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Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions: Offseason, Vol. 3

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 5:43pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty to talk about regarding all things black-and-gold!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. Starting this on a serious note, and something we discussed on the Steelers Preview podcast, what changes, if any, do you see Matt Canada bringing to the Steelers’ offense?

2. With this Sunday being Championship Sunday, what Steelers AFC Championship game stands out the most to you, either good or bad?

3. Who was the most unheralded player on the Steelers’ roster in 2019?

4. Who do you like to win the Championship Games this weekend?

Chiefs vs. Titans
49ers vs. Packers

5. I was thinking about Bud Dupree the other day, and how he had underwhelmed leading up to 2019. Do you believe in the “contract year” player, who plays harder when money is on the line, or do you think Dupree finally got it and turned his athleticism into on-field success?

6. Simple question: What makes you happier, a Patriots loss or a Ravens loss?

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

After one season, should the NFL continue the pass interference instant replay rule?

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 1:54pm
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers remain against the NFL pass interference review system according to team president Art Rooney II

In an interview with Pittsburgh media on Wednesday, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said he believes the pass interference replay rule which was implemented for the 2019 season will be a highly debated topic this off-season.

Art Rooney II expects the instant replay review that pertains to pass interference to be hotly debated in the offseason. "We weren't that excited about it from the beginning," said Rooney, a clear opponent of the rule.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020

The NFL implemented a new rule for the 2019 season in which pass interference penalties, both called and not called on the field, could be challenged by coaches and reviewed under normal rules of the replay system. The rule was basically a knee-jerk reaction from the NFC championship game in which the Los Angeles Rams were not called for an obvious pass interference which potentially affected the outcome at the end of the game. While the New Orleans Saints were the victims of the non-call, they were also the beneficiaries in Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in which a pass interference call was made which never should have drawn a flag. In all, every NFL team has been on both sides of the issue in which they benefited or were a victim of an improper pass interference call.

When it comes to moving forward with the replay system being used for pass interference, the biggest question is if the rule helped fix problems or if it created even more. With so many who watch and critique the NFL unsure of what constitutes the standard for a reversal of the call on the field, the biggest problem with the rule may be its implementation.

After Week 2 of the 2019 season, Hall of Fame coach and NFL analyst Tony Dungy was unsure as to what the standard was for the rule.

Now in the Seattle game a non call Defensive Pass Interference does get overturned against Pittsburgh. I have no idea what is “clear and obvious” pass interference and what isn’t.

— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) September 15, 2019

As many of us remember, the play Dungy was referring to was when pass interference was not called against Terrell Edmunds on Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett on a 2nd & 20 play in Week 2 against Seattle but was overturned when head coach Pete Carroll challenged the play. Those watching the game, including the TV commentators, were surprised Carroll was wasting a challenge on the play only to see something, which appeared to be the right call in the first place, overturned. Many believe it was this play which changed the NFL’s mentality of the rule moving forward through a large portion of the season as it was very rare any call was overturned.

The other issue as it comes to the rule for reviewing pass interference penalties is how narrow the rule is with it being the only penalty which can be reviewed. On the play in question against Seattle, they were two obvious penalties, one against each team, which occurred before the ball made it to the receiver. An obvious hold on Seattle and a late hit by the Steelers were both not called and were more egregious than the pass interference. But yet those calls went unchecked.

Another issue with the pass interference penalties is the timing of the pass and whether or not to play can be overturned. If a receiver is grabbed by the defender when the ball has not yet been thrown, the penalty would be defensive holding and not pass interference. Therefore, one play in which the defender grabs the receiver cannot be overturned because the ball was not yet in the air while the other one in which the pass occurs a second later is subject for review.

There will be a lot to discuss about the current rule for reviewing pass interference this off-season, and it’s hard to say in which direction the NFL will go. I, for one, think the rule either needs a major change or to go away all together. But what do you think? Please vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Steelers Playoff Flashback: Steelers vs. Colts AFC Divisional Round

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:25pm
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

14 years ago was a day no black-and-gold blooded fan will ever forget. 2005 AFC Divisional Round...enough said.

As we check the plutonium on our BTSC Delorean and make certain that our flux capacitor is indeed fluxing, we head back to a time when NASA’s Stardust mission as the first to return dust from a comet ended, movie viewers were enjoying Glory Road in theaters and radios were playing “Laffy Taffy” by D4L like crazy. Meanwhile Steeler Nation was buzzing as the black-and-gold were gearing up for a Divisional Playoff against the top-seeded and 14-2 Indianapolis Colts.

Welcome to January 15, 2006

The Steelers entered the postseason as the sixth seed and were traveling to Indiana after their upset win over rival Cincinnati the previous week. Joey Porter, whose mouth wrote many a check regardless of his account balance, turned heads when he guaranteed a win over the two TD favorite Colts, a team that destroyed the Steelers in that very building seven weeks prior. It was a game in which Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James embarrassed Pittsburgh 26-7.

The Colts coach and former Steeler Tony Dungy, a few weeks removed from a devestating personal tragedy that saw him lose his son a few weeks before, was coaching with a heavy heart. His Super Bowl favorites were undefeated until a mid-December upset against San Diego and their high-powered offense/solid defense made them favorites against the low seed that was Pittsburgh.

The day of the game, the Colts learned that DB Nick Harper had been stabbed with a steak knife by his wife in a domestic dispute the night before. The wound required three stitches, but it was wondered aloud if the incident would have any bearing on the game’s outcome.

The Colts kicked off to start the game as the raucous home crowd did their best to have an effect on the Steelers. The noise was responsible for five offsides in the regular season contest. Starting from the 16, Ben Roethlisberger went long for a 38 yard connection with the rookie from Virginia, Heath Miller. Miller hauled in one for 18 more yards on the next play. Later on in the drive on 3rd and 3 from the Indianapolis six, Rothlisberger threw a ball behind Antwaan Randle-El who made a good adjustment and captured the bullet for the touchdown. The play capped off a 10 play/84 yard drive. With 9:25 remaining in the first, Bill Cowher’s squad led 7-0.

After a rare occasion when Indy went three-and-out, Roethlisberger went back to the TE. This time it was Jerame Tuman for 19 yards to put Pittsburgh into Colt territory. But on the very next play, Ben stayed in the pocket way too long and paid for it when Dwight Freeney cracked him. The ball squirted ahead and was intercepted by Cato June at the Colt 35. But the Colts could only muster three yards and had to punt again.

Roethlisberger rebounded well from his passing gaffe and led his Steelers down the RCA Dome track again. With a mix of runs by Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis and Dan Kreider and a long third-and-ten conversion by Hines Ward, the second-year QB engineered a seven-play drive for 72 yards. The capper was a pass for seven yards to Heath Miller with 3:12 left in the first quarter of play.

On the Colts third drive, the Steelers continued to harass Manning. Kimo von Oelhoffen had a huge sack to start the series. Manning finally completed a pass on his fifth attempt of the game for a first down to Marvin Harrison, but James Farrior sacked Manning for another huge loss, forcing 3rd and 24. Indy punted again.

There was very little scoring in the second quarter as the Colts defense came alive. But the Steelers D stayed impressive, forcing a third three-and-out on the fourth Indy offensive series. Then the Colts got a gift when Marlin Jackson was not called for interference on a blatant grab of Randle-El on what would have been a long gain, if not a score. The Steelers couldn’t convert.

Then Peyton Manning came alive. On nearly a ten minute drive that started on their own two, OC Tom Moore called a fine mix of Edgerrin James runs and Manning passes. The Colts thought James Mungro would score on a five-yard run, but a second offsides by Tarik Glenn nullified the Mungro TD. The Colts went from their own two to the Pittsburgh two, but settled for a 19-yard Mike Vanderjagt field goal. At the half, it was 14-3 in favor of the visiting underdogs.

The third quarter started with a punt by the blue-clad homers, followed by one by the visitors in white. The third possession of the new half could have been devastating for the boys repping Circle City. What appeared to be a Farrior safety of Manning on third down was just shy of the end zone. The Colts got a punt off instead, but Pittsburgh got excellent field position, and started at the Indianapolis 30. After Bettis drained the third quarter clock, No. 36 finished off the Steelers drive with a 1 yard plunge to paydirt. After Jeff Reed’s conversion, it was 21-3 with 1:26 remaining in the third.

Seconds before the quarter ended, Manning waved off Dungy’s punt decision and went for it from his own 36 and made it. The decision paid off a few moments later when No. 18 connected with Dallas Clark for a 50-yard score with 14:09 remaining. It was now 21-10 Steelers with a quarter to play.

