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Heinz Field to be lit blue in support of essential workers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 38 min ago
Photo by Jerry Driendl/Getty Images

At 8 PM on Thursday, Heinz Field will be illuminated in blue to join with a number of other sporting venues in support of those on the front lines during the current pandemic

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Heinz Field will be participating in a nationwide effort to recognize first reponders and other essential workers who are on the front lines of dealing with our current crisis. In support, Heinz Field will be illuminated in blue beginning at 8 PM EST.

More information about the event can be seen from a press release below by those supporting the event.

In a collective salute to the millions of essential workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, city skylines and communities across the country will transform into a beacon of blue at 8 p.m. local time Thursday, April 9th as part of the global #LightItBlue initiative.

Originating in the UK, the #LightItBlue volunteer effort has been organized in the U.S. by a collective of leaders from the events and entertainment industry to visualize their appreciation for the millions of Americans at the forefront of this crisis.

All activations will be executed using existing resources in accordance with local stay-at- home mandates. After this Thursday’s kickoff, the #LightItBlue effort will continue weekly on Thursday nights across the U.S.

The campaign invites Americans to join in at home by wearing blue, decorating windows and doorways with blue and sharing their own images or messages to essential workers with the hashtag #LightItBlue. Join the conversation and follow along on Twitter using @LightItBlue.

More than 150 venues are scheduled to participate in the event on Thursday which will continue each week throughout our current crisis. Additionally, they are asking individuals to show their support by either wearing blue or using whatever methods they safely can in support. With many Americans in isolation within their own living spaces, people are encouraged to show their support by sharing photos with the hashtag #LightItBlue.

A list of some of the participating venues can be seen below.

• Atlanta: Atlanta City Hall, Skyview Ferris Wheel
• Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium
• Boise: US Bank Building
• Boston: Boston City Hall, TD Garden
• Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium
• Chicago: Millenium Monument
• Dallas: Star of Frisco, One Arts Plaza
• Green Bay: Lambeau Field
• Houston: City Hall
• Indianapolis: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
• Kansas City: Arrowhead Stadium, Country Club Plaza
• Los Angeles: LA Convention Center
• Miami: Hard Rock Stadium
• Minneapolis: US Bank Stadium
• New Orleans: Jackson Square, Smoothie King Center
• New York: Madison Square Garden, One World Trade Center, Beacon Theatre
• East Rutherford: MetLife Stadium
• Sioux Falls: Arc of Dreams Monument
• St. Louis: James S. McDonnell Planetarium
• Pittsburgh: Heinz Field
• Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field
• San Francisco Bay Area: Levi’s Stadium
• Seattle: Space Needle, CenturyLink Field
• Washington, D.C.: Capital One Arena

Before acquiring Derek Watt, Mike Tomlin and company consulted with T.J. to get his blessing

Behind the Steel Curtain - 8 hours 56 min ago
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers added a new Watt brother to their ranks in free agency, but they had to get the go-ahead from T.J. before they did.

The Pittsburgh Steelers added another set of brothers to their roster this offseason when the team decided to add fullback/special teams ace Derek Watt to their lineup. Derek will be joining brother T.J. Watt in Pittsburgh, marking the third time they have played together, high school, college and now professionally.

During an interview with Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, T.J. spoke about how head coach Mike Tomlin called him and asked if it was okay with T.J. for the team to acquire Derek. We all know how that played out.

“I always knew Coach Tomlin and Danny Smith really liked Derek. We played them the last two years, and he said he really likes the way he plays football,” said Watt. “Then Coach Tomlin called me and said we are interested in your brother and I want to make sure before we pursue him you are all right if he is on our team if it’s an option for us. I was like, heck yeah. I would love to have him on our team. He would be a great asset.”

But before fans feel like the coaching staff asks players for their blessing before signing them, it should be noted how T.J. did his share of campaigning for his brother to come to the Steelers in 2020.

“I know one of Derek’s best traits is his availability and being ready when called upon,” said Watt. “I have seen Derek play football my whole life. I grew up playing football with him in the backyard. I played high school football with him and went on to play with him in college and roomed with him for a year. I have been a big fan of his in the league too.

”I would tell the coaches during the season that he is playing well. I would remind them his contract is running out and he is playing better each week, especially special teams wise. He is a very reliable player. He is very versatile, especially on offense. He can catch the ball really well, he can block well, he can cut block. He can get on the edge. You watch on the film and he can do a multitude of things. He can carry the ball if we want. He can do a multitude of things. He has always wanted more opportunities, but he has made the most of the opportunities he has had. He is coming into his own on special teams. He has the tenacity and want to to make plays. He can be a heck of a player for us.”

Many fans felt the signing of a fullback was unnecessary, considering how little the team used Roosevelt Nix when he was in Pittsburgh, but T.J. knows what his brother brings to the team, and it is far more than a fullback.

The story of how T.J. got the call to bring on Derek is also interesting, considering the two were together at the time.

“I was with Derek when Coach first called me,” said Watt. “I told him, I don’t know what that call meant, but it sounds like they are going to pursue you pretty hard in the next day or week. I didn’t know what the timeline was.

”He didn’t want to get too excited during the process. There were a few teams in the mix. I know he liked it in Los Angeles. He also knew we still had a fullback on the team. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. He did say it would be awesome for it to come full circle to play together again.

”I told him to be ready. Sure enough, he got the call a few hours later. More than anything, once the call happened and he hung up the phone and he was going to be a Steeler, we realized it was going to be a once in a lifetime experience for the third time. We played together in high school, college and now.”

With two of the three Watt brothers now in Pittsburgh, many are wondering when the third, J.J. Watt, will be joining them? That might be a bit of a reach, at least at this juncture, but if Watt can stay healthy and make plays, he will be a welcome addition to the Steelers in 2020.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as the Steelers prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, and the 2020 regular season.

As NFL teams debut new uniforms, I am thankful the Steelers’ classic look

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 58 min ago
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the most iconic looks in the NFL, and fans should be happy about that.

When people think of iconic NFL uniforms, they likely think about some of the following organizations:

The Green Bay Packers

The Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders

The Chicago Bears

And, of course, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The black-and-gold has remained pretty much the same since the team started wearing their current yellow pants with a black stripe and their white and black home/away uniforms.

But there are those teams who change their look regularly. Two of those teams did so just this week with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers debuting new uniforms for their fans to enjoy this offseason.

Check them out below:

For our team.
Our fans.
⁰Our city. pic.twitter.com/15e5ZX6EtE

— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) April 8, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers get their new uniforms... aka Tom Brady’s new fit ‍☠️ pic.twitter.com/LYi0tNwkPL

— Sports ON Tap (@SONTHighlights) April 7, 2020

When I see these videos, I can’t help but burst with pride over the fact the Steelers don’t change much as it pertains their uniforms. Of course, fans lament the decision Dan Rooney made in 1997 when he chose to change from the block numbers to the italicized numbers to match the stickers on the team helmets.

In retrospect, if the biggest issue with the uniforms are the style of numbers, I think it is safe to say the team has a pretty classic look.

