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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 2019-06-26T06:31:00-04:00
Updated: 53 min 34 sec ago

A Letter From The Editor: A trip back to NFL football in the 70s

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 8:40am

The NFL in the 70s vs. the NFL today — two completely different games.

Let me start this letter by saying I was born in 1983, and for those who struggle with basic mathematics, that means I am 36 years old. I wasn’t alive for the glory days of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, but my father certainly was.

While I am home visiting my family in my hometown of Wheeling, WV, I was sitting outside with my dad as he grilled and we were talking about the massive changes in the NFL from the glory days of the 70s to the game today.

We talked about how the speed of the game today is remarkable, but when I asked him what was the biggest difference in the game then and the game today it was a simple answer:

The physicality.

My father talked about Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders who would literally try to decapitate players when they caught the ball going over the middle of the field. While I’ve seen Tatum’s hit on Lynn Swann many times, I did a quick search on Twitter and found this gem of a hit from Super Bowl XI against the Vikings.

Just as a reminder as you click play, this hit was NOT penalized.

This Jack Tatum hit wasn't a penalty in Super Bowl XI. pic.twitter.com/uN9PLaG8gC

— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) February 3, 2016

He went on to talk about Mel Blount and the Steel Curtain defense which was known for punishing their opponents. Literally opposing their will on the other team to claim victory. Again, a quick search showed a vicious hit by Glen Edwards which led to a Blount interception.

Again, this hit was not flagged.

Fran was 11/27 with three INT’s, including this one by Mel Blount.
Set up by the huge hit on John Gilliam by Glen Edwards.
Do you think this would be a flag today? #Steelers pic.twitter.com/cZA0LfydJd

— Tomlin Reactions (@TomlinReactions) July 25, 2018

The game then and the game now are completely different. Night and day differences in the categories like physicality of the early years and the speed of today’s game. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t players today who would have fit the mold of those hard-hitting times in the NFL’s infancy.

Remember this hit?

Keith Rivers, meet Hines Ward. pic.twitter.com/twAlMIdimJ

— Steelers Empire (@SteeIersEmpire) June 27, 2018

Or how about this one?

JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER JUST DESTROYED VONTAZE BURFICT #HereWeGo #Steelers #Bengals50 pic.twitter.com/YmVmiAA4zb

— Tailgate Sports (@_TailgateSports) December 5, 2017

Yeah, the Steelers have had some modern players who would have fit into any era. The list goes beyond Hines Ward and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but these players are considered outliers, not the norm in today’s game.

At the conclusion of my talk with my dad, I was left wondering which game was better? Most would say today’s game is a safer form of a very dangerous game, and watching some older highlights looks like the players are running in quicksand. However, the game of yesteryear seems like a much more pure form of the the gladiator-like game which drew so many of us to not just play the game of football, but to become fanatics over the sport.

Some pine for the older form of football, but as for me it was just fun to hear stories, watch some highlights, and marvel at how much the game of football has changed over the past 40 years...

Analyzing the games in 2018 where the Pittsburgh Steelers went without a turnover

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 6:40am

The 2018 Steelers had the most games with a turnover in the past three seasons.

Compiling statistics can take hours upon hours in order to find the proper numbers. To save you the trouble, here are some of the best statistics about the Steelers from the past few weeks.

I will begin with a few statistics of my own before going on to other various Steeler sources. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @STLRSuperFanDad in order to get some of BTSC’s geekiest stats.

Here is a highlight of the past several “Stat Geek” segments from the Steelers Preview Podcast (you can check out the episode in the player below this article):

The Steelers played 4 games (3-1) in 2018 where they did not have a turnover: vs. Kansas City, at Cincinnati, at Baltimore, and vs. Carolina.

In both 2017 and 2016 the Steelers had 5 games without a turnover, and in 2015 they only had 3 games without a turnover.

The Steelers only had 2 games (2-0) in 2018 where they had multiple takeaways: at Tampa Bay (4) and vs. Carolina (2).

The Steelers had 5 games (3-2) in 2018 in which they did not have a takeaway: at Cincinnati, at Baltimore, at Denver, vs. LA Chargers, and vs. Cincinnati.

In both 2017 and 2016 the Steelers only had 3 games without a takeaway, and in 2015 they had 4 games without a takeaway.

