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Steelers Injury Report: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner still unable to practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - 5 hours 17 min ago
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Any hope of Conner or Smith-Schuster suiting up on Sunday is all but gone at this point

The Pittsburgh Steelers held their second formal practice of the week on Thursday. According to the Steelers PR Department, there were X players who did not participate as the Steelers prepare for their Week 12 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Three players for the Steelers have not been officially cleared of the NFL concussion protocol as a result of last Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as well as linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi all left the game with head injuries and are working their way back this week. Both Johnson and Adeniyi were able to practice fully again on Thursday. Smith-Schuster was unavailable a second straight day as he is dealing both with the concussion and a knee contusion.

James Conner reaggravated his shoulder injury in last week’s game and did not participate in practice on Wednesday or Thursday. Although it’s possible Conner could attempt to get back on the field during Friday’s practice, it is believed he will not be available by Sunday.

Artie Burns also exited last Thursday’s game due to injury with a knee, but was able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Burns was also limited Thursday, so his availability will ultimately come down to practice on Friday. Benny Snell Jr. also re-joined practice as a full participant for the second straight day as he hopes to return from his knee surgery from several weeks ago. A surprise on the injury report yesterday was Bud Dupree who was limited on Wednesday with an arm injury, but was able to practice fully Thursday.

As for the other players who were unable to practice Wednesday, Nick Vannett was out due to an illness and returned on Thursday. Other players who did not practice Wednesday due to a coaches decision were Mark Barron and Vance McDonald who both returned Thursday. Maurkice Pouncey did not practice as he waited for the appeal of his suspension which was reduced from three games to two. How the Steelers are going to handle Pouncey’s roster spot now that the appeal is over remains to be seen.

On player new to the injury report was Ramon Foster with a coaches day off.

As for the Cincinnati Bengals injury report, it can be seen below courtesy of Steelers.com.

Cincinnati Bengals Participation/Injury Report, Week 12

Thursday, November 21

WR A.J. Green (Ankle) - DNP

CB Darqueze Dennard (NIR) - Full

TE Drew Sample (Ankle) - DNP

DT Geno Atkins (NIR) - DNP

TE Tyler Eifert (NIR) - Full

WR Stanley Morgan (Illness) - DNP

WR Auden Tate (Concussion) - DNP

S Shawn Wiliams (Thumb) - Limited

G Billy Price (Back) - Limited

G Alex Redmond (Knee/Ankle) - Full

After his appeal, Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension has been reduced to 2 games

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 35 min ago
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The NFL announced on Thursday Pouncey’s suspension was cut from three games to two while Myles Garrett’s indefinite suspension was upheld

After the NFL heard Maurkice Pouncey’s appeal off his three-game suspension following his ejection versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 11, Pouncey’s suspension has been reduced from three games to two according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Additionally, Myles Garrett’s indefinite suspension has been upheld.

Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension has been reduced from 3 games to 2 games.

Myles Garrett’s indefinite suspension has been upheld.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 21, 2019

With the NFL’s ruling now official, Pouncey will miss games against the Bengals and Browns. During his absence, B.J. Finney is expected to start at center. As for who backs up Finney during these game, the Steelers have two centers on the practice squad who could be called up. Either Patrick Morris or the newly-signed J.C. Hassenauer will be the front runners to slide onto the Steelers 53-man roster.

On Monday, The NFL heard the appeal for Larry Ogunjobi regarding his one-game suspension. The ruling was announced on Wednesday that Ogunjobi will still be suspended one game but his additional fine of $10,527 was rescinded. Miles Garrett traveled to New York to attend his appeal in person on Wednesday. With news of Pouncey’s appeal now released, the NFL ruled on Garret’s suspension shortly after.

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

Myles Garrett accuses Mason Rudolph of calling him a racial slur in the Week 11 game

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 40 min ago
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Myles Garrett appeal was heard and during this time he accused Mason Rudolph of calling him a racial slur during the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns game in Week 11 won’t be remembered for the 21-7 final score. No, it will be remembered for the final 8 seconds when Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph got into a physical altercation which ended in Garrett ripping Rudolph’s helmet off and using it as a weapon against him.

Since then, Garrett was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, and has appealed the suspension. During his appeal it is being reported that Garrett accused Rudolph of calling him a racial slur during the game.

This via ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson:

In an appeal with the NFL, Browns’ DE Myles Garrett alleged that Mason Rudolph called him a racial slur prior to last week's brawl on Thursday Night Football, sources told ESPN's Josina Anderson and me, an accusation the Steelers’ QB strongly denies.https://t.co/NUQfAJdo6B

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 21, 2019

Pittsburgh Steelers spokesperson, Burt Lauten, released the following statement from the Steelers organization:

“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”

Rudolph’s legal team wasn’t about to let their client’s name be slandered, and responded quickly, calling the allegations “unfounded” and “malicious”.

The full statement from Rudolph’s agent:

pic.twitter.com/0AxaRT8H1G

— Younger & Associates/QB Limited (@YoungerAssoc) November 21, 2019

The saga of the Garrett and Rudolph brawl has certainly set wheels in motion which aren’t close to coming to a stop. The appeals for both Garrett and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey have both been heard, and are reportedly set to be finalized sometime this week.

In the meantime, these reports rehash the entire incident from Week 11, and put an even uglier spin on an already ugly situation.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Bengals this Sunday in Week 12.

Pittsburgh Steelers fan confidence plummets after debacle vs. Cleveland

Behind the Steel Curtain - 9 hours 7 min ago
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a dreadful performance in Cleveland in Week 11, the Steelers’ fan base is not very excited about the future of the season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 11 when the team went to Cleveland to play the Browns on Thursday Night Football and fell flat on their faces. Most fans just want to talk about the last 8 seconds of the game when Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph got into a scuffle which turned into an assault.

But when you think back to the game, the team played one of their worst games in recent memory. Mason Rudolph threw 4 interceptions, and could have thrown more, and the defense didn’t get the key turnover when the team needed it.

It was a bad day at the office on a short week, but the question remains whether it was just one bad day, or the new norm for the Steelers? The Steelers fan base sees it as a big concern moving forward.

The latest FanPulse results certainly paint a pretty accurate photo of how fans truly feel:

When it comes to the data, the Steelers’ fan confidence jumped to an 83% approval rating after the team’s Week 10 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The 83% approval was the highest the fan base has recorded since after Week 1 in the preseason.

Unfortunately, that 83% approval was short-lived and plummeted to 38% fan approval after the loss to the Browns last Thursday. To make matters worse, the Steelers fan base has had to sit on this horrible loss for 10 days before the team plays the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12 at Paul Brown Stadium.

It isn’t a good situation, but, believe it or not, the Steelers are still very much alive in the NFL Playoff Picture. Their 5-5 record has them right on the cusp of being in the postseason, if the playoffs started today. But how they respond to Week 11 vs. a winless Bengals team will truly dictate which direction this team is headed.