I remember how nervous I was to see the Steelers’ Nike Color Rush uniforms a few years ago. As a fan, I take pride in the fact the Steelers don’t stray far from their standard garb, unless they are wearing throwback unis. Needless to say, when the Color Rush uniforms were released, they were awesome. The all black is a big-time winner with the fan base, and rightfully so.

Would I change anything about the Steelers’ uniforms? Some scream for the return of the block numbers, but I have grown accustomed to their current uniforms with the logo on the top left chest. If they made the move back to the block numbers I would be okay with it, but it isn’t the end of the world for me either.

What fans should be happy about is they know the styles won’t change much, if at all, as long as a Rooney is calling the shots in Pittsburgh.

If you could change anything about the Steelers’ uniforms, other than the numbers, what would it be? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Can the Steelers get to 60 sacks in 2020?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 12 hours 33 min ago
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Only half of the current NFL teams have ever hit the mark

The Pittsburgh Steelers have done something on defense over the past three seasons which they have never done before. Eclipsing in the 50-sack mark for the third season in a row, not only have the Steelers not accomplished this steak before, but no team had been able to complete the streak in almost 20 years. But is there even more in the tank for this defense?

I decided to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction that the Steelers will get to 60 sacks in 2020. First and foremost, there must be a 16-game NFL season. Being like everyone else who has been pushing forward through our difficult social situation with the current pandemic, I do my best to live my life being hopeful of things in the distant future but mindful of how things could change. With that said, I am still holding out for a full NFL season in 2020.

If this is the case and we get 16 regular-season games by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, it will be their last chance to hit the elusive 60 sack mark in this number of games. Unless the NFL changes course and delays the implementation of going to 17 games, 2020 will be the last season under the current regular season format from when it changed from 14 games back in 1978 (other than 2 years where games were missed due to strikes).

The last time a team reached 60 sacks in a season was seven years ago when the Carolina Panthers hit the mark in 2013. It was seven years prior to the Panthers the last time any team hit the number, but it was two teams in 2006 with the Chargers notching 61 sacks and the Baltimore Ravens getting 60. The only other time since the turn of the century was the New Orleans Saints who had 66 sacks in the year 2000. Achieving 60 sacks in a season used to not be the large number it appears to be at this time. From 1984 through 1986 it was achieved 12 times over the three-year span.

Now that the history lesson is over, what does this mean for the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers? First of all, it shows that it’s possible. But where will those sacks come from?

With the Steelers registering 54 sacks in 2020, they would obviously need six more in order to hit the mark. But the Steelers also lost some of their production from the 2019 season. Most notably, Javon Hargrave and his four sacks in 2019 is now providing his services for the Philadelphia Eagles. Other losses were Mark Barron who had three sacks in 2019 and Anthony Chickillo only had 0.5 on the season.

Assuming all the players retained by the Steelers have similar production in 2020, it is possible to make up for these losses as well as gain another six. Stephon Tuitt only played in six games in 2019 but registered 3.5 sacks. Using his average per game and rounding down, he projects to match Cameron Heyward’s nine sacks. This alone would gain the Steelers another 5.5 sacks. As for the loss of Mark Barron, hopefully the other inside linebackers could help cover the production as Vince Williams had 2.5 sacks in 2019 as well as Devin Bush who registered 1.0. With Williams being a player who had eight sacks two years prior, thinking he could pick up another one or two is not a big deal. And if Devin Bush is utilized more in the pass rush from time to time in 2020, he could easily pick up another one or two. Also, which player definitely fills in the role of Mark Barron has yet to be determined and they would have the opportunity to add to the production.

One of the most disappointing statistics from 2019 was the Steelers only registered 0.5 sacks from the outside linebacker position which did not come from Bud Dupree or T.J. Watt. Regardless of whatever players end up earning the opportunity for the snaps vacated by Anthony Chickillo, I hope they could register at least one sack on the season.

So with the return of Stephon Tuitt helping to cover other losses, the Steelers appear to be right there in the mix to repeat their production, if not improve it, for the 2020 season.

But does the change in their opponents factor in favorably?

Of the five opponents the Steelers had five or more sacks in a game last season, they play three of them again in 2020 including the Cincinnati Bengals where the Steelers registered eight sacks in a single game last year. While looking at the fewest sacks in a game the Steelers had in 2019, there were five opponents in which the Steelers only registered one sack and four of those teams they do not play this coming season.

In all, there are eight teams the Steelers will play in 2020 who they did not play in 2019. In looking at last year‘s data, these eights new matchups were sacked a total of 13 times more than the eight teams the Steelers will not play again in 2020. So, based on last season, the Steelers are playing teams who are more likely to give up sacks than the ones who will no longer be on their schedule next season.

According to the numbers, reaching the 60 sack mark in 2020 for the Pittsburgh Steelers is not an unreasonable goal. With a defensive front who should be improved based on the return of Stephon Tuitt, and what could be a slightly greater opportunity to increase their sacks based on their opponents, the possibility is right in front of them. All that is remaining is the most important issue: Continuing to execute their pass rush in order to produce sacks on the field.

It won’t be a “Hard Knocks” life for the Steelers, but that doesn't mean it won't be entertaining

Behind the Steel Curtain - 14 hours 18 min ago
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A humorous look at what NFL football fans should expect to see this season on HBO's reality show Hard Knocks now that the two Los Angeles franchises have been chosen to be featured, instead of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I am beyond flabbergasted by the decision. The NFL's and HBO's decision to feature the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers; the first time two franchises will be featured at the same time, on the reality show Hard Knocks this year, instead of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, is beyond puzzling. It's akin to a quandary wrapped in an enigma.

I surmised in a recent article how the Steelers were the only logical choice as the leading man for the show. I meticulously outlined how the uncharacteristically available Pittsburgh Steelers were the perfect choice as the leading man for HBO's iconic program, but apparently my insightful advice was disregarded.

So what should fans of the show expect to witness on this year's episodes? That's a good question, seeing how the powers that be decided to feature two lesser known actors in what can only be expected to be another rehashed buddy cop type roles, instead of the established star that is rarely available and therefore in high demand. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.

But, as anyone familiar with my writing already knows, I am forever an optimist. Here are some possible storylines that may actually prove entertaining from this season's edition.

The Rams were sitting on top of the world just a couple of seasons ago. They possessed a talented young roster featuring an ascending QB, a superstar RB, the most dominant defender walking the planet, and a young offensive mastermind HC that was the envy of the NFL community. Their arrow was most definitely trending upward. One uninspired Super Bowl loss later, and the trajectory has definitely leveled out.

Sean McVay is sure to be front and center on the show. His matinee idol looks and charisma made him the toast of the town just a short time ago, and the team's success under his leadership made him a coveted commodity. He instantly became every team's "We got to find the Next". Then came the stunningly ineffective offensive performance in the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, and McVay lost some of his luster. His confidence had to be shaken to the core. It will be hilarious everytime that McVay slowly fades into the background, similar to Henry Winkler's character in the Waterboy, anytime someone mentions Bill Belichick in his presence.

