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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2020-10-24T12:00:00-04:00
Updated: 22 min 51 sec ago

Steelers 2021 NFL Draft and College Gameday Open Thread

39 min 54 sec ago
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at Week 8 of the 2020 college football season.

Hello Steeler Nation and good Saturday afternoon! Welcome to Week 8 of the college football season. The big news of the week is the return of the Big 10 to college football. It will be a welcome site because I like the physicality of the conference in general. The Big 10 has four of my favorite players in this draft class:

Micah Parsons ILB Penn State (opted out of the season)
Pat Freiermuth TE from Penn State
Shaun Wade CB of Ohio State
Rashod Bateman WR from Minnesota

Let’s take a look at the highlighted game of the week...

Highlighted Game

No. 18 Michigan at No. 21 Minnesota — 7:30 ABC

Highlighted Player

Rashod Batemon No. 0, WR, 6’1” 210lbs

I first seen Rashod Bateman while looking at Tyler Johnson, who in his own right was a decent prospect. You couldn’t help but continually hear Bateman’s name being called for making the reception...the next reception and the next reception. I don’t remember the game and I don’t remember what Johnson did, but what I saw in about a minute and a half was all I needed to know about Bateman.

He is not the fastest, and he doesn’t possess elite height, but he will go get the football. One of the best contested catch prospects in the draft. Bateman averaged just over 20 yards a catch and had 12 TDs in 2019. He also has a decent quarterback throwing him the ball in Tanner Morgan. I see a little of JuJu Smith-Schuster and some of James Washington in his game. I’m still enjoying this season as many of you are, but there is a real possibility that Smith-Schuster will have a new zip code in 2021. I don’t like it, but there may be a need for another wide receiver and I wouldn’t mind Bateman filling that role if it plays out that way.

Other Notable Games

No. 23 NC State at No. 14 UNC Noon ESPN

No. 17 Iowa State at No. 6 Oklahoma State 3:30pm FOX

No. 9 Cincinnati at No. 16 SMU 9pm ESPN2

Join in on the conversation and tell us what game(s) you are watching and what prospect(s) you would like to see in the Black and Gold.

Stay Safe and GO STEELERS!

Predicting the Steelers’ Week 7 inactive list vs. the Titans

1 hour 9 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers may elevate a practice squad player for a third straight week with two players already ruled out for Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their biggest game of the 2020 season to date as they travel to face the undefeated Tennessee Titans. The Steelers have already ruled out two players while the Titans do not have any players with an injury status. With Derek Watt missing another game, I am proceeding with the assumption the Steelers with elevate Trey Edmunds from the practice squad like they did in Week 5 and will have 6 players inactive.

There are new rules in 2020 when it comes to the players active on game day. As long as a team has eight offensive lineman who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in previous seasons. So unless the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, there inactive list should only be five players.

NOTE: If there is a change to the projected number of inactive players after the release of the projected inactives, it will be updated to reflect the move.

Game Status

Out:
FB Derek Watt
CB Mike Hilton

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 7:

Definitely:

FB Derek Watt- Unfortunately, it looks like Watt’s hamstring injury is something which is going to nag him much longer than expected. What is it with the Steelers and fullbacks?

CB Mike Hilton- This is the biggest loss for the Steelers on the list. It is going to be difficult this week especially as the Steelers are finding ways to cover for the loss of Devin Bush.

Most Likely:

QB Josh Dobbs- Although he’s dressed in street clothes, Dobbs is contributing as he suggested Ben Roethlisberger to look to throw the pass to James Washington for a touchdown last week.

DT Carlos Davis- Inactive every game so far in 2020, it also isn’t a good sign for Davis that the Steelers promoted another defensive lineman from the practice squad.

TE Zach Gentry- As tempting as it was to move Gentry to the possibly list if the Steelers don’t promote someone from the practice squad, he hasn’t got a helmet all season so I don’t see it changing.

Possibly:

OT Derwin Gray- Active last week because David DeCastro was injured, there is a chance Gray could get a helmet if there’s only five inactives. But I doubt it.

DT Henry Mondeaux- Just signed to the Steelers active roster, the Steelers don’t usually carry 6 defensive linemen so it makes sense to list Mondeaux as at least a possibility. Frankly, I think he dresses and even sees some snaps.

Unlikely:

LB Ulysees Gilbert III- It wouldn’t be a projected inactive list if this name was not on the list. There is no way the Steelers could not have UG3 available for this game with the loss of Devin Bush.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Derek Watt
  2. Mike Hilton
  3. Josh Dobbs
  4. Carlos Davis
  5. Zach Gentry
  6. Derwin Gray

As noted at the top, I’m assuming the Steelers are elevating Trey Edmonds from the practice squad. Looking at the list, there is no player the Steelers would actually use who is healthy more than they would Edmunds. Therefore, I’m fairly confident these will be the six players announced Sunday morning.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

Steelers rookie James Pierre sure looks like a baller to this writer

1 hour 39 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers rookie CB James Pierre has exceeded even this overly optimistic BTSC writer's expectations.

In case I haven't mentioned it lately, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. I also love writing articles for our BTSC community. Each commentary article requires me to open up and reveal a little more of my nearly lifelong fandom, a glimpse behind the screen of my Black and Gold mind. I enjoy the interactions and discussions that follow with my community brethren, many of whom are almost as knowledgeable and fanatical as I am. Notice that I said almost.

Alas, even the most brilliant mind can be wrong from time to time, and I must admit that I have been guilty of such a time or two over the years, however rarely that may be. Seriously, the man who has never been wrong is the same man who never shared his opinion. As my beloved father used to say, "Show me the employee who has never made a mistake, and I will show you the employee who isn't doing anything."

That's why I like to look back over my past articles and evaluate what I got right, and what I got wrong. I was doing just that when I came across a training camp article I wrote this year about how the Steelers are always looking for their next Ike Taylor. In the article I specifically mentioned potential diamonds in the rough Justin Layne and James Pierre. For this article we will focus on Pierre.

Here was my initial impression of Pierre based on the early reports coming out of camp: James Pierre is a developmental project as well, but not because he is new to the position or over concerns with his physicality. Pierre shows the tenacity and temperament of a NFL caliber corner on film, and apparently his name keeps showing up on the camp pool reports. It may take Pierre a season on the practice squad to improve his footwork and technique to the point he can overcome his lack of elite athleticism enough to compete at the highest level. Considering how the young man loves to compete and continues to make plays during camp, it sounds like he is well worth the time invested by the coaching staff.

Honestly, I knew precious little about the young man prior to the Steelers signing him as a UDFA. I scoured the internet trying to learn anything of relevance about him as a prospect, intrigued by his measurements at first glance. Most evaluations loved his size, tenacity, and ball skills; but were concerned with his top end speed, quickness, and tight hips. He didn't do himself any favors at the Combine when he ran a 4.59 and scored poorly on other explosion drills. He seemed extremely tight and nervous at the Combine, he hardly broke a sweat. The biggest job interview of your life has that effect on many players.

