Gabe’s in Belle Vernon.

My boyyy he makes a wayyy https://t.co/AKistQ89Zt

— mamaLo (@glowNLomama) May 17, 2022

Literally adding more $4.80/gallon fuel to the fire is the biggest Power Move(tm) of the week. Kenny signed his first big endorsement deal with the Power of Bowser Auto. Bowser is hoping to move past the AB/Larry Richert years and into a new era. They are the biggest name in the Route 51 car wars, and their endorsement speaks volumes, especially when no one has taken a snap yet.

The Steelers QB Power Rankings(tm) are now locked in. Submit your rankings in the comments, but please show your work.

To hear the The Steelers QB Power Rankings(tm) in podcast form, as well as more of the conversation about the Pittsburgh Steelers social media conversation, check out the most recent episode of the What Yinz Talkin’ Bout podcast:

Steelers defense projected to make a big bounce back in 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 15 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense had a down season last year, and most are expecting a big bounce back in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have historically been known for their stout defense. That standard holds true to this day, but the 2022 unit left a lot to be desired. When you hear the statistic that the Steelers one-time vaunted rush defense finished dead last in the league in terms of yards per game surrendered, it almost makes you do a double-take.

While almost anyone who follows the NFL, or watched the Steelers last season, saw them take a huge step backwards, can fans expect a bounce back in 2022?

There are a lot of question marks lingering on the defensive side of the football, but if some of those questions can be answered in a positive way there is hope for this unit to find some level of competency this season.

The first question, especially when it comes to the rush defense, is the future of Stephon Tuitt. If Tuitt is able to return, and play well, it would go a long way to helping the run defense become a near Top 10 unit once again. Outside of Tuitt, will the combination of Devin Bush and Myles Jack work, or look more like Bush and Joe Schobert in 2021? The secondary is also an area where the loss of Joe Haden leaves the team without a pure No. 1 cornerback, not to suggest Haden played at that level in 2021.

Personnel aside, the Steelers defense also ushers in a new era with Teryl Austin as the defensive coordinator. Austin, combined with Brian Flores, could have some fresh insights on what the defense should do/look like, and this could certainly be different from what fans were accustomed to seeing in the Keith Butler defense.

While there are a lot of questions remaining on the team’s defense, if they can get Tuitt back, the secondary is able to gel and the Austin/Flores defense flourishes, a bounce back this year isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

In fact, that is exactly what Jared Dubin of CBS Sports suggested when ranking the NFL’s defenses. In the article every NFL defense was put into one of five categories. Check out the categories below:

Categories:
  • Very Unlikely
  • Somewhat Unlikely
  • Possibly
  • Somewhat Likely
  • Most Likely

As for the Steelers defense, they were put in the ‘Somewhat Likely’ category, along with several other teams. Check out who made that list, and what they had to say about the Steelers defense and why they could see a reasonable resurgence in 2022.

Somewhat Likely

Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Steelers and Bucs both have top-notch talent and there’s not much question about them having above-average defenses. Only Todd Bowles adding responsibilities as head coach and the absence of Jason Pierre-Paul kept Tampa out of the top group, while age and injury issues up front for Pittsburgh are the culprit. Still, two excellent defenses that should be among the best.

If you are like me, you are wondering which team was in the top tier of ‘Most Likely’ to have a Top 10 defense in 2022. Here are the three teams who fell into that category:

Most Likely

Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints

The questions surrounding the Steelers’ 2022 defense are real, but it isn’t as if the sky is falling. If Tyson Alualu remains healthy, and Tuitt is able to return, the rush defense should be expected to at least be a middle-of-the-road unit. This would be a big improvement from 32nd in the league last season. Throw in the fact Montravius Adams and Ahkello Witherspoon will have a full offseason with the team, and the optimists will find plenty to be positive about.

What do you think? Do you see the Steelers defense taking a step forward, or does another dismal season in the run game await? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they enter Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

Mark Robinson’s switch to LB wasn’t the plan, but has paid huge dividends

Behind the Steel Curtain - 4 hours 45 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 7th Round pick is still learning the ropes as a linebacker, but he found his way to the NFL despite experience.

When an NFL team makes a player one of their two 7th Round selections, it isn’t necessarily a huge boost of confidence in the player. However, and something BTSC’s Dave Schofield says every year, is how a 7th Round selection is essentially an Undrafted Rookie Free Agent (UDFA) a team doesn’t want to have to out-bid another team for their services.

Either way, the Pittsburgh Steelers spent their first of two 7th Round picks on Ole Miss linebacker Mark Robinson. If you follow the team closely, you’ve already heard Robinson’s story.

As a freshman he attended Presbyterian, a Division I FCS school, as a running back, then Presbyterian eliminated football scholarships after the season. This decision saw Robinson transfer to Southeast Missouri, another FCS school. When Southeast Missouri canceled their season due to COVID-19, Robinson decided to join a former teammate at Ole Miss as a walk-on running back. Instead, he got to play scout-team linebacker.

As some would say, the rest is history.

What was the switch from running back to linebacker like for Robinson?

“Life changing,” Robinson called the decision to move to linebacker. “Best decision I ever made.”

While some fans might see Robinson being drafted as something the former ball carrier would have just taken in stride. However, Robinson admits he fought the decision to move to defense for a while.

“They were asking me for about a month,” he said. “I kept deferring. Every day they kept asking, and I got tired of hearing it. I wouldn’t say they wore me down, but they gave me something to think about.”

Since going to the defensive side of the ball, he brought a physicality with him which caught the Steelers’ eyes. Some compare Robinson’s raw, and often times angry, demeanor on the field to James Harrison. Those comparisons might be a bit premature, but his tackling was one of the reasons the Steelers picked Robinson.

“He has a real explosive tackling demeanor about him,” general manager Kevin Colbert said after the 2022 NFL Draft concluded.

In hindsight, Robinson credits his coaches at Ole Miss for his successes and getting drafted into the NFL.

“It’s a blessing that I had some good coaches that saw something in me,” Robinson told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I took a leap of faith, it worked out and I’m here today.”

The move to defense hasn’t, and won’t, be smooth all the time. In fact, Robinson knows he has plenty to work on before he can even consider being anything other than a special teams player for the Steelers. What does he need to work on the most?

“Play recognition was the hardest part,” Robinson said. “On offense, it’s one call, but on defense, the play changes every time one person moves. What came easily was my effort, my work to my will. That’s what I bet on and that’s just my game, so I’m going to continue to play that way and add more to the toolbox, and we’re just going to keep getting better.”

As a late round selection, the Steelers don’t have to rely on Robinson for anything this season. If he can be a contributor on special teams it would be considered a successful season. If he is able to eventually turn into a starting linebacker, now that is a story which would rank among the other Steelers who turned a late round pick into a starter. Those names would include: Brett Keisel (7th Round), Antonio Brown (6th Round), Vince Williams (6th Round) and Kelvin Beachum (7th Round).

Let’s hope Robinson is able to join that aforementioned list at some point in his career with the Steelers.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

Why Benny Snell is an adequate enough backup RB for the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 21 sec ago
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Is Benny Snell Jr. ever going to be a great running back in the NFL? Probably not, but he’s already proven himself to be a decent backup.

Poor Benny Snell Jr.

In just three years, he’s gone from a guy who some hoped could possibly be a starting running back in the NFL, to a guy who isn’t even considered trustworthy enough to be a backup behind Najee Harris.