Superstar DT Aaron Donald, the most dominant defensive player in the league, should be right in his element in front of the cameras. He is charismatic and interesting, and has plenty of experience carrying more than his fair share of the load. His legend will only grow with increased exposure. If Donald has to miss a day of filming, Denzel may be available to fill in.

Last year's in season addition, CB Jalen Ramsey, is sure to be entertaining. The constantly expressive Ramsey never lacks in confidence, and is far from a shrinking violet. He will probably profess that he should have been chosen for the Coronavirus Task Force seeing how nobody could possibly catch anything whenever he is covering them. The man is nothing if not humble.

That brings us to the slapstick sidekick of the LA duo, the Chargers. It remains to be seen what the Chargers will bring to the occasion, aka Martin Lawrence in the Bad Boys movie franchise. They must be scripted as the comedy relief. They lost their leading man, aging franchise QB Phillip Rivers, basically escorting him out the door. The future is anything but clear for the Chargers, let the rebuilding proceed.

That doesn't mean the Chargers don't bring some entertaining storylines to the equation. I am excited to learn more about HC Anthony Lynn. Lynn has a perpetual scowl plastered all over his face as he stands perplexed on the sidelines. You recognize the look, the "What the blazes are they thinking out there?" look anytime he witnesses his team's performance on the football field. The look any parent raising teenagers has experienced at one time or another. It will be interesting to learn if that look is consistent during the practice week, like how Tom Cruise appears forever youthful.

RB Austin Ekeler is sure to be overlooked, as always. A extremely talented supporting actor, he will undoubtedly be under valued by the producers who are still obsessing over more well known stars previously employed by the two franchises in Gurley and Gordon. He is the Walton Goggins of the NFL.

WR Keenan Allen would be wise to suggest that the show hire Morgan Freeman, and his great story telling voice, to be narrator. I can already hear that voice eloquently reminiscing as Keenan Allen recalls the Sunday Night game where the Pittsburgh Steelers inexplicably committed to trying to cover him with linebackers throughout the game. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and Allen made the most of it. Legendary performance, thanks to ineptitude on the Steelers behalf.

Actually, I believe the decision to feature the two LA franchises had plenty to do with the current state of affairs in our country, and the corresponding logistics with filming. Two teams in the heart of Tinseltown, resulting in limited travel requirements and setup. Trust me, I understand the thought process.

The Rams and Chargers make total sense in another way, sticking with this article's Hollywood theme. Both franchises moved to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming big stars, a better life if you will. So far they have been forced to face a stark reality. There is plenty of competition when you are trying to reach the top.

Both franchises are unemployed actors working as waiters presently to pay the bills, hoping to catch that ever elusive big break. Come to think of it, the Chargers are practically homeless at the moment. They are fitting in the City of Angels just fine.

Report: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert proposes 10 Round NFL Draft to offset issues

Behind the Steel Curtain - 15 hours 33 min ago
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has an issue on their hands with the lack of meetings between teams and prospects, and Steelers GM Kevin Colbert might have a resolution.

According to a report by the NY Daily News, Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert has proposed adding three additional rounds to the 2020 NFL Draft.

This proposal is due to the coronavirus pandemic which is severely impacting the draft process for both teams and players. The proposal would be adding 96 more selections, which could give players more chances at making an NFL team, and give teams a better shot at having successful draft picks.

With the vast majority of pro days, in-person interviews and workouts being cancelled, players who were hoping to raise their draft stock through such methods would now still have a shot at being drafted.

Such a change would definitely help the Steelers, who heavily rely on the draft for building up the foundation of their team. Pittsburgh only has 6 total picks, as of right now, in this year’s draft, which could be raised to 9 if Colbert’s proposal is implemented.

Building upon what looks to be an already chaotic virtual draft could backfire, but it would be an interesting wrinkle that could prove to be helpful for both parties.

It remains to be seen how far this reported proposal might go, but a 10 round draft is a reasonable idea that somehow manages to fit in perfectly within these bizarre times. In the meantime, stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, and start their preparations for the upcoming 2020 regular season.

Podcast: Do the Steelers have the right pieces to defend the TE in 2020?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 16 hours 33 min ago

In the latest BTSC podcast, our Steelers ‘Stat Geek’ breaks down the numbers surrounding the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over, and the news is still ongoing. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Stat Geek. On this show deputy editor Dave Schofield and his brother Rich break down all things Steelers stats, and also answers questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Are the Steelers prepare to defend against the TE in 2020?
  • Stats, stats and more stats
  • Close look at the Steelers’ goals for 2020
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave and Rich walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

The Stat Geek Q&A which will publish at 1:00 p.m. ET audio below:

Black and Gold Links: Minkah Fitzpatrick, the perfect amount of confident, not cocky

Behind the Steel Curtain - 17 hours 33 min ago
Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how recent comments made by Minkah Fitzpatrick regarding Patrick Mahomes is confidence, not arrogance.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Confident, not cocky, that is what best describes Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Tim Benz: Minkah Fitzpatrick’s quotes about Patrick Mahomes were confident, not cocky

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As you may have heard by now, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick “is” the Steelers’ first-round choice in this month’s upcoming NFL Draft.

At least that’s what people keep demanding that I say.

Does that mean Derick Brassard “was” the Penguins’ first-round pick in 2018? You never hear that trade presented in such a fashion. Maybe that’s because, by extension, that now means either Nick Bjugstad or Jared McCann “is” that pick now?

Oof! The accounting trick isn’t quite as impressive when you frame it that way, is it?

I hate employing that logic about the Fitzpatrick trade because it feels like Steelers fans — and Kevin Colbert himself — are trying to shine up a trade that sparkles on its own.

Why bother? Fitzpatrick is a great player. An All-Pro. Worthy of the price paid without the extra elbow grease.

No need to make it sound like you stole something that you already got for a great deal.

In fact, the third-year 2020 first-round pick-to-be (See. It looks really weird when you put it in print, doesn’t it?) is already so good that ESPN appears to be subtly positioning him as defensive foil for NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A virtual NFL Draft...this ought to be interesting.

NFL going virtual for upcoming draft

By: Associated Press

The NFL Draft will be conducted in a virtual format, with team personnel working from their homes.

In a memo sent to the 32 teams Monday and obtained by the Associated Press, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell outlined procedures for the April 23-25 draft. The guidelines include no group gatherings.

“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the competition committee and CEC (a group of league executives),” Goodell wrote, “and this will confirm that clubs will conduct their draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.”

All team facilities were closed March 26, and Goodell has ordered them to remain shut indefinitely.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Ben Roethlisberger “really impressed” with Eric Ebron

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

Ben Roethlisberger and Eric Ebron haven’t played a game or even worked out together yet, but they’ve already formed a mutual admiration society.

Ebron signed with the Steelers as a free agent last month and the tight end said he’s “always had this love” for the longtime Steelers quarterback. He also said he hopes to be Roethlisberger’s “security blanket” on offense, which seems like it has a good chance of happening given how Roethlisberger feels about Ebron.