In the fourth, the Steelers had a stretch of 11-straight running plays that included a Ben Roethlisberger sneak on 4th and 1 at midfield. Cowher’s gamble worked as the Steelers got a good spot and extended the drive. Bettis converted another 4th and 1, but the drive ended in a Chris Gardocki punt with 6:07 remaining in the contest.

This is where it gets a little crazy. With With 5:26 remaining, Peyton Manning threw what appeared to be a sure interception gabbed by Troy Polamalu. No. 43 caught the ball, rolled over on the ground while making a football move, dropped the ball and recovered it at midfield. That should have been the nail in Indianapolis’ coffin. Dungy challenged the call and the crowd erupted when the ref, Pete Morelli, announced the overturning of the call on the field as an incomplete pass. Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf, calling the game for CBS, expressed shock. Steeler Nation was stunned and enraged.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

With a second chance, Manning took advantage of the gift. Four plays later, James plunged in from the three and when Reggie Wayne (backed up by a false start penalty) made a seven yard catch for the 2PC, the score was only 21-18 with 4:24 left.

The Steelers couldn’t answer back, so Indy took over at their own 18 with 2:32 remaining and a chance to win or tie. But the Steeler defense, who had been flummoxing Manning and his o-line all game, answered the bell and looked to put the game away. On 2nd and 8, Joey Porter sacked No. 18 for a six yard loss. Then on 4th and 16, Porter and Farrior sacked Manning to stop the Colts seemingly for good. Tunch Ilkin on the radio broadcast urged fans to get their reservations for Denver.

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Steelers took over on downs and looked to ice the game when their version of a football closer came in with the ball at the two. That was No. 36. Everybody knows about the wall that was Gary Brackett that Bettis hit and the uncharacteristic and crazy fumble that occurred. When Nick Harper scooped up the ball and raced down the field, the collective jaws of Steeler Nation dropped. One man had a heart attack while watching at a bar. I don’t know whether it was the stabbing from the night before or the knee injury from early on or divine intervention...but something slowed down Harper enough for Big Ben to make the most important of tackles in Steeler history. With the jumbo package in the game to block, fast guys weren’t on the field to catch Harper. But Ben made the twisting ankle-tackle to save the TD. Meanwhile. Tunch recanted his reservation proclamation.

After that, the Colts still had a chance at their own 43 with 1:09 left. Manning immediately found Reggie Wayne for 21 yards to the Steeler 36 and the sure-footed All Pro, Mike Vanderjagt, warmed up to kick. Harrison got eight more to the 28, while Bettis nervously knelt on the sideline and Tommy Maddox consoled the legend. On the next play, Manning went for the win on a long pass to Wayne, but rookie CB Bryant McFadden had amazing coverage and broke it up.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At 3rd and 2, Manning went back to Wayne and McFadden almost intercepted. This was a huge mistake. The Colts could have gotten closer for their kicker, but it would be a try from 46 to tie. Bill Cowher iced Vanderjagt (the game’s most-accurate all-time kicker at that time) and the WVU product pointed with a mocking gesture to the Steeler coach, as to imply, “How dare you ice me!”

With :21 remaining, Bettis paced and Steeler fans painfully waited for the inevitable trip to OT, where the Steelers would surely lose. However, the cocky kicker had an ugly kick that was never close and sailed wide right. Vanderjagt slammed his helmet to the turf, as Bettis raised his in relief and delight.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Steelers celebrated, Tunch invited fans to Denver and Manning threw his line under the bus in the presser. It was a monumental and improbable victory for this particular team of destiny.

It was believed that the only way the Steelers could win would be via a punishing ground game, but the Steelers stormed in throwing and set the tone early. On the defensive side, Pittsburgh set out to harrass Manning and never let up. it was a game plan well-executed and well-planned. In the end, lady luck contributed as well.

To me, this was one of the greatest games in Steelers history. It was the victory that transformed pretenders into contenders and eventually...Champions.

I have great memories of this game for a completely different reason. I had just started dating the woman I would marry, but she lived over an hour away from my apartment in Frostburg, Maryland. Because of my absurd superstition (at the time) to eat the same food, sit in the same spot and wear the same clothes during the playoffs...I did not watch the game with her. Nor did I accept an invitation to watch it with my friend across the hall.

Her name was Joanne and she was a sweet 75-year-old lady that shared my love for football and treated me like a grandson. Even though I was 33 at the time, I hung out with Joanne. I even took her to a WVU game a few months earlier. She was my buddy and I adored her like family.

Because of my policy to never celebrate “until there’s three zeroes on the clock”, I reluctantly accepted Joanne’s congratulations when she knocked on my door after the Joey Porter sack gave the Steelers the ball on the doorstep of the Colt end zone. I invited her in, but as soon as her butt hit my recliner... “The Bus” famously fumbled. When the dust settled and I halted my stream of cuss-words that would make Samuel L. Jackson proud, I turned to my friend who was sitting in absolute shock and horror. She looked at me and said, “I think that was my fault”. As polite as I possibly could, I said, “Joanne, I love you dearly...but you really need to go back to your apartment now”. She replied, “I know” and left.

When Vanderjagt missed that kick, I was elated and I could hear Joanne cheering alone across the hall. As happy as I was, I felt awful about the way I treated my dear friend. I sheepishly went across the hall to apologize, but Joanne didnt want any part of that. She told me, “We know better than to celebrate early. We’re just lucky Ben made that tackle.” We would always laugh about that moment.

I moved away six months later and Joanne would always remind me how much she missed me. She came to Hagerstown to attend my wedding the next year and got to see my baby boy after he was born. We kept in touch, but work and family required more attention...and our calls and visits got less frequent. In 2010, my sweet friend passed away and I didn’t learn about it until a few months later. But I had strong memories of our friendship and cherish the football that we did view together. I still miss my sweet friend.

When I think about how special that game was to everybody that loves the Steelers, I smile and think about how memorable that Super Bowl ride was that year. But even more, I think about the power of friendship and how football can bring people the unlikeliest of friends together. I think about Joanne.

Steelers Salary Cap, Part 4: Getting cap compliant for 2020

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 11:05am
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We continue our dive into the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 Salary Cap situation.

$23,195,291. Let that number sink in. That is the number that I bloated the Pittsburgh Steelers cap up to for the 2020 season. Because of quirks in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the Steelers cannot do business as usual with massive contract restructuring that has led to a precarious situation. How does this get solved?

Now there will be big choices which have to be made. Players will have to be jettisoned, business as usual will not be the norm, and contracts will have to be re-worked.

Players who have to go:

Mark Barron: $5,250,000 cap savings with $2,875,000 in dead cap space. Barron was an upgrade on Jon Bostic but was still a liability in 2019. There was never a chance he would count $8 million against the cap in 2020 and why I was so adamant against his signing.

Vance McDonald: $5,672,500 cap savings with $1,455,000 in dead cap space. McDonald missed another two games due to injury while being a mediocre blocker. The biggest issue is, if the Steelers offense refuses to utilize him (38 receptions in 2019), he is just not worth the money.

Anthony Chickillo: $5,000,000 cap savings with $1,097,500 in dead cap space. A headscratchign contract that paid Chickillo $1.9 million in 2019. Core special teamers are valued, just not worth $6.1 million while playing 143 defensive snaps in 2020.

Ramon Foster: $4,000,000 cap savings with $1,575,000 in dead cap space. Foster and Maurkice Pouncey were neck and neck for the worst offensive linemen in 2019 but Pouncey keeps his roster spot while Foster does not at age 34.

Jordan Berry: $1,800,000 cap savings with $375,000 in dead cap space. Berry is best remembered for struggling late in the season while fans forget his strong punting for much of the season. The 2020 12th highest cap hit punter in the league, is too high even for his overall 2019 punting.

Roosevelt Nix: $1,012,500 cap savings with $875,000 in dead cap space. Nix played in three games in 2019 because of injury. Another poor contract overpaying a special team player in 2020. Nix does not offer much on offense as a blocker or as a weapon to justify his salary.

Savings: $22,735,000

Displacement costs: $3,060,000

Total: $19,675,000

Over the cap: $3,520,291

Other cuts could be made but they would save just a could hundred thousand dollars each. Instead of doing some nitpicking (or make a controversial cut of Ryan Shazier), time to restructure big dollars instead. Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, and Joe Haden could be restructured to save cap space, but could push big dead money into 2021.