At that point, I basically chalked him up as a camp body, the longest of longshots. Then training camp started and all fans could do was wait with bated breath until the press pool notes were approved for release each evening. A funny thing happened as we perused over those notes looking for any relevant and meaningful information. James Pierre's name kept popping up, and in a good way.

Tight coverage here, interception there. Nobody had any idea of the validity of these reports. Was he picking off passes going up against the first team and Big Ben, or winning matchups against Paxton Lynch and other future car salesmen? It was hard to tell because the notes often didn't mention the QB. By the way, my sincere hope that Paxton Lynch would finally amount to something with the Steelers definitely didn't come to fruition. Remember when I told you earlier in the article I have been wrong a time or two before.

Prior to cut down day and final roster announcements, I had become a believer in James Pierre. He made daily appearances in the pool reports, and there was simple too much evidence to deny his potential. Even with all that, I still underestimated the young man. I felt certain he would spent his first professional season as a member of the practice squad, but admittedly I was concerned he would be poached. Apparently, so were the Steelers, and they gave him a roster spot.

Now he is a valuable member of the Steelers special teams kick coverage units, and has earned the first two special teams tackles of his career, one each in the last two contests. He has even earned a promotion to gunner on the punt return defense unit, partly because fellow rookie Chase Claypool has been deemed too valuable to risk injury or fatigue. That has proven to be yet another opportunity for Pierre to display his impressive athleticism on the football field.

Some special team players stay in their lane and absorb the action, making the play if the returner comes into range. Pierre attacks the play aggressively, while also maintaining lane integrity. That aggressiveness was mentioned often in his pre-draft bios.

I don't know about everybody else, but I can't help but imagine Pierre lining up in press coverage out wide in the Steelers defense one day. The kid looks like a baller to me.

Pittsburgh Steelers Fact or Fiction: Smarts and Hearts edition

2 hours 39 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

BTSC takes five burning questions regarding the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers and labels them as fact or fiction.

There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the narrative is always changing. To quote the late, great Rowdy Roddy Piper, “Just when you think you’ve got all of the answers, I keep changing the questions”. Well the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving. Especially this week with the Steelers looking dominant against the Cleveland Browns last week and visiting a 5-0 Titans team this week. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.

Are we on point? Only time will tell because like Stephen King says, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie”.

Robert Spillane won’t remain the starter at inside linebacker for the remainder of 2020 Fiction

People wonder why Ulysses Gilbert III was not the next man up for the Steelers at inside linebacker when Devin Bush went down in Week 6 against Cleveland. It wasn’t an indictment on UG3’s performance at practice, it was more of a certification of the hidden gem that is Robert Spillane. It has been reported that Spillane had turned multiple heads in the Steelers organization and his reputation as a hard hitter earned as a special teams standout was legitimized by his massive teeth-rattling hit on Kareem Hunt last week. Will the Steelers look to another franchise’s practice squad or trade block to add another player? I’m sure calls have already been placed to a majority of the 31 teams and to players that have recently sat down on the couch as well. But if consistency and familiarity is the key, which it usually is in the NFL, then Spillane is the inside man for the remainder of 2020.

Ben Roethlisberger is playing the smartest football of his career Fact

In his time away from BTSC Jeff Hartman had a chance to talk to certain Pittsburgh columnists. When he inquired about the difference between Past Ben and Present Ben, the overwhelming response suggested that Ben Roethlisberger has turned into a “film room addict” in recent years. You can tell by watching Ben this year that the hard work has paid off immensely. No. 7’s football smarts are apparently off the charts, as well as his decision making. Roethlisberger’s 10:1 touchdown to interception ratio, his ball spreading to many a different target and his keen play calling suggest the most intelligent play of his NFL career.

Despite the hot start, the Steelers won’t break their team sack record Fiction

Actually, this statement is overwhelmingly fictional. The team’s all-time sack mark is 56 in 2017. Through five contests, the 2020 Steelers have 24 for an average of 4.8 per game. At this particular juncture, the Steelers would need to average only three quarterback tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the next 11 games. Seriously, merely breaking the team record at this point would be a buzz kill. Capturing the NFL record set in 1984 by the Bears getting 72 sacks would require the Steelers to average a little less than 4 1⁄2 per game. With this team coming after quarterbacks at all angles like never before, I’m looking for the wish to be fulfilled.

Chase Claypool will win the NFL Rookie of the Year Award Fiction

Chase Claypool is having a magical start to his NFL career, but it seems like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert or Clyde Edwards-Hellaire could be the favorites right now. No. 11 may be in that next-tier consisting of Jonathan Taylor, Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb. But if the Canadian sensation continues his current trends, he will end the year with 54 receptions, 1,085 yards and 19 touchdowns. That may just change some minds.

The Steelers offensive line will see some lean years ahead Fiction

Sure, the Steelers are getting long-in-the-tooth on the offensive line. However, Chuks Okorafor and Kevin Dotson have been getting great experience this season and could be future standouts protecting quarterbacks and paving the way for Steelers ball carriers. The early thought remains that an offensive lineman will be high on the team’s shopping list in 2021, but the future still looks bright with No. 76 and 69.

Are these statements valid? We will soon see. I, personally, am not endorsing all five of these scenarios, but it’s what my gut tells me will occur. What matters most are your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.

Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game:

Life has a way of repeating itself, and is why the Steelers will lose to the Titans on Sunday

3 hours 39 min ago
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Do you believe in Deja vu? No? Too bad, because the Steelers will repeat history with a loss to the old Oilers this Sunday.

The Steelers will suffer their first loss of the 2020 regular season at the hands of the Titans this Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Wow, the lede to this article sure does make it seem like I have some sort of insider knowledge regarding the outcome of Sunday’s extremely important clash between two 5-0 teams. However, I can assure you, I do not, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t be writing the lede to this story on a $270 laptop. In fact, I wouldn’t be writing any lede on any laptop—I’d be too busy sailing on my yacht thanks to all my insider knowledge earnings.

No, I just feel as if life has a way of repeating itself. Some call it Déjà vu. Some call it a crock of crap. But no matter what you want to call it, it’s probably true. I believe this is especially true in the world of sports. Why do I believe this? Is it because I’m left-handed? Is it because I didn’t get enough attention at home and/or school? Is it because the kids at school were mean to me?

All those things are probably accurate to some extent, but that doesn’t make my theory a crock of crap.

You see, the Steelers are 5-0 for the first time since 1978. I know what you’re going to say. If life really is repeating itself, shouldn’t Pittsburgh win its next two games before suffering a loss? No, that’s just stupid. If you are familiar with the Titans’ history, you may know that they used to be the Houston Oilers. The Oilers were once fierce divisional rivals of the Steelers way back in the old AFC Central days.

The rivalry was particularly strong during the late- ‘70s when the two franchises met in back-to-back AFC title games at old Three Rivers Stadium.

But before the Oilers could work their way up to contender status, they had to earn some respect from Pittsburgh, a team that had been reigning supreme in the division since 1972.

And that brings us to the evening of October 23, 1978. The Oilers marched into TRS with a 4-3 record and left for the Lone Star State hours later with a 24-17 victory over Pittsburgh.