“I was a big fan of his coming out [of college],” Roethlisberger said, via Ed Bouchette of TheAthletic.com. “I was really impressed with him, thought he was a great football player. Ebron said to me, ‘When I was with [former Steelers receiver] Lance Moore in Detroit, he told me how much you wanted me when I was coming out or a free agent. I just wanted to thank you.’ Now that he’s here, I’m excited to see what he can bring to this team. We know he’s an incredible talent. Speaking to him, I can see his desire, and his passion to be great. I’m excited what he can bring to the table opposite Vance [McDonald].”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

No “Hard Knocks” for the black-and-gold, reportedly

Handing out some grades for the Free Agents lost by the Steelers

Taking a look at the Steelers’ draft needs, 1.0

Bud Dupree is sitting pretty with his current situation

  • Social Media Madness

The stiff-arm heard 'round the world @VMcDonald89#SteelersJukeBox request by @jimmymarkino.

Send in your play requests using #SteelersJukeBox! pic.twitter.com/zOi9rz4vmv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 7, 2020

Hittin' the road to the end zone @Juiceup__3 | #TDTuesday pic.twitter.com/caxMBnKm6v

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 7, 2020

This play was over before it started! ✈️@tpolamalu pic.twitter.com/012jkx3C0d

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 6, 2020

Mike Tomlin Tuesday: We didn’t have a lot of other options

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:45pm
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

With no more press conferences from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin in the foreseeable future, we’ll look back at some of interesting quotes from the 2019 season

Once again, it doesn’t seem like a Tuesday unless we are graced with words from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin from his weekly press conference. Since we aren’t expected to hear from coach Tomlin until the NFL draft in a few weeks, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting quotes Tomlin has given us this past season.

We’ve experienced several “Throwback Tomlin Tuesday” quotes so far this off-season. So far we have re-lived the following:

A nose guard is like Blockbuster video
We weren’t ready for prime time tonight
So that’s how you lay an egg
We’ve got to make plays
I’m not a doctor
We’re excited infusing him into the fold
You have to work in concert as a football team
The competitor in all of us is a little bit pissed off
It feels really good to handle our business
Obviously, the night was not perfect
Why would I sign up for that?
I am not into the hypotheticals

As we continue through the 2019 season, let’s go back to Coach Tomlin’s press conference following the Steelers’ 24-17 victory in Los Angeles against the Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Coach Tomlin was asked about the rookies who made a big impact in the outcome, starting off with Benny Snell Jr and his contributions to the Steelers running game.

Tomlin was asked about the Steelers rushing attack and having its best success to date in the 2019 season.

“We didn’t have a lot of other options. Sometimes that’s life when you’re backed up against it. We needed that, and they delivered.”

It was the first time the Steelers went over 100 yards rushing as a team on the season. A combined 124 rushing yards came from Snell with 75 yards on 17 carries along with James Conner with 41 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Devlin Hodges also added 8 yards on three rushing attempts.

Coach Tomlin was asked about his rookie quarterback making his first start in the NFL and his expectations of a player thought to be a third-stringer.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” Tomlin explained. “We haven’t been bashful about that. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and I think that’s what makes people gravitate to him. We’re not getting over excited. This is a guy that played good tonight with very limited experience, and we’re thankful to get a win and hopefully it will be a good learning experience for him and us collectively as we move forward.”

One thing Coach Tomlin already mentioned which helped support his young quarterback was finally establishing a running game. Coach Tomlin was asked about how much it played a role in protecting his quarterback and getting the victory.

“It was significant, like I mentioned. Too much exposure is not a good thing. It was a significant component of the storyline.”

Another big contributor in putting the Steelers young quarterback in a great situation was the splash plays contributed by rookie Devin Bush early in the game. Coach Tomlin was asked about Bush’s two takeaways, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

“He’s been opportunistic since day zero, and he continues to be. We need it.”

Tomlin continued on about the significance of the defenses play in setting up the offense early in the game.

“Yeah, we needed to do something. We needed to provide the short field for the offense. We were able to do that – we scored. We put them on a short field, they punched it in. Just a lot of good things happened in the early stages of the game based on our given circumstance that really kind of put us in the position to control the flow of the game.”

It was quite an interesting game for the Steelers as they jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead. Still being up three scores at 24-0 when they entered the fourth quarter, it was the Steelers play early on which gave them enough cushion to hold off the furious come back and secure their second victory of the season heading into their bye week.

NFL outlines what this COVID-19 offseason will look like for teams

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 1:05pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the rest of the NFL were briefed on what this 2020 offseason will look like.

The National Football League has been fortunate as it pertains to other professional sports leagues. While the NHL and NBA have suspended their season as the playoffs were on the horizon, and MLB postponed the start of their season, the NFL is in their offseason.

With this being fact, the NFL has been able to start their offseason on-time, albeit differently with lack of travel, etc., and still plans on holding the 2020 NFL Draft on time at the end of April.

However, this doesn’t mean the NFL, and their 32 teams, won’t be impacted as the offseason drags on. While the NFL Draft is reportedly going to be a “virtual” draft, with no team employees congregating for the event, it looks as if the NFL’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps will be put on hold for the foreseeable future.

This per Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Email sent to all NFL players tonight on the 2020 dead period rules ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/LL0A3jIWqD

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) April 7, 2020

The memo essentially states to all players there will be no in-person workouts, although players “may participate on a voluntary basis in individual, or group, activities and instruction on a virtual basis relating to diet, nutrition, wellness, yoga, aerobics and other similar therapeutic exercise.”

Fans should remember Phase 1 of OTAs is when players start the conditioning aspect of their preparation for the upcoming season. Here is a run-down of what each phase of OTAs looks like in a normal offseason:

Phase One consists of the first two weeks of the program with activities limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.

Phase Two consists of the next three weeks of the program. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. team defense drills are permitted.

Phase Three consists of the next four weeks of the program. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

What isn’t discussed is how the league, and the NFLPA, will handle players with workout incentives in their contracts. The NFL isn’t suspending the entire offseason program, but merely outlining what Phase 1 of OTAs will look like.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft, and make preparations for the 2020 regular season.

NFL shut down allowing Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers to take his rehab slow

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:35am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With the sports world shut down, Ben Roethlisberger is able to scale back his rehabilitation schedule and take his time.

There are some who subscribe to the theory of every dark cloud has a silver lining. And currently, with the coronavirus pandemic running rampant across the country, there is a pretty large could looming over the sports world.

Everything has been shut down.

No Opening Day for MLB.

No playoffs for the NHL or NBA.

And it is already looking like the offsesason workouts scheduled for the NFL are being delayed.

For the sports fanatic, things couldn’t get worse, but for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, it could actually be a good thing.

Roethlisberger recently spoke with Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, and he spoke about how he was preparing to be ready for Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps, but since those have been shut down, he can ease back off his rehabilitation and ensure his arm is ready for the rigors of NFL life.

I was going to be ready to go for OTAs and the minicamps,” Roethlisberger said “That was going to be the plan. Now I don’t know how much I was going to do, I don’t know if I was going to be doing team stuff or stuff like that, but I would have been definitely going to be out there ready to go.”