David DeCastro is a prime candidate for a restructure because of his 2021 cap hit is lower than his 2020 cap hit. DeCastro can convert $6M of his base salary to a signing bonus. This move would reduce his cap hit next year to $10,647,500 and would bump his 2021 cap hit to $13,447,500 which would be within the 30% rule.

Other restructures could give the Steelers a few million more in cap space but the team still needs substantial cap relief to go out and snare a few free agents to fix the holes above. The only place this could occur is to sign Dupree to a long-term deal. This is easier said than done.

I have been a vocal critic of the “Steelers way” with not guaranteeing more then one year contracts for years now. If T.J. Watt remains on his torrid pace, he will become the league’s highest paid defensive player in a year or two and will demand his contract be structured like other top players in the NFL. Time to emerge out of the stone age and do what 30 other NFL teams do and guarantee more years and give Dupree guaranteed money and years on a new deal. (The Green Bay Packers are the only other team that conducts business in this fashion.)

Why would Dupree take a contract with $20-30 million guaranteed when other outside linebackers taking home over $30 million in guaranteed money? Time for the Steelers to join the new decade and keep the team’s duo of OLBs who have amassed 43.5 sacks and 19 forced fumbles in the past two seasons.

Will Dupree take an average of $16 million season? Will he take two seasons fully guarantee and not want more? Just spit balling here, but I will say the answer to both of them is yes.

2020 cap hit: $10 million

2021 cap hit: $13 million

2022 cap hit: $16 million

2023 cap hit: $19 million

2024 cap hit: $22 million

BTSC fans can debate how the structure of the contract would be, but to ensure Dupree would sign it and the Steelers keep compliant, the first two seasons would need to be fully guaranteed and not just for injury.

Such a bold move would allow the Steelers to keep an integral part of their defense with them for years to come, but also give the team over $6 million in cap space to sign valued free agents to fill the holes created by the cuts proposed above.

No matter what moves Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and contract guru Omar Khan implement, the team will have to make some painful moves. Dead cap space is a fact of the NFL, but when contracts are structured so they build the dead money in — fans should be frustrated. The Steelers have struggled with playoff success since the NFL implemented the CBA in 2011 and finally it has come to a head in 2020 with the current salary cap crisis.

Figures from Overtthecap.com were used along with their Salary Cap Calculator.

Part 1: 2 Quirks Which Impact the Salary Cap

Part 2: Salary Cap Space Remaining

Part 3: Destroying the salary cap and getting compliant

More than just Steelers’ fans are trying to break ties with Antonio Brown

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 9:32am
David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It’s been difficult for some fans to let go of the fallen superstar, but Brown continues to burn bridges everywhere he goes

Before anything else, I have something to admit: I am so ready to move on from Antonio Brown. I have done all that I could to avoid any discussion or articles pertaining to the former Steelers’ superstar. But after only playing in one game in 2019, Brown continues to be at the center of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Earlier this week after an altercation with the mother of his three children, Brown posted a video of himself shouting expletives at both his ex-girlfriend and police right in front of his children. Brown also threw some “adult” candy at his ex which has turned into the subject of many jokes over the last several days. In response to his inappropriate tirade, the Hollywood Police Department reportedly returned Brown’s donation to the Police Athletic League as they felt he was an inadequate role model for the youth they are trying to support.

But it gets worse.

Now one of the few people left who has publicly supported Brown has severed ties with him for the time being until he agrees to get some much-needed help. Agent Drew Rosenhaus announced he has terminated his relationship with Brown until he gets the proper support.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus conditionally terminated his relationship with Antonio Brown today until the free-agent WR seeks counsel, per an NFLPA source. Rosenhaus wrote in the letter that the NFLPA received today that he would like to work with Brown, but not until he first gets help.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 16, 2020

Interestingly enough, Rosenhaus phrased their separation in a way to show he was not walking away from their professional relationship completely. With Rosenhaus having to take such a firm stand in order to try to get help for Brown, one could easily read between the lines and see that perhaps his agent has been pushing Brown to get some much-needed professional help when it comes to his mental stability. I’m sure it was not the first time the topic arose between the two as common sense would say Rosenhaus probably pleaded with Brown to get some help on several occasions before having to take such a drastic measure.

It seems like cutting ties with Brown has been the overwhelming theme over the last year. From the Patriots letting him go after one game and the Raiders terminating his contract before he could even take the field after they had given up a third and a fifth round pick in the 2019 draft, it appears more people are doing their best to stay away from Brown rather than to bring him into their locker room.

When the Steelers were forced to cut ties with Brown 10 months ago, they originally had a deal in place to send Brown to Buffalo. In hindsight, it might have been a better scenario for all parties (except for maybe the Bills) if Brown had not nixed the deal. With the Bills making the playoffs in 2019 and with a very good head coach in place, perhaps Brown could have remained focused on football rather than completely falling apart with his behavior on and off the field. Or perhaps things may have gotten even worse in Buffalo.

I wish I could say I’m done having to report on Antonio Brown, but as things get stranger and stranger with his personal life it seems he will continue to make news for all the wrong reasons. As a Steelers’ fan, I just wish he would fade into oblivion. As a father of young children who thought Antonio Brown was the best, any time his name comes up I do my best to have them not even hear it spoken. Trying to explain his behavior to kids who once thought he was the greatest is not an easy task.

It’s more than just kids. It still hurts me as a fan. Some of the greatest memories I have of the Steelers involved Brown. I’ll never forget Christmas in 2016 when Brown extended the ball across the goal line with just seconds left in order to defeat the Baltimore Ravens and clinch the AFC North. I’ll never forget the first game I ever saw at Heinz Field with my father against the Detroit Lions in 2013 when Brown scored two touchdowns, one of which occurred right in front of us as he pointed to me in the stands as I was sporting the same bumblebee jersey he was wearing. It’s difficult to let the memories of Brown’s time in Pittsburgh go, but with his continued downward spiral of bizarre antics and poor decisions, it has become almost as sad as it is disappointing.

The list of those who are dropping Antonio Brown continues to grow. The Steelers. The Raiders. The Patriots. Various endorsements such as Nike and football helmet manufacturer Xenith. Now the local police and his agent have also dropped Brown. And if the rumors are true, perhaps we will soon get to see Logan Paul drop him in a boxing ring.

Antonio Brown’s story still has more to be written. While it seems like things couldn’t get any crazier for the former All-Pro receiver, the same could have been said a few months ago. But the way Brown’s self-destructive behavior is progressing, his story is not looking to have any kind of happy ending.

Terrell Edmunds isn't the weak link in the Steelers secondary, but he might be the missing link

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 7:45am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Recent PFF analytics seem to suggest that S Terrell Edmunds was the weak link in the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary last season, but his continued growth may just be the missing link for the defense next season.

Mathematics was always my favorite subject in school, because it wasn't reliant on theory or conjecture. Mathematics deal with absolutes; there is a correct answer for each problem. While it is true that numbers don't lie, statistics can be misleading. There is often more to the story than meets the eye. One such example would be Pittsburgh Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds.

A recent analytical breakdown of the Steelers secondary last season showed that opposing QBs achieved their highest QBR against the Steelers pass coverage when targeting Edmunds coverage responsibilities. I believe the parameters are set as whenever a defender is within three yards of a targeted receiver, but there may be additional criteria that I am not aware of. Regardless, this can be a misleading statistic.

Any completed pass is considered a positive result for the QBR, but that is only part of the story. Many opposing QBs were forced to quickly dump the ball off to a TE or RB in the flat to avoid the sack against the Steelers ferocious, league leading pass rush. I will give you two guesses which Steelers defender was responsible in coverage on these outlet receivers and relied on to limit the damage on such receptions. The majority of the time it was none other than Terrell Edmunds, and he performed admirably in those situations. He limited the YAC, often leading to a punt and a change of possession. However, the completed pass directly impacted Edmunds QBR against, even though the final result was positive for the Steelers.

Truthfully, Edmunds is fighting a uphill battle for approval in some fan's eyes. He is often judged unfairly, at no fault of his own. Edmunds didn't ask to be overdrafted, whether it was a round or two before his selection was necessary. He just goes out and gives his all each game, to the best of his ability. Maybe we all just need to adjust our expectations concerning Edmunds, and exercise a little patience with his development. Let's call it the "Bud Dupree Effect".

Edmunds and Dupree are far more similar than many realize. Both are far more athletic than instinctual. They are sinewy, quick twitch specimens that swiftly fly around the football field. They can create havoc for opposing offenses when properly motivated and placed in situations that accentuate their abilities. Both young men seem to be highly coachable, an important distinction for the Steelers defense moving forward.