What happened in that game? I don’t know exactly, but I’m guessing it was coaching (I always said Chuck Noll won with at least some of the players Bill Austin likely would have drafted if he wasn’t fired). It probably also had something to do with Oilers running back Earl Campbell, the Derrick Henry of his day.

So, if you’re still following me, this is why I believe the Titans will hand Pittsburgh its first loss of the season on Sunday, October 25 (my goodness, even the date is darn-near identical—spooky).

I know what you’re going to say. Yes, the Titans, last season’s AFC runners-up, aren’t exactly looking for respect, what with being a juggernaut and all. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could say Pittsburgh is the team that is looking for respect after missing the postseason the past two years. You could say the roles are reversed this time, with the black and gold being the road team who will hand Tennessee its first loss. In my world, this is why the Broncos and Steelers handed one another AFC title game home losses eight years apart.

But that’s probably a bit too crock of crappy. No, let’s keep this simple. If the Steelers are going to go on and win the Super Bowl in February (or June), they need to keep this whole Déjà vu thing going by suffering their first loss of the 2020 season at the hands of the team formerly known as the Houston Oilers.

Finally, if you don’t want to buy my theory (and I can’t think of any good reason why you wouldn’t), Derrick Henry wants to have a word with you about keeping it real.

Taking a closer look at the Steelers newest practice squad LB Ray Wilborn

5 hours 9 min ago
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

An article dedicated to helping Steelers Nation get to know their newest practice squad addition, LB/S Ray Wilborn.

There are two well known facts that I should at least mention as I begin this hopefully informative article. First, anyone familiar with my articles already knows I love writing, and waxing poetically about Steelers linebackers. They always make for great topics of discussion.

Secondly, the Pittsburgh Steelers absolutely love their MAC players and have created some semblance of an underground pipeline for identifying and obtaining talent from that relatively overlooked conference. The Mid-America Conference is somehow developing talented young men who were under recruited coming out of high school; the conference simply doesn't get four and five star recruits, then turns them into hard working late bloomers who seem to be a perfect fit quite often for the type of player and person the Steelers are interested in.

Earlier this week the Steelers invited free agent LB Ray Wilborn in for a workout, in advance of the already confirmed roster spot opening created by Devin Bush's season ending knee injury and surgery. No information was immediately available after the workout, but I assumed if Wilborn was to be signed it would be to the practice squad. That's exactly what happened, with the Steelers announcing the signing on Friday.

That got me asking the question. Just who is this Ray Wilborn character, and what does he have to offer the team? I immediately conducted a little research and admittedly was intrigued by what I learned. I am also slightly confused about just what to call him positional wise at this point of his career. So let's just call him yet another LB/S hybrid.

The Steelers roster is presently filled with MAC players, most notably future HOF QB Ben Roethlisberger. Both young men apparently being entrusted with replacing Bush: Robert Spillane and Ulysses Gilbert lll, are from the MAC conference. Bet you can't guess where Ray Wilborn played his collegiate football. Starting to notice a trend?

Ray Wilborn went the junior college route, where he won a national title playing for Garden City Community College in Kansas in 2016. He transferred to Ball State University in 2018 where he played OLB. He proved to himself and the coaching staff that he could play with the big boys when he enjoyed a huge performance in a near upset of Notre Dame in a road game, collecting the first of four career interceptions. His athleticism and coverage abilities were on full display against elite competition.

Prior to the 2019 season, the coaches needed a free safety and they considered the 6'4" 224 lbs. Wilborn to be their best and most versatile defender, so they moved him to safety. It made sense, since Wilborn has solid speed, excels in coverage, and is intelligent and coachable. He performed admirably by all accounts even if he was playing out of position for the betterment of the team. Another team first player signed by the Steelers. I am noticing a trend.

Just how good in 2018 was Wilborn as a linebacker in pass coverage?

Ray Wilborn was solid in coverage for Ball State last year and allowed the lowers passer rating in the MAC. pic.twitter.com/8VWvVIQv0r

— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 29, 2019

He allowed the lowest passer rating against for a linebacker in the MAC conference according to PFF. That type of speed and coverage ability is a coveted commodity in today's NFL, and against the creativity on full display with modern day offenses.

Here's a snippet from one of Wilborn's pre-draft evaluations:

Positives: Nice-sized linebacker who plays smart, tough football. Breaks down well and fires up the field against the run. Wraps up tackling and brings ball carriers down at the point of attack. Hard-hitting, displays solid range and gets depth on pass drops. Plays faster than his 40 time. Moves well in every direction of the field. Sells out up the field on the blitz.

Negatives: Slow to shed blocks despite his size and gets washed up in the trash. Often slow to locate the action or ball carrier.

Analysis: Wilborn possesses solid size and speed and has shown some versatility. He must brush off his instincts if possible, but he could make an active roster as an eighth linebacker and special-teams player.

You can never have too many athletically gifted, highly coachable, team first players on your roster. Wilborn's official position with the Steelers is linebacker, according to the Steelers official site. He sounds like a developmental project along the same vein as his fellow MAC brethren and Steelers teammates Spillane and Gilbert.

That sounds good to me.

Podcast: The bigger they are, the harder they fall

5 hours 39 min ago

BTSC continues to offer new podcast for your Steelers listening pleasure. Check out our latest weekly venture with an international flavor. Put another shrimp on the barbie and check out Steelers Touchdown Under with two blokes from Australia, Matty Peverell and Mark Davison.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a chance to be the last undefeated team in the NFL and extend their season mark to 6-0. To do that, they are assigned the task of taking down the other undefeated team, the Tennessee Titans. As has been with the Steelers playing big games, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Join Matty Peverell and Mark Davison from Steelers Nation Australia (and the future) as they bring an international perspective to the Steelers flushing down of the Browns, the Week 7 matchup with Derrick Henry, the Titans and much, much more. This is what will be discussed on the Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Overall preview to Week 7
  • Reactions to Steelers vs. Browns, including Devin Bush’s unfortunate injury
  • Players to watch for the Steelers and Titans
  • ‘Slingin’ the Slang’
  • Punts of the Week
  • and MUCH MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Part 1

Part 2

Show off your BTSC support with the Behind The Steel Curtain T-shirts!

6 hours 39 min ago
BreakingT

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Nothing more, nothing less.

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In the past we ran an article requesting just where fans were located as they enjoyed the website. What we found out was Steelers Nation is not a nation, it is the world! There were fans from all around the globe that consume the content of BTSC every single day!

So, show your pride for the best Steelers site on the internet with one of these awesome new shirts! Just click HERE or the link below the images to access the entire BTSC Fan Shop, and be on the lookout for new designs coming soon!

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Report: Steelers to sign punter Jordan Berry on Saturday

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 7:16pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After releasing Dustin Colquitt on Friday, the Steelers are set to bring back their punter from the last 5 seasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have a full 16-man practice squad but only 52 players on their active roster. With the Steelers releasing punter Dustin Colquitt as well as placing linebacker Devin Bush on the Reserve/Injured List, there were two spots available on the active roster. The promotion of defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux from the practice squad and the subsequent signing of linebacker Ray Wilborn to take Mondeaux’s place still left one spot remaining for the Steelers going into their Week 7 match up with the Tennessee Titans. Additionally, the roster moves also left the Steelers without a punter other than Corliss Waitman on the practice squad.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the open roster spot is one the Steelers are saving for former punter Jordan Berry.