“Now that we don’t have those [practices], we took a step back and backed up a week,’’ Roethlisberger said. “We said let’s just make sure and slow it down some more and take it even a step slower. It’s going really, really well, though.

“The doctor is very ultra-conservative moving forward. We’re just trying to be smart, and putting the brakes on me a lot because I was kind of ‘Go, go go.’ You know me, trying to get back out there.”

Roethlisberger has been using specific technology to help him read things like spin rate and velocity, both which are critical for a quarterback to have success in the NFL.

“It reads the spin rate and reads the velocity and reads the spiral efficiency” he said. “All these things. We did it actually in training camp in 2018 so it’s actually cool, we have a baseline from a couple of years ago so we can compare, see where we are.

“It’s neat to have those tools because in your own mind you say, ‘Ok, that felt 50 percent, that felt 75 percent.’ I mean you can do that but it’s hard to really tell. We have this data and it’s making it easier and making it able to read these throws. Pretty much every throw we have data on. Right now I do like a 20-throw warmup at 10 yards and then we back up and we do 10 throws at 15, 10 throws at 20, 10 at 25 yards. I’m throwing it right now off the numbers and data, probably right around 60 percent. That’s just me choosing to be at that number. I know I can let it go and throw, but what’s the point, why? There’s no reason to throw as hard as I can right now.”

Roethlisberger didn’t just speak on his elbow, but also on the acquisition of tight end Eric Ebron.

“I was a big fan of his coming out [of college],” Roethlisberger said, via Ed Bouchette of TheAthletic.com. “I was really impressed with him, thought he was a great football player. Ebron said to me, ‘When I was with [former Steelers receiver] Lance Moore in Detroit, he told me how much you wanted me when I was coming out or a free agent. I just wanted to thank you.’ Now that he’s here, I’m excited to see what he can bring to this team. We know he’s an incredible talent. Speaking to him, I can see his desire, and his passion to be great. I’m excited what he can bring to the table opposite Vance [McDonald].”

It is safe to say Roethlisberger is the linchpin for the Steelers in 2020. If he is able to play well, and stay healthy, he could be the missing piece to the puzzle. Combining an above average offense with an elite defense and making a push at not just a playoff berth, but a run at another Super Bowl.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft, and the new season.

Bud Dupree has the best situation of any edge rusher in the NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 10:00am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While talent is key, being put in a good situation can really help a player thrive

Football is ultimately a team sport. A wide receiver cannot thrive without a quarterback throwing him the ball. A running back will struggle if an offensive line cannot maintain their blocks. The 11 players on the field are all interconnected in some way.

With such a variety of players on the field, it’s difficult to put 11 players on the field at one time who all have equal success at their given positions. No matter what, a team will have strengths and weaknesses with every personnel package. The most important thing is to play to one strengths and cover the weaknesses. Or, even better, have said weaknesses being only relative to the quality of the rest of the team and not a glaring problem.

Enter Bud Dupree.

A case could be made Dupree was the weakest player on the Steelers’ defensive front in 2019. Whether he ultimately was or not is beside the point as his play did not come anywhere close to being an area of concern. In fact, Dupree put up the best numbers of his five-year career.

So where did the jump in production come from? Did Dupree play at a higher level in 2019 than his previous seasons, or was it a result of other factors? Chances are the answer is a combination of things, but it is difficult to deny that Dupree was the benefactor of a fantastic Steelers defensive front.

In fact, I would say Dupree has the best situation of any edge rusher in the NFL.

The reason Dupree is in such a situation for success is a twofold scenario which no other player in the NFL can claim.

He is playing opposite of the best edge rusher in the NFL in 2019

It would be difficult to argue otherwise that T.J. Watt has become the best player at his position in the NFL. In fact, a strong case can be made T.J. Watt may be the best defender in the NFL based on his 2019 season. Although he did not ultimately win defensive player of the year, the statistics of Stephon Gilmore and his questionable play at the end of the season turned the DPOY more into a popularity contest rather than on-field production.

With such a dynamic play maker on the opposite edge, Dupree is the less likely candidate to deal with a tight end chipping him during his pass rush. If anyone is going to command some help, it’s going to be the right tackle as he takes on the league‘s best edge defender. With so much of the focus going on T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree gets a better matchup the majority of the time.

He is playing next to the second best defensive interior lineman in the NFL

Not only is Dupree benefiting from T.J. Watt rushing the edge on the other side of the defense, he also is paired with the definitive second best defensive interior linemen in the NFL. Next to the RamsAaron Donald, Cameron Hayward is at the top of the list for defensive interior linemen play in 2019. With Donald and Heyward taking the two All-Pro spots for the interior defensive line across the board with the various places who select an All-Pro team, it’s hard to argue that they are not the two best players at their position. With Donald getting the nod according to PFF to be just ahead of Heyward, calling Cam the second-best player in the league at his position is a pretty safe bet.

How does this benefit Dupre? The majority of the time, Heyward is lined up on the same side of the defense as Dupree. With such a dynamic player on the defensive line, if a double team is going to be emphasized toward one player or another, Heyward is going to draw it the majority of the time.

Does cam Heyward demand a double team? Just ask All-Pro guard Quinton Nelson from the Indianapolis Colts. During their matchup in Week 9 of 2019, Heyward made Nelson look like a less-than-average player in the NFL.

One of the benefits from playing opposite of T.J. Watt and next to Can Heyward is getting a one-on-one matchup for the majority of snaps. With formations set to account for Watt and offensive linemen having to focus on Heyward, Dupree gets to focus on defeating a single blocker in a lot of cases.

Being in the best situation of any edge rusher in the NFL is not a cut on Bud Dupree. Does it mean any player could produce in the same manner? Does it mean Dupree would not be as successful somewhere else? Although these could be true, they are not necessarily the case.

Ultimately, Dupree was in a great situation in 2019 and looks to maintain the same benefit for 2020. Hopefully he can continue to improve at the position and help the Steelers have one of the best defensive fronts in all of the NFL.

Report: HBO chooses the Rams and Chargers over the Steelers for Hard Knocks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 8:18am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Although some fans will be disappointed, the organization should be pleased to avoid the distraction

For some, the news is a tremendous relief while for others it is a disappointment. Regardless of where various fans fall on the spectrum, it appears the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be featured on the HBO reality series “Hard Knocks”, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

For the first time, Hard Knocks is planning to supersize and feature two teams this summer: the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, league sources tell ESPN.*

*(If there’s training camp)

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 7, 2020

The note included in Schefter’s report is of significance as teams continue to plan on holding training camp beginning in late July. But with the current coronavirus pandemic shutting down all sports, there is no guarantee the Steelers will be traveling to Latrobe on schedule to begin their preparations for the 2020 season.

Instead, HBO will be covering two teams at once as the city of Los Angeles will be featured by both the Rams and the Chargers. While many believed the Steelers would be the most attractive option for ratings due to their very large fan base, having the opportunity to cover two teams may have been more than HBO could expect.