Let’s hope the Steelers find a way to advance to 6-5 as they hit the road for the second time in three weeks to play the Bengals at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Do you want to be a part of the BTSC Steelers FanPulse? It is easy to sign up for, and takes mere minutes a week. Simply click HERE and fill out the appropriate information!

Mike Tomlin cites Ryan Finley’s mobility as an issue for the Steelers defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 45 min ago
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense will be dealing with a quarterback who can run for the second straight week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns where the defense saw Baker Mayfield not necessarily run the ball well, but use his mobility to extend plays and create outside the pocket.

These plays, while impromptu, were daggers to the Steelers defense, and Mike Tomlin realizes how this can be problematic in the very near future as the Steelers prepare to face rookie Ryan Finley and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12.

“We’ve got to deal with the quarterback mobility issue, not only because our last performance and the things that Baker [Mayfield] was able to do on extended plays, but [Ryan] Finley is also talented in that area.” Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference. “I think he had over 50 yards rushing or so last weekend. Created some big plays, some field flipping things for them on extended like plays. We’ve got to be able to deal with his eligibles and we’re familiar with those guys, and their talented.”

The last time the Steelers played the Bengals, it was a Week 4 game on Monday Night Football and Andy Dalton, not Finley, was the man under center. Dalton certainly has some mobility to his game, but not to the extent of Finley. It will be imperative for the Steelers’ pass rush, mainly Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, to keep Finley in the pocket and allow the front four to do damage from the interior.

When it comes to Finley’s weapons, the Steelers are very familiar with the Bengals’ offensive weapons.

“His [Finley’s] utilization of running backs in the passing game, Joe Mixon, Giovanni Bernard, two proven guys, guys that are big components in that way. We’ve got to do a good job versus [Tyler] Eifert in the passing game at the tight end position. He created some issues for us last time, and historically he’s created issues for us because he’s a tough matchup. He’s an athletic and vertical capable type tight end.” Tomlin said.

However, the biggest question mark would be the availability of A.J. Green. His presence on the field changes a lot of things for the Steelers’ defense.

“Obviously, Tyler Boyd is a quality receiver. A guy that’s capable of working outside and inside and dominating possession downs. We’re cognizant of the possibility of A.J. Green. We realize he worked out in pregame last week. So, we better have a plan in place if he shows up in stadium, and respect the things that he’s capable of doing, but not only the things that he’s capable of doing, the opportunities that he creates for others. Get some two-high safety opportunities. I imagine the running of the football gets easier when guys like him are available. I’d imagine it’s easier to get the ball to guys like Tyler Boyd when he’s available.”

On paper this is a no-brainer pick between the 5-5 Steelers and 0-10 Bengals, but there are facets of this game which could make it a tough matchup. The game is played in Cincinnati, the Bengals have absolutely nothing to lose, the Steelers are coming off their worst performance of the season and are ravaged by injuries.

All the more reason for the team, and fans, to take this Week 12 game seriously. A win catapults the Steelers further into playoff contention, while a loss would be devastating for their postseason hopes.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the game in Cincinnati Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Pittsburgh Steelers can't afford a "Lost Season"

Behind the Steel Curtain - 11 hours 59 min ago
Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers set out this season in hopes of living the NFL dream, but keep waking up to a nightmare reality.

Every individual inhabiting the planet has dreams. Each of us are free to dream, but most dreams require effort and hard work to come to fruition. My generation grew up pursuing the American Dream.

The American Dream basically consisted of finding a loving spouse, 2.5 children, a nice house with a white picket fence, the family dog, and a rewarding career that didn't seem like such a job. I have no idea what the modern American Dream might look like, but I feel certain it still revolves around the pursuit of love, fulfillment, and happiness.

NFL franchises begin each season in pursuit of a dream. To hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season as Super Bowl champions. Many franchises have never realized this dream even once, which speaks volumes toward it's difficulty to achieve.

The stars have to align at just the right moment to win a championship. It takes great talent, team chemistry, superior coaching, and front office maneuvering. Injuries are unavoidable, but even more important than "how many" are "to whom" and "for how long".

Last season's Steelers team was plagued by bad luck, and it has carried over into this season. This Steelers roster is a snake bitten bunch. But the truth is this has been going on for a few years now.

For approximately the past decade the Steelers have possessed a championship caliber offense, but a average defense at best. Years were wasted with a future Hall of Fame QB in his prime, two of the best skill position players in the game, and an excellent offensive line. Problem was the defense was never quite up to snuff.

Initially the Steelers defensive decline was due to Father Time, so the team has committed multiple first round selections in recent years toward fixing the problem. Just when it appeared that this commitment was about to pay off, tragedy struck with Ryan Shazier's injury. This resulted in another lost season where the defense was found lacking.

Desperate times call for drastic measures. The championship window was closing fast, with the two skill position stars exiting stage left, the offensive line getting rather long in the tooth, and their two time Super Bowl winning QB being closer to the end of his career than the beginning, so the Steelers brass set out to improve the defense.

Without going into great detail, the acquisitions of Bush, Nelson, and Fitzpatrick has done just that. This looks like a championship caliber defense, which should only improve with experience and time. Not every move pays dividends, and the free agent signing of Mark Barron has proven disappointing thus far, similar to the Morgan Burnett signing last season. I was hoping that Ulysees Gilbert III would have earned an extended look moving forward, considering Barron's struggles, but a trip to the IR ended that possibility. UG3 is the future, and I expect Barron to be a former Steeler after this season.

So where do the Steelers go from here? They currently sit at 5-5 with a favorable remaining schedule. The recent four game winning streak and the excellent performance of the Steelers drastically improved defense resulted in renewed dreams for many members of Steelers Nation. The pitiful performance against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night turned those dreams to nightmares.

Don't worry, it's never as good or bad as it seems. It is what it is. The Steelers, and apparently many of their fanbase, needed a reality check. Message received loud and clear.

This season's championship aspirations ended with Ben's injury, if not sooner. This team wasn't going to win another Super Bowl till it's defense was on par with it's offense. Mission accomplished with the defense, but now the offense is atrocious. Funny how difficult it is to achieve superiority at both at the same time in the salary cap era. Teams that are able to do just that often are planting sloppy kisses all over a finger print covered trophy at season's end.

That leads me back to dreams. There is nothing wrong with dreaming about the Steelers making the playoffs this year. Any franchise worth their salt should play to win every game, and the Steelers are nothing if not champions, but the Steelers need to have a bigger plan in mind. Their focus should be on the near future, next season to be precise.

If all goes well with Ben's rehab, he should return next season healthy and motivated. That will take care of the biggest current problem facing your offense, but many concerns still remain. What type of talent on offense will Ben hopefully be coming back too?

The running back group needs some help. James Conner is a great story and often a productive player when healthy, but his physical running style makes that a rarity if we are being honest. Jaylen Samuels is presently playing out of position at RB2. A natural H-back with superior receiving skills, he simply doesn't possess the natural instincts required to be a running back at the NFL level. Benny Snell has plenty of heart, but questions about his speed and wiggle still remain unanswered.