The Steelers are expected to sign P Jordan Berry, per source. This comes on the heels of releasing Dustin Colquitt earlier today and brings Berry back to the team he punted for from 2015-2019.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 23, 2020

Berry acted as the Steelers punter for the last five seasons when he won the job over fellow Aussie Brad Wing in 2015. Although Berry held a 45.5 yard per punt average in 2019, two fumbles late in the season and inconsistent play had the Steelers looking for a higher quality and less expensive option going into 2020.

Prior to their Week 1 game against the New York Giants, the Steelers signed 15-year veteran Dustin Colquitt and released Berry. After Colquitt’s less-than-stellar five games in Pittsburgh, it appears the Steelers decided to make a change back to Berry.

One item of interest for Steelers fans will be the salary used to sign Barry. The Steelers are already charged a $375,000 dead money amount as part of Berry’s signing bonus from his previous contract. Ultimately, signing Jordan Berry to a league-minimum deal would be in the best interest of the Steelers as they are currently bidding against no one for his services.

The reason the signing of Berry will not take place until Saturday is due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols for signing a new player. Berry worked out for the Steelers on Monday which means he would be set to join the team on Saturday before they travel to Nashville.

Making the change at punter is not something to Steelers have been known to do mid season. It was believed by many Steelers fans that part of the reason Jordan Berry was kept throughout 2019 was due to the Steelers not wanting to change up the three-man special-teams squad of long snapper, holder, and kicker on field goals in extra points. While Colquitt performed admirably as a holder, it was his punting skills which ultimately did him in with the black and gold. With Jordan Berry, his familiarity with the other two players gave him the inside track to re-join the Steelers if a change was going to be made.

Whether or not Berry ends up as an improvement in the punting game remains to be seen. Hopefully his five games away from the Steelers gave Berry the motivation to refocus on consistency above anything else.

Stay tuned to BTSC for continued coverage as the Steelers travel to take on the Tennessee Titans this Sunday in Nashville.

Antonio Brown re-joins Tom Brady, signs one-year deal with Buccaneers

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 6:22pm
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown is back, but in the NFC with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers faithful have been wondering what would happen with their former All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.

After Brown talked his way out of Pittsburgh, he was traded to the Oakland Raiders before working his way to catching passes from Tom Brady with the New England Patriots.

After being cut by New England, Brown has been out of the league, but after serving a suspension he has found his way back with Brady, just with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Brown and the Buccaneers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.

Update: Antonio Brown and the Buccaneers have reached agreement on a one-year deal, per sources.

Language still has to be finalized, COVID protocols passed, but Brown is likely to make his Bucs’ debut in Week 9 against the Saints.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 23, 2020

Brown will not just have a reunion with Brady, but also former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

Will this work out better than his time in Pittsburgh, Oakland and New England?

Only time will tell, but the only chance Brown plays the team who drafted him out of Central Michigan would be in Super Bowl 54.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes as the Steelers prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Week 7.

Friday Night Six Pack of questions and open thread: Week 7 Edition

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 5:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the black-and-gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Dave, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

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.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. The Steelers released veteran punter Dustin Colquitt today and did not sign another punter to the active roster even though they only have 52 players. The two options are a return of Jordan Berry who had a workout on Monday and would clear the Covid protocols on Saturday, or elevating Corliss Waitman from the practice squad. Which move are you making?

2. NFL coaches like to break down NFL seasons into quarters. Teams going 3-1 each quarter is a desired result as the final record would be 12-4. If the Steelers were to go 3-1 in their second quarter, which game ( vs. Cleveland, at Tennessee, at Baltimore, and at Dallas) would be the best loss in your mind?

3. Any special plans for watching the big game this week?

4. Did the Steelers decisive win over the 4-1 Browns on Sunday give you more confidence in this team, or will it always be “just the Browns” in your eyes regardless of their record?

5. The Titans have only surrendered 6 sacks in 2020 which is tied for the fewest with the Indianapolis Colts (granted in one less game). Is this the week their 62 regular-season game sack streak comes to an end? If not, how many sacks do you think the Steelers get on Sunday?

6. The Steelers have two straight games of scoring 38 points. Tennesse is the 26th ranked defense in the league. Do the Steelers get close to 38 again on Sunday?

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out Jeff’s new morning show Let’s Ride, Bryan and Tony’s Steelers Retro Show or Dave’s Steelers Stat Geek, or even the new evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Which members of the Steelers aren't living up to expectations?

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 2:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers need to receive some greater contributions from some of their players

The Pittsburgh Steelers have rolled right along through the early part of the season. When you look back at this teams success you won't have to search long to find some big time continuation from a number of players. However, there are some players that aren't quite meeting expectation. Be it a big contract, injury, misuse, or just generally not hitting their projections. The Steelers would love to get a bigger impact from the following players.

Derek Watt Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers fullback is the third highest paid player at his position across the NFL. Watt has also battled a hamstring injury that took him out of three different games. When healthy Watt has been a force in special teams, and has sprung some long runs when he’s lead blocking on offense. The problem is he doesn't get to play many offensive snaps, and when he does he never gets the ball.

For his price tag, I would like the Steelers coaches to utilize what they have at fullback. In this circumstance it really isn't the players fault.

Ulysees Gilbert III Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

BTSC’s 2020 Redman award winner, has completely disappeared since the start of the season. As a matter of fact the middle linebacker has only appeared in one game, while being designated a healthy scratch every other week. What ever is going on behind the scenes keeping Gilbert out of the line up better figure itself out quick. As the season ending injury to Devin Bush is going to force Gilbert into game action. We can only hope he’s ready.

Jaylen Samuels Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Steelers third year running back has slid all the way to the bottom of the teams depth chart. Samuels, once had a promising future with the club after lighting up the Patriots back in 2018, now looks like someone on the brink of being cut. I don't know whether or not Samuels can pull himself out of the tail spin at this point, but if he receives any more touches in 2020 he will need more positive results.

Chris Wormley Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

When the Steelers dealt for someone off of the Ravens roster it initially sent shockwaves around Steelers nation. The biggest question being why would the two rival teams do this. At this point it looks as though the Steelers may have wasted a second consecutive fifth round pick. Wormley, who is in a contract year, has rarely seen the field. When he does play he is nearly invisible. With just three tackles (one solo) in five games it hard not to look over at Baltimore and what they received with their fifth round pick (Calais Campbell). Wormley needs to up his production as the top back up defensive lineman.

Names not appearing on my list:

JuJu Smith-Schuster: The most veteran Steelers receiver has struggled to put up wide receiver one stats but has taken the attention from other teams top corners. This in turn has given guys like Chase Claypool, and James Washington a lot of room to work. Smith-Schuster appearing on the injury report with a knee injury on a weekly basis also screams to me that he isn't quite healthy and is gutting out the pain.

Justin Layne: The 2019 third round pick hasn't gotten to play much, at all. This really isn't the Michigan State alum’s fault. The four corners listed above Layne on the depth chart are some of the leagues best and it would be hard for nearly anyone to supplant the Steelers starters.