What is curious about this choice to be featured on the show is that neither team fit the criteria which has been widely reported. With both teams reaching the postseason in 2018, including the Rams making it all the way to the Super Bowl, both teams were excluded from the list of franchises which were believed to qualify. It is uncertain at this time exactly how these two franchises came to be the choices.

As for the Steelers, what may have been there saving grace from being featured on the show, which many believe management did not want to have to go through, is the fact they were selected to play in the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 6, 2020. With both the Hall of Fame Game and dealing with the filming of Hard Knocks being a situation most teams do not desire, asking one franchise to do both in the same offseason may have been more than what the NFL, or Art Rooney II, was willing to require.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ free agent subtractions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers for letting six free agents seek and find other opportunities.

The Steelers had 12 free agents that they needed to make decisions on and they made decisions to retain half of them. The half that they let walk will be missed in different capacities. These were tough decisions by the Steelers front office and time will tell whether they were made the right moves. All of these moves will be scrutinized. That’s our job and yours.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of Kevin Colbert, Omar Khan and company on nothing but speculation. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All offseason, I had certain expectations that the Steelers would have to be quarantined because of no cap space...but they found some magic beans.

Grading personnel decisions is even tougher than grading games. We have to wait nearly six months to actually know if our grades our on the money. This offseason, I decided to enlist my friends at BTSC to assist me and they did it well. On this one, I decided to go it alone.

With that being electronically said, let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Javon Hargrave: C+

This is a tough one to grade. It is true that the Steelers lost Hargrave to the Eagles when he signed with the cross-state rival Eagles for $39 million. But did they lose him or choose not to keep the nose tackle who garnered six sacks last season. It was inevitable that Colbert, Khan and Company couldn’t keep both defenders at the price they both warranted. They picked the OLB position for one year when they signed Bud Dupree over a NT that isn’t always on the field a majority of the time. Hate to see J-Wobble go, but losing Hargrave means a potential high comp pick at least.

Tyler Matakevich: A+

The Steelers would have liked to keep their special teams captain for a little over the league minimum if they had unlimited roster space, but the Bills ponied up $4.5 million for a cool nickname but a liability at linebacker. Congrats “Dirty Red” on the new deal.

B.J. Finney: B

I don’t think the Steelers really saw Finney as a legitimate starter. It was in inevitable when they wouldn’t trust him to play against Aaron Donald when the Rams played in Pittsburgh in November. After subbing for Maurkice Pouncey and tripping up Mason Rudolph on his first play in, I think their minds were made up. Finney was a solid backup, but he’s getting huge money ($8M/2 Years) from Seattle. The Steelers signing of Stefan Wisniewski makes them older here, but he comes cheaper and may be a better player.

Artie Burns: A

Drew Rosenhaus must be an incredible salesman to get Chicago to pony up $1,047,500 for a guy whose surname tells it all. But, then again, Chicago has made suspect moves lately by overpaying for Jimmy Graham, acquiring a glorified backup (Nick Foles) and his enormous contract and trading up one spot for Mitch Trubisky. Too bad that Drew and Artie couldn’t get more out of “Da Bears” to get the Steelers another compensatory pick.

Sean Davis: B

Davis went to high school in the District and college nearby at Maryland. Hurt all of last season, the Terp got a new $4M deal on potential. He would have been a good depth keep at the minimum, but the Redskins aren’t strangers to parting with money for marginal players at luxury prices.

Nick Vannett: A

The Steelers are paying for Vance McDonald and Eric Ebron, so keeping a guy who hated being in Seattle and Pittsburgh wasn’t going to happen. Denver overpaid for an average TE. Thanks for the potential comp pick.

Overall Grade: A

The only significant loss here is Hargrave, but that ended up being a business decision. Finney, Matakevich and Vannett have been replaced and the Steelers potentially upgraded at their positions. Burns is an addition by subtraction. Davis was a guy that was better when healthy, but would have been a backup behind Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Now it’s your turn to decide. Let us know in the polls and the comments section below.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 NFL Draft Team Needs 1.0

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 6:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some major needs, and we put them in order of importance as the gears up for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have needs, just like every other NFL team, and putting them in order of importance can be tricky. First, you have to identify the most pressing needs on the football team, and the order can certainly be debated based on what you feel is the most important to the team as a whole.

This list is certainly not set in stone, as moves made, and not made, can alter the list. For instance, signing Stefen Wisniewski could push their draft need for an interior offensive lineman down the list a bit.

With that said, let’s take a look at the 2020 Steelers Team Needs 1.0:

1. Wide Receiver

In my mind, the Steelers are in a win-now mode with Ben Roethlisberger in the final years of his career. With that said, it is time to think about players who can help the team win now, and not so much concerned about the future. A dynamic, big-bodied, wide receiver could be just what the offense needs to see players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson flourish with No. 7 back under center.

2. Inside Linebacker

Talk about in need of depth, there might be no position on the team who is in need of depth more than inside linebacker. Devin Bush, Vince Williams, Ulysees Gilbert III, Robert Spillane. That’s it. The Steelers could benefit from a hybrid player who can flex down from ILB to safety and be utilized in their sub packages they like to run so often.

3. Running Back

While the running back corps is not short of depth, there isn’t much confidence there with James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Kerrith Whyte Jr. and Benny Snell Jr. in the backfield. If there is a dynamic playmaking running back on the board early in the draft, it will be extremely difficult for the Steelers to pass on that player.

4. Safety

I spoke about the hybrid linebacker/safety earlier in this article, and a big-bodied safety could be a pick for the Steelers. But let’s not also kid ourselves, the depth behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds is not good. Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen don’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling. The Steelers need to add safety help in the draft.

5. Offensive Line (Interior)

The signing of Wisniewski bumps this need down the list, but it doesn’t mean it still isn’t a need. I would love for the Steelers to find another B.J. Finney type player, who can play both guard and center, to help the line depth where it is its thinnest. Any help along the line will be welcome for me during the 2020 NFL Draft.

What positions do you put on the Steelers’ Team Needs list, and how do you rank them? Let us know in the comment section below!

Podcast: How much confidence does Steelers Nation have in the front office?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “Steelers Q&A” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Steelers have made a splash in free agency with an “all in”approach. Last week, we explored what that same strategy would look like in the draft? With that said, is it safe to say that a majority of fans are “all in” with the Steelers front office? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo as they wade through the Steelers news of the day. As always, you will be asked to participate in the live chat.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Q&A Show. On this show Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • With the draft in less than a month, how much confidence does Steelers Nation have in the front office?
  • Week in Review
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Bryan Davis and Tony Defeo, of BTSC, walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: COVID-19 can take our sports, but it can’t take our hope

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the coronavirus might stop our sports, but it can’t take our hope.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers, and every other professional sports team, is on hiatus with the COVID-19 pandemic running rampant. However, it shouldn’t take away our hope.

Tim Benz: Coronavirus may be ruining sports world. Does it have to ruin our hope?

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

I’m no longer simply bored with the coronavirus-induced sports desert of the moment.

I’m now in full-blown depression.

My blues extend well beyond sports and into just about every avenue of how people have politicized and polarized the pandemic.