And we all know how much Mike Tomlin hates to use backup running backs once he has a Najee Harris. Being concerned about the Steelers' running back depth right now is like worrying about your spare tire when you know darn right well your current tires are the fancy run-flat kind (I believe Mini Coopers have them).

Anyway, as the Steelers begin to gear up for the 2022 campaign, there is a bit of a concern in some circles about the depth at running back behind Harris. Snell, a fourth-round pick out of Kentucky in the 2019 NFL Draft, is listed as the top backup. Behind Snell is Anthony McFarland Jr., a fourth-round pick out of Maryland in the 2020 NFL Draft. Mataeo Durant and Jaylan Durant, two 2022 undrafted free agents, round out the depth chart at running back.

After the initial excitement because of his speed and his college connection to offensive coordinator Matt Canada, McFarland feels like an afterthought. Could he finally excel under Canada in his third season? Perhaps, but he better rub his coordinator’s head for good luck.

As for Durant and Warren, there is some growing optimism that one or both can be turned into something.

I would continue to water that optimism a lot, though. Why do I say that? Because of how much McFarland has withered over the past two years while trying to reach the expectations of a fourth-round pick.

Speaking of fourth-round picks, Snell seemed to show some promise over his first two seasons and provided more than adequate relief from the backfield bullpen by rushing for a combined 794 yards and six touchdowns, while averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Unfortunately for Snell, he fell victim to his head coach’s love of bell-cow running backs; Snell only toted the rock 36 times for 98 yards a season ago, while Harris, a first-round pick out of Alabama in the 2021 NFL Draft, tallied 1200 rushing yards on 307 carries. Harris also contributed 467 yards on 74 receptions.

Najee Harris is the new Willie Parker/Rashard Mendenhall/Le’Veon Bell. He’s going to get the vast majority of touches out of the backfield for the duration of his Steelers’ career.

In other words, you can lead a head coach to plenty of articles about a running back by committee philosophy, but you can’t make him read them.

What happens if Harris gets hurt? Benny Snell Football, baby! “Yeah, but,” you might feel like starting a sentence with right now.

Let me stop you before you finish.

There are very few backups at any position in the NFL that don’t come with a “Yeah, but.” It’s part of being a backup, and if something happens to the top guy, the “next man up” isn’t likely going to be able to continue the same “standard” of excellence.

It’s the standard for backups.

“Yeah, but what about Tarik Cohen or David Johnson? Don’t you think the Steelers should sign one of those guys for depth?” My goodness, how many times do you have to touch the “accomplished veteran free-agent” flame before you realize it burns?

The Steelers don’t want hostages, and they certainly don’t need a veteran running back who would perhaps exhibit signs of needing a Snickers if he isn’t getting enough carries to pacify his ego.

Snell has shown in the past that he can be an adequate replacement at running back if he has to fill in for a starter.

As it turns out, “Benny Snell Football” is okay for a backup, and that’s not bad as far as fourth-round picks are concerned.

And that's probably the best you can expect when it comes to the Steelers and their depth at any position--including running back.

Counting down the days to key 2022 dates for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 15 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers are heading into the final phase of OTAs before the summer layoff.

Let the countdown continue!

Although the NFL draft is concluded and teams have held their rookie minicamps, there are still a few important dates before the summer downtime kicks in. Now that the entire 2022 NFL schedule has been set, there are even more events to put on the calendar. With all this in mind, it’s time to check in again to count down the number of days to key offseason dates.

1 day: OTAs (Phase Three of offseason workouts)

The official start of Phase Three of offseason workouts for the Steelers is OTAs, which will begin on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 and continue for three weeks. These workouts are still optional for players. Phase three is described on Steelers.com as follows:

Phase Three (May 23-June 17): Teams may conduct a total of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, OTAs, during this phase. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. The team’s mandatory minicamp takes place during this time.

The exact dates for the 10 OTAs are as follows:

Tuesday, May 24 – OTA 1
Wednesday, May 25 – OTA 2
Thursday, May 26 – OTA 3
Tuesday, May 31- OTA 4
Wednesday, June 1 – OTA 5
Thursday, June 2 – OTA 6
Monday, June 6 – OTA 7
Tuesday, June 7 – OTA 8
Wednesday, June 8 – OTA 9
Thursday, June 9 – OTA 10

22 days: Mandatory Minicamp

The fourth week is mandatory minicap beginning on Tuesday, June 14 and runs through Thursday the 16th. All players on the 90-man offseason roster are required to attend.

~65 days: Training Camp

Although the Steelers have not officially announced the start date of training camp, they generally report the middle of the final week of July. With the Steelers not playing in the Hall of Fame Game, the fist day of training camp will not be earlier than the rest of the NFL and looks to be about July 26, 2022. The good news is the Steelers have announced they are returning to St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, for training camp this year.

74 days: Hall of Fame Game

This date won’t be as significant to the Steelers for 2022 as they are not scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame Game, which will kick off the weekend on Thursday August 4, 2022. The Hall of Fame activities will be over the course of the weekend from the game Thursday through Sunday with the 2022 enshrinement likely scheduled for Saturday. For the game itself in 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders will face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

83 days: First Preseason Game vs Seattle

When the NFL announced the schedule a few weeks ago, it also included the 2022 preseason games. With an extra road contest in the regular season, the Steelers have two of their three preseason games at Heinz field. The first time the Steelers will be in action in preparation for the upcoming season will be on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 7 PM when they host the Seattle Seahawks.

98 days: Last Preseason Game vs Detroit

After a trip to Jacksonville, the Steelers have their final preseason game on Sunday, August 28, 2022, at 4:30 PM as they host the Detroit Lions. Other than being the final contest for players to make their case for the 53-man roster or the practice squad, it will feel somewhat different as the Steelers are not finishing off their preseason against the Carolina Panthers as they have for so many years.

100 days: 53-man Rosters

Assuming the NFL follows the same schedule as 2021, teams will be required to cut down to the 53 man roster by 4 PM ET on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.

109 days: NFL Kickoff Game

Thursday, September 8, 2022, will be the first game of the NFL season. The game will see the Buffalo Bills visiting the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams for an 8:20 PM ET kickoff on NBC.

112 days: Steelers season opener in Cincinnati

For the eighth straight season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will begin the regular season on the road. While traveling for Week 1 has become familiar territory, the Steelers first opponent is one they have never faced to open the season. To kick off the season, the Steelers travel to the Cincinnati Bengals for a 1 PM ET kick off at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, September 11, 2022.

119 days: Steelers home opener vs. New England

The Steelers will return to the friendly confines of Heinz Field for their first home game in Week 2 as they host the New England Patriots on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 1 PM ET.

230-231 days: Steelers final regular season game vs Cleveland

I had to give a range for the Steelers final game as it is one that does not have a specific date or time listed. What is known is that the Steelers will be hosting the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. What is unknown at this time is whether the game will be played on Saturday or Sunday and what time it will kickoff.