What do you think? Did I miss any names? Let us know down in the comments below!

Steelers Injury Report: Derek Watt, Mike Hilton ruled out for Sunday

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 1:04pm
Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Neither Hilton or Watt practiced all week and are the only two Steelers with an injury designation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished their weekly preparation to face the Tennessee Titans in Nashville this Sunday as two of the three remaining undefeated teams face off at 1 PM. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR Department, 2 players did not practice Friday and have been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Steelers PR Department

Looking first at the good news, both Diontae Johnson and David DeCastro will return to the Steelers lineup this Sunday after missing last week as they both practiced all week and do not carry an injury status. Additionally, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Maurkice Pouncey, who were given Wednesday off with minor injuries, both participated fully on Thursday and Friday as expected.

The bad news comes in the form of fullback Derek Watt and cornerback Mike Hilton both being ruled out for Sunday’s game. This will be the second game the Steelers fullback has missed in 2020 as Watt did not participate in the Steelers Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In the previous game Watt missed, the Steelers elevated running back Trey Edmunds from the practice squad to help fill his role both on special teams and the limited snaps the Steelers used a fullback.

The bigger loss to the Steelers for Sunday is cornerback Mike Hilton. Arguably one of their best players in the secondary, Hilton has had a great season playing the slot cornerback position, particularly blitzing the quarterback. With the Steelers trying to adjust their defense for the loss of Devin Bush for the season, not having Hilton available does not make the task any easier. In nickel packages, look for Cam Sutton to step into the slot cornerback role. As for dime, Sutton was usually already on the field. After Hilton exited the Steelers game against the Cleveland Browns, there were some plays in which Steven Nelson moved to the slot cornerback position and Justin Layne came on to play on the outside. Exactly how the Steelers will handle the loss of Hilton this week remains to be seen.

One procedural note, with the Steelers officially putting Devin Bush on the Reserve/Injured List earlier on Friday he will no longer appear on the Steelers injury report.

As for the Titans’ official injury report, you can see the names below when available.

For a recap of the injury report, check out the BTSC Steelers Injury Update podcast below when available.

Locker room chemistry is a key component of the 2020 Steelers success

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 12:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

More than just winning, this Steelers team has something special going

The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers have something special going on. Yes, they are 5-0 as they head to Nashville to take on the only other remaining undefeated team in the AFC. But there is something else to the Steelers team, and the more Steelers fans understand it the more they need to appreciate the Steelers front office’s willingness to protect it.

The Steelers locker room is really something special.

Sometimes fans get it and sometimes they just don’t see this aspect of the game. When a team comes together in the locker room, there’s so much more they can do on the field. Of course it’s easier to have a good locker room when a team is winning, but this started long before the Steelers took the field for the first time in 2020.

Going through the different training camp setting required this season, the Steelers had a different mentality. From the beginning head coach Mike Tomlin made the statement of “It’s one fail, all fail” which speaks both to the teams mentality when it comes to Covid procedures as well as the season in general. By players and personnel needing to take the precautions needed to in order to make this season happen, it appears it has brought this team together even more. Add the fact not one single Steelers player opted out for the season already and it felt like something special was going on with this team from the very beginning.

As the season progresses, more evidence continues to emerge about the quality the Steelers locker room. Ben Roethlisberger cannot say enough about his young wide receivers. Remember, Roethlisberger is only seven games removed from having a team which included Antonio Brown. Seeing the Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster smiling and happy after a win where he had a minimal contribution shows the difference in this wide receivers room which Roethlisberger hasn’t seen for a long time.

For those who may not have seen Thursday’s Minkah Fitzpatrick interview, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree decided to drop in and take over for a while. It was quite comical for anyone watching as Fitzpatrick burst out into laughter at their responses. While many may put this into just people having fun, the fact that they can have fun and not feel like they’re stealing each other spotlight is something to be noted.

Bud Dupree and TJ Watt’s impersonation of Minkah’s would-be answer about Alabama is also pretty hilarious pic.twitter.com/49LFQ0OajL

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 22, 2020

Another example of the Steelers locker room being different is Steelers tight end Eric Ebron. One of the biggest complaints about Ebron coming into 2020 was his presence in the locker room in his previous stops in the NFL. What has happened since he’s come to the Steelers? There haven’t been any problems reported. Additionally, Ebron is jumping for joy on the sidelines at Steelers games.

So what’s the big deal? Why even talk about the Steelers locker room chemistry? Whether it’s great or if it’s terrible, does it really matter if the team is winning?

Yes, it does.

The biggest thing the Steelers need to make sure they do this season is not screw it up. As the trade deadline approaches, many feel the Steelers could possibly make a move to bolster their roster. But as much as a player can bring to the field, the Steelers also need to be aware of what the player would bring to the locker room.

I understand that just because someone has a black and gold T-shirt and a smart phone it doesn’t mean they speak for Steelers’ Nation. There are plenty of takes presented on social media, many of which are absolutely terrible. I’m going to highlight one or two that I’ve seen from multiple places and show how little they consider locker room chemistry.

“The Steelers need to trade JuJu NOW! They’re going to get nothing from him if they don’t.”

Why are the Steelers concerned about getting something in return for a player who may or may not leave via free agency following this season? The Steelers are 5-0. This year is what it’s all about. Not only that, why would the Steelers even consider taking their locker room leader in the wide receivers room and shipping him off somewhere else? What message does that send to the other young players on the team? What if JuJu Smith-Schuster is the glue that holds them all together?

I’m not going to quote the next one exactly, but even some former Steelers has chimed in on the topic of the Steelers trading for Dwayne Haskins. I don’t understand the point. First, what are they going to have to give up to get him? Next, how is he going to help the Steelers win in 2020? And finally, why would the Steelers disrupt a quarterback room which appears to be functioning quite well?

In case you’re wondering why I make the statement about a well-functioning quarterback room, it’s based on the James Washington touchdown in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns. The story about this play is it was presented to Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines by third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs who saw something where he thought it would work.

The reason this is such a big deal is Ben Roethlisberger is trusting the other players in the quarterback room. Why would Ben Roethlisberger listen to Dobbs unless these guys have something going on? Roethlisberger has been doing this more than all the other guys in the room combined, but yet Roethlisberger listened to Dobbs, Steelers scored a touchdown, and Roethlisberger gave Dobbs the credit.

How much do fans really know about the Steelers locker room? We can look for evidence through various things, but it’s really difficult to find out the information with certainty. After the fact, we found out so much about Steelers superstars from several years ago and the issues going on. But from everything that is coming out in 2020, this is not the case with this team. This team is rolling on and off the field.

As a Steelers fan, remember the importance of locker room chemistry, specifically in season. Yes, it would be nice if the Steelers could go out and compile as much talent as possible before the trade deadline. But if there’s any question as to whether or not it’s going to upset the balance in the locker room while this team is on a roll, then don’t even bother picking up the phone.