It started with the chorus of people insisting sports “weren’t important” at a time like this. Extend that trend to those grousing that NFL free agency shouldn’t be allowed to start amid the virus’ grip. Then it bled into the bleating from those such as Adam Schefter insisting the draft be postponed.

This past weekend, that sensation crested with the reaction to President Donald Trump’s conference call with sports commissioners updating them on the prospects of when they may be able to get their leagues back to action.

The headline grabber was that Trump said the NFL should start on time in September.

Guess how a lot of folks on Twitter, in other political offices, and those in the sports media took that news.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • What will sports look like if/when they do return?

John Steigerwald: When they return, sports should be made-for-TV events

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Let the games begin. Or not.

President Donald Trump held a conference call with the commissioners of all the major sports leagues Saturday and told them he is hoping people can start filling stadiums and arenas by August or September.

That’s good news for the NFL and college football, but, if it takes that long, you can forget seeing any NHL, NBA or MLB games in a 2020 season.

Maybe the NHL and NBA could figure out a playoff system that would carry over into the planned start of the 2020-21 season, but what kind of a season could Major League Baseball expect to have if no games could be played until August or September?

California Gov. Gavin Newsome threw water all over any plans NFL teams in his state might have of playing there in August or September.

“I’m not anticipating that happening in this state. A well known athlete just asked me — a football player — if he expects to come back, I said, ‘I would move very cautiously in that expectation.’ … (Our decision), at least here in the state of California, will be determined by the health experts, will be determined by our capacity to meet the moment, bend the curve and have the appropriate community surveillance and testing to confidently determine whether that’s appropriate, and right now I’m just focused on the immediate, but that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Everyone is doing their part, including Mike Tomlin’s wife.

Doing her part to help

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Like the rest of us, Kiya Tomlin, the wife of Coach Mike Tomlin, has been in ‘work from home’ mode for the past three weeks, doing her part to practice social distancing and protecting her family and others from COVID-19.

But she hasn’t been sitting around idle.

While the fashion designer isn’t able to go to her Kiya Tomlin Work/Shop studio in Etna, her and her staff are hard at work at home on a new fashion design.

Protective masks.

”A couple of weeks ago, before Pittsburgh really had any cases, and it was just becoming a known problem, Rachel Maddow had retweeted something from a hospital system in Evansville, Indiana that said they had a shortage of masks and were asking for all home sewers to jump in because they had a shortage of masks,” said Tomlin. “Someone forwarded it to me. I thought I have people that are sitting home I am paying who aren’t working, so I reached out to them and asked them if they wanted to do it. They were like yeah, of course.

”I wanted to do it for Pittsburgh and started to reach out to friends to see who had connections to see what we could do with these. I have friends who are in the medical field, they aren’t in Pittsburgh anymore, one is a nurse and her husband is a surgeon. They were on vacation and I asked her, and her husband said if they aren’t an N95 mask then they almost aren’t worth it unless you do something with a filter because it’s not going to do anything. I was like darn. But Indiana was asking for people to make them. The CDC was then telling people if you don’t have a mask, use a bandana. I was like these are better than a bandana. I said I would make them anyways and send them to where they were needed.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The NFL Draft is happening, albeit virtually

A very good honor for Antonio Brown and Maurkice Pouncey

Nick Vannett isn’t worth Steelers fans’ time

A Mock Draft which has the Steelers thinking RB in Round 2

Minkah Fitzpatrick’s new personal goal? Defensive Player of the Year

  • Social Media Madness

This play was over before it started! ✈️@tpolamalu pic.twitter.com/012jkx3C0d

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 6, 2020

They were the definition of dominant

Easy choice here

Vote for the 1975 #Steelers ➡️ https://t.co/FtqWoymPb6 https://t.co/hTxPRqOAVg pic.twitter.com/QZskKplkee

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 6, 2020

Putting in the work @JamesConner_ | @TeamJuJu | @rell_island6 | @nelson_island | @CamHeyward pic.twitter.com/EpLUc8X77e

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 5, 2020

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informs teams the 2020 NFL draft will be fully virtual

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 2:19pm
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Team personnel will work remotely from their homes as team facilities remain closed

Although it was what many fans expected, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed teams the 2020 NFL draft will be conducted in a fully virtual manner with team personnel working remotely from their homes.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just informed clubs in a memo that club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the league will conduct a “fully virtual” draft, with club personnel separately located in their homes. pic.twitter.com/28t2kNnLAI

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 6, 2020

The Steelers had initially indicated they were planning on having three or four team personnel members, including general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, meeting at the team office to conduct business. According to the memo sent today, all facilities will remain closed and teams should prepare accordingly to have virtual gatherings to conduct business. Even if part of the staff wanted to meet at another location, this option appears to be off the table as the memo stated to conduct the draft “with Club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet.”

The reason the 2020 NFL draft is being conducted in this manner is for both safety and fairness. With different guidelines in place in the various NFL cities, the league office needed to implement the same procedures regardless of a team’s location. As stated in the memo, “All Clubs will not have access to their facilities, which is contrary to the fundamental equity principle that all clubs operate in a consistent and fair way.”

Exactly how the 2020 NFL draft will play out for fans watching at home remains to be seen. Hopefully the NFL office can work with the various sports networks covering the draft in order to still give the best fan experience possible. As the date approaches, look for more information to become available as to how the 2020 NFL draft will be covered and presented to sports fans around the world.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for updates on the 2020 NFL draft as well as breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s All-Decade Team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 12:40pm
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brown and Pouncey become the 25th and 26th former Steelers to be placed on any of the all-decade teams

Current Pittsburgh Steelers’ center Maurkice Pouncey and former Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown have both been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decades Team for the 2010s. Any player who earned either an All-Pro or Pro Bowl selection from the years 2010 to 2019 were eligible to be selected.

One current & one former Steeler have been selected to the @ProFootballHOF 2010s All-Decade Team.

MORE: https://t.co/qclAfGnDK0 pic.twitter.com/EF8HkcApPu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 6, 2020

Drafted by the Steelers as the 18th overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the only seasons Maurkice Pouncey has not been selected to the Pro Bowl were when he did not play due to injury in 2013 and 2015. Pouncey was also selected first-team All-Pro in 2011 and 2014.

Former Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown was also selected in the 2010 NFL draft, but was taken in the sixth round with the 195th overall pick. Brown earned seven Pro Bowl selections during his time in Pittsburgh as well as first-team All-Pro four times from 2014 to 2017.

For the first time since the 1950s, the Steelers did not have a defensive player on the all-decade team. The most likely candidate would have been Cameron Heyward who has been selected to the Pro Bowl in the last three seasons and was All-Pro in 2017 and 2019. Unfortunately for Heyward, he was classified as a defensive end for the first seven years of his career which cost him more Pro Bowl selections as he was in the same group as 4-3 edge rusher‘s rather than other interior defensive linemen.

The following is a list of all Pittsburgh Steelers players who have been selected for an all-decade team courtesy of Steelers.com‘s Teresa Varley.