The receiving group is in better shape, but significant growth is required. JuJu Smith Schuster is a young star who's game has been hindered greatly by the current quarterback situation and play calling. Nobody should anticipate Ben's healthy return more than JuJu. Diontae Johnson has the skill set to be a star, but needs plenty of reps and improved focus. James Washington remains the huge unknown, alternating between flashes of brilliance and extreme inconsistency. None of the remaining youngsters can be categorized as anything but a long shot at the position.

The tight end position needs an infusion of talent in the worst way, and the future of the talented but aging offensive line should be determined moving forward based on talent rather than salaries.

So while this talent depleted squad continues their push toward a wildcard playoff spot, the Steelers hierarchy can't lose sight of the ultimate goal moving forward. Developing the young talent for a Super Bowl run next season. If they fail to accomplish that objective, then this will truly be a lost season.

3 games to watch in Week 12 which give perspective on the Steelers future opponents

Behind the Steel Curtain - 13 hours 10 min ago
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

There are several NFL games this week which will help shape the perception of teams the Steelers take on later in 2019

With the extra days from playing on Thursday night in Week 11, Steelers’ fans have had to endure the pain of a poor performance for the extra time. Frankly, I’m ready to see the Steelers get back in action on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. With the Steelers also returning to a 1 PM kick off time, many other games featuring future opponents will be going on at the same time.

With only six games remaining, the match ups between teams who the Steelers still need to face have all but disappeared. Therefore, the requirement of both teams being on the Steeler schedule has now been suspended. Even though there are four games this weekend which involve the Steelers’ future opponents, we’ll look at three different games based on how soon the Steelers face them and overall intrigue.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns Sunday at 1:00 PM on FOX

I really don’t have much interest in this game, but with the Steelers playing the Browns again next week I feel obligated to include it. I was really tempted to leave it off as I don’t want to see this team right now unless they’re getting completely destroyed. Luckily this game is going on at the same time as the Steelers, so I will not actually watch this game. But I will look with interest as to what the score is and how the teams are playing.

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Sunday 1:00 PM on CBS

With yet another game which will take place at the same time as the Steelers, the Bills are the next closest opponent on the Steelers’ schedule who will be an action in Week 12. Being a bit up-and-down lately, the Buffalo Bills are still searching for their identity as they are in the lead in the AFC wildcard race. If they were to struggle against the 3-7 Broncos, it could be telling about Buffalo’s contender or pretender status.

Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams Monday at 8:15 PM on ESPN

Once again, the Ravens bring an intriguing matchup that forces their way onto the list. Even though the Steelers will wait until Week 17 to square off in Baltimore, the fact the Ravens play on Monday night football against a quality team the Steelers have defeated in 2019 makes for a great game to watch. The Ravens are the hottest team in the NFL right now, so the ultimate question is if they can keep their momentum through the last six games.

So there are the three other NFL matchups which can give Steelers’ fans an indication as to the quality of upcoming opponents in 2019. While each week is a different game and upsets due to certain matchups are bound to happen, the greater the body of work each team puts on the field can help to draw better conclusions.

So which of these games on Sunday will be the most telling as it pertains to the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers schedule moving forward? Make sure you vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

The time is now for Mason Rudolph to take a back seat to Devlin Hodges as the Steelers QB

Behind the Steel Curtain - 14 hours 9 min ago
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers fans have seen plenty of Mason Rudolph, but now is the time to see what Devlin Hodges can do.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans were shocked and disappointed with Mason Rudolph and his utter implosion last Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. I have watched a ton of tape on Rudolph and have watched every pass play he has had this season several times each. What was so different Thursday compared to past weeks?

Not all his bad passes were being dropped by the opposing defense. Even though he had four interceptions, he still could have had maybe three more but they were dropped. When he was not throwing interceptions he was doing the same bad things that I have noted in my film studies this season. Poor footwork, not progressing through his wideouts, poor touch, lack of pocket presence and staring down targets. Has Rudolph made strides since he took over for an injured Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2? If anything, it seems that he is regressing.

I do not see Rudolph as the quarterback of the future for the Steelers — has he even played good enough to be considered for a second-string role? I am not saying slam the door on Rudolph and I have said week after week to keep going with him over Devlin Hodges.

That has come to a screeching halt with the putrid performance in Cleveland.

Do you see Rudolph throwing timing patterns, slants, or throwing a target open? Have you seen him throw many passes to a spot before a target has turned his head to look for the ball? Very seldom. How often has he made you say, “Wow, now that was a great play!”? Again, rarely.

He has spent so much time this season checking down to players or dumping it off over the middle and showing no touch on deep passes. How is he keeping defenses on their toes and honest: Rudolph has completed seven of 31 passes over 20 yards this year. How many of those were busted coverages? Three? So what do opposing defenses have to fear?

If defenses have little to fear in the deep game, are they walking their safeties up closer to the line daring the Steelers to pass and stopping the run game cold? Fans even saw against Cleveland that the dump-offs were being thrown to players who were tightly covered. So they stagnated the most dangerous aspect of his game.

The Steelers wideouts were very thin after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, not to mention running back James Conner. That being said, the four interceptions, and other would-be interceptions, were not because of drops or poor routes. They were due to poorly thrown balls or not reading the coverage.

With Rudolph not being the reason Steelers are winning games lately and being a huge part of the reason they lost on Thursday, why not kick the tires on Hodges?

Against the Baltimore Ravens, the former undrafted rookie out of Samford looked solid in relief of a concussed Rudolph. The next week, against the Los Angeles Chargers while Rudolph was still recovering, Hodges turned in his first career start. The all-time FCS passing leader did not embarrass himself but did not light the world on fire either. Hodges went 15-20 for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The lone interception was on a pass that Johnny Holton, at the very least, could have made a better play on the ball.

The Steelers vaunted defense has been dragging this sluggish offense kicking and screaming to wins in spite of Rudolph’s play, why not try to infuse some life into it? The offense has accumulated three offensive touchdowns in the past three weeks. The touchdown drive against the Browns had more Brown penalty yards than the Steelers had offensive yards.

Why not go with Hodges after Rudolph put up 23 of 44 for 221 yards one touchdown and four picks? Are the Steelers worried that benching him will stunt his growth at becoming the quarterback of the future? Does coach Mike Tomlin see Rudolph taking this team to the Super Bowl? (He would actually probably say that.)

I have been labeled as a Rudolph hater, but I was staunchly in favor of keeping Rudolph as the starting quarterback after Hodge’s performance against the Chargers. I was in favor of putting him on a shorter leash after the Los Angeles Rams performance, but now I am calling for a change. It is time to trot out a quarterback that gives the Steelers a better chance to win because of him, not in spite of him.