266 days: Super Bowl LVII

Super Bowl LVII is scheduled to be played on February 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - 8 hours 45 min ago

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

We Run the North: AFC North Questions remain

With OTA’s approaching, there are still a few questions each team in the North will need to answer before opening weekend. Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: Rookie Camp is in the rearview and OTAs and Minicamp are straight ahead

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete and so is their minicamp for rookies. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Tiny Defeo and Kyle Chrise as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • OTAs and Minicamp are up next
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
Let’s Ride: We will learn a lot about the Steelers in the coming weeks

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting ready to start Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities, and while this is usually just passed off as nothing, we will learn a lot about the team during the next few weeks. BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman talks about this, as well as welcoming Geoffrey Benedict for the Monday Morning Conversation on the latest episode of Let’s Ride.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The coming weeks will tell us all plenty about the Steelers
  • The Monday Morning Conversation with BTSC’s Geoffrey Benedict
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended four months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Sunday 5/15

I’m surprised this isn’t how every Reds vs. Pirates game ends https://t.co/CsMR1awLHs

— Nick Sandberg (@ndsandberg23) May 15, 2022

Why do Pittsburgh sports fans follow the Steelers so feverishly in the offseason? It’s because of the existence of a baseball franchise that wins a contest after being no-hit being the most exciting thing to happen after nearly a quarter of the season has passed.

Crosby on Game 7: "It's tough. We thought we would still be playing. We did a lot of good things. The guys left it all out there." pic.twitter.com/rknAsBqTdA

— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 16, 2022

Why do Pittsburgh sports fans follow the Steelers so feverishly in the offseason? It’s because of the existence of a hockey franchise with two of the NHL’s biggest stars of all-time that blew lead after lead and a 3-1 series advantage.

I Came, They Saw, I’m Signed!
⚫️ #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/jvAFyAQZxN

— Trevon Mason (@Trevon22Mason) May 15, 2022

Finally, some Steelers news. Wait! What? Is this guy actually announcing his Rookie Minicamp signing by putting out a tweet superimposing his face in a No. 90 jersey? That is either an example of absolute ballsy-ness or a complete lack of awareness. Unless this is a cryptic way of telling us that T.J. Watt is leaving the Steelers and he is being replaced by Trevon Mason. After the Pirates and Penguins today, that sounds about right.

"The #Steelers are getting a dynamic football player that's going to make the city of Pittsburgh quite proud."@MemphisFB Head Coach @RSilverfield talks to @missi_matthews about @CalvinAustinIII.

Full : https://t.co/LopznGlOp1 pic.twitter.com/wjY2S0s1Nt

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 16, 2022

I am excited about CA3, but I kind of think the city of Pittsburgh has plenty of reasons to be proud already.

Monday 5/16

I'm also told that NFL officials are currently scheduled to meet with #Browns QB Deshaun Watson in Texas this week, per league sources. @BovadaOfficial

— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) May 16, 2022

The NFL better not mess this up. I can’t say that I’m very confident that they won’t though.

Just wanna Retire A Steeler

— AB (@AB84) May 16, 2022

Translation: I only want to retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler, not play for them….just so we’re all clear.

— AB Translator (@MessengerMan2) May 16, 2022

Nothing like an #AB84 tweet to break the Steeler Nation internet on a Monday.

Momma I Made It! @edmason77 https://t.co/wY9GFQu7pe

— Trevon Mason (@Trevon22Mason) May 16, 2022

More Trevon Mason action. His momma will be proud. Notice no likes from the mommas of Sam Sloman, Rico Bussey, John Simon or Bryce Watts.

Excited to welcome Vince Williams @VinnyVidiVici98 to the coaching staff pic.twitter.com/aHQTWtY0lw

— Dr Jon LeDonne (@Coach_LeDonne) May 17, 2022

Retired Steelers linebacker is joining Pine-Richland High School as their linebackers coach. PR is a great program, but it will get a lot more tough with VinnyVidiVici on the sidelines.

Tuesday 5/17

#Bills GM Brandon Beane interviewed #Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt for the vacant assistant GM job formerly held by Joe Schoen, source said. Hunt, who is well-regarded, is also in the mix for the Steelers GM job.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 17, 2022

I like Brandon Hunt, but as this search lingers on... he’s got to put feelers out there.

my god https://t.co/3N7zNV1lur

— Tim Benz (@TimBenzPGH) May 18, 2022

Don’t get me wrong, I’m typically embarrassed by the Pirates. But after this sorry showing on Tuesday, I’m “caught with a tranny hooker with your father-in-law wearing a Browns jersey” embarrassed.

Wednesday 5/18

We have announced a new addition to @heinzfield that will further honor former players, coaches, and other contributors.

The #Steelers Hall of Honor Museum is scheduled to open during the 2022 regular season.https://t.co/3ChTUKecsU

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 18, 2022

Finally, a museum that doesn’t make me rather be watching an Ernest movie.

Former Giants’ CB James Bradberry is signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the Eagles, per source e.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 18, 2022

The Steelers got a break not signing Bradberry. What they have is just as good as this inflated salary.

Amid a New York Post report that Louis Riddick has signed a contract extension with ESPN, Riddick tells me this afternoon he is “out” of the running to be the #Steelers next general manager #WTAE

— Andrew Stockey (@astockeyWTAE) May 18, 2022

Remember Mike Mayock in Oakland? Riddick might not be Mayock bad, but I don’t think that the Steelers are losing by not going with a celebrity for one of the most important pieces of the Pittsburgh personnel puzzle.

We have completed a second round interview for our General Manager position with Andy Weidl (Philadelphia Eagles).

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 18, 2022

Didn’t Andy Warhol die in 1987?

Whoa! What?! Former NFL GM Doug Whaley doesn't believe HOF'er Jack Ham would even be a starter in today's NFL. Do you agree? https://t.co/ghyknrOz9y

— 93.7 The Fan (@937theFan) May 18, 2022

Doug Whaley lost my backing. Not because this is a slight on a Steelers legend. More because it was completely ignorant of how the growth of human beings and technology has altered athletes. I don’t want the lack of judgement that led to such a ludicrous comment managing the Steelers personnel decisions.

Thursday 5/19

We have completed a second round interview for our General Manager position with #Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 19, 2022

Hunt is very qualified, but if the stadium name changes.... going from Heinz to Hunts may not go over well.

Friday 5/20

We have signed DE DeMarvin Leal. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 20, 2022

I am pumped about DeMarvin. Everybody wants to pronounce Leal as if it rhymes with “real” or “deal”. It’s phonetically lay-al. If your name is Al, it’s music to your ears.

NFL could suspend Deshaun Watson without pay for the 2022 season and it would cost him exactly 0.45 percent of his $230 million contract. He'd get the other 99.55% of $230M regardless. Despicable Browns, playing games with allegations of sexual violence:https://t.co/zX8YpL1RCS

— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) May 21, 2022

The Browns are like enabling parents. No lessons learned here. A suspension that doesn’t hurt the wallet, isn’t that much of a suspension.

Saturday 5/21

First look at @kennypickett10 in a #Steelers uni

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/YgKABfMuey

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

1️⃣4️⃣ lookin'

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/OhMGJ4j7da

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

.@CalvinAustinIII in the Black & Gold

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/d1YQ3ydkH6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

Rookie Fashion Show! Where’s George’s hoodie?

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

The More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Disposition edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Time to learn more about your favorite NFL team, and some trivia as well!

It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the GM conundrum, the starting quarterback, training camp, and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?

Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.

412 Forever

The late Rush Limbaugh was often outspoken and controversial as a conservative political commentator who hosted television and nationally syndicated radio stations from 1984 until his death in 2021. As passionate as Rush was when it came to his political views and the Republican Party, he was equally proud of being a member of Steelers Nation.

The following is an excerpt from the written transcript of the October 19, 2018 episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show.