Ben Roethlisberger is 81-16 (.835) in games started in which he did not throw an interception. Of QB’s with at least 10 starts, the only active player with a higher winning percentage is Tom Brady (144-24 for .857).

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) June 18, 2019

In the Mike Tomlin era, the #Steelers are 36-1 when they have a turnover margin of +2 or more. The only loss was in 2015 to the Ravens in overtime at Heinz Field in a game I affectionately call “The Scobee Debacle.”

— SteelersSuperFanDad (@STLRSuperFanDad) June 18, 2019

340 of James Conner’s 972 total rushing yards came on big plays of 15-plus yards last season. pic.twitter.com/VxzDKu1sdn

— PFF (@PFF) June 23, 2019

Time to throw for Ben in the last three seasons, per @NextGenStats. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/YdiaNl953I

— Blitzburgh (@Steel_Curtain4) June 22, 2019

Drew Brees owns the record for most big-time throws in the PFF era and will look to add to his lead this season! pic.twitter.com/XiphDUcTaT

— PFF (@PFF) June 20, 2019

The Steelers and Ravens got it done against the run last season, both ranking inside the top 10 in run-defense team grade. pic.twitter.com/7lV51DBr8E

— PFF (@PFF) June 20, 2019

Here’s a look at the special teams grades from the AFC North from a season ago! pic.twitter.com/XpS2uAyYna

— PFF (@PFF) June 18, 2019

The Steelers were tops in the AFC North in team tackling grade last season! pic.twitter.com/NpVNKhuWhu

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 16, 2019

Justin Layne can be the answer to Pittsburgh's outside cornerback problem.

PFF's Daniel Rymer examines why he could be the playmaker the Steelers' secondary badly needs: https://t.co/vBwnquaa5c pic.twitter.com/Rt66ge9bzW

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 15, 2019

The only three teams to allow fewer than 6.0 passing yards per attempt on third down last season were the Vikings (5.2), Steelers (5.3), and the Bears (5.9). #HereWeGo

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) June 10, 2019

PFF's own @PFF_AustinGayle along with @PFF_Mike discuss some key battles to keep your eyes on come training camp.

https://t.co/qGfFqQECFD pic.twitter.com/9mqs873vo6

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 9, 2019

Black and Gold Links: Sean Davis enters pivotal season in contract year

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 4:54am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Sean Davis, entering a contract year, could benefit from the newfound experience of Terrell Edmunds and solidify the back end of the Steelers’ secondary.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Steelers fans’ thoughts on safety Sean Davis are mixed. Some are impressed with how he has changed positions so much throughout his first contract with the team, while others see nothing but a second round pick who hasn’t produced much. To say this year is crucial for Davis is an understatement.

Carter’s Classroom: Davis needs stabilit

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

The Steelers’ 2018 secondary improved from 2017. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how it’s still arguably been the worst group on the team, but the improvement allowed them to limit big plays. Much of that came from safety Sean Davis helping to improve coordination.

For the first time in Davis’ career, he will be able to start at the same position he played at the previous season. After arriving as a slot defensive back and being moved all around the secondary as a rookie, then playing strong safety in 2017 and free safety in 2018, Davis can finally make a home at free safety in 2019.

Maybe that’s what he needs to find consistency. Let’s take a look.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • In case you hadn’t heard how offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett got the nickname “Sweet Feet”, this is how:

How Harrison revealed Sarrett’s ‘Sweet Feet’ nickname

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Perhaps the only difficulty Sarrett’s faced at all came in actually getting the job. While he wouldn’t deny his excitement to seize such a lofty position at the NFL level with the team that put him on the map, Sarrett noted the other side of the coin as well. Munchak was leaving. For real this time.

And as it was throughout Sarrett’s tenure to that point, Munchak was right beside him when the announcement came.

”He was actually there with me, and we sat there for a moment. He says, ‘It’s your gig now. You take it and run with it,’” Sarrett said. “Which I was excited to do ... I was getting the job. I was also sad because I was losing a mentor, a guy I looked up to and I still look up to to this day. If I have a problem, I’m going to lean on him. I’m going to call him. He’s been great to me and he’s been great during the transition. Just that moment ... it was kind of bittersweet.”