Podcast: Will Mason Rudolph bounce back vs. the Bengals in Week 12?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 15 hours 7 min ago

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is underway, and the news is really starting to heat up. 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 flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look ahead to the Cincinnati Bengals
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • Predictions
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams 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: Cleveland Browns fans are infuriated with Mike Tomlin

Behind the Steel Curtain - 16 hours 12 min ago
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 12 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Cincinnati Bengals, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Mike Tomlin’s one comment during his weekly press conference has lit a fire under Cleveland Browns fans.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns don’t get along, and they certainly don’t get along after the Mason Rudolph/Myles Garrett incident. But, to make matters worse, the Browns’ fan base is angry with a comment Mike Tomlin made during his press conference.

Tim Benz: Steelers’ Mike Tomlin’s comments on Myles Garrett triggers rage from Browns fans

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made the following comments about Myles Garrett swinging his helmet at Mason Rudolph in last Thursday’s game.

He was asked if it was at all a “teachable moment” for his players.

“I don’t know that we did anything to make it happen in the first place,” Tomlin replied. “That’s why I said we didn’t have anything to learn from it.”

When Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweeted out those comments to her followers, her timeline exploded.

The responses in the thread were unreal. The number of Cleveland fans who have convinced themselves that Rudolph is to blame and Garrett is somehow a victim is awe inspiring.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Speaking of Mike Tomlin, did he learn anything from the brawl at the end of the Week 11 game?

Kevin Gorman: Steelers’ Mike Tomlin learns nothing from brawl

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When Mike Tomlin said the Pittsburgh Steelers had “nothing to learn” from the fighting fiasco in the final eight seconds of their game at the Cleveland Browns, he did so dismissively.

The Steelers coach started his weekly news conference by accepting responsibility for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ actions in the “unfortunate incident” that drew three suspensions and $250,000 fines for both teams with more fines on the way.

Tomlin ended it by shifting the blame to the Browns when asked if there was anything coaches could do to prevent another unfortunate incident from happening in the future.

“I don’t know that we did anything to make it happen anyway, in the first place,” Tomlin said Tuesday at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “That’s why I said we didn’t have anything to learn from it.”

Well, I beg to differ. If nothing else, we learned you absolutely, positively cannot pull the helmet off an opposing player and hit him over the head with it.

Not even in the NFL.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers’ offense is in shambles and banged up, but that won’t hinder Mike Tomlin and his staff.

Mike Tomlin ready to ‘smile’ as he tries to cobble together offense to face Bengals

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

His Pro Bowl wide receiver and team MVP has a knee injury in addition to a concussion. One of his other starting receivers also is concussed. His Pro Bowl running back aggravated a shoulder injury that already kept him out for two weeks. His All-Pro center is facing a three-game suspension, pending appeal.

Oh, and his franchise quarterback is on injured reserve, leaving the backup to make his eighth career NFL start Sunday.

It’s not an ideal situation that Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin faces as he tries to assemble an offense for a game Sunday — even if the opponent is the only winless team in the NFL.

When the 5-5 Steelers play the 0-10 Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, they could be without JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Conner, and they know they will take the field without Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey.

“The bottom line is our job is to win games regardless of circumstances,” Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “That is our focus. I really don’t spend a lot of time crying over who is available and who is not available. It’s as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. If you’re a competitor like we as coaches are competitors, that fires you up.

“You want to smile in the face of adversity and deliver.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mason Rudolph Apology/Media Scrum

Mason Rudolph speaks about the way our game vs. the Browns ended. pic.twitter.com/cfw9XEgMq1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 20, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@missi_matthews and author Jim Rooney discuss Dan Rooney's unique mindset and its effects on those around him.

Full : https://t.co/TIDRXrlRj1@ADiffWay2Win pic.twitter.com/kdNO2YnPTC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 20, 2019

On Tuesday, @Dat_Dude_Nix was the honorary chair at the 65 Roses Sports Auction, where he and a few of his teammates spent the evening helping to tackle cystic fibrosis. pic.twitter.com/lE9q38SbJo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 20, 2019

Coming for you pic.twitter.com/5JdfMzfOq7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 19, 2019

Steelers Injury Report: Even with the extended time off, several players are still dealing with injuries

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 2:53pm
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

While several players did return, two former Pro Bowl players were unable to practice.

It has been six days since the Pittsburgh Steelers’ last game. According to the Steelers PR Department, there were six players who did not participate in the first practice of the week as the Steelers prepare for their Week 12 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Three players for the Steelers are currently in the NFL concussion protocol as a result of last Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson as well as linebacker Olasunkanmi Adeniyi all left the game with head injuries and are working their way back this week. Both Johnson and Adeniyi were able to practice fully on Wednesday. Smith-Schuster is also dealing with a knee injury which head coach Mike Tomlin said will become the focus of his availability once he clears the protocol. Due to both reasons, Smith-Schuster did not practice Wednesday.

James Conner reaggravated his shoulder injury last Thursday and did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Although it’s possible Conner could attempt to get back on the field, it is believed he will not be available by Sunday.

Artie Burns also exited last Thursday’s game due to injury with a knee, but was able to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Benny Snell Jr. also re-joined practice as a full participant as he hopes to return from his knee surgery from several weeks ago. A surprise on the injury report was Bud Dupree who was limited on Wednesday with an arm injury.

As for the other players who were unable to practice Wednesday, Nick Vannett was out due to an illness. Three other players did not practice due to a coaches decision: Mark Barron, Vance McDonald, and Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey is still able to practice and is on the active roster while he is waiting for the results of his appeal of his three games suspension.

As for the Cincinnati Bengals injury report, it can be seen below when available.

BTSC Bookie: Betting the NFL Week 12 games against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 1:37pm
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for the BTSC community to show they could cash in betting on NFL football games, this time on games against the spread

It is time for the Week 12 installment of BTSC Bookie! This is a chance for the BTSC community to collectively choose games in which to place an imaginary wager of “BTSC Bucks.” Each week I will remind everyone of the rules before voting on specific bets and the type of wagers we want to do next week.

Before I get into the procedure of things, I want to remind everyone that gambling addiction is a serous problem numerous people face. Like many things in life, gambling can be a fun and safe exercise if done in moderation, while obsessive gambling can have destructive and life-altering consequences. If you or anyone you know is suffering from a gambling addiction, help is available HERE.

The Process
  • We will start with $500 in BTSC Bucks for the season. If we bust, we may borrow from the BTSC Bookie, but will have to pay 20% interest each week it isn’t paid. It’s a steep price, but there are consequences to failure.
  • Games this week will be betting against the spread with commission.
  • There will be 10 betting lines for users to place a vote on games against the spread. The values are as of Tuesday evening and they are locked in throughout the voting. The polls will run until Saturday night at 11:59 PM. The top three results for NFL games will have a $100, a $50, and a $25 wager placed respectively.
  • A write-in campaign can be staged for voting. If any comment in the weekly article brings up a different game in the comments to make the wager and can receive enough recommendations to place it in the top three vote-wise, it will be calculated accordingly. I know it’s highly unlikely for a comment to receive that many recommendations, but if it does it will count.
  • Thursday games will not be included due to obvious time constraints.
  • Some games may have the two opposing lines as an option. If so, only the higher vote-getter will be eligible for the wager.
  • Betting both for and against the Steelers is always an option.
Last Week’s Wager

For Week 11, we placed a $100 wager on the Kansas City Chiefs against the -4 spread for a payout of -110 over the Los Angeles Chargers. The 24-17 victory secured $90.91 in profit over the original investment. The $50 wager was on the Oakland Raiders to at -10.5 over the visiting Cincinnati Bengals. While the Raiders won the game 17-10, they did not cover the spread so our wager was lost. As for the final $25 bet, users selected the Houston Texans to stay within 4 points of the Baltimore Ravens. The blowout by the Ravens cost us our final $25, but with the one win being our highest investment we managed to stay in the green for the week.