“I moved to Pittsburgh. I left home. My first job away from home was when I was 20. It was 1971, I moved to Pittsburgh, it was actually a suburban station called McKeesport. And I worked there for a year and a half and then went to an ABC owned and operated station in Pittsburgh. When I got to Pittsburgh, I was 20 years old. The closest football team to where I had grown up was the St. Louis Cardinals, and they were eh. I really, I was a baseball fan. I liked football, watched it now and then, but was not really into it.”

“But I got caught up as a resident of Pittsburgh when that dynasty was forming. I got caught up in it. And I was there through 1975, and I just got… Like everybody in that… it’s amazing to me, that’s why I first evolved the theory of how the performance of a sports team can have so much impact on the self-esteem of the population of a city. The Steelers owned that city. Well, they did even before… They were lovable bumblers. But then when the Super Bowl years came, it hasn’t dropped off. It hasn’t evaporated. It’s incredible. I got caught up in it and that’s why I became a Steelers fan. I lived there.”

*Note: Featuring a political figure in this column is merely to focus on a famous Steelers fan and in no way a political statement or and endorsement of any particular political views or party. The author remains politically ambiguous and subscribes to the “ignorance is bliss” policy. BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Middle Name Madness

We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we feel compelled to feature the Steelers player that was drafted second by the Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft. There’s plenty of excitement surrounding Pickens in Pittsburgh, so BTSC feels that we should all know the full name of No. 14.

George Malik Pickens Jr. This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

5/22 - A.Q, Shipley (1986)

5/23 - Stephon Tuitt (1993)

5/24 - Rian Wallace (1982). Jeff Zgonina (1970)

5/25 - Joe Skadanly (1911)

5/26 - Crezdon Butler (1987), Greg Lloyd (1965). John Malecki (1988)

5/27 - Chris Conrad (1975), Sean McHugh (1982)

5/28 - Cy Caspar (1912)

Steel Stats

Mike Tomlin, with 154, is three wins away from joining Chuck Noll (193) in having more victories as a Steelers coach than the first 13 Head Coaches in franchise history combined. Collectively Forest Douds, Bill Austin and everybody in between from 1933 to 1968 were victorious a combined total of 156 times. Coach Bill Cowher fell short with 149 total wins.

Disturbing Sights

Greg Lloyd may have never won a ring in his Steelers’ career, but he’s one of the baddest of all of the men ever to don the black and gold. Drafted in the sixth round and as the 28th linebacker selected in the 1987 NFL Draft. In eleven Steelers seasons, No. 95 was three times a First-team All-Pro from 1993–1995, a five-time Pro Bowler from 1991-1995, a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time Team and a 2020 inductee into the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Honor. With 53.5, Lloyd ranks eighth all-time in team sacks. After a knee injury in 1996’s Week 1 took him out for the season, the man not hired for his disposition returned for his final Pittsburgh season in 1997. After that year, Greg Lloyd was a shell of his former self in a season with the Panthers. Despite his career winding down, the sight of the Blitzburgh legend in Carolina colors is still difficult to digest.

Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood

Bill Cowher was always animated on the sidelines in 15 seasons as the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. but in his movie career that includes 1998’s The Waterboy and 2021’s Home Team, the man with the pronounced chin has been more reserved. In the Adam Sandler NCAA football vehicle, Cowher had a cameo arguing with Jimmy Johnson regarding Sandler’s Bobby Boucher’s play being more reminiscent of Greg Lloyd’s versus that of Johnson’s Miami Dolphin, Zach Thomas. The movie included Happy Days legendary Fonzie actor, Henry Winkler... but Cowher was the coolest on entire movie set.

The Cliff Clavin Corner

Three times from 1979 to 1982, the Steelers drafted three running backs from Baylor, including two in Round 1. Of Greg Hawthorne (No. 1 in ‘79), Frank Pollard (No. 11 in ‘80) and Walter Abercrombie (No. 1 in ‘82), Pollard was the best Bear with 3,989 yards and 20 TDs in nine seasons.

So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain. By the way, “What is Kent State?” is the correct clue in BTSC Steelers Jeopardy.

Joe Greene (twice), Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, Rod Woodson, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and T.J. Watt all won the NFL AP Defensive Player of the year. Two of that magnificent seven, Lambert and Harrison, played collegiately as Kent State Golden Flashes.

We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.

With so many unknown factors, the Steelers 2022 season is an open book

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

There are a lot of ‘ifs’ for the upcoming season, and how they all fit together will determine the Steelers success.

It is the NFL offseason, a time and hope springs eternal for the majority of franchises. The potential of what each team can do in the coming season generally reigns supreme, and most fan bases feel that their team has made improvements from the previous year.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are a lot of unknowns going into the 2022 season. Granted, there were a number of unknowns last season. Questions such as Ben Roethlisberger‘s abilities at the end of his career, an almost completely rebuilt offensive line, and a brand new running back were just a few of the factors which needed to come together for the Steelers to have success. Based on the projected win total going into the season and the fact that the Steelers made the postseason, they slightly overachieved based on what outsiders believed they would accomplish in 2021.

Looking at 2022, those outside of the organization are down on the Steelers this year. With the over/under win total set at 7.5 according to draftkings.com, there are many around the NFL who look for the Steelers to struggle in their first season of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. As for the fan base, their expectations are all over the place.

To give an example, Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and I gave immediate knee-jerk predictions for the entire 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers schedule the night it was released. As I tried to have more of a conservative win total of the group, having the Steelers finish at 10–7 I was ridiculed on both ends of the spectrum. While some Steelers’ fans called me a hater for having them lose certain games, others thought I was dreaming for thinking that they could reach 10 wins in 2022. Based on criticism from both sides, perhaps I might have been close to something for those reasons.

In all honesty, I feel the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season could see a huge range of how they actually perform. Why do I see it this way? I believe there are a whole lot of ‘ifs’ that, depending on how they come together, will determine the Steelers ultimate success this season.

Here a few of the ‘ifs’ I’m talking about:

  • Quality quarterback play
  • Adequate offensive line play
  • Health at the running back position/improved reserve
  • Young wide receivers meshing with their quarterback
  • Implementation of Matt Canada‘s offensive scheme
  • Improved defensive line play/availability
  • Improved inside linebacker play
  • Stopping the run
  • Quality cornerback play
  • The loss of Keith Butler versus the addition of Brian Flores
  • Mike Tomlin’s first offseason without Ben Roethlisberger

There may be even more than this, but that’s already 11 things that are question marks going into 2022 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Could all of these things work out well? Absolutely. Could they all fall apart. It could be the case. It’s very difficult to know what to expect.

People might think this is a huge range, but I could see the Pittsburgh Steelers win total for 2022 falling anywhere between 4 and 14 games. If all of the issues listed above come together as improvements, particularly the first nine with the last two simply being status quo, I could see the Pittsburgh Steelers really making some noise in 2022. As some of these unknowns start moving into the negative category, the Steelers win total is likely to diminish as they try to cover for the inadequacies. Once there reaches a tipping point where more of these factors become a hindrance, the Steelers probably move into the losing record category. If everything falls apart with this list, and key injuries hit the team hard, scraping together victories is going to be difficult.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that could go wrong in 2022 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, there’s a lot of things that could go right.

For the Steelers’ fans that look at what the team can potentially do, they are probably hitting the over for the win total in a hard way. For those other fans to believe everything that can go wrong will go wrong, they may begrudgingly be thinking about taking the under. For me, my expectations is the Steelers will surprise in some categories while struggle with others, putting them truly in the middle of the road of what things could be.