Dupree enjoyed his best season in 2019, and for a variety of reasons. The contract year more than likely contributed to the motivation, but the coachability factor shouldn't be overlooked. While the jury is still out on Keith Bulter the defensive coordinator, there is no denying Keith Butler is a superior OLB coach. He has coached multiple Pro Bowl selections through the years, and arguably could have had two more deserving of the honor last season. Dupree's breakout performance last season seems to confirm Butler's hard-earned reputation as a linebacker whisperer.

There is reason to believe that 2020 will be Edmunds breakout season. Edmunds showed substantial improvement in his sophomore season, utilizing his speed to remain effective while he continued to learn the defense and adjust to his new teammates, especially when it comes to early-season addition Minkah Fitzpatrick. With a full off-season to study film of each other's tendencies and a training camp to apply those lessons learned, the tandem should be even more efficient next season.

Edmunds needs to work on his technique to improve his tackling, and focus on taking better angles to the ball in coverage and against the run. These are issues that can be improved with coaching, and as previously mentioned, Edmunds is reportedly coachable.

One of Edmunds bigger struggles may prove harder to overcome, and will depend on the coaches to put him in the best situations to be successful. Too many times last season Edmunds found himself in perfect coverage, only to fail to get his head around in time to get eyes on the football and make the play. Always a day late and a dollar short.

Edmunds lacks the instincts of a ball hawking safety. He can improve in these coverage situations through hard work and coaching, but will always be limited. Good thing that FS Minkah Fitzpatrick has this ability in spades. As they become more familiar with each other's strengths and weaknesses, they will be able to accentuate the positives and minimize the negatives. Think Polamalu/Clark 2.0, if you will.

Edmunds taking the next step in his development may be just what the Steelers defense needs to be truly dominant in 2020.

Devlin Hodges Analysis, Part 3: How opposing defenses cooked the Duck

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 6:29am
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at Devlin Hodges struggles in at the end of the season in Weeks 15-17.

In this third part to the Devlin Hodges end of season review I’m going to talk about a number of things defenses did that Took Devlin Hodges from being a QB that was able to move the ball down the field to one that destroyed his team’s chances at a playoff berth.

One important thing to realize is it wasn’t just one good defense solving Hodges, it was a culmination of work from multiple teams to take away what Randy Fichtner had been doing to support his young QBs as well as attacking Hodges weaknesses.

Taking away the Steelers attack

In my film review of the week 13 Cleveland game (Third, fourth and fifth section ) I covered how the Browns defense took away a staple part of Fichtner’s offense under Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, short crossing routes. As the season went on Fichtner evolved these routes, but when Cleveland shut them down entirely Hodges was forced to throw deep, and James Washington went off, and the Steelers rode a series of deep completions in the second quarter to a win.

Then in week 15 (look at “taking away James Washington’s strength”I covered how the Bills defended James Washington by playing off of him so he couldn’t beat them on deep balls like he did against Cleveland. Arizona also stayed away from physically engaging Washington, but they also just gave up anything underneath. Buffalo, with Tre’Davious White were able to keep their corner back looking to the ball while covering James Washington. Buffalo still gave up a good bit of yardage to Washington. In the clips in my linked review you can see that James was getting to balls when the defenders had to turn and run with him, but when the defenders were facing the pass they were able to make plays on the ball. Defenders looking to jump routes and passes led to several interceptions, and our first film clip.

Week 15, 4th quarter 0:15, 2nd and 18. James Washington is lined up to the top of the screen.

The only real threat on this play is a TD, and yet the DBs are staying up on the receivers, focusing more on being in position to attack the pass than worrying about the ball getting behind them. The only throw on this play is to lead one of his receivers into the endzone, but Hodges doesn’t even try it. Hodges was very good putting deep balls in front of defenders where he could just throw it straight, but was not nearly as accurate on balls that required some touch to drop it in behind the defense.

The Jets and Ravens would copy this strategy, and it worked, but this alone wasn’t enough to stop the Hodges offense. Against both Cleveland and Buffalo Hodges made those throws (not as far as the above play would have required, but downfield enough to make defenses respect it) when he had a clean(ish) pocket. Against the Jets the Steelers would face a ton of blitzes to disrupt Hodges and make sure he didn’t have time and space to make those throws.

Pressuring Hodges

Blitzing rookie QBs isn’t a new thing in the NFL, it’s a staple approach. College defenses don’t blitz like NFL defenses do, and any player is going to struggle facing something they don’t have experience against.

Devlin Hodges threw 17 passes agaisnt the Jets, and was sacked 3 times. That’s 20 plays where he intended to pass, the Jets blitzed Hodges on 13 of those 20 plays, just under 2⁄3 of the time. Against the Ravens Hodges would throw 25 passes and be sacked twice, 27 pass plays. The Ravens blitzed Hodges on 18 of those, exactly 2⁄3 of the plays. Compare that to 12 blitzes on 42 pass plays (28.6%) against the Bills, 10 of 26 (38.5%) attempts vs the Cardinals, and 8 of 23 pass plays (34.8%) against the Browns.

Week 17, 1st quarter 7:20, 2nd and 9.

That’s a zero blitz. No deep defenders at all, 6 rushing the QB. What really stands out here is how the DBs aren’t worried about being beat deep. They are looking to jump the routes from the snap. Hodges actually does decently here, sees the Blitz, knows his hot read, and makes the throw. The defender jumping is right in his throwing lane, and forces the ball to be led too far to the middle and it falls incomplete. If you run this against Ben Roethlisberger he’s throwing to the top of the screen and it’s probably a big gain for the Steelers, but Hodges can’t make that throw with a guy crashing his pocket, and he can’t make that throw on the move, so he throws the only real pass he can.

There’s a reason teams weren’t blitzing him before the Bills figured out during the game that Hodges was going to struggle to throw over defenders on the move. Because Hodges was actually quite good against blitzes, he reads the blitz well and finds his hot route quickly and gets rid of the ball, even when the rush disrupts timing.

Week 17, 2nd quarter 7:38, 3rd and 8. Vance McDonald is right next to Matt Feiler to the top of the screen.

This is one of my favorite Hodges plays of the season. he sees that McDonald is the right throw, but feels the pressure, so he spins away from the rush, reconnects with McDonald and lets it fly. Here the Ravens fail to contain the underneath routes on a 3rd and 8 and Hodges converts it. You can see how the Ravens have a defender in front of all the deeper options, and they disrupt the QB, but Hodges can still make the play if he sees it. And that leads us to our last section, and in my mind, the most important.

Reading Hodges mind

The #1 weakness Devlin Hodges had in his rookie season was lack of experience. When defenses took away his underneath crosses, took away the jump balls to James Washington, and put him under pressure Hodges was reduced to throwing hot routes based off the blitzes he was facing. And that’s when teams really jumped on him, because they figured out his methodology for dealing with the blitz and used it against him.

Week 16, 1st quarter 5:53, 3rd and 10. Watch the defenders on the edges showing blitz.

The Jets show 7 rushers and send 5, Hodges sees the defender next to McDonald drop straight back and makes the throw to the middle of the field, where there should be a nice gap. But the Jets drop the other LB into the middle, sending him right into Hodges hot read.

Every other defender is in man, with a single high safety. Hodges correctly sees it is a man blitz, and he correctly sees that McDonald’s defender is giving up the middle of the field. But this is bait. Tarell Basham isn’t covering Jaylen Samuels at all, and he doesn’t make a great move to get to the ball, he just drops right where the ball is going to be, and the ball goes right to him.

The Ravens baited Hodges into several mistakes.

Week 17, 2nd quarter 6:55, 2nd and 14. look at the RB and TE on this play.

If you count up the numbers the Steelers have 4 people on Hodges right blocking 2 rushers, and 2 blockers on the left trying to block 3. That’s a scheme sack, and clearly not on Hodges, right?

Same play, before the snap.

Hodges sees the blitz coming, and changes the play. Look at the 2 LBs and the nickel corner to the top of the screen get together for a second. As Hodges is calling an audible to counter the Ravens, those three are talking. Now go watch the play again, Both of those LBs drop, right into the path of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Devlin Hodges’ hot read.

With a blitz coming the Steelers throw their blocking to the right, and with the nickel corner giving a huge cushion, Smith-Schuster’s quick out should be wide open. But the blitz isn’t coming from the right, and Smith-Schuster isn’t open. If you look you can even see the momentary stop in Hodges feet and movement. He knew what he saw, he knows what he should be seeing after the snap, and you can see the moment he realizes he just got played.