Week 10 Balance: $744.85 Week 11 Net Gain/Loss: +$15.91 Week 11 Total: $760.76 Week 12 Options

Here are the options chosen for the Week 12 betting exercise. Based on your vote, all games will be against the spread. Additionally, there is a second poll on what type of bets you would like to do next week. If you want to play your own game, leave your choices in the comments below and keep track of your total throughout the season.

For this week, payouts are listed in parenthesis. We will place a $100 on the top vote-getter, $50 bet on the second choice, and a $25 bet on the third. If you wish to vote more than once, clear your “cookies” on your browser and vote again.

Steelers add a center to the practice squad to prepare for the absence of Maurkice Pouncey

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 11:35am
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to not have Maurkice Pouncey available, and have done so by adding a center to their practice squad.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for life without Maurkice Pouncey, who is set to start serving his three-game suspension in Week 12, by signing center J.C. Hassenauer to their practice squad.

We have added C J.C. Hassenauer to our practice squad and released TE Kevin Rader.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 20, 2019

The Steelers are familiar with Hassenauer, as he was on their offseason roster this preseason before being cut when the roster was trimmed to 53 players. Hassenauer was a top backup interior linemen for the Alabama Crimson Tide in college, and has spent time with the Atlanta Falcons along with the Steelers.

At this point the Steelers are preparing for B.J. Finney to be the center during Pouncey’s 3-game suspension, which is being appealed, but after Finney the team is thin at the center position. The singing of Hassenauer will be a good insurance policy for the team in case something happens to Finney during his time as the starting center for the next few weeks.

Next up for the Steelers are the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The Steelers 5-5 record has them on the cusp of playoff contention, and although the winless Bengals seem like the perfect elixir after the team’s Week 11 loss, no team should be overlooked at this point for the black-and-gold.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the Bengals this Sunday.

Mason Rudolph breaks silence regarding Steelers vs. Browns fight, and Myles Garrett

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 11:03am
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback broke his silence since the Week 11 incident on Thursday Night Football.

The Pittsburgh Steelers want to move on from Week 11, and rightfully so. The way the 21-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football played out, the team wanted to get ahead of the media storm heading into Week 12.

What does that entail? It entails quarterback Mason Rudolph having an impromptu media session before a team walk-through on Wednesday. It was here Rudolph spoke about his role in the scrum, the suspension to Maurkice Pouncey and a lot more.

Watch the whole media session here:

Mason Rudolph speaks about the way our game vs. the Browns ended. pic.twitter.com/cfw9XEgMq1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 20, 2019

Rudolph showed remorse for his actions and how it could impact the Steelers organization, but he also stuck by his guns when it comes to the fact he feels he did nothing to solicit Garrett to react in the way he did.

One aspect of the fight was how lucky Rudolph was. When Garrett swung the helmet at Rudolph, the back padding appeared to hit Rudolph in the head. If the helmet were facing another way, or not turned, it could have been a different outcome for the second year quarterback.

Rudolph realizes how lucky he is.

Asked Mason Rudolph if he watched the helmet shot and does he realize it could've been way worse: "I was probably fortunate on the way it went down." @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) November 20, 2019

Rudolph also added he has not been fined by the league yet for his role in the altercation, but did say he would comply with anything the league hands out.

Rudolph said he hasn't been fined for his role in the incident but he will comply with "whatever the league hands out."

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) November 20, 2019

At this point, the Steelers are hoping to put the Browns fiasco behind them, and start preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12 of the regular season. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and updates heading into the second of three straight AFC North divisional games.

Who exactly is coordinating the Steelers’ running game?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 9:45am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was reported Mike Munchak was the running game coordinator in 2018, so who took over the duties for this season?

Earlier this season, it was mentioned by former Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark that the Steelers running game was coordinated by Mike Munchak in 2018. With Munchak’s departure to Denver in the off-season, which Steelers’ coach took over this important role in making sure the game plan was instituted for the rushing attack each week? With the running game struggling throughout the 2019 season, where this responsibility lies is a question worth asking. So let’s see the possible candidates of who is responsible for the Steelers’ running game (or lack thereof) in 2019.

Shaun Sarrett

Being the person that took over Mike Munchak’s position for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it makes sense to think that Sarrett could possibly be the one to coordinate the running game in 2019. After all, he was Munchak’s assistant offensive line coach during his entire tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Mike Munchak brought NFL head-coaching pedigree to the position, and the respect and appreciation that comes along with it. Sarrett has only been an assistant on the offensive line prior to his promotion for 2019. For the Steelers to put this responsibility on Sarrett’s plate as well seems to be a bit much. If they did, that is on the Steelers for assuming this would bring success in 2019.

Eddie Faulkner

Running backs coach Eddie Faulkner is in his first season with the Steelers after the team moved on from James Saxon after 2018. Faulkner comes to the Steelers from the college ranks, most recently with North Carolina State. While it was Faulkner who suggested using some wildcat against the Cincinnati Bengals, there isn’t any other indication he is in charge of the running game for the Steelers. Being his first season coaching in the NFL, Faulkner has yet to prove he could handle being in charge of a team’s complete running game at the NFL level. If this really is part of his job description, his inexperience could be part of the issue.

Randy Fichtner

It makes sense if offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner just took over coordinating the run game once Munchack was out of the picture. But the reality of the situation is Fichtner is more of a glorified quarterbacks coach than a legitimate offensive coordinator. With the Steelers not employing another quarterbacks coach, it seems strange to have even more responsibility on Fichtner without adding more coaches to the coaching staff to help share the workload. But the safe assumption would be Fichtner is responsible for the complete lack of successful run a game for the Steelers in 2019.

Mike Tomlin

He is the head coach, so if Mike Tomlin wants to head up the Steelers running game it is his prerogative. With reports of Tomlin basically taking over the coordinators’ duty for Butler on defense, it’s hard to imagine he would step in to such a big role offensively. Although he was a defensive coordinator before taking the Steelers job, Coach Tomlin does have wide receiver background as both a player and coach. But coordinating the run game would be a whole different situation, therefore it is more than likely Tomlin has delegated this role to someone else.

Nobody

Perhaps there is no one specifically giving attention to the running game for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It could be argued that defenses aren’t having to give specific attention very much either when they play the Steelers because the running game has been atrocious and rarely used. In most cases when the Steelers are running the ball, it is out of highly predictable personnel and formations. When the other team knows exactly what you’re going to do and you do it anyway, your chance of success is very low. So if no one is really taking responsibility for the Steelers running game, perhaps it is why it is ranked 27th in the league.