Steelers selected to the Pro Football All-Decade Team through the years

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1930s All-Decade Team

RB Johnny “Blood” McNally

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1940s All-Decade Team

RB Bill Dudley
FB Marion Motley
RB Byron “Whizzer” White

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1950s All-Decade Team

RB Jack Butler
QB Bobby Layne
T Ernie Stautner

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1970s All-Decade Team

QB Terry Bradshaw
DT Joe Greene
DE L.C. Greenwood
LB Jack Ham
RB Franco Harris
LB Jack Lambert*
WR Lynn Swann
C Mike Webster*
Coach Chuck Noll*

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1980s All-Decade Team

K Gary Anderson*
CB Mel Blount
LB Jack Lambert*
C Mike Webster*
Head Coach Chuck Noll*

Pro Football Hall of Fame 1990s All-Decade Team

K Gary Anderson*
LB Kevin Greene
LB Levon Kirkland
S Carnell Lake
CB Rob Woodson

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2000s All-Decade Team

G Alan Faneca
S Troy Polamalu

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2010s All-Decade Team

WR Antonio Brown
C Maurkice Pouncey

* Indicates individual was selected twice

The complete list of the 2010’s all-decade team can be seen below courtesy of profootballhof.com.

OFFENSE

WR – Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones

TE – Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce

T – Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas

G – Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Zack Martin, Marshal Yanda

C – Alex Mack, Maurkice Pouncey

QB – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers

RBFrank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson

Flex – Darren Sproles

DEFENSE

DE – Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt

DT – Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh

LB – Chandler Jones, Luke Kuechly, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Willis

CB – Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman

S – Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle

DB – Chris Harris, Tyrann Mathieu

SPECIAL TEAMS

P – Johnny Hekker, Shane Lechler

K – Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker

PR – Tyreek Hill, Darren Sproles

KR – Devin Hester, Cordarrelle Patterson

COACHES

Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll

Could the Steelers be better off without a First Round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 11:05am
Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

Are the Steelers better off without a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft?

I’ll be totally honest. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, draft season loses some of its allure when your team doesn’t have a first round pick. It’s usually a guarantee that all of the big name, blue chip prospects will be off the board by the time your team’s pick comes around. On top of that, most mocks don’t even cover anything beyond the first round, leaving you feeling a bit left out.

However, the Steelers didn’t just throw their first round pick down the garbage disposal. They traded for an All-Pro, 23-year-old safety, in Minkah Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best roster decision the team could make — last year or this year.

But what if they did have a pick in the top 32?

First, you would have to go back in time and undo the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. That leaves Pittsburgh back with their first round selection, as well as an additional fifth-round pick they traded. However, the Steelers would also lose the fourth round pick the Dolphins traded to the Steelers as part of that trade as well.

Remember, at the time of the trade, the Steelers had just lost Sean Davis to a season-ending injury, and Davis’ backup, Kam Kelly, was a serviceable third-stringer, at best, who got arrested and released near the end of the season.

Let’s assume Pittsburgh signed some no-name safety to a one year deal to loosen the blow, but their roster and safety depth would be in shambles to say the least. A secondary is dependent on communication as a unit, something the Steelers’ secondary was terrible at before Fitzpatrick joined the squad. Within perhaps the biggest team sport there is, one can assume Pittsburgh’s defense doesn’t come close to turning into the elite group it was with Fitzpatrick.

The good news? All of Pittsburgh’s draft selections got raised a bit due to the team’s defensive problems. It’s impossible to know how many wins Fitzpatrick is ‘worth’, but I’ll predict the Steelers move up two spots for the sake of exercise.

If you believe that’s too dramatic of a change, just look at the film of Kam Kelly starting at free safety versus the Patriots. Not good.

Pittsburgh’s selections now go as follows:

R1 - Pick 16

R2 - Pick 47

R3 - Pick 102 (comp. pick from Le’Veon Bell)

R4 - Pick 122

R5 - Pick 160

R6 - Pick 196

R7 - Pick 230

Remember, without the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, the Steelers picks move up two spots due to the defense being worse (sans the compensatory pick that doesn’t change).

The team’s needs would be similar to this year’s, but safety would obviously be added to the top of the list as a massive roster hole.

Grant Delpit, Xavier Mickinney, Ashtyn Davis, and Antoine Winfield are the top safeties in this year’s draft (Isaiah Simmons was not included as he projects to be a linebacker in the NFL).

Now, without going into detailed film analysis, I can confidently say none of the these players are on the same level as Fitzpatrick. In fact, none of the top safeties are even locks to go in the first round this year, while Minkah Fitzpatrick was the 11th overall pick in 2018 and a consensus first rounder.

Delpit is the best of the bunch, and while he has a great free safety skill set, he proved to be a massive liability in the tackling department last year. The Draft Network did a great analysis article of the top defensive backs in the LSU vs. Alabama game back in November of 2020, in which they described Xavier McKinney as a less-talented Fitzpatrick. Ashtyn Davis and Antoine Winfield are definitely second-round talents, and might not be immediate starters. This isn't to slight this year’s safety class, but more to point out there isn’t a decisive Fitzpatrick-level talent in the draft this year.

Even if one of these safeties does turn into a All-Pro, whichever team drafts them will still have to risk their new player being a bust and not living up to their high draft choice. Fitzpatrick was a proven commodity when the Steelers traded for him, and he has only upped his play in Pittsburgh. The Steelers only missed out on one year of his contract as well — he was essentially an NFL-tested first round pick by the Steelers.

But, because this is fun, let’s do a hypothetical mock draft in this alternate reality. With the optimum picks for selecting a safety right in between the Steeler’s top two picks, I’ll have Steeler’s GM Kevin Colbert pull a classic ‘reach’ and select Grant Delpit with the 16th overall pick. The Steelers have a history of selecting players they like earlier than expected, just look at Terrell Edmunds, so I don’t think this is a stretch.

Next, the Steelers select Michigan edge rusher/linebacker Josh Uche in the second round. Remember, besides the desperate need for a safety, the Steelers draft needs are exactly the same as they are now in a no-Minkah reality.

The rest of the draft would go as follows:

R3, Matt Hennessey, C, Temple

R4, Devin Duvenray, WR, Texas

R5, Benito Jones, NT, Ole Miss

R6, Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU

R7, L’Jarius Sneed, DB, LA Tech

This mock is a modified version of one I came up with the other day regarding the real-life Steelers. All I mean by that is besides needing a safety, the Steelers would most likely have a very similar draft with or without Fitzpatrick.

So what does a first-round-pick-but-no-Minkah-Fitzpatrick world look like post-draft?

Very similar, except the team now has an unproven, over-drafted, boom-or-bust player starting at free safety next to Terrell Edmunds. Oh yeah, and no optimism for this year because 2019 was a terrible year for defense and offense. So there’s nothing to look forward to.

I’ll confess, these hypotheticals are a very incomplete science, but if you run a (reasonable) simulation of what life would be like without Minkah, it doesn’t get much better than what I’ve laid out here.

So, when you’re painfully waiting for Day 2 of the NFL draft and you’re envious of the other teams’ first round picks, just remember that life with a first round pick isn’t as nice as it seems.

Don’t forget: Minkah is the first round pick! And we even got him a year early.

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