Sarrett didn’t linger too much in his emotions there, though. After that sentimental touch, he bounced right back with one of the best anecdotes of camp to-date: A story about his nickname, “Sweet Feet,” and how James Harrison totally blew his cover one day at the facility.

This one’s too good to transcribe. Take it away, Mr. Sarrett: (To see the video click the link below)

To read the full article, click HERE

  • For Devin Bush, football isn’t just a game...it is a family affair.

Family tradition

By: Mike Prisuta, Steelers.com

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler knew what the Steelers were looking for, well enough that it was recognizable upon discovery.

Now that they’ve found it, the pressure is on to justify the investment in first-round pick Devin Bush.

“There will be great expectations, and he knows that,” Butler acknowledged during Mandatory Veteran Minicamp. “And that’s OK, because in order to be successful in this league you gotta perform under pressure.

“You gotta perform under pressure and he’s going to have to do that, as well as his coaches.”

The Steelers were adamant in their desire to bolster inside linebacker in the draft, but they were also aware their options were limited in terms of being able to make a splash.

“We knew what we wanted,” Butler continued. “The guys we wanted were the Devins, both the Devins.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Running back by committee? Maybe not...Steelers Digest Editor Bob Labriola breaks down why this may not be a guarantee.

Asked and Answered: June 20

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

TAG WILSON FROM MCDONOUGH, NY: James Conner and Jaylen Samuels are proven NFL backs, Bennie Snell Jr. is expected to be the same, and Trey Edmunds will compete for a roster spot. What is your general view of running back by committee, and have the Steelers used this approach in the past? Will Snell be used as a goal line puncher to improve the red zone results?

ANSWER: James Conner can be considered a proven NFL back because of what he produced as a second-year pro in 2018, but you’re jumping the gun on Jaylen Samuels. Not that Samuels is a bust or was a disappointment as a rookie, but he has a ways to go before he deserves to be called “proven.” My general view of “running back by committee” is that teams employing that approach do so because they lack one individual who is sufficiently multi-talented to handle all aspects of the job. In the NFL, a successful backfield employs one primary guy and then a complementary player who can be used in situations to give the primary guy a breather. And then you conclude with this: “Will Snell be used as a goal-line puncher to improve the red zone results?” In 2018, the Steelers led the NFL in red zone offense, which means they converted a higher percentage of their trips inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns than any of the other 31 teams in the NFL.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

Day 1️⃣ of #SteelersFootballCampMX2019 is underway❗️

Follow along ➡️ @acereros pic.twitter.com/8xy2k1PBiy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 22, 2019

.@_TJWatt discusses the finer points of the pass rush with Youth and High School Football Marketing Manager Mike Marchinsky. pic.twitter.com/mLTF2bbE1z

— Steelers Youth FB (@SteelersYouthFB) June 22, 2019

Our rookies took a Segway tour around #Pittsburgh to visit some popular spots in their new home. pic.twitter.com/weXkF1q7aV

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 22, 2019

We could all use some #GoodJuJu on the longest day of the year @TeamJuJu | #SummerSolstice pic.twitter.com/krDnMY0Gsu

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 21, 2019

Let’s Shine, Boy! pic.twitter.com/jYK41Myno1

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) June 22, 2019

#FootballCamp2019 / @SteelersCampMX

Fans de @rell_island6 hacen larga fila para una instantánea con el jugador de @acereros

¿Ya veniste por tu foto?

@hectalfa pic.twitter.com/Z7WbeXrBQo

— Community Sports (@csportsag) June 22, 2019

Mood.@TeamJuJu | #FridayFeeling pic.twitter.com/oEpnOVuFmz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 21, 2019

Steelers 2019 draft class graduate from Rookie University

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 2:50pm

With the conclusion of the NFL’s Rookie Transition Program this week, the Steelers 2019 draft class are finally able to take a summer break before returning for training camp.

While the rest of Pittsburgh Steelers headed off for a summer break following the conclusion of mandatory minicamp on June 13, the rookies on the roster have only just been allowed to take their vacation after they graduated from Steelers Rookie University last week.

Remaining in Pittsburgh to take part in a program designed to help players adapt to life in the NFL, the Steelers rookies have been involved in a number of local community projects, as well as series of classroom sessions focusing on issues like financial management, insurance, relationships and etiquette among other topics.