Looking to the future

So now we have a really good idea of what caused Devlin Hodges to drop off as a QB in his rookie year. The rookie wall, for Hodges, was teams figuring out his weaknesses and trapping him in a pattern of predictable decisions. But what does this say for Hodges future in the NFL?

The first thing to remember is he’s a rookie that was on the scout team fighting to make an NFL roster in camp, this is his first real off-season. We say that about most rookies, but for Hodges it is even more true than it is for a Diontae Johnson or Ulysees Gilbert III, because those players were being groomed for their rookie season role from the start of camp, Hodges wasn’t.

That means we are looking more at where he needs to grow as a player, and there are a number of places he needs to develop.

— Accuracy. I didn’t really cover his overall accuracy in this film room, all rookies struggle with accuracy, Ben did, Peyton Manning did, every rookie QB that starts struggles with accuracy because the speed of the game is so much faster, and those windows are smaller because of it.

— Touch. Hodges needs to be able to throw over defenders on plays like the zero blitz against Baltimore. That is going to take repetition with those throws and a little more comfort with his targets.

These first two are things that can be worked on and improved. Hodges’ arm isn’t too weak for the NFL, it’s not a plus trait, but it also isn’t bad enough to scuttle his career. QBs have started in the NFL with less arm strength than Hodges. This offseason he needs to get a good coach and work on his footwork, overall strength and throw technique. Just like every rookie. It stands out that during my work on this series the Steelers hired a QB coach. They know they have young QBs that need to develop, and that Randy Fichtner and Ben Roethlisberger need to be focused on getting this offense into shape to try and contend for a Super Bowl, not spending their time showing Devlin Hodges how to maintain good technique when escaping the pocket.

— Experience and learning. This, to me, was his biggest weakness as a rookie. When he had an idea of what was going on, Hodges was a tough QB to face. Once teams found out the limits of his knowledge and picked up his tendencies they were able to take gambles that paid off more often than not. If you remember Ben Roethlisberger’s early career, he was similar, and maybe even worse than Hodges in this area. Ben made plays against the blitz by breaking tackles and extending the play until he found someone open. It took Ben years to learn how to be a pocket passer. Hodges is ahead of rookie Ben Roethlisberger in reading defenses and making throws in rhythm, even if his talent level doesn’t remotely compared to what Ben was capable of when he entered the league.

Hodges ceiling isn’t a franchise QB, and it most likely doesn’t go as far as a consistent starter. I think his ceiling is a really solid backup QB who could come in and win some games for you in tough spots, and that has value. Whoever takes over for Ben Roethlisberger, I could very easily see Devlin Hodges serving as the backup, but first he has to show he can learn the things he needs to learn and develop the technique to offset his physical limitations. We’ll get a great chance to see how he develops in a few months when camps start. Personally I’m predicting fans will be calling Rudolph v Hodges a QB competition in the 2020 preseason, no matter what it may be right now.

Podcast: Who is the most unheralded player on the Steelers current roster?

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 5:29am

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

The 2019 season is now over, and with the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the offseason, it is 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 Preview. On this show Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down all things Steelers leading into the offseason.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Around the Horn Segment
  • Steelers Stat Geek
  • Who is the most unheralded player on the Steelers current team?
  • Predicting the Championship Round of games
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, Bryan Anthony Davis and Dave Schofield 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: Art Rooney II, like Mike Tomlin, stand behind Mason Rudolph

Fri, 01/17/2020 - 4:29am
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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 at how Team President Art Rooney II is in full support of Mason Rudolph as the team’s backup quarterback in 2020.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Whether you like Mason Rudolph or not, it seems the Steelers, from top to bottom, are in full support of Rudolph as the QB2 in 2020.

Rooney addresses QBs, run game

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

There are two topics that never fail to energize Steelers fans: running the football, and their favorite team’s quarterback situation. In his annual end-of-season media tour, Team President Art Rooney II addressed both of those topics, and the only certainty is that his answers didn’t please everyone.

”In terms of this past season, just to give a little bit of a recap, I have to say it was probably one of the craziest seasons I’ve been around in over 50 years of being around football,” said Rooney. “When you wind up having three different starting quarterbacks over the course of the year, and particularly one who earned his way on the roster after starting out as a tryout in rookie minicamp, it’s an unusual season. We had some other key injuries throughout the year. I was proud of the way our guys kept fighting through all of the adversity. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep it going there in the last few weeks of the season, but at least we had our chance. Maybe with a little more stability at the quarterback position, we could have gone a little further.”

The instability at quarterback was created when Ben Roethlisberger’s right elbow allowed him to play only the first six quarters of the regular season. From there, it was Mason Rudolph as the starter until he was concussed in the fourth game of the season, a loss to the Ravens at Heinz Field. Then it was Devlin Hodges, the survivor of rookie minicamp, then back to Rudolph, then back to Hodges, then back to Rudolph until he was driven into the ground during the Jets game and sustained a rather serious injury to his left shoulder, and then back to Hodges to finish up the season.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • To say Donnie Shell’s teammates form the 1970s are excited for his enshrinement in a huge understatement.

Shell’s HOF selection has teammates thrilled

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

Mel Blount was in his car driving to North Carolina when his phone rang on Wednesday morning. He looked and saw what the number was, that it was someone calling from the NFL office in New York, so he answered right away. Because he knew what it was about.

On the other end was Pete Abitante, special assistant to Commissioner Roger Goodell at the league office. And he was calling to deliver some good news, that Donnie Shell made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Centennial Class of 2020.

”I wanted to just scream. I am driving to North Carolina when I got the call, so I had to keep my calm,” said Blount. “I think if I was in the house somewhere, I would have jumped up screaming and shouting. I am really excited for him.

”I personally, along with John Stallworth and Tony Dungy, had been lobbying for at least three or four years to convince voters Donnie was well qualified and deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. I am so happy he finally made it.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • No surprise here, the Steelers are committed to trying to keep Bud Dupree on the team in 2020, and beyond.

Art Rooney II committed to bringing back Steelers OLB Bud Dupree

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

After the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended short of a playoff berth for the second year in a row, coach Mike Tomlin said retaining outside linebacker Bud Dupree would be a “high priority” in the offseason.

“I wouldn’t disagree with that,” team president Art Rooney II said Wednesday.

In his fifth NFL season, Dupree set career highs with 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss, and the timing couldn’t have been better for him. His contract expires in March, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The Steelers can keep Dupree from hitting the open market by applying the franchise tag at a cost of at least $16 million. Dupree earned $9.2 million in 2019 while playing on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract.

The franchise tag also would bide time for the Steelers to try to sign Dupree to a long-term deal.

“We’d like to have Bud back, no question about it,” Rooney II said. “And we’ll do our best to figure out how to make it happen. But we’d like to have him back, and I’ll stay optimistic that we’ll be able to figure out how to make that happen.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

#Steelers President Art Rooney II sits down with @missi_matthews to discuss the 2019 season and what he's looking forward to in 2020. pic.twitter.com/5eCYPXkjBo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 16, 2020

New quarterbacks' coach Matt Canada comes to the #Steelers from the college ranks where he has two decades of experience as a quarterbacks' coach and offensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/37eVywEmVv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

Donnie Shell speaks about what being selected to the @ProFootballHOF means to him, his decision to sign with Pittsburgh, his career with the #Steelers and more on @gmfb. #PFHOF20 pic.twitter.com/d1mbja9E4X

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

Donnie Shell is HITTING the road to Canton. #PFHOF20 pic.twitter.com/KYSYnkOIYO

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

London or Mexico? Where would you prefer to see the Steelers play abroad?

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 1:43pm
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers could find themselves playing outside the continental United States in 2020. Where would be the best place to play?

The 2020 NFL Regular Season schedule won’t be released until spring, but the opponents for all 32 teams, and the locations of those games, are already set in stone. All that needs to be attached are dates and times.

With that said, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be traveling to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. The AFC North and AFC South are paired this season, so the division is split in terms of home and away games. Since the Steelers will play the Jaguars on the road, the next logical question is where will they be traveling to play?

Will they be going to sunny Florida?

Or will they be going overseas?

Maybe south of the border to Mexico?

The Jaguars have long been the team who forfeits home games to help expand the game across United States borders, and the Steelers have been a team who has said they are willing to play in those neutral site games, especially in Mexico.

Steelers Team President Art Rooney II met with local media Wednesday, and reiterated what fans have known for years, the team is okay traveling to Mexico to play.

This via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The Steelers play the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road, which raises the possibility of the game being played overseas or south of the border. Art Rooney would prefer the latter.
"We continue to raise our hand and say we're interested in playing a game in Mexico."