There is such a wide range of what the Steelers could do this year. For some, it may be exciting while for others it’s quite scary. While it should make for an interesting year, make sure you do your best to enjoy the ride either way.

The 2022 season looks to be an open book. I’m excited to see what story the Steelers will write.

A Letter From the Editor: When it comes to rookies, who cares about ceilings and floors

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 9:00am
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone is obsessed with ceilings and floors anymore...

If you were someone who didn’t follow the NFL at all, especially the NFL Draft, and just listened to some of the pundits talk, you would be mighty confused.

You’d hear talk about tangibles and intangibles.

Measurables and draft stock.

But what has become a very common saying in the draft realm these days is all about ceilings and floors.

No, I’m not Bob Vila, I’m talking about how all these “experts” with the draft talk about a player’s maximum potential as their ceiling, and their absolute worst as their floor.

To be honest, talking about a player’s overall potential is nothing new in the NFL, and especially in the draft, but what is genuinely new is how these “experts” are putting caps on how these young players’ careers could ever develop.

The perfect example is when you hear any number of draftniks talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers 1st Round pick of Kenny Pickett.

“Pickett’s ceiling is probably Kirk Cousins.”

Now that expert is a dual threat expert considering he was able to take Pickett’s potential and also merge it with a player comp (comparison).

“Pickett has the highest floor of the 2022 quarterback class.”

This expert is essentially saying Pickett stinks the least entering the NFL compared to the likes of Desmond Ridder, Malik Willis, Matt Corral and others.

“Pickett might have the highest floor, but the lowest ceiling of the entire group.”

These are the experts who like to somehow span Pickett’s entire career, and overall potential in one sentence. All without him ever playing a single snap in the NFL.

These are all fictitious expert statements, but if you follow the draft closely you might have thought these were quotes from actual draft articles. Some might have even come from this very website.

But this is also the problem I have with this verbiage being used. How can anyone, especially someone who hasn’t seen Pickett practice and play every game in college, tell anyone what his maximum potential could be in the NFL? You think when Tom Brady was selected in the 6th Round someone said his ceiling is Mark Malone? I know for certain it wouldn’t have been Joe Montana.

This is where the entire draft “season” frustrates me. These players are being drafted by a new team, a new offensive system and new teammates. In most cases, all of the above are steps up compared to their college careers. If you use the Pickett example again, he is joining the Steelers who should have a better offense, a system which he should be comfortable with and a very talented offensive roster, who’s to say what his ceiling can be?

In a world where everyone wants to be right, and even wants to somehow prove they predicted the future, I’m going to be taking a wait-and-see approach to the Steelers rookie quarterback. In fact, I’ll take that approach for all of the Steelers 2022 NFL Draft class. After all, players can change, they can find a good landing spot and, believe it or not, they can improve their game.

So for me, I’ll leave the ceiling and floors to contractors, and rather just sit back and watch how these young players develop in the league.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

The first look at three Steelers rookies in their black and gold uniforms

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Three Pittsburgh Steelers rookies were at the NFL Rookie Premiere, and donned their black and gold uniforms for the first time.

Every year the NFLPA hosts the Rookie Premiere, and this is an event where players from across the league are invited to go meet veteran players, learn about the NFL and of course don their new jerseys for their newest Panini trading card.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, three rookies were invited, and attended, the Rookie Premiere. They were:

QB Kenny Pickett
WR George Pickens
WR Calvin Austin III

Check out the group photo below, and find the three Steelers among the other rookies in the Class of 2022:

Introducing the #RookiePremiere class of 2022. pic.twitter.com/Resv9ggK0p

— NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 21, 2022

This is the first time fans have gotten a glimpse of the trio of rookies in their full black and gold uniforms. Want a closer look? Here is a video which came from Kenny Pickett’s Instagram story:

Pickens is always the mood via Kenny Pickett’s IG story pic.twitter.com/dmhC9v3dvi

— SteelersFan (@pittsteel3rsfan) May 21, 2022

As stated earlier, players get to meet veterans, like when Pickett got a photo taken with former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson.

Pepe + @kennypickett10 pic.twitter.com/SbjcHgSF7J

— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) May 19, 2022

The most exciting part of the event, at least for fans, is getting a glimpse of these new players in their full uniforms. With Panini providing new trading cards, the Steelers official social media channels were able to get some photos of the players in their new threads.

Check out the images below:

First look at @kennypickett10 in a #Steelers uni

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/YgKABfMuey

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

1️⃣4️⃣ lookin'

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/OhMGJ4j7da

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

.@CalvinAustinIII in the Black & Gold

: @rkangphoto/@NFL | #RookiePremiere pic.twitter.com/d1YQ3ydkH6

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 22, 2022

The Rookie Premiere was timed perfectly for the Steelers considering none of these rookies will have to miss any of the team’s Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) due to the event. With the next phase of OTAs starting Tuesday, all three of these players should be in attendance and working out with the veterans in actual football drills for the first time.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of OTAs and mandatory minicamp.

Steelers Phase 3 of OTAs, along with mandatory minicamp, quickly approaching

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into the serious portion of the Organized Team Activities with Phase 3 and minicamp on deck.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been pressing through their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) schedule the past few months, and on Tuesday, May 24th, the Steelers will start the next phase (Phase 3) of OTAs.

This is the phase of offseason workouts where the most football-like drills and activities can take place. In case you don’t know what can, and cannot, be done during these workouts, here is a description of Phase 3:

Phase Three (May 23-June 17): Teams may conduct a total of 10 voluntary Organized Team Activities, OTAs, during this phase. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted. The team’s mandatory minicamp takes place during this time.

As stated earlier, Phase 3 begins on Tuesday, May 24, and includes three sessions a week over two weeks, ending on Thursday, June 2. Then, mandatory Minicamp is held from Tuesday, June 7 through Thursday, June 9.

Outside of mandatory minicamp, these workouts are still considered strictly voluntary; however, most organizations expect their players to be in attendance so they can start to hone their crafts prior to the start of the regular season.

It isn’t real football. There are no pads, just helmets and shorts, but it is something. After OTAs and minicamp have wrapped up, the team will jettison to different locations to rest, relax and train to prepare for training camp. The official dates of Steelers training camp, being held again at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, have not been released yet.

So, are you ready for some football, in shorts? Bookmark this page so you know when everything goes down, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of free agency and the draft.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 05/22/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

Steelers Touchdown Under: Ranking the Steelers offense by stars and scrap metal

The Steelers rookies are now through mini-camp, the 2022 NFL schedule has been released, and the team is starting to take it’s 2022 shape. So who are the stars? Who are the solid players? Who is destined to be scrap metal? These are just some of the many questions that Matty Peverell and Mark Davison will address On Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under. Matty P. and Marky P. bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in 2022 and beyond, as they chase a seventh Lombardi. Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Who’s solid and who is scrap on the offensive side of the ball?
  • Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Should the Steelers honor Antonio Brown?

Welcome to BTSC’s Power 1/2 Hour. This week, Chris Pugh, Paul Yanchek and Joe Frost react to Antonio Brown tweeting that he would like to retire as a Steelers, discuss if the Steelers should re-sign six remaining free agents, the Steelers Hall of Honor and if we should be worried about who the Steelers should pick as the team’s next GM.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Kenny Pickett’s early goals: Learn the playbook, and teammates’ names

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie quarterback is just trying to get his feet under him after rookie minicamp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted very little time making their first round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft when they took Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick. In fact, Mike Tomlin said they took “about 15 seconds” to send the card to commissioner Roger Goodell stating their pick of the Pitt quarterback.