Ben Roethlisberger’s play is overshadowing a great James Conner season

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 11:30am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back is having an outstanding season, and no one is really noticing.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are off to their best start since 1978, and their 5-0 record will be tested to the brink in Week 7 when they face the also 5-0 Tennessee Titans in Nashville. But throughout the team’s perfect start, the main talking point on offense has been Ben Roethlisberger.

And rightfully so.

Roethlisberger is coming off season-ending elbow surgery, and his play has steadily increased throughout the 2020 regular season. However, has Roethlisberger’s stellar play overshadowed James Conner’s season?

The main aspect of Conner’s game which is often discussed by fans would be his health. His inability to play in 16 games since being drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nonetheless, Conner has quietly been putting together a tremendous season.

Just look at his stats through five games this season:

5 games, 75 rushes, 369 yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 4 TD, 59 yard long

When you compare these statistics from just five games to his previous seasons, you can see the kind of start he is having.

2019: 464 yards, 4 TDs, 20 yard long
2018: 973 yards, 12 TDs, 30 yard long
2017: 114 yards, 0 TD, 23 yard long

During his Thursday press conference, via Zoom, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner was asked about what Conner being an underrated member of the offense.

“When James [Conner] is healthy, he’s really a good back.” Fichtner said. “He is all three downs capable. He can excel in short yardage and go on. He is a powerful runner. When he is basically healthy, he’s protecting the ball. He’s finding creases. He’s moving piles. We’ve seen his ability to catch out of the backfield, and I value the ability to protect our quarterback.”

It is without a doubt exciting to see Conner remaining healthy, and while that can change in the blink of an eye, Fichtner acknowledges the work Conner has put in to remain healthy.

“Like I said, James has been healthy, he’s worked awful hard maintaining his body and doing the things he’s supposed to be doing. That’s exciting.”

When you are talking about keeping a running back healthy, one of the things play callers need to keep in the back of their heads are the amount of carries the running back gets. What is the perfect number of carries for Fichtner?

About 12-18 carries.

“I think any runner if they can get the majority of touches anywhere in that 12- to 18-type touch. If they’re kind of in a flow and you have a good feel, or they probably have a good feel or maybe the feel didn’t come to them that day. It’s nice to have other backs that can do selected other things.”

With that said, Fichtner also realizes keeping Conner healthy means getting other backs like Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr. and Jaylen Samuels involved more than they have been so far this year.

“I wish we could play some of the backs more.” Fichtner added. “When you have a hot hand, you go with it. Like I said, James has done nothing to come off the field, but knowing and given the circumstances that when he is fresh, he is a bull and that is awesome. We have to keep him fresh, and we have to substitute other guys. We have other guys that are very capable.”

While Roethlisberger’s season has been tremendous, one of the reasons he has succeeded as much as he has is in large part because of Conner’s, and the ground game, success. Keeping that going will be critical for the Steelers’ success for the rest of the 2020 regular season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Week 7.

Podcast: Steelers vs. Titans is so much more than slowing down Derrick Henry

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 11:00am

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis talk news of the day and everything surrounding Week 7 vs, Tennessee. All of this while mixing in fun and frivolity like only they do.

The Steelers are going to the beautiful city of Nashville this weekend. The key to a good and successful trip to Music City is not just about eating the best fried chicken in the world, listening to country music and merely slowing down Titans running back Derrick Henry. For the Steelers, it’s facing the finest young coach in the league and a well-rounded team on both sides of the ball. It is truly going to be a Tennessee task. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold and there you have the topic for the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis. Join the triumphant trio as they combine the down all things Steelers and with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injury Report
  • Updated Odds
  • Players to Watch
  • X-Factor
  • Predictions
  • Trivia

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers release Dustin Colquitt, place Devin Bush on IR and more moves

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 10:41am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made several moves prior to their Week 7 game vs. the Tennessee Titans.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Tennessee Titans in Week 7, and have made several moves prior to this showdown of 5-0 teams. Some moves were expected, while others were definitely shocking.

Friday the Steelers announced they have released punter Dustin Colquitt, placed Devin Bush on Injured Reserve (IR) after tearing his ACL in Week 6, promoted defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux to the 53-man roster and signed linebacker Ray Wilborn to their practice squad.

This per the Steelers’ verified Twitter feed:

We have made several roster moves:

▪️ Released P Dustin Colquitt
▪️ Placed LB Devin Bush on the Reserve/Injured List
▪️ Promoted DE Henry Mondeaux to the 53-man roster
▪️ Signed LB Ray Wilborn to the practice squad@BordasLaw https://t.co/fyEw5vzp8W

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 23, 2020

While the news of Bush going to IR is not a shock to anyone who follows the team, the news of Colquitt being released has to be a shock considering Colquitt was signed prior to the season after the team released Jordan Berry.

Colquitt struggled with getting the desired results with punting in the five games he played with the Steelers. Averaging 43.1 yards per punt, Colquitt ranked 28th in the league. The 38-year-old veteran had seen a decline in his yards per punt in each of the last three seasons. Colquitt spent the previous 15 seasons in Kansas City where he earned two Pro Bowl selections in 2012 and 2016.

One strength Colquitt brought to the Steelers in 2020 was his holding ability on extra points and field goals. One example came this past week on an extra point against the Cleveland Browns.

This play wont show up in the highlights, but this hold by Steelers Punter Dustin Colquitt is very very impressive. Well done pic.twitter.com/8TkEN3MyT2

— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) October 20, 2020

The Steelers now currently don’t have a punter on their active roster, but have options with Corliss Waitman on the team’s practice squad. Waitman was a part of the Steelers’ training camp, and earned himself a spot on the expanded practice squad after cuts were made. With that said, the team also worked out Jordan Berry this past week, and could re-sign him before the team leaves for Nashville this weekend.

The caveat in these transactions is how players have to clear the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols before they can be signed to a team. This would make it difficult to see anyone from the outside coming in before Week 7. A promotion of Waitman would make the most sense, but even if he is promoted fans should expect another move to be made.

The player taking one of the active roster spots is defensive lineman Henry Mondeaux. One of the Steelers four protected players on the practice squad each week, Mondeaux has been a staple on the Steelers practice squad since the beginning of the 2019 season. Undrafted out of the University of Oregon in 2018, Mondeaux was signed by the New Orleans Saints but failed to make the roster or the practice squad until late December. Signing a futures contract with the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2018 season, Mondeaux did not make to to training camp with the Chiefs and signed with the Steelers where he has been ever since.

The player taking Mondeaux’s spot of the 16-man practice squad is inside linebacker Ray Wilborn who had a workout with the Steelers on Monday. Wilborn spent training camp with the Atlanta Falcons after going undrafted in the 2020 NFL draft out of Ball State. In his two years at Ball State, Wilborn had 166 tackles, three sacks, four interceptions, eight passes defensed, and two forced fumbles.

In the meantime, the Steelers will continue to prepare for the Tennessee Titans in Week 7, and kicker Chris Boswell has to be wondering who will be the holder for him in this big game at Nissan Stadium. For now, the Steelers only have 52 players on their active roster so another roster move should be coming soon.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest new and notes surrounding the black and gold as they try to remain perfect in this 2020 regular season.