Concluding with the NFL’s Rookie Transition Program, the players also received three days of instruction in a variety of subjects that the league has made mandatory for all teams. As per the NFL, these topics included:

  • A video introduction to the NFL and league policies
  • Player benefits and benefit resources, including their NFLPA player rights and resources, and the NFL programs that are available to them.
  • Player expectations, including the importance of sportsmanship, respect in the workplace, media responsibilities and how to work with their club’s public relations staff.
  • Social responsibility for players, which covers league policies and the ramifications of issues like driving under the influence, or committing acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • Maintaining strong mental health and fitness, and an introduction to the health and safety resources available to all players and their families in times of need.
  • An introduction to the culture, values and history of the league and a player’s club.
  • Rule changes from college to the pros.

Thankfully for the players, the Steelers Rookie University experience included several enjoyable excursions, with a segway tour of Pittsburgh looking like a fun day out for all concerned.

Our rookies took a Segway tour around #Pittsburgh to visit some popular spots in their new home. pic.twitter.com/weXkF1q7aV

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 22, 2019

The lessons the rookie learn considered invaluable for their transition to the professional ranks in the minds of many within the Steelers organization. As player engagement coordinator Terry Cousin explained to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.

“It’s really valuable. The more you do it, the more you see how much they don’t come prepared with a lot of that knowledge. Some get experience at home, but it’s eye opening for some of those guys honing in on some of the details and issues they might have coming into the National Football League.”

“Coach Tomlin stresses it. Your awareness has to grow in this business. It’s good to offer something, to spend time developing. To have a guy say, wow, I really appreciated that, I never knew it. Or someone to say they learned something new. That means you are having a good program, we are focusing on the right things based on what we have seen. Coach Tomlin, the coaches, Kevin Colbert, we have all put this together based on our experience with players.”

A sentiment echoed by Mike Tomlin, a vocal advocate of the program.

“It’s so important. It’s the first time for them, but it’s a rerun for us. We do it every year with the new rookie class. We are trying to impart our experience and wisdom on them in as many ways as we can through life skills sessions. You have to give credit to a lot of our veteran guys. They do a good job of giving life and credibility to the seminars and sessions we are taking guys though. When you have guys like James Conner, Terrell Edmunds say things like this is significant, it is a real thing for me, it’s going to play out for you in a couple of months, it did for me. I think that is what adds credibility to the program, the reinforcement the older guys provide the younger guys.”

The activities also act as a bonding experience for all those involved, providing a perfect opportunity for the young players to get to know each other a bit better. As noted by rookie cornerback Justin Layne.

“It keeps us together. Our rookie class, it keeps us together. We talk about all kinds of stuff when we are in the room. Get to know each other. It’s a bonding thing.”

Clicking this link will take you to a video highlight of the program on Steelers.com.

Two players file paperwork for entry into 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 12:50pm

West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms and Syracuse linebacker Shyheim Cullen are the first two names to successfully register for the supplemental draft this year.

Having successfully filed their paperwork for inclusion in the 2019 Supplemental Draft, NFL teams will have at least two players to evaluate in the comings weeks in West Virginia wide receiver Marcus Simms and Syracuse linebacker Shyheim Cullen.

I received official confirmation- NFL teams have been notified Marcus Simms/WR/West Virginia has filed paperwork to enter the supplemental draft. Expect Simms to workout for teams in early July.

— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) June 20, 2019

Excited to be excepted into the 2019 nfl supplemental draft... July 10th.

— Shy (@shycullen24) June 21, 2019

Open to players who did not declare for the main draft in April, but who are still three years removed from high school, supplemental draft applicants are traditionally underclassmen who have been ruled ineligible for the upcoming college season, often due to academic or disciplinary reasons.

And while Pittsburgh has yet to select a player in any of the previous 41 supplemental drafts held, the Steelers gave Terrelle Pryor some serious consideration in 2011. Should Pittsburgh have any interested in one of the names available this year, they simply need to enter a bid for the player they want and hope they are the first team in that round to choose the prospect. However, any pick they make would require them to give up the corresponding selection in the 2020 NFL draft.