Now with Pickett officially wearing black and gold, and rookie minicamp in the books, the team’s top pick has new goals for himself. And they’re simple goals.

Step 1: Learn teammates’ names.

“It was great,” Pickett said of rookie minicamp. “‘I’m just trying to learn the guy’s names. I really haven’t got a chance to meet anybody. We’ve been in meetings. I want to call guys out to help and stuff and talk and I have no clue who I am talking to.”

Step 2: Learn the playbook.

“I would say we’re kind of doing a good job of taking this a step at a time, really taking it slow,” said Pickett or working on the team’s playbook. “It’s a walkthrough, but guys really want to run fast. I know everyone’s excited to practice, so we’ll see how it goes in a couple hours.”

Walkthrough or practice, Pickett knows he has zero chance of seeing the field his rookie season if he doesn’t learn the playbook and show a level of mastery in Matt Canada’s system.

“This is what I have to do. I have no shot if I don’t know what I’m doing,” said Pickett. “I’m really dedicating myself to the playbook and learning every detail I possibly can. I want to have a smooth practice with these guys and hopefully everyone looks good.”

This isn’t new for Pickett, and he isn’t completely lost in Canada’s system. He ran a system similar while at Pitt, and Canada actually recruited him to Pitt when he was the offensive coordinator there. Some of the system Canada had in place never left the Panthers’ offense.

Nonetheless, Pickett understands how the mental aspect of the game is what he needs to focus on at this stage in the offseason.

“I think it’s all mental,” said Pickett. “I know what I have to do. Know the responsibilities of everybody else on the offense. Learn new defenses that are in the NFL. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’m excited to dedicate myself to it and obsess over trying to be the best I can be and learning as much as I can.”

Fortunately for the Steelers they have options at quarterback. If Pickett proves worthy of the starting role, he will be the guy from Day 1. However, if Pickett shows some growing pains, which wouldn’t shock anyone, the team has Mitchell Trubisky and/or Mason Rudolph to guide the offense until Pickett is ready.

There is no rush on Pickett to be the next Ben Roethlisberger, at least not with the coaching staff, and the fact they have those aforementioned options at quarterback should help the offense in 2022, and Pickett’s overall development.

But first, gotta learn those teammates’ names...

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they press on through Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

Getting to know the 6 Steelers GM candidates who received second interviews

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rather than having to compile the information yourself, here is a brief NFL bio for the candidates who received second interviews for the Steelers general manager position.

Over the last two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers have conducted second interviews with six candidates for their general manager position. While nothing has been stated officially by the Steelers that this list is complete, it is assumed that this round of interviews has come to an end. With articles spread out over days about each of these candidates, compiling all the information previously reported into one place for your convenience seemed beneficial.

With that in mind, here is a brief description about each of the six candidates in the order in which their second interview occurred with the Pittsburgh Steelers for their general manager position:

Ryan Cowden

Ryan Cowden spent 16 years in the scouting department of the Carolina Panthers before joining the Tennessee Titans in 2016. Cowden currently is the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Titans. Cowden got his start in the NFL with the Panthers in 2000 as a scouting assistant and was an area scout for seven seasons. He then became a national scout prior to moving up to assistant director of college scouting before moving on to Tennessee.

Doug Whaley

A former defensive back at the University of Pittsburgh, Whaley was the Steelers pro personnel coordinator for 10 years and worked directly under Kevin Colbert. Hired as the assistant general manager and director of pro personnel by the Buffalo Bills during the 2010 offseason, Whaley moved into the general manager position in 2013, a position he held through the 2016 NFL season.

After a season as a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Whaley was hired as the senior vice president of football operations for the XFL in November 2018. When the league folded in April 2020, Whaley was laid off but was later re-hired as the vice president of player personnel in November 2021 as the XFL moves forward in continuing their league in the spring of 2023.

Since his interview, Whaley has caused some waves in Steelers’ Nation by making a comment that Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham would be a backup in today’s NFL.

John Spytek

John Spytek got his start in an NFL front office as an intern with the Detroit Lions in 2004. Moving to be an intern with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, Spytek became a college scouting assistant in 2006 before being a full college scout from 2007 to 2009. In 2010, Spytek became the Director of college scouting for the Cleveland Browns. After three years in Cleveland, Spytek was the southwest area scout in 2013 for the Denver Broncos before being elevated to a national scout for two years in 2014 and 2015. Spytek then transitioned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Director of player personnel in 2016.

Omar Khan

Khan began his NFL front office career in 1997 with the New Orleans Saints in their football operations department after previously serving as a scouting intern. Hired by the Steelers in 2001 as their football administration coordinator, Khan was promoted to Director of Football Administration in 2011. In 2016, Khan was promoted to his current title with the Steelers of vice president of football and business administration.

While Khan has an impressive title with the Steelers, what most fans know him as the person in the front office who “works the magic” with the NFL salary cap.

Andy Weidl

A Pittsburgh native, Weidl began his journey in NFL offices with the Steelers in 1998 as a player personnel assistant. After two years with the Steelers, Weidl became a national combine scout for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2002. Promoted to the northeast area scout with New Orleans for two years, Weidl joined the Baltimore Ravens scouting department in 2005. After four seasons has the west area scout, Weidl spent four more seasons as the northeast scout followed by four years as the east regional scout.

Hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016 as the assistant director of player personnel, Weidl became the director of player personnel two years later in 2018. After one season, Weidl saw a promotion to vice president of player personnel which is his current position with the team.

Brandon Hunt

Hunt is the Steelers’ pro scouting director, and is in his second stint with the team. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Hunt began interning for the team in 2005 before spending two seasons as a scout for the Houston Texans. Hunt returned to the Steelers in 2010 as the pro scouting coordinator, a job vacated by Doug Whaley when he left to be the assistant general manager in Buffalo.

Earlier this offseason Hunt met with the Raiders about their GM vacancy, also met with the Philadelphia Eagles recently in what would be viewed as a lateral move and interviewed with the Buffalo Bills for their Assistant GM opening.

3 reasons to dislike the Steelers’ selection of Kenny Pickett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 10:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers taking Kenny Pickett 20th overall wasn’t as perfect as some make it out to be.

The dust has settled on the 2022 NFL Draft, and the early stages of the offseason program are about to unfold. Having had two weeks to meditate on the Steelers’ selections, it is time to look at the positives, and negatives, of the Steelers’ selections.

Today, we are going to continue by looking at the negatives of the Steelers’ first round selection, Kenny Pickett. Pickett was a super senior at Pitt who enjoyed a breakout 2021 season, finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He first caught my eye back in 2017 when he led the Panthers to an upset victory over the Miami Hurricanes in late November, and before returning to school in 2021, I pegged him as the biggest quarterback sleeper in the 2021 draft class.

This year, I had the pleasure of writing Pickett’s scouting report for the BTSC Big Board. When watching his tape, the biggest takeaways were his patience in the pocket and his accuracy over the middle of the field. You can check out my full scouting report on him below.