So what are your thoughts? Make sure you answer the poll as to who is in charge (or to blame) for the Steelers’ run game in 2019.

5 plays that highlight James Conner’s struggles within the 2019 Steelers offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 8:39am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Looking at James Conner’s runs from the Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The run game has been a topic of great debate and discussion this season. From run blocking to RB vision to breaking tackles to scheme, the run game has been front and center in the minds of Steeler fans.

This week we’re going to look at James Conner’s runs against the Cleveland Browns. It works out nicely, he only ran the ball five times, which lines up nicely with the title of this series, and the 5 runs do a great job of covering why Conner has so many games where he can’t get going.

James Conner is not Le’Veon Bell

I mean, you don’t need me to tell you that, we all know that is the case. But to start this film room we are going to look at the No. 1 difference between Bell and Conner.

First and 10, opening play of the game.

You can see Nick Vannett getting driven back into the play by Myles Garrett. It cramps Conner’s running lane and he cuts it outside. This run loses 1 yard. Conner bouncing plays outside and looking to break a DB tackle is a pretty consistent theme of his career so far, and the difference between his good and bad games is if he’s breaking those DB tackles or not. This time he doesn’t. But look again at the blocking right as Conner cuts.

There’s still a hole there. It’s a small, messy hole, but it is there, and once Vance McDonald reaches his LB target there’s no clean defender between the line of scrimmage and the safety. These kind of plays Le’veon Bell gained 3-8 yards consistently. Find the cracks, slip past defenders, run through arm tackles. But Le’veon Bell was a special talent in his prime, we’re not going to judge Conner too harshly for trying to bounce this one.

Follow the big man

The next play, 2nd and 11.

Not a lot here, Cleveland has this run pretty well defended. But look at David DeCastro and Matt Feiler’s double team block. All Conner has to do on this play is run up DeCastro’s back. He’ll get tackled, but he’s going to gain more than the 1 yard he got here. Heck, even if he does cut, but stays closer to Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster is clearing space for him to gain a couple more yards. Conner’s jump cuts cover a lot of ground, and once he cuts he runs straight into the defender. If Conner tries to follow DeCastro and gets tripped by the DT’s legs he likely gains 2 yards just falling forward. DeAngelo Williams, Willie Parker, Deuce Staley. . . most Steeler RBs of the last 20 years gained reliable yards just by running up the back of Alan Faneca or David DeCastro. James Conner would have more reliable production if he would follow their example on plays like this.

Conner Ball

Finally, we get a good result. 1st and 10 after the big pass interference penalty

Here’s that “power run game” everyone wants the Steelers to use more. Maurkice Pouncey pulls, Ramon Foster seals, David DeCastro teaches Joe Schobert how to ice skate and Conner gets an easy 7 yards. There’s no cuts, no picking holes, just run left and see what you can get. You can see his instinct to turn every play into a horizontal foot race kick in here when it comes down to Conner and the safety, I’d still like to see him take those 1v1s against safeties more often. He’s no Jerome Bettis, but he can still put a hit on a safety and wear them down. But that’s nitpicking, it didn’t hurt the Steelers, it was a good run.

Sometimes it does hurt

The next play, 2nd and 3.

Here’s where James Conner’s lack of patience and instinct to cut back hurt the Steelers. Instead of slowing up a little bit and letting McDonald make his block, Conner cuts back, directly into the defenders Ramon Foster had sealed out of the play. If Conner follows McDonald and cuts around him he’s got the first down. Even if Schobert makes a fantastic run stop on him it’s 3rd and less than a yard. Instead he cuts back into the defense for no gain. The Steelers would fail to convert on 3rd and 3 and miss a FG attempt on 4th down.

Just stick with what works

First and 10, the last play of the first quarter.

The Steelers go back to an off-tackle run and Conner picks up 3 yards, but he could have had more.

All he needs to do is run in front of McDonald and he’s got a big gain, instead he tries to break a tackle while running horizontally. It would cost Conner more than yards this time, as this was his last snap of the game.

James Conner is at his best when he’s running vertically, taking on DBs and breaking tackles. That’s why he’s so good as a receiver out of the backfield. But when he is getting caught running horizontally he ends up gaining significantly fewer yards than the blocking is handing him. Both Trey Edmunds and Jaylen Samuels did better than Conner running the ball this past week, with Samuels averaging 5.2, Edmunds 3.7, and Conner 2 yards per carry for the game. Both are better runners in traffic than James Conner, although neither are as reliable as pass blockers or as likely to break a big gain.

Stay tuned for another film room this week, there’s a lot to cover from this Browns loss.

Point/Counterpoint: Why the Steelers can’t sustain winning games “ugly”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 7:32am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

BTSC writers Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis offer differing opinions on whether or not the Steelers can continue winning games in which the offense struggles.

The Steelers have rebounded from a seemingly disastrous 1-4 start and are currently sitting as the No. 8 seed in the AFC. To realize the playoffs at the end of the regular season, the team is going to have to win games. The problem remains that their offense has struggled mightily and the defense is winning games for them. It makes one wonder if they can keep that up the remainder of 2019.

The Steeler Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.

The Steelers can’t sustain winning games ugly... Tony Defeo’s Point

That was cool while it lasted, I guess, right? The new way our Pittsburgh Steelers were winning football games during that four-game winning-streak. As hard as it was to believe, they were winning them with defense.

Not only did the Steelers give their fans a reason to love again by rebounding to win four-straight after the season-ending injury suffered by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, along with a 1-4 start to the regular season, the faithful had reignited their passion with an old flame: Defense, as in DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE!! DEE-FENSE!!!

Pittsburgh is currently 13th in the NFL in points allowed at 20.2 per game. Once again, Keith Butler’s unit is harassing quarterbacks at such a high rate (34 sacks through 10 games), he should be brought up on charges for conspiracy to commit mayhem. And, the cherry on top? This Steelers defense, the one that registered 15 takeaways in 16 games in 2018, is currently second in the NFL with 26....and it’s not even Thanksgiving!

Both T.J. Watt and the newly acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick are playing at a Defensive Player of the Year level. And if they don’t get votes for that, surely, they will get some write-in votes in Pittsburgh’s next mayoral election.

It’s okay to get excited about the song Renegade again.

If only one could live on defense, alone. If only the Steelers defense wasn’t trapped in a one-sided relationship, one where it says, “I love you,” while the offense retorts with, “Ditto.”

Unlike the victories over Miami, Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Rams, when it withstood sluggish starts by the offense before coming to the rescue with a relentless pass rush and a plethora of takeaways—including some it took all the way to the house—Pittsburgh’s defense didn’t exactly have its fastball on Thursday night, when the Steelers traveled to Cleveland to take on the Browns. It wasn’t an ugly performance by any stretch. In-fact, after yielding some big plays and two touchdowns in the first half, Keith Butler’s unit settled down in the second half and made it possible for the team to recover from a 14-0 deficit.