Dating back to the first supplemental draft in 1977, only 45 players have ever been selected, with cornerbacks Sam Beal and Adonis Alexander the latest names to be taken in 2018. But given the Steelers additions this year, it seems unlikely they will be too interested in Simms or Cullen unless they are available as undrafted free agents.

In three season with the Mountaineers, Simms recorded 87 catches for 1,457 yards and scored eight touchdowns, as well as recording 992 yards from 41 kick returns for an average of 24.2 yards and 23 punt returns for 157 yards and an average of 6.8 yards.

Standing 6-foot tall and weighing in at 224-pounds, Cullen’s chances of being drafted look even less promising than Simms after four years in Syracuse and only one season of any notable play on defense with just four starts. Primarily limited to special teams throughout most of his college career, Cullen recorded a total of 43 tackles, three for a loss and one sack while with the Orangemen. A level of production that is unlikely to attract the attention of too many NFL teams.

The 2019 NFL Supplemental Draft will take place on July 10.

Steelers Think Tank: How important is position flexibility?

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 10:54am

Mike Tomlin loves players who can play multiple positions, but how important is it?

Welcome to the BTSC Pittsburgh Steelers ‘Think Tank’. Here is where there will be a general question asked, and the answer will be hashed out in the comment section below the article. Unlike in the Friday Night Six Pack, and other articles which are banking on fan responses, this is just one topic to discuss.

In this first edition of the Think Tank, I ask you about position flexibility.

Every year Mike Tomlin raves about how the more positions you can play, the better your chances of making the team are. This is a no-brainer to even the novice football fan, but how important is position flexibility?

Let’s look at some examples:

The player everyone rages about right now, regarding position flexibility, is Northern Illinois product Sutton Smith. Smith, who played tailback in high school, has practiced at both inside and outside linebacker, as well as full back. Quite the feathers in his cap.

Seventh round draft pick Derwin Gray has been practicing not only at tackle, but tackle and guard — on both sides of the center.

Jaylen Samuels was considered a Swiss Army Knife type player coming out of N.C. State. He can play tailback, full back, line up at tight end and even H-back.

B.J. Finney is an offensive lineman with tremendous flexibility. His positional flexibility helps him not only remain the primary backup to Maurkice Pouncey, but also both Ramon Foster and David DeCastro at both guard positions.

I could go on, but you can clearly see how many players on the Steelers’ roster are players who can play multiple positions, those might be in just emergency situations, but have the flexibility to do so if called upon.

The one thing I can’t get through my mind is the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Sure, a player like Finney has enough experience to play both center and guard adequately, but what about a player like Sutton Smith? Would he benefit more from focusing on one position rather than three? Clearly Smith isn’t going to tell the coaching staff no when asked to play other positions, but the coaching staff has pulled back on players in the past. The most recent example was when Sean Davis was a rookie and the Steelers decided to not play him at slot cornerback, but have him focus on safety instead.

So, with that said, what do you think of position flexibility? Is it paramount to the creation of a 53-man roster? Or is it over-hyped? Let us know in the Steelers Think Tank, or as we like to call it the comment section below.

Who will have more production in 2019? James Conner or JuJu Smith-Schuster?

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 8:43am

Fantasy Football is right around the corner, and it is time to start taking a closer look at some potential players to be had on the Steelers’ 2019 roster.

The other night on the BTSC ‘Steelers Preview’ podcast, you can hear the show below, asked myself and two co-hosts who we thought would have the better Fantasy Football season in 2019:

JuJu Smith-Schuster or James Conner?

Of course we got into a heated discussion on the topic, Bryan and Dave saying Smith-Schuster was the pick, whereas I stood by Conner as the player who would have the most production.

When you look at this question, there are a couple ways you can view it. First, you can see it strictly as a Fantasy Football question. Assuming you are talking about a traditional fantasy league, and not a daily league, it will be a tough task to decipher which of the two Steelers would be the better overall pick.

But if you don’t play fantasy football, you could still ponder the question of which player will have more success in the coming year. James Conner has yet to stay healthy for a full season, and JuJu Smith-Schuster has never been without Antonio Brown opposite him. In other words, both players have challenges awaiting in the upcoming season.

As I stated earlier, on the podcast I chose James Conner to be the more productive player, and let me explain why...