Expert Picks: Experts split when choosing the winner of Steelers vs. Titans

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 9:30am

The biggest game of Week 7 is the 5-0 Steelers vs. 5-0 Titans in Nashville. Time to see who the experts like in this AFC showdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans make up two-thirds of the NFL’s unbeaten teams, the other being the Seattle Seahawks, and they will go head-to-head in Week 7 in Nashville. This game was supposed to happen in Week 4, but due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Tennessee organization it altered the scheduled and bumped the game back to Week 7.

Here we are with one of the biggest games of the season is on the docket, and it is time to take a look at who the experts like in this AFC showdown between undefeated teams.

Let’s take a look...

There are some expert panels who just put their picks into the computer and it generates the winning team. Then there are sites who actually expound on their picks and explain why. As you’ll see, the experts are pretty split on who wins this game.

Let’s start at the Sporting News where they think it is the Titans who edge the Steelers at home and remain perfect:

The league’s second-best offense meets the second-best defense, but the Steelers suffered a major blow losing Devin Bush for the season with a torn ACL. Derrick Henry — who leads the NFL with 588 rushing yards — will keep the Titans on schedule, and Ryan Tannehill makes enough plays to keep Tennessee unbeaten.

Pick: Titans 23, Steelers 20

Will Brinson of CBS Sports also jumped on the Titans’ bandwagon in Week 7, seeing Ryan Tannehill as the difference maker against a very stout Steelers defense.

Fascinating game! The Titans are one of the best running teams in football. The Steelers are the best run defense in football. My two biggest questions are: 1) how does Tennessee attack the Pittsburgh defense and 2) how much does Devin Bush’s absence impact the Steelers D? On the former question, I sort of feel like Arthur Smith is going to attack early with Ryan Tannehill and the pass game to loosen up the front seven and then pound the ball with Derrick Henry. I don’t know that, but it’s what I would do. On the latter, we saw the Steelers lose Ryan Shazier and their defense completely fell off a cliff, basically until things clicked for Bush last year as a rookie. He was playing some outstanding football — how much will it matter for this defense? We won’t know until Sunday. I think it matters a lot and we get a shootout — since Ryan Tannehill took over as the Titans starter, the over is 13-2 for Tennessee.

The Pick: Titans 38, Steelers 35

There was finally someone who decided to take the Steelers this Sunday, and that would be none other than Pete Prisco of CBS Sports who thinks Pittsburgh goes into Nissan Stadium and finds a way to move their record to 6-0.

This is the game of the week, matching two undefeated teams. This is the rescheduled game from earlier this year that was lost to COVID-19 issues. The Titans are playing well on offense with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, but I think the Steelers defense will slow them down. The Titans are bad on defense. Ben Roethlisberger will have a big day. Steelers take it.

Pick: Steelers 31, Titans 23

As for those sites who don’t give detail on their picks, the experts at ESPN are split down the middle on this game Sunday. Of their 10 person panel, 5 like Tennessee and 5 like Pittsburgh. The same can be said for the haters here at SB Nation. 10 people make weekly picks, including a fan pick, and it is evenly split down the middle between the Titans and Steelers.

But these are only a handful of sites, what about all those other sites who produce weekly picks? Who do they like in this game? This is where our friends at NFL Pick Watch help out. NFL Pick Watch takes all expert picks across the internet and puts them into an easy to read graph for fans to enjoy.

According to NFL Pick Watch, 52% of the experts are leaning the Steelers’ way in Week 7. Needless to say, this is the closest contest, per expert picks, the Steelers have had this season. Will they go out and get the job done this Sunday and remain undefeated? Only time will tell, but the experts are barely leaning in Pittsburgh’s direction.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game between the Steelers and Titans in Week 7.

Fan Rooting Guide, Week 7: Who Steelers fans should root for in other games this weekend

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 8:30am
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

BTSC's guide to the other weekend games that might impact the Steelers the most.

The 5-0 Steelers are scheduled to play the 5-0 Titans in Music City on Sunday and winning that game is paramount for supremacy in the AFC and the conference. However, there are plenty of games that are crucial to their playoff hopes, in and out of the division. Most of the time, Steelers fans know who to root for. But here’s a guide to significant matchups, and whose losses Pittsburgh would benefit more from this weekend. Once again, the black-and-gold need to win for this wish list to be viable. But any edge on the competition in the AFC is welcome, despite the date on the calendar.

Here are the conference standings going in to Week 6

  1. Tennessee Titans 5-0 (Would win AFC South and would earn a bye in Round 1)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 5-0 (Would win AFC North and host Indianapolis in Round 1)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 5-1 (Would win AFC West and host Cleveland in Round 1)
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-2 (Would win AFC East and host Baltimore in Round 1)
  5. Baltimore Ravens 5-1 (Would earn first Wild Card and travel to Buffalo in Round 1)
  6. Cleveland Browns 4-2 (Would earn second Wild Card and travel to Kansa City in Round 1)
  7. Indianapolis Colts 4-2 (Would earn third Wild Card and travel to Pittsburgh in Round 1)
  8. Las Vegas Raiders 3-2
  9. Miami Dolphins 3-3
  10. Denver Broncos 2-3
  11. New England Patriots 2-3
  12. Cincinnati Bengals 1-4-1
  13. Los Angeles Chargers 1-4
  14. Houston Texans 1-5
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars 1-5
  16. New York Jets 0-6
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets - Sunday 1:00 PM

The Bills have lost two games in a row, but they were to the likes of 5-0 Tennessee and 5-1 Kansas City. Was Buffalo exposed a bit? Possibly. But the Bills had two games uprooted by Covid and are hurting. This is still an upper echelon team that can be dangerous to the Steelers. The Jets are a pretty dreadful team. But a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. But the J-E=T-S might need more than a seeing eye and drug sniffing dog to find a jar of Plantars.

Who to root for: New York Jets

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals - Sunday 1:00 PM

The Bengals put up a bunch of points on Cleveland in a tough in Week 2 lost and Joe Burrow is a superstar in the making. The Browns are 4-2, but were possibly exposed in two thirty-point-plus losses to Baltimore and Pittsburgh. If Cleveland loses to Cincy, they have a potential to wilt.

Who to root for: Cincinnati

Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans - Sunday 1:00 PM

This game doesn’t have any consequence for the Steelers, but I’d like to see the Texans have the confidence to go after the Titans and Colts. I’d also like to see the NFC’s juggernaut knocked down a little closer to Earth again.

Who to root for: Houston

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers - Sunday 4:25 PM

I’m looking at the Chargers or the Jaguars not being too much of a threat at all to the Steelers. However, the Chargers are more likely to give the Raiders and Chiefs a run for their money. I’d rather see L.A. get better and have the mojo to help out the black-and-gold on the back end.

Who to root for: Los Angeles Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos - Sunday 4:25 PM

Denver has two wins and has gotten their Drew Lock back behind center. The second-year quarterback successfully launched the ball deep on his second play from scrimmage. The Broncos were helped out by Brandon McManus’ plethora of field goals to beat New England on the road. Could they possibly knock down the champs at home. It would be nifty and nice.