Kenny Pickett | QB | Pittsburgh Overall Rank: 30
Position Rank: 3

Andrew Wilbar: I have been a big fan of Pickett’s ever since he stepped foot on campus at Pitt. I stood up for him when fans were disgruntled with the offense, and before he decided to return to school for 2021, I was a big proponent of taking a late-round flier on him. I was not surprised when he had his breakout season in 2021, but he has risen too high on the national draft boards for my liking. Pickett is a very solid quarterback who has a decent arm and sneaky good athleticism, but he is older than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he does not have an incredibly high ceiling as a pro. The biggest issue, especially for teams that play in cold weather, will be his incredibly small hands. Pickett participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, but he struggled badly in practices when it was raining. There is no denying that he lost his accuracy and struggled to push the ball downfield when the weather got rough. Pickett’s accuracy improved by leaps and bounds this season, but he sometimes struggled to get off his first read and get through his progressions before the pressure got to him. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins when it comes to his ability to roll out to his weak side, and his delivery and arm strength remind me of a Derek Carr or an Andy Dalton. The big question will be, “Is he capable of anything greater than that?”. That is what teams are going to have to determine over the next few months when it comes to Pickett and how high he should be taken.

If you missed the first part of this discussion, when I broke down the reasons to like the selection, you can check it out by clicking on the link below.

If you have any thoughts on the selection of Kenny Pickett, be sure to share them in the comment section below, discussing what he brings to a new-look quarterback room.

Let’s dive in!

1. He was far from the best player available

This article is not to focus on just Malik Willis, but he must be mentioned as one of the players the Steelers should have considered taking instead of Pickett. I am not going to rehash my evaluation of Willis, as you have all heard it numerous times. However, one other player the Steelers should have considered was Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth, who, due to sports hernia surgery, fell to the second round. Plus, with the amount of trading that took place near the Steelers’ pick, I cannot help but think the Steelers could have traded back if they wanted to. Of course, we know trading back was not their mindset this year, but it is something that Kevin Colbert could have entertained, considering how quickly the quarterbacks were falling. Even if Kenny Pickett was the selection, the Steelers could have likely found a trade partner and taken Pickett in a more reasonable range. The point being, the value of Pickett at 20 was not great.

2. Expectations must be held in check

Unlike Malik Willis and, to a lesser extent, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett’s career expectations must be held in check due to his limitations as a passer. I had considered titling this section, “His ceiling is limited,” but I knew the example of Tom Brady would be brought up. Could Pickett become an elite quarterback and improve his arm strength once established in the league? Of course, but it is unfair to Pickett for fans to expect that. With Willis and Ridder, upside was not as big a question, and in Willis’ case, it was not a question at all.

If the Steelers have Super Bowl aspirations with Kenny Pickett at the helm, they will need to put quite the team around him. Weapons are not an issue currently, as the Steelers are loaded with talent and youth at the offensive skill positions. However, the Steelers have major decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball in the near future, as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alex Highsmith, Devin Bush, and Terrell Edmunds will all be up for new contracts within the next two years. Taking an already good defense to the next level will greatly increase the Steelers’ chances of winning a Super Bowl.

3. It may prevent Mitch Trubisky from getting a chance to lead the team

The leading indicator of the Steelers preferring Malik Willis over Kenny Pickett was the signing of Mitch Trubisky. This is what lead many, including myself, down an incorrect path of thinking. The Steelers typically use free agency to find competent pieces at positions of need, as Kevin Colbert has never liked going into the draft with a pressing need at any one position. Looking back on what transpired, it appears as if the Steelers signed Trubisky as insurance for a scenario where none of the three quarterbacks they reportedly had first round grades on were available.

The issue lies in the fact that Kenny Pickett is about as good as he is going to get, having played in 52 games in 5 seasons of college ball. When the Steelers signed Trubisky, it made the most sense to me for the team to select Malik Willis, who would need a year of development on the bench. This move also would have allowed the Steelers to see what they have in Trubisky, who, from all indications, had a remarkable mental recovery during his one-year stint in Buffalo. Talent has never been a question for Trubisky, but after being hated on by Bears fans immediately following his draft selection, and after being thrown into a dumpster fire in Chicago prematurely, his confidence quickly dwindled. If he has truly revived his career from a mental aspect, the sky’s the limit in a Matt Canada offense that fits Trubisky’s play style to a tee.

However, with the selection of Kenny Pickett, Trubisky may not have an opportunity in Pittsburgh, and if he does, he will be on a short leash. After all, the Steelers have a pro-ready rookie waiting in the wings. If he is not going to get any better by sitting on the bench, why would you not start him?

Whether you endorsed or discouraged the selection of Kenny Pickett, what concerns you the most about Pickett's game? What is the one thing fans should pay the closest attention to this summer when it comes to his development as a rookie quarterback? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!

Mike Munchak talks about his departure from the Steelers, and if he would ever return

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 9:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Hall of Fame player and coach isn’t ready to call it a career. Could a reunion in Pittsburgh be on the horizon?

NFL fans love the “name brand” when it comes to coaches, players and even General Managers (GM). They want someone they know, a name they recognize. Just because they recognize the name doesn’t always mean it will workout though. One of the times the name recognition did work out was with Mike Munchak.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans knew Munchak from his days at Penn State, as well as a player for the Houston Oilers. If that wasn’t enough to jog their memory, Munchak’s tenure as the Tennessee Titans’ head coach made him a known commodity.

When he was hired as the Steelers offensive line coach, fans were ecstatic about the hire. Why? Because his Hall of Fame career, combined with name recognition, gave fans hope.

And Munchak delivered in a big way.

Munchak turned the Steelers’ offensive line into a formidable front to protect Ben Roethlisberger and help turn the Killer B’s offense into one of the most high powered units during his time in Pittsburgh.

When Munchak left the Steelers he made it very clear why he left — family. Munchak had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Denver Broncos, but when Vic Fangio was the team’s selection, Munchak chose a lateral move to the Broncos to be closer to his family.

But would he ever return? Recently Munchak joined Ron Cook and Joe Starky on 93.7 The Fan, and let’s just say he didn’t rule it out.

“We talk…” Munchak told Cook and Starkey before quickly stopping and saying “that’s one of those things I don’t really want to talk about. I was more at the time, trying to stay in Denver, out West. It’s something we never really discussed because, as much as I loved Coach Tomlin, there is no better head coach in football as a player to work for or as a coach to work for. I learned so much from him and the Rooney’s and the way they run their organization. For me that was a great learning experience. I learned a lot from my years there.”

When the Steelers had an opening at their offensive line coach following the departure of Adrian Klemm, many speculated the team could bring Munchak back. Munchak didn’t say the Steelers called, but said he was trying to stay out west to be closer to family.

“At the time I was trying to stay out west.” Munchak said. “It was not something I was considering at the time when they may or may not have had an opening. I was 100% focused at trying to stay out in this part of the country. It didn’t quite work out this year for that to happen.”

At 62 years-old, is Munchak ready to hang up the whistle for good? Not even close.

“I love the game too much,” Munchak said. “I’d love to continue to work, especially offensive line coaches. It’s something I love doing, I love teaching. I love being around the players whether they be teenagers or in their twenties or thirties. It’s something I love doing, so it’s something I would like to continue doing.

“Hopefully if the right opportunity comes up this year or next year, whenever, I would continue to coach.

“I’ve been blessed to always have a job, so much is about the opportunity, the fit, the timing. The timing unfortunately wasn’t great for what was going on in Denver (the last few months). My family is here. Having the opportunity to work in the same city that your family is in is a rare opportunity. I was hoping to keep that going.

“Unfortunately, that did not work out this year, but I’m hoping to continue to work. We will see what happens in the future.”