Many people, including my two co-hosts pointed to Conner’s injury history as a reason why they think Conner’s numbers won’t be as great. Next, they pointed to the running-back-by-committee approach which has been rumored and how that might take carries away from Conner.

All valid points, but while the by-committee approach would likely keep Conner healthy, Mike Tomlin loves his feature backs. He always has, and likely always will. When DeAngelo Williams was putting up great numbers while Le’Veon Bell served a suspension, Tomlin immediately turned to Bell upon his return, and Williams could have been a statue on the sideline and no one would have noticed.

The Steelers might lean on Jaylen Samuels and/or Benny Snell Jr. at times, but it is Conner’s job. On top of that, Conner is a do-it-all type of back. He won’t be substituted for during goalline situations, nor will he be removed on obvious passing downs. He is an every down back and a player who will see a lot of touches in 2019.

While I also think JuJu Smith-Schuster will have a great season, I see his overall production slipping a bit. Not that Smith-Schuster can’t do the job as a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, but it will be difficult for him to have over 1,400 receiving again unless someone like James Washington, Donte Moncrief or Diontae Johnson really break out and start to take some pressure off of Smith-Schuster.

Again, I see both players having great seasons, but between the two I’ll take Conner to be the more productive player in 2019, both in fantasy football and in overall production. What do you think? Who will have better production in 2019? Vote in the poll below and be sure to explain yourself in the comment section!

Why it is perfectly fine to be a bandwagon Pittsburgh Steelers fan

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 6:35am

Are you a bandwagon Steelers fan or one who has always supported them through thick and thin? Either one is fine.

“I cheer for the Steelers through thick and thin. No matter what, I love my black and gold!”

That’s what you might say if you’re one of those die-hard Steelers fans who never gives up on your team. Of course, it’s been fairly easy to say that over the past 47 years or so, thanks to all of those playoff appearances, playoff wins and, obviously, Super Bowl titles.

Speaking of 47, that’s how old I am. As the rather dated profile on my BTSC account states, the first Steelers game I remember watching (at least with great angst, nerves and a feeling that it would be the end of the world if they lost) was Super Bowl XIV, when they took on the Los Angeles Rams in Pasadena, California.

Does it get any more “bandwagon fan” than that?

In my defense, I was 7, which meant I spent many previous years watching Mister Rogers and The Incredible Hulk and no time paying my dues during any lean seasons.

In fact, there were no lean years from the time of my birth all the way up through that aforementioned Super Bowl, which was the fourth one the Steelers won in my very short existence.

I mention all of this because of a Twitter tirade by Pittsburgh radio sports talk show juggernaut Mark Madden on Monday, where he ripped into bandwagon Penguins fans.

Madden questioned the hockey intelligence of these fans and, as old-time Penguins followers are often wont to do, bragged about how he paid his dues in the 1970s, when the team played at the old Civic Arena and was mostly awful.

The old arena was usually about a third to half full in those days, and if you listen to people like Madden, those folks were the greatest Penguins fans of all-time. They are the equivalent of hockey royalty. They should be able to carry around a laminated card that earns them discounts on purchases wherever they shop.

Anyway, I’m sure if long-time Penguins fans were granted the ability to go back in time, they’d realize that sitting in a mostly empty arena, watching hockey players not named Mario Lemieux stink it up on a regular basis probably wasn’t as glorious as they’re now remembering.

Seriously, how annoying is it when fans talk about paying their dues through bad times? How silly is it when they look down on those supposed bandwagon fans and even suggest their fandom isn’t as valuable?

How often do you hear old-time Steelers fans talk about the pre-Noll and pre-1972 days? Not very, and why? Because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t much fun sitting in half-empty Pitt Stadium in the 1960s, watching the Steelers lose week after week.

It would be foolish of me to act as if Penguins faithful are the only ones who complain about bandwagon fans (although, they do seem to be the most vocal). Many super-serious Steelers fans like to complain about that sort of thing, too. Heck, even old-time Pirates fans seemed to have a problem with all the new folks jumping on the wagon back in the mid-10s, when things were going really well.

Acknowledging that all super-duper serious fans complain about those that jump on the bandwagon, what’s wrong with that, really? Why does it bother you so much if Super Bowl XL was the catalyst for someone becoming a Steelers fan?