Who to root for: Denver

San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots - Sunday 4:25 PM

Steelers fans know that the Patriots are never out of it and are always going to have the potential to go on a run With Bill Belichick at the helm. They are 2-3, but I won’t rest until this team is under .500. And, still, it would be with one eye wide open.

Who to root for: San Francisco

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders - Sunday 8:20 PM

I am thinking that Kansas City still needs healthy competition. The Raiders beat them once before. Jon Gruden’s silver-and-black would be less dangerous in the playoffs than KC.

Who to root for: Las Vegas

Byes: Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins

Who do you like in these games for yinzer’s sake? Let us know in the comment section below, and if you want more explanation to these picks check out the new Rooting Guide podcast below:

Film Room: The Steelers offensive line set the tone against the Browns

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 7:15am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offensive line was a deciding factor in beating the Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers faced off against the Cleveland Browns in week 6, and one of the leading stories of the game was the Steelers defense facing off against the #1 rushing offense in the NFL. With Ben Roethlisberger healthy and connecting with rookie Chase Claypool, many expected this game to be an offensive battle between the Browns run game and the Steelers passing game.

That isn’t how it worked out.

Establishing the run

The Cleveland Browns weren’t the #1 rushing team in their week 6 matchup with the Steelers, as the Steelers outrushed the Browns 129 yards and 3 touchdowns to 75 yards and no touchdowns. The Steelers didn’t get any big chunks of yardage on the ground, either. They did it with consistent runs behind really good blocking.

They really set the tone in the first half, when the game was close and the Browns defense was swarming to the ball.

Week 6, 1st quarter, 15:00. James Conner is the running back.

There’s been a lot of praise deservedly heaped on the right side of the Steelers line, Chukwuma Okorafor has been great, and Kevin Dotson has done a phenomenal job stepping in for David DeCastro. I have been pretty harsh on the left side of the offensive line, that in many cases has been the weak side of the Steelers line. That wasn’t the case against Cleveland. On this play Matt Feiler is driven inside, but the defensive tackle can’t shed his block, and it lets Conner cut back. Conner gains 5 yards behind a pulling Eric Ebron and a great second level block by Alejandro Villanueva.

Week 6, 1st quarter, 12:16. James Conner is the running back.

Watch Maurkice Pouncey on the defensive tackle on this play. He has help from Matt Feiler, but the tackle gets a great jump on the snap, and is driving between the two blockers. Feiler gives a push, but Pouncey turning #65 backwards, while he is anchoring against the push and keeping his feet moving.

That is phenomenal play by the Steelers Pro-Bowl center, and it allows Matt Feiler to get to the second level and clear a lane for Conner. This run gained only 3 yards, but Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler earned those yards against a defense that got a good start on the play.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 14:05. James Conner is the running back.

Check out Maurkice Pouncey again on this run. He is there to help Matt Feiler secure the defensive tackle and then turns and easily shoves the middle linebacker out of the way. Maurkice Pouncey with two big shoves to clear the path for James Conner who shows off his open-field vision to gain 14 yards and kick-start the Steelers opening drive of the second half.

This film room is largely about the offensive line, but I can’t cover this run game without talking about James Conner. I made a film room this past offseason where I talked about James Conner’s reads and how they often led to him missing run lanes and lower effectiveness. Look at those three runs above, James Conner is showing more patience and making better use of his vision than he has in the past.

James Conner is a much better running back this year than he was in 2019, but he’s also a much better runner than he was in 2018. I predicted that the return of Ben Roethlisberger would mean good things for James Conner (pretty much everyone expected that), but this goes beyond having a better quarterback, and it goes beyond the offensive line playing better. James Conner is playing the best football of his career right now.

One last run play.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 10:34. James Conner is the running back, Eric Ebron is the TE to the right side of the screen.

You have to love Conner’s power on this run to put his head down and run through multiple defenders to get the touchdown. But this run is based on Eric Ebron delivering a block on 280 lb. defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Clayborn gets in on the tackle but Ebron stands him up and holds his ground to let Conner get outside.

That’s a far cry from the scouting report of Eric Ebron being someone who can’t block a linebacker. Sure Ebron isn’t going to drive a lineman backwards, or pancake him, he can’t even hold the block through the run, but he blocks the end, allowing the pulling Kevin Dotson and James Conner to both get outside without having to give ground.

This offensive line will draw comparisons to Mike Munchak’s offensive lines, but it is important to remember that against the Browns the Steelers had only Villanueva and Pouncey left from the Le’Veon Bell days of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and neither of them are in their prime anymore. Shaun Sarrett and the Steelers offensive lineman are building their own legacy, and so far it looks good.

Protecting the franchise quarterback

While the run game showed up in a big way, the passing game wasn’t as big in week 6, in large part because the score was lopsided and the run game was picking up yards. But the offensive line kept their quarterback clean most of the time, even against one of the NFL’s leading pass rushers in Myles Garrett.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 13:08. Myles Garrett is the edge rusher to the left side of the screen.

The Steelers keep Myles Garrett in check with James Conner helping Chukwuma Okorafor, and Okorafor is doing well, driving Myles Garrett up the arc and outside while keeping himself in position to stop any counter-moves. Kevin Dotson continues to show that he is a phenomenal one on one blocker, and everyone else plays well.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 12:33. Myles Garrett is the edge rusher to the left side of the screen.

Here the Browns send a LB up the middle in a blitz. The Steelers are sliding to Myles Garrett this time, so James Conner picks up the middle blitz, and does a great job. Larry Ogunjobi tries to drive Maurkice Pouncey into the pocket but Maurkice Pouncey is able to anchor enough to keep his quarterback safe, while Kevin Dotson assists Okorafor with Myles Garrett. Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva both handle their 1 on 1 assignments and Roethlisberger is able to throw the ball with no pressure and end the play on his feet.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 11:12. Eric Ebron is the tight end to the right side of the screen.

The Browns shift right before the snap and it puts Ebron in a tough spot as he now has no help from the offensive line as he is tasked with blocking Adrian Clayborn’s pass rush. Ebron isn’t an offensive lineman, and his hands show that. But he does well enough to make Clayborn run up the arc, where James Conner meets Clayborn when he turns the corner. Everyone else wins their blocks well enough that Maurkice Pouncey ends up with no one to block and Ben Roethlisberger can set his feet and throw a great pass downfield for a big play.

Week 6, 2nd quarter, 7:03. Both sides of the defensive line run stunts.

The Steelers slide Pouncey to screen right, and that allows Feiler to not worry about switching and just drive the defensive tackle out of the play, because when Myles Garrett cuts inside he finds Maurkice Pouncey doing his best Richard Marx impression.

On the other side of the line Chukwuma Okorafor does a great job pushing the end into Dotson’s grasp and picking up the tackle looping outside, while James Conner is in great position to help the entire play, even though it isn’t needed.

Advanced stats from the week 6 matchup show 24 drop backs for Ben Roethlisberger with two pressures allowed and 7 blitzes from the Browns. That’s a really good day for the Steelers offensive line, and along with the 31 non-QB rushes for 127 yards (4.1 ypc) and 3 TDs it is clear that the Steelers offensive line was a driving force in their dominating win over their division rival.

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