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020

The Steelers have a ridiculous fan contingent in Mexico, second maybe only to the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland, now Las Vegas, Raiders, but the Steelers have also played games over the pond in London.

It was 2013 when the Steelers traveled to London to play the Minnesota Vikings. It was this game where Mike Tomlin was criticized for his travel schedule, and it capped off an 0-4 start to the regular season that year.

Considering the Steelers have openly volunteered to play south of the border, and have also played overseas in the past decade, where would you rather see them play? I think the obvious choice is for them to play in Florida and not have to experience an excessive amount of traveling, but if you had to choose where they played, where would it be?

London or Mexico?

Let us know what you think in the poll below, and be sure to explain your answer in the comment section below. As always, stay tuned in to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 season!

Art Rooney II “anxious” to see Ben Roethlisberger’s progress when he returns to the Steelers

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 12:24pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers’ Team President shines some light on Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab and status heading into the offseason.

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers be a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2020? If your answer to that question is yes, it should immediately be followed by, “as long as Ben Roethlisberger comes back healthy.”

The Steelers’ franchise quarterback is coming off a season-ending elbow injury which ended his 2019 campaign after just 6 quarters. Since Roethlisberger’s surgery, news on his progress, or lack thereof, has been minimal.

At his end of the season press conference, Mike Tomlin spoke about the timeline for Roethlisberger’s next step in his rehab process in February, and what it was like playing almost a full season without the only franchise quarterback he has known since taking over the head coaching position in 2007.

“We live by the cliché that the standard is the standard. Incidents like the loss of Ben gives us the opportunity to live that out. I don’t know that our mentality changed in terms of what our intentions were. It was an opportunity for us to roll our sleeves up and make that a reality.” Tomlin said to media. “Our focus was there. Our focus was individually doing what was required to get in and out of stadiums with wins. I didn’t spend a lot of time crying about it. I still haven’t. Maybe I will gain a better perspective as I gain some distance. In the process, there is a certain urgency to respond to the next challenge that doesn’t give you a time to wallow in it.”

On Wednesday, Steelers Team President Art Rooney II met with local media and discussed Roethlisberger’s progress to date, and what he had to say was positive.

This via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:

Rooney on Ben: "Everything we hear so far is positive. In particular Ben's attitude about things. He seems to feel good about it. He really, still I would say in the early stages of his rehab and so he hasn't been able to do a whole lot yet ... (1 of 2)

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 15, 2020

"but that's going to start to ramp up here over the next couple of months obviously. We're anxious to see his progress." (2 of 2)

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 15, 2020

While things have been positive in Roethlisberger’s physical rehabilitation, and his mental status after having to watch nearly the entire 2019 season, there is a lot left for Roethlisberger to do before fans should get excited for the 2020 season with the same No. 7 under center they have enjoyed watching since 2004.

In fact, there is a reason why Rooney II used the word ‘anxious’ to describe the way the team is viewing Roethlisberger’s return to the field. The hope is Roethlisberger is healed, and moves smoothly through the process of getting himself back into shape as a quarterback in the NFL. But there is always the chance that after all the years of hits, throws and wear and tear on his body that Roethlisberger doesn’t return to the same quarterback he was prior to the injury. If that is the case, the Steelers would find themselves in quite a bind heading into the offseason, the new league year and the 2020 NFL Draft.

There are still a lot of hoops which need to be jumped through before the team even knows the status of Roethlisberger, and you better believe the fans echo Rooney’s anxiety level when it comes to the future of the team being wrapped around No. 7’s overall availability this upcoming season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they embark on yet another lengthy offseason.

The Steelers have always had pass/run game coordinators, but have never made the titles official

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 11:04am

Who held these titles in 2019, and who will hold them in 2020?

Steelers president Art Rooney II met with the local Pittsburgh media on Wednesday for his annual end of the season interview. One topic which was mentioned by Rooney was how the Steelers have always had run game and pass game coordinators who developed game plans to submit to the offensive coordinator each week. Although the Steelers did not have any coaches with those official titles, they still held these responsibilities.

Rooney said that the Steelers have always had a run/pass game coordinators that come up with plans and then hand hand over to the OC. They just never give out the titles.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) January 15, 2020

Earlier this season, a statement was made by NFL analyst and former Steeler Ryan Clark about Mike Munchak being the Steelers’ run game coordinator in 2018. Since the Steelers do not announce who is their run coordinator or their passing coordinator, it begs the question as to who filled these roles in 2019.

To figure out who may have been responsible for these key positions, here is a list of the Steelers 2019 offensive coaches:

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks – Randy Fichtner
Running backs – Eddie Faulkner
Interim wide receivers – Ray Sherman
Tight ends – James Daniel
Offensive line – Shaun Sarrett
Assistant offensive line – Adrian Klemm

It might also be important to list the other general assistant coaches for the Steelers for 2019. They were:

Denzel Martin – coaching assistant
Blaine Stewart - coaching assistant
Matt Symmes - coaching assistant
William Gay - coaching intern

The reason to include these four coaches just in case is because it was reported Blaine Stewart was basically acting as a quarterbacks coach in 2019. With the Steelers hiring Matt Canada on Wednesday, it is unclear what responsibilities Stewart will be assigned in 2020.

So who fulfilled these duties in 2019?

Run game coordinator

In looking at the Steelers 2019 offensive coaches, the only ones who seem to be viable candidates for the run game other than offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner would be first-year running backs coach Eddie Faulkner or first-year offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett. Granted Sarrett had five years with the Steelers prior to being promoted, it was his first year as the line coach while Faulkner’s previous experience came at the college level.

Although it seems neither coach was a prime candidate for the position, I’m going to have to go with Faulkner being the guy. Supposedly it was his idea to first use the wildcat in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals. With no other reports of of Sarrett’s involvement, I’m taking a shot in the dark with Faulkner being the run game coordinator. With no other additions to the coaching staff at this point, it would appear that whoever had the responsibility last season may still be the one getting the call in 2020.

Passing game coordinator

The two options for who was responsible for the passing game would appear to be tight ends coach James Daniel or interim wide receivers coach Ray Sherman. It wouldn’t be out of the question for another assistant coach to be involved, but to be responsible for the Steelers passing attack would probably bring a more glorified title then coaching assistant.

While coach James Daniel could be someone who helped develop the passing attack, the lack of use of the tight ends in 2019 would not give much of an indication their position coach was planning that part of the the offense. Therefore it was most likely Ray Sherman who was developing a passing game plan to present to coach Fichtner.

When it comes to the 2020 season, new quarterbacks coach Matt Canada would be a prime candidate to develop the Steelers passing game plan. With experience as an offensive coordinator in college for more than a decade, it seems to be something which could be right up his alley.

Knowing the Steelers have official pass/run game coordinators, it begs the question is if the Steelers were making more changes to start the 2019 season then what most fans realized. It was already reported Mike Munchak was the run game coordinator, but were the Steelers dealing with the loss of their passing game coordinator in training camp as well? When wide receivers coach Darryl Drake passed away suddenly, was he filling even more of a role than what most fans realized?

Now that Art Rooney II has announced the Steelers have these coordinators in function but not in title, questions may be asked more often about the subject in order to better determine which coach is actually helping to devise these game plans. Regardless of who is assigned these responsibilities, ultimately the implementation and use of both the rushing and passing attack come down to offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner.

Pittsburgh Steelers might not be done adding to their coaching staff

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:32am
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers recently added a quarterbacks coach to their staff, and they might not be done.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL, but that might be changing as the team heads into the 2020 season. The team already added a quarterbacks coach to their roster when they brought former Pitt, NC State and LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada to their staff, but when Team President Art Rooney II met with media Wednesday he made it clear the team might not be done adding to their current coaching staff.

This via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Art Rooney II didn't discount more additions to the coaching staff aside from QB coach Matt Canada, but he deferred to coach Mike Tomlin. Art II said Tomlin will be finalizing any changes next week at the Senior Bowl.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020

Many often wonder what other coach they could add, and quarterbacks coach was certainly the most glaring need after a season where Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges clearly could have benefited from a coach dedicated to helping them throughout a tumultuous season.

But where else could they add a coach? Some might suggest an outside linebacker coach is one area where you could add someone to take the load off Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler’s shoulders. After the team let former player Joey Porter go after the 2018 season, it was Butler who took over the role as outside linebackers coach along with the primary duties as defensive coordinator.