Unfortunately, like most one-sided relationships, the offense wasn’t exactly “present.” In fact, one might say it went out for cigarettes right before the opening kickoff and never came back. How about seven measly points that were practically gifted to the offense thanks to penalties by the Browns? How about three for 11 on third down? How about 0 for 2 on fourth down? How about a chronic inability to gain the slightest bit of ground and pick up yards on third and/or fourth and one? How about ruining any chance of coming back to tie or win the game and turning a one-touchdown game into a `14-point deficit by throwing an interception near your very own goal line with five minutes left to play?

The defense can only perform so many miracles.

It’s been awesome watching the Steelers transform themselves from an offense-first team, into one that has to heavily rely on the defense. But the elephant in the room continues to be the ongoing struggles of Randy Fichtner’s putrid, careless, uninspired offense.

I mean, my goodness, 26th in the league in time of possession at 28:39 per game? Twenty-eighth in yards per game—including 27th on the ground? And talk about careless, this unit has committed at least one turnover in 17-straight games, dating back to last season, and tallied another handful on Thursday, thanks to four interceptions thrown by Mason Rudolph. This offense is doing none of the things those compromised by injuries and a loss of high-end talent (yes, Antonio Brown) need to do in order to make life easier.

Yes, the ride was fun, but as you saw on Thursday, you knew it had to end some time. This isn’t to say the defense can’t continue to perform at a high level over the next six games. But to expect it to bail the offense out each and every week? To expect it to not have a bad game or two before the season is over?

Just like a pitching ace that has the occasional bad game, one of these weeks, the Steelers defense won’t have good stuff. Those running lanes will be wide. Those receivers will be wide open. Those quarterbacks will have ample time to sit back in the pocket and find them.

What happens then? What happens when an opposing offense stands up to the new bully on the block and smacks it in the mouth, not with 21 points, but with 34 or 35? What happens when that bully needs its buddy on offense to join the fight and win a shootout? Will he be able to?

I realize the Steelers are compromised on offense. I realize Rudolph is young, as are his receivers. I realize James Conner isn’t the most durable running back on the planet. I also realize JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson may likely miss the Bengals game this Sunday. But nobody is asking for Air Coryell. Just efficiency. A sustained drive or two. A few less three and outs. Heck, how about scoring in the 20s for one game and not having to rely on the defense to either register some points itself or set up the offense with prime real estate? And if you’re not going to do any of those things, how about just not turning the football over?

Just don’t make life impossible, that’s all.

Just carry a bit more of the load, offense. That’s all I’m asking for. That’s all this defense needs.

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counterpoint

Tony, I actually agree with you to an extent. I realize that you wrote the majority of this piece beforehand and the Steelers loss to the Browns proved your point to an extent...But I am still going to try this one argument on for size.

First and foremost, as I so infamously stated on the Steelers Preview last week...Let’s define the phrase “winning ugly”. (Before I do this, let me employ the disclaimer that this scenario is in no way meant to be demeaning to ugly people. I’m one and I’m comfortable with it. I’m just going for humor.) We all pretty much can relate to getting what you need in the not so desirable manner of fashion. Remember the kind of nights back in our early adult days when you were out at a club, a bar, a Star Trek Convention or (in your case, Tony) the bowling alley and things weren’t quite going you’re way in the romance department? Trust me, I do. It gets to be closing in on 2 AM and at that point you desperately don’t want to get to the bewitching hour of 3 AM to realize that Robb Thomas and Matchbox Twenty were indeed right and that you must be lonely. At that moment, a member of the gender that you desire sidles up next to you and starts conversation. Now...pickings are slim. Most of your friends have gone their own direction with a new friend. As the minutes inch ever-so-closely to closing time, you realize that the gods of erotic pleasure may be shining upon you and the firing brain cells that you have remaining in your head have deduced that you have a shot at mutual and consensual gratification. Now, here’s the rub. Although this person has come off as a good and safe-enough alternative to going home and wearing-out that VHS copy of “9 1⁄2 Weeks” for the 117th time, Bea Arthur would have been considered lovelier or more handsome. However, this person’s beauty is found on the inside and not on the cover of “Jugz Illustrated”. In fact, it’s pretty much more in line with the centerfold of “Only A Mother Can Love Weekly”. So you look around the establishment and you realize the only ones around are you, your new friend, a tired and angry bartender and the voices in your head. So you accept the invitation to go and “bump uglies”. You aren’t proud of what you are about to do, but it’s what you think you need. You aren’t bragging to your friends about it, you’re not putting it in your Christmas Card either. But it’s what you both are invested in at this particular harbor. So this scenario and option may not be ideal...but you go ahead with it. You’re happy. The other party is pleased as well. That is...until they wake up the next day and see the atrocity that is you drooling on and hugging their body pillow. At that point, you have become them and the dilemma you were facing hours earlier is theirs as well.

The bottom line is you have an opportunity to win and you just take it. It doesn’t always have to be pretty. Plus, you and others get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Mick Jagger sung about it twice in the 1965 #1 That I just mentioned and the great Rolling Stones hit...”You Cant Always Get What You Want”. But as he went on he explained that you get what you need.

With the state of the Steelers offense and injury list, the offense is as barren as an Iraqi beach. With James Conner, Rosie Nix, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster all expected to be on milk cartons on Sunday, even beating the winless Bengals will be tough. It may require another booty call.

So the Steelers have deficiencies on offense and may be in a situation in which they will need to continue to lean on the defense. It’s just what you need right now, so just take it.

Remember a walk of shame before breakfast doesn’t mean you have lost.

So...what are your thoughts? Which one of us gets to bask in the glory of being right this week? State your case in the comments section and be sure to vote in the poll. BAD is 8-0 on the season, while TonDef is doing his very best to rival the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns to go winless for the year. But the sun shines on a dog’s buttocks every once in a while and this could be the week that the forecast in Defeo’s pants is pleasant and tropical.

The good, bad and ugly from the leaked NFL CBA proposal for the 2020 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 6:23am
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire after this season. There was some leaked information on the proposal, and I give you my thoughts on it...

Rumors floated out last week regarding the NFL owners and the NFLPA negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that would take effect in 2021. The leak had many changes that could affect everything from the length of the season to expanding roster sizes.

Let’s dig into the key points that have come out that are being negotiated.

Changing the preseason from four games to two games

The main factions are split on the preseason length. Coaches and fringe players like it as the games give both longer looks to evaluate and make an impression. Owners love it because of the extra income four games generate.

Most fans disdain the games as meaningless while most players dislike them because of the added injury risk for the limited benefit.

I have not decided how I feel about this yet. I like the aspect of limiting injuries but I worry that the Steelers who suffer more from notorious starting out slow while being heavily penalized. Plus, I really enjoy watching some nobody players who are fighting to be somebody.

One scrimmage game

Not much was released about this interesting aspect. The chatter discusses having real NFL officials in NFL stadiums but not any real parameters about how the scrimmage would be run.