The Steelers offensive line hasn’t been the same since Munchak left, but it isn’t solely on the coach leaving which caused the downturn. Players like Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and David DeCastro retired and/or were released, and Alejandro Villanueva’s contract wasn’t picked up before he joined the Baltimore Ravens for two seasons prior to his retirement. While the cupboard wasn’t left bare, it also wasn’t busting at the seams with young talent.

Nonetheless, Munchak looks back on his time in Pittsburgh fondly.

“My years in Pittsburgh were awesome,” Munchak recalled. “My five years there was something I will never forget. The hardest thing I ever did was leave there. It was a family decision more than anything.”

The Steelers filled their vacancy this offseason at offensive line coach with Pat Meyer, and the hope is Meyer is able to get the young offensive line the Steelers possess to improve and make their offense as formidable as Munchak did when he was in Pittsburgh. But with these quotes, if things don’t go well for Meyer, expect fans to be clamoring for Munchak’s return.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp.

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after signing DeMavin Leal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers third-round pick did not change the available salary cap by a significant amount.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, the biggest news will likely be contracts in the coming weeks with the signing of draft picks. As reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

On Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they signed 2022 third-round draft pick DeMarvin Leal out of Texas A&M. According to spotrac.com, Leal had a signing bonus of $952,288. With a base salary in 2022 of $705k, Leal has a cap hit this season of $943,072 which is not even $50k more than the salary it displaced.

It should be noted that Leal’s actual cap number comes in lower than what was estimated by OTC based on his draft position and the rookie salary pool. Leal actually comes in more than $40k under the estimate, which is good news for the Steelers even if the difference is minor.

If you are looking for the added salary cap due to the rest of the 2022 draftees, they will not be included at this time as they have not signed their contracts. But based on the structure of rookie salaries in the latest CBA, the estimated dollar amounts are known for 2022. Therefore, an explanation as to how much the remaining rookies will cost is given at the bottom of the article.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, were given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million

Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Not reported
George Pickens: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $12.47 million

*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)

+A $895k contract was displaced

++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $12,522,040 under the salary cap. OTC does not have the Leal contract yet, so once they do our numbers will be the same.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $11,198,864 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts, but also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals. The biggest difference is they have a part of Isaiah John’s and Bryce Watts’ salaries counting in the injured reserve category as they were waived/injured recently. While these numbers are significant, they generally are things that are covered in the $5 million the Steelers like to have to do business during the season.

What about the 2022 rookies?

Now that the 2022 NFL draft is over, it is known that the Steelers stayed with their designated selections. Based on their draft choices, the rookie contracts signed this offseason will only have three salaries out of the seven drafted players and 10 undrafted free agents that will land in the top 51. Only Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, and DeMarvin Leal should have a 2022 cap hit that will put them in the top 51. Now that Pickens’ and Leal’s salary have been taken into account, the only remaining one affecting the salary cap is Kenny Pickett. After factoring in displacement, their contracts together will count approximately $1.99 million towards the salary cap based on the rookie pool estimate chart provided by OTC. Since this other contract is not signed yet, it will not be included at this time until the precise dollar amounts are known. Even if taking these amounts into account, the Steelers would still have approximately $10.48 million left in salary cap space.

The Steelers will need as much as an additional $10.8 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year as outlined in the following article:

Based on this number, the Steelers are within a reasonable range of what they need for the 2022 season at this time without freeing up any other money. Even though there could be some dead money in contracts with players not making the 53-man roster, it should be offset even more by larger contracts of players who are waived. Also, a Minkah Fitzpatrick extension would likely lower his 2022 cap hit if he and the Steelers can reach an agreement.

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

It’s nice to see Steelers players with microphones in their faces again

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 6:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I believe personal interactions between reporters and players/coaches is important for Steelers fans. It was nice to see the rookies answering questions from reporters in a more traditional, up-close and personal way at rookie camp.

How much news did you glean from the Steelers' just-concluded rookie camp, a camp that saw their entire draft class and a bunch of undrafted free agents convene at the team’s South Side facilities for workouts and drills in shorts?

If you answered, “Not Much!” you are probably correct.

But at least we got to see these Steelers’ rookies in action—kind of—so that was sort of cool, right?

I guess it all depends on your definition of “cool.”

One thing about rookie camp that I personally thought was cool was seeing the players being interviewed by scrums (not scums) of reporters standing mere feet away from them. Not only that, but they all had their arms outstretched and their microphones sticking directly in the players’ faces as they answered question after question.

Did these players say anything interesting? I guess it all depends on your definition of “interesting,” but it sure was nice to see these guys have to answer questions this way again.

I actually didn’t even notice at first, as I watched rookie first-round pick, Kenny Pickett, answer countless questions while standing outside in the fresh air. He was followed by Calvin Austin III, the third-round receiver out of Memphis, who had to answer—and this isn’t totally accurate—450,000 questions about his height and weight, as well as a few hundred more about the number of times he was hit incredibly hard in college by those big, bad defensive players.

To be honest, I never thought I’d see players/coaches and reporters this up close and personal ever again. In fact, two years ago, right after the pandemic hit, and journalists immediately stopped getting direct access to players and coaches at all, I feared this would be the norm moving forward, even after the “new normal” had subsided.

Radio hosts and reporters even predicted that zoom interviews would be a permanent thing, and many wondered if they’d ever be allowed in a locker room again.

Last season, we had more of a press-conference type feel to interviews, with coaches and players set up at tables and answering questions that were asked by reporters in an orderly and respectful way.

No, we didn’t have the annoying zoom errors of the year before, but it still didn’t feel the same as a good old-fashioned one-on-one post-game interview, where a reporter could interact with a player when his emotions were still on high.

I don’t know why, but I think this sort of access to a player is important, and it’s a much better way for fans to connect with the team. It’s so much better than trying to get a feel for these guys while they sit behind a video screen or conference table.

Maybe I was imagining things, but it almost seemed like Pickett was a little annoyed by one or two of the questions that were asked by reporters during his media scrum. As for Austin, talk about a handsome guy. My advice for Austin: Be an ankle-breaker on the field, and not a heartbreaker off the field.

Reporters can get better scoops from coaches and players if they interact with them in an up-close and personal way, as well as more original quotes and stories.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever truly get back to the days when reporters could huddle around players in the locker room after a game, but we had stadiums full of fans last year. Training camp will be back at Latrobe this summer.

The more access fans have to their teams, the more enjoyable the product is for them to consume.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 05/21/2022 - 5:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: Depth or Debt, Do the Steelers have enough “dudes” at linebacker?

There has been so much talk about the state of the Steelers linebackers going into the 2022 season. What characteristics make a successful LB and do the Steelers have enough “dudes” at the position? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • Should the Steelers have done more at linebacker?
  • and MUCH MORE!

Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with Tony: When Steelers Rookie Camp goes off without a hitch

Steelers 2022 rookie camp was conducted at the team’s South Side Facilities this past week, and it went off without a hitch. Nope, there wasn’t much noteworthy news, but that’s always a good thing. Also, Antonio Brown is still in the news. That and your questions and comments on this episode of Steelers Friday Night Six Pack with veteran BTSC podcaster and writer Tony Defeo.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Steelers Rookie Camp goes off without a hitch
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Steelers Podcast: All the latest from BTSC’s family of Pittsburgh #Steelers shows, Saturday edition

@btscbad, K.T. Smith on if the Steelers have enough “dudes” at linebacker?

@defeoman on what it means when Steelers Rookie Camp goes off without a hitch

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