Other areas where you could see someone added to the staff could be to help with special teams in some fashion, but the Steelers clearly don’t like to have an inflated coaching staff, and that could be a Mike Tomlin thing, not necessarily an Art Rooney II thing.

I feel most would agree the team bringing in a quarterbacks coach, a role Randy Fichtner used to hold prior to being promoted to the offensive coordinator position, was a good decision. And Art Rooney II spoke about how he and Tomlin agreed upon Canada as the man for the job.

This too from Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

On the hiring of QB coach Matt Canada, Art Rooney II said: "I think Mike and I both felt it was an opportunity that we had and good to add somebody to the staff that can help with the young quarterbacks as well help with the offense."

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020

Will the Steelers continue to add coaches to their staff heading into the offseason? Only time will tell, but time is running out as Rooney stated all changes and/or additions should be done before the Senior Bowl which will take place next week.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they start their 2020 NFL Draft prep, as well as prepare for NFL Free Agency which will kick off in March.

Steelers president Art Rooney II hopes to keep Ryan Shazier with the Steelers in some capacity in 2020

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 7:46am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

After two years on the Physically Unable to Perform list, Shazier‘s current status with the team is an unrestricted free agent

It has now been over two years since Ryan Shazier suffered his horrific back injury on Sunday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017. Unsure if Shazier would ever be able to walk again after spinal stabilization surgery, he continues to defy the odds and make progress towards a full restoration to normal life. Whether or not Shazier’s future still holds a glimpse of hope of professional football at the NFL level remains to be seen. But counting Shazier out is not something one should get accustomed to.

In his meeting with local Pittsburgh media on Wednesday, Steelers team president Art Rooney II mentioned Ryan Shazier’s contract situation going into 2020.

Art Rooney II doesn't think Ryan Shazier's contract automatically tolls for 2020. "We have to just sit down with Ryan and look at what the next step is going to be. We haven't quite done that yet." Shazier continues to work out at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on a daily basis.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) January 15, 2020

After Shazier was injured in 2017, the Steelers still had to pay his salary for the fifth-year option which the had already exercised during the previous off-season. In a wise financial move for both parties, the Steelers moved all but the league minimum salary to a signing bonus for Shazier prior to the 2018 season. By paying Shazier upfront, he was able to use the money right away. But the more important issue was when Shazier‘s contract tolled for 2019, it was at the league minimum amount and not the $8.7 million he received otherwise. Had the Steelers been on the hook for the full amount, they would not have been likely to keep Shazier’s contract on the books.

If you’re curious about what it means for a contract to toll, in essence it is when a team can choose to keep a player for another year if they were on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for an extended period of the season. How a contract tolls is explained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement as noted below:

Section 2. Physically Unable to Perform: Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game.

Because Shazier was going into the final year of his contract, the Steelers have the option to continue to keep him at the previous year salary because of the amount of time he spent on PUP. And because the Steelers turned most of Shazier‘s fifth year option into a signing bonus, his contract tolled to where the Steelers could keep him for another season at the league minimum while he was still unable to play. Additionally, Shazier was able to continue to get treatment and rehabilitation through the Steelers because he was under contract.

According to Art Rooney II, it appears Shazier‘s contract will not toll for 2020. With that said, I’m sure the Steelers would like to continue to keep Shazier a part of the Steelers family as well as help him in continuing his rehabilitation. But in what way can the Steelers sign Shazier for next season?

First and foremost, Shazier’s health will be one issue to be discussed. As much as he would like to play in the NFL again, a difficult and realistic conversation needs to occur between Shazier, his representatives, and the Steelers front office. Whether or not the Steelers choose to keep Shazier around while taking a small hit on the salary cap may be the most important issue.

The other option available is one many Steeler fans have already expressed interest in having come to fruition. The Steelers could always offer Shazier a position as part of the coaching or front office staff. While it would be wonderful to keep Shazier a part of the organization, as long as he still has hopes in returning to the NFL it may not be his best option.

So exactly what the Steelers will do Ryan Shazier for 2020 is still unknown. Important conversations need to occur in order to better understand the situation for all parties involved. But most importantly, the issue needs to be one which both parties are ready to address at the appropriate time. With his comments made on Wednesday, it appears Shazier’s status with the Steelers is an issue in which team president Art Rooney II will be looking to discuss in the near future.

Stirring up Steeler Nation: Bill Cowher’s call to the Hall of Fame means Mike Tomlin will do the same

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 6:32am
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With Bill Cowher set to get a gold jacket, does his inclusion set Mike Tomlin up to do the same?

Steelers fans rejoiced the other night when they saw their former coach Bill Cowher get a visit from David Baker and the Pro Football Hall of Fame on national television. Cowher’s impending induction in August is due to his coaching record (including postseason play) of 161-99-1 and a winning percentage of .618. Cowher and (his Waterboy costar) Jimmy Johnson seized the only two slots for coaches in the NFL’s Centennial class. The two legendary coaches are bound for Canton over Marty Schottenheimer, Don Coryell, Mike Holmgren, Buddy Parker, Tom Flores and Dick Vermeil. The voters have spoken and, whether you agree or not, the decisions are about to be set in bronze. But the Cowher decision pretty much opens the door for the man who followed him in Pittsburgh...Mike Tomlin.

Now it is no secret Mike Tomlin is a polarizing figure in Pittsburgh. Some fans want him gone every single time the Steelers lose, and even sometimes when they win. They pine for the glory days of Cowher. But some fans have very short memories and forget about the years between 1998 and 2000. That’s when fans were calling for Cowher’s head set and pining for Chuck Noll to unretire, or for another discarded coach to ride into town and be a savior. But the fact of the matter is this: Mike Tomlin has the same number of Super Bowl wins as Cowher. He has never had a losing season and is currently three spots (and 16 wins) behind “the Chin” for 20th place on the all-time wins list. Including games played in the postseason, Tomlin sports a record of 141-80-1 and a .637 winning percentage. That win/loss percentage is 19th in the history of the league. Cowher sits at 23, four spaces behind.

Tomlin is not yet 50 years of age, so it is conceivable that he has many years of coaching left in him. That is, if he so desires. Going just .500 in the next two seasons, he has an identical record to Cowher, a man that will be enshrined in August. There won’t be a special vote like there was this season, but you would think he’d be included down the road.

Of the current NFL Head Coaches, there are about six others that could warrant inclusion in this particular conversation. Bill Belichick is a given, unless he somehow gets banned from the game. The others on that list right now include Andy Reid of Philadelphia and Kansas City, Jon Gruden of Oakland and Tampa Bay, Saints’ Head Man Sean Payton, John Harbaugh of Baltimore and Pete Carroll of Seattle, New England, the New York Jets.

If Tomlin coaches ten more years in the league, he’ll have most likely eclipsed 200 wins and would find himself in the top ten in history in victories. Should that come to be, we would be talking about Tomlin many years from now regarding his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Podcast: Analyzing what Steelers players could be salary cap casualties this offseason

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 5:30am

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 over, and although there are no more games, 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 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 2020 and Steelers who could be gone due to cap restraints
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • 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.

Steelers News: Art Rooney II voices displeasure with NFL implementing the Rooney Rule

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 4:34am
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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 at how Steelers Team President Art Rooney II is not happy with how the league is implementing the rule named after his late father, Dan Rooney.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Rooney Rule is well known among the NFL landscape, but it has become more of a joke than anything the past few years. Art Rooney II chimes in on the rule named after his late father.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II feels NFL ‘not where we need to be’ with diverse hires among its coaches

By: Brooke Pryor, ESPN

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II said the NFL will evaluate the hiring process and examine the Rooney Rule after the recent cycle saw the hiring of just one minority head coach.

”I think where we are right now, is not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Rooney said in an NFL Network interview with Steve Wyche. “We need to take a step back and look at what’s happening with our hiring processes. The first thing we’ll do, as part of our diversity committee, is really review this past season’s hiring cycle and make sure we understand what went on and talk to the people involved both on the owner’s side, management’s side as well as the people that were interviewed.

“The thing I think we have to look at is back when the Rooney Rule was passed and put in effect in 2003, there was a period there where we did see an increase in minority hiring at the head-coaching position. And I think over a period of time there were 10 or 12 minority coaches hired. Since then, that trend seems to reverse itself, particularly in the last few years. We need to study what’s going on and understand better what’s going on and really decide how we improve the situation.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • What are some of the Steelers’ biggest needs in 2020? PFF chimes in on their list.

Offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams in 2020

By: Ben Linsey, Pro Football Focus

PITTSBURGH STEELERS: NEW FACES ON THE INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE

Secondary needs: edge defender, field-stretching tight end, quarterback

The Steelers have had one of the most stable and consistent offensive lines in the NFL over the last several seasons, but it could be time to inject some new life into the group, particularly on the interior. Ramon Foster is 34 years old and coming off the worst overall PFF grade of his career in 2019. Maurkice Pouncey is also coming off the lowest PFF grade of his career and carries a cap hit of $11 million in both 2020 and 2021. It would behoove the Steelers to start looking toward the future at those positions, especially with backup interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney entering free agency.

As for other needs, the future of the quarterback position became a clear priority with the dismal play of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in relief of Ben Roethlisberger. No team had fewer receiving yards from the tight end position than the Steelers, so an upgrade could certainly be in order there to give Roethlisberger another downfield threat. Lastly, edge becomes a priority if Bud Dupree leaves in free agency, something that the Steelers shouldn’t be afraid to allow happen if the price gets too high.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • At this point, do you feel sort of sorry for Antonio Brown? The man clearly needs some type of help...

Antonio Brown continues to be his own worst enemy

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

It’s entirely possible that Antonio Brown has a health condition that has caused him to consistently act in bizarre and erratic ways over the course of the last year. If so, someone who can influence him to get the help he needs should do everything in his or her power to make that happen.

If Brown is of sound mind, the only explanation for his endless run of misguided words and deeds is that he’s a selfish, entitled athlete who was never told “no” before Week 17 of the 2018 season, that he has consistently heard “no” since then, and that he isn’t handling it well.

Regardless, the latest AB-being-AB incident is far different than the rest. It went ignored in this space for a day in part because he won’t be relevant to the NFL until the 2020 season, at the earliest, and in part because of AB fatigue. The video that Brown himself posted on social media shows him yelling and screaming profanties at the mother of one or more of his children, with at least two children. Brown also repeatedly berates the police with a profane tirade that seems like it never will end.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

#Steelers President Art Rooney II discusses the state of the Rooney Rule on @nflnetwork. pic.twitter.com/Hdm3HNQxPY

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

Our defense led the league with 5️⃣4️⃣ sacks in the regular season.

all of them ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/V4RD1nnogi

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2020

pic.twitter.com/crPqgA92mu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 14, 2020

JuJu Smith-Schuster and the @steelers organization donated to Meals on Wheels through the Social Justice Grant program. #InspireChange

MORE: https://t.co/Nxk7qdBruV pic.twitter.com/nDDY3KcUoG

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) January 14, 2020

BTSC Bookie: Betting each of the NFL conference championship games

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 4:03pm
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 in the playoffs

It is time for the Conference Championship 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 in various options for each conference championship game.
  • There will be 4 betting options for users to place a vote on three different scenarios. The values are as of Tuesday evening and they are locked in throughout the voting. The polls will run until Sunday at 3:00 PM. The top result for each game will have a $50 wager placed.
  • Choices will be against the spread or the moneyline for each game. A third choice will be the over/under for both games.
Last Week’s Wager

For Divisional Weekend, we went 2-2 yet again. But due to the commission on the bets, we ended up losing money for the week. We started off rough picking the Vikings to stay within 7 points of the 49ers so we lost our $50. On the other Saturday game, the overall vote was for the Titans to stay within 10 points of the Ravens. With the commission of -120, we only earned $41.67 on the game, but the joy of watching the Ravens lose was the real prize. On Sunday, the majority of the action was on the Chiefs to win by at least 10 points with a commission of +100, so we managed to earn another $50. Unfortunately the Seahawks not staying within four points of the Packers lost the $50 right back. In all, we lost $8.33 for the week.

Week 18 Balance: $1,231.33 Week 19 Net Gain/Loss: -$8.33 Week 19 Total: $1,223.00 Conference Championship Options

Here are the options for the Conference champonship betting exercise. Each game will have both options for betting against the spread, the moneyline. A third option will be for over/under from both games. 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 $50 on the top vote getter for each choice for a total of $150. If you wish to vote more than once, clear your “cookies” on your browser and vote again.

Steelers’ CB Joe Haden named to the 2020 Pro Bowl

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 3:03pm
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It is Haden‘s third Pro Bowl appearance and his first with the Steelers

Steelers cornerback Joe Haden has been added to the 2020 Pro Bowl roster. Haden replaces the Ravens Marcus peters who is unable to participate due to injury.

Joe Haden is headed to the #ProBowl!

MORE: https://t.co/Q5QZaZX1dI pic.twitter.com/cRERFrP4Rq

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

Haden was tied for the team lead with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick with five interceptions in 2019. It was the most interceptions for Hayden since he had six in his rookie season of 2010. He also added 17 passes defensed and a fumble recovery. It also marked the first season in Haden‘s 10-year career in which he started all 16 games.

Haden joins fellow Steelers’ defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick in Miami for the Pro Bowl along with outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward.

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

Chronicling the announcement of Donnie Shell being inducted to the Hall of Fame

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 1:32pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

It took a long time, but Donnie Shell is finally in the Hall of Fame. How he found out was quite special.

It took longer than anyone thought it would. But Pittsburgh Steelers bias aside, Donnie Shell can finally call himself a Hall of Famer. It took the NFL and their Centennial class of 2020, with the NFL celebrating 100 years of existence, but I don’t think Shell will complain about how or when he gets enshrined.

Just that he will have his bust forever immortalized in Canton, OH along with the other members of those legendary 1970s Steelers who won four Super Bowls in six seasons.

The NFL decided to announce the members of their Centennial class in a unique way. Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and ex-Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson were surprised on live television, and the rest of the class was announced on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” television show.

Shell joined the show live to talk about what this honor means to him, but before that he received a very important phone call. Check it out...

Exclusive Look: HOF President David Baker calls Donnie Shell to inform him that he has been elected to the Hall of Fame.#PFHOF20 | @steelers pic.twitter.com/lh9zgkeepU

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 15, 2020

After Shell received the call he spent time with the “Good Morning Football” crew and talked about his time in college, choosing the Steelers as an undrafted rookie and how Mel Blount possibly saved his career.

Donnie Shell speaks about what being selected to the @ProFootballHOF means to him, his decision to sign with Pittsburgh, his career with the #Steelers and more on @gmfb. #PFHOF20 pic.twitter.com/d1mbja9E4X

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

For the younger Steelers fans, you might know not much about Shell other than how he has long been viewed as a snub for the Hall of Fame. Here is a video of just what Donnie Shell brought to the legendary Steel Curtain defense.

With his recent election to the #PFHOF20 class, we celebrate the career of Donnie Shell!@steelers pic.twitter.com/cAHF6bwFAm

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) January 15, 2020

Of course, following the announcement of Shell being inducted, Steelers Team President Art Rooney II released a statement. You can read it below:

#Steelers President Art Rooney II on Donnie Shell's selection to the @ProFootballHOF Centennial Class of 2020: pic.twitter.com/yO4B7XjU8G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 15, 2020

Even Bill Cowher took to his verified Twitter page to congratulate Shell and to tell him he will see him in Canton this summer.

And a special shoutout to my fellow @steelers member Donnie Shell for his induction. See you in Canton, Donnie! https://t.co/Mh7W4S54br

— Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) January 15, 2020

Former Steelers running back and NFL analyst Merril Hoge also chimed in with congratulations for Shell.

Donnie your a Hall of Famer in all categories!! Congratulations on being inducted into @ProFootballHOF ! Also a big congrats to the former commish, Paul Tagliabue who’s Vision and brilliance made the @nfl the greatest sport in the world⁣
@Steelers #herewego #steelernation pic.twitter.com/tSxZLsxYfZ

— Merril Hoge (@merrilhoge) January 15, 2020

Former teammate and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy was thrilled with Shell’s selection.

I think I’m more excited today than I was for my selection in 2016. My mentor and brother Donnie Shell has been selected to the Hall of Fame Centennial Class. No one deserves it more and I can’t wait to see him put on the Gold Jacket in August. CONGRATULATIONS DONNIE! pic.twitter.com/5eFdnCenMn

— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 15, 2020

For a full list of players, coaches and contributors being inducted as a part of the NFL’s Centennial Class, you can see the full list below:

Full Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class:

Coaches:
Jimmy Johnson
Bill Cowher

Contributors:
Paul Tagliabue
Steve Sabol
George Young

Seniors:
Harold Carmichael
Ed Sprinkle
Duke Slater
Cliff Harris
Winston Hill
Jim Covert
Alex Karras
Bobby Dillon
Donnie Shell
Mac Speedie

— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 15, 2020

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