Could these scrimmages be free to entice fans who normally would not pay for preseason tickets?

For me, the jury is out until I see more parameters. If it is more of a joint practice, I would probably not care to attend one in person. Would they be televised? If so, why not watch it?

Going to a 17-week schedule

What NFL fan would not want this? Another game would have even the average fan licking their chops. Owners would line up for the additional game as well because of possibly generating as much as $1 billion.

Players have balked at this because of player safety issues. More games mean more possibility of being injured. Adding more games could make more players eligible for additional accrued seasons which would mean more money being allocated towards the player’s pensions.

As a die-hard fan, I would love this. Another opportunity to not only see the Steelers but also great players around the NFL I may not get to see often. To make this happen the owners will have to dangle a chunk of that pie to the players. But money might not be the only factor in getting the NFLPA to buy into another game. Could rosters expand and how much could they expand by? I would not expect over three or four spots but it depends on how much the NFLPA digs in and how much the owners want the expansion.

One aspect that the NFL just cannot screw up — adding a second bye week and how they will be structured.

Below are some questions I have: What week will bye weeks start?

Will teams playing on Thursday night games be on a bye the week before? No more short weeks later in the season would be great.

Will the number of teams on bye weeks be even? Now some weeks have six teams on a bye week while others have two teams. Will we have a bye week with 10 teams? Will there be teams on a bye week that would be week 14 or after? Not only could this give some teams a bit of unfair advantage but such a move would add a huge wrinkle to fantasy football leagues and their playoffs. (While some may scoff at the fantasy football comment, it is a lucrative business that the NFL has to keep in mind not to alienate.)

Where could these additional games be played?

Not fair for half the league to play nine games at home while the other half stay at eight. To keep this balance, teams would play the additional game on a neutral field out of the team’s market. Beneficiaries would be London, Mexico City, Canada, and other locations around the globe. NFL regular-season games are already being played outside of the US. Games in London, for example, have a huge following. The expansion to the schedule could actually mean that London could have a full eight-game home schedule.

Could the NFL play in college football stadiums during that market’s team is on a bye or in Hawaii?

The owners and the players will be on polar opposites. Owners will like the added revenue and probably influence to get more around the world to get interested in the NFL. Players do not like traveling across the country now, let alone taking a long plane trip to London.

I would like to see games in Canada or Mexico City played on Thursday or Sunday nights with a bye either prior or after. Should teams playing halfway across the world have a bye before or after? Placement of bye weeks could make this interesting. But what about teams early or late in the season with no bye weeks?

Expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams (Not sure if I have this right or not.)

The No. 2 seed would no longer get a bye? What sense does that make in order to bring in another bad team? Would this increase or further decrease the importance of Week 17 and 18 games?

The Super Bowl would now end up being played the last Sunday in February as the start of the regular season would not shift.

More players will get more money by playing in the playoffs and the owners would make more. The only segment that could miss out is the fans. Fans might be treated to teams that do not even have eight or nine wins in the playoffs.

I am not a fan of expanding the playoffs unless the NFL was to expand. While some NFL wild card teams have gone a long way in the playoffs or even won the Super Bowl (Steelers), odds are we will just be treated to another bad team in the playoffs getting blown out.

That is a lot to digest, and this does not include the other 50 items that could be on the table within the CBA negotiations. Anything the owners will want can be offset by giving the players a bigger slice of the overall $15 billion pie. If all the above happens, I believe fans will be the big winners. We just have to hope that there is not a work stoppage and both sides realize the next CBA, if it is indeed signed for 10 years, is huge and important for the growth of the NFL. I am excited to see the CBA negotiations unfold over the next year and a half. Just keeping my fingers crossed that one side does not get too greedy and stalls negotiations.

What is your favorite possible change listed above? Please comment down below.

Podcast: What happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers running game?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 5:23am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is underway, and the news is just starting to heat up. 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 breaks down all things Steelers stats, and also answers questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injury Update after the Browns game
  • Look ahead to Week 12 vs. the Bengals
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave 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.

Black and Gold Links: Could a newly signed WR be the deep threat the Steelers have needed?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 4:28am
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 12 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Cincinnati Bengals, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how a newly signed wide receiver could be the big play threat the Steelers have lacked so far this season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Snagging a player off another team’s practice squad isn’t necessarily the best way to go about acquiring talent. However, it does show the player has enough potential to stay with an organization.

Newest Steelers WR Deon Cain says he’s playmaker team needs

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Deon Cain’s most recent NFL game was against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His next one will be for them.

Signed Saturday, Cain injects depth, size (6-foot-2, 202 pounds) and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) to a Steelers wide receivers corps in dire straits because of injury.

“They need some immediate playmakers, so that’s definitely me,” Cain said. “I just wanted to come in here and show them I am the guy.”

The Steelers placed Ryan Switzer on injured reserve hours before they played the Cleveland Browns last Thursday. During that 21-7 loss, they lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson to concussions.

Cain is one of three receivers the Steelers added to their organization in response, but he’s the only one on the 53-man roster, so he’s all but guaranteed to be part of the 46-man playing roster Sunday at the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I watched the game and seen how everything (with injuries) went down, so I said, ‘OK I guess you guys do need a little help around here,’” Cain said. “And I am glad they called me.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The tale of two quarterbacks, I guess.

Mark Madden: A tale of two quarterbacks, using that term loosely

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A tale of two quarterbacks (if I may use that term loosely):

Mason Rudolph should have been suspended for one game after that melee at Cleveland on Thursday. I am not outraged by Rudolph being merely fined, and I agree with the other discipline handed down.

But Rudolph started it.

Yes, Myles Garrett hit Rudolph a little late, but quarterback is a dangerous job. What Garrett did is part of the game.

Rudolph initiated the actual fight when he and Garrett were on the ground and Rudolph tried to wrench off Garrett’s helmet. When that was just about broken up, Rudolph charged Garrett with David DeCastro in proximity and two other Steelers approaching.

That doesn’t justify Garrett going nuclear. But Rudolph started it, then prolonged it.

ESPN’s Max Kellerman voiced this opinion, adding the appropriate histrionics. O.J. Simpson absolved Garrett. (Of course, he did.) Actor Samuel L. Jackson tweeted Rudolph “played badly, fought worse.” (Guilty as charged.)

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers’ backfield is anything but certain heading into Week 12.

Steelers backfield still up in the air

By: Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers have struggled to run the ball, and to keep running backs healthy this year.

They’re apparently close to getting at least one of their backs back on the field, if not the one they’d prefer.

Via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that starter James Conner re-injured his shoulder last week against the Browns, and that his status for this week’s game against the Bengals is “unclear.”

Conner missed a week with a shoulder injury, but was removed from the injury report late last week. He had to leave the game early against the Browns.

The Steelers are welcoming some reinforcements, however, as Benny Snell Jr. should be on the practice field this week.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mike Tomlin Press Conference

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of Sunday’s game vs. the Bengals. https://t.co/DaQrSuN4WB

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 19, 2019

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