People become fans at various times and for various reasons, but if it happens after a team starts to have success, that doesn’t make you less of one.

And you certainly don’t deserve any extra credit for supporting your favorite team through the lean years.

Black and Gold Links: Making a case for T.J. Watt to be the Steelers’ MVP in 2019

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 4:59am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how T.J. Watt not just could, but should, be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 team MVP.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Last year it was Juju Smith-Schuster winning the team Most Valuable Player award which was the straw that broke Antonio Brown’s back. This year, it very well could be a defender, but not just any defender but a budding superstar in T.J. Watt.

Carter’s Classroom: Watt for 2019 Steelers MVP

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

A big deal was made out of JuJu Smith-Schuster receiving the Steelers’ MVP vote in 2018 and how it related to the team’s succeeding fallout with Antonio Brown. But what if another young star from the Steelers’ 2017 draft class won team MVP this season?

I’m calling my shot: That player will be T.J. Watt. After a good start with seven sacks in 2017 and almost doubling that with 13 sacks in 2018, Watt looks to be on the verge of becoming a superstar. I’ve followed his trajectory closely, and here’s my case for him being team MVP this season:

For context, remember that no defensive player has won the Steelers’ MVP since Troy Polamalu in 2010. It’s no coincidence that the past two times a defensive player won MVP, the Steelers made the Super Bowl (James Harrison, 2008), and the past three years they’ve made the Super Bowl, a defensive player was at least named co-MVP (Casey Hampton and Hines Ward, 2005).

That’s why it would be a big deal if Watt could pull this off, and it would be a good omen for the Steelers’ season. Watt’s shown a steady climb in his skills and production.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • If you haven’t been paying attention to the rookie class, Benny Snell Jr. is really tough not to like.

Smilin’ Snell: ‘I finally get to live my dream’ with Steelers

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

Benny Snell takes nothing for granted.

Like catching his first pass from Ben Roethlisberger — a player 16 years his elder he grew up watching on TV.

Like being recognized at the mall as the Steelers’ fresh rookie running back.

Like the opportunity to stroll into the Rooney Complex and suit up in the black and gold.

”I finally get to live my dream,” Snell was telling me at his locker during Steelers minicamp at the Rooney Complex. “That’s how I think about it. It’s a full-time job and everything counts, when it comes to the reps, the quality reps, the film, the relationship with your teammates — everything counts. I always keep that in the back of my mind and I attack every day.”

Behind that “attack mode,” however, is one of the most likable, smiley characters inside the Steelers’ locker room. I’ve had the chance to speak with Snell three times throughout OTAs and minicamp, and each time I catch myself smiling right along. Getting him on video is actually a challenge, because my natural reaction is to laugh along — not to keep a steady frame for the viewers.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • One of the biggest debates among the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base is what they will do at the wide receiver position. They have plenty of players, but how will they use them all?

Tim Benz: Steelers explain plan to deploy WRs without Antonio Brown

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The comment from Ben Roethlisberger resonated.

Clearly, JuJu Smith-Schuster was banged up during the season finale. That’s part of the reason why the Steelers’ passing offense was so lackluster en route to an ugly 16-13 victory over a last-place Bengals team.

An even bigger reason, though, was the absence of Antonio Brown. The All-Pro wide receiver was benched because he missed practice during the week.

And with his status uncertain throughout the lead-up to an important season-ender against Cincinnati, game-planning was compromised.

Not strictly from the standpoint of missing his talent. But also the fundamental issue of the quarterback not knowing where everyone was pre-snap.

“Typically, A.B. is the ‘X’ receiver,” Roethlisberger said after that game. “No matter what you call, A.B. is always at X. Anyone else can come in. But A.B. always has his position. Tonight we had four or five guys play ‘X.’ ”

Now, with Brown gone for good, the Steelers are saying that approach will change in 2019. JuJu Smith-Schuster won’t be deployed in that manner as he gets promoted to the role of No. 1 wide receiver.

“No, that’s definitely not for me,” Smith-Schuster said during minicamp. “I’m the guy that plays everywhere around. Inside, outside, even playing tight end this year when we go five wide. We’ve got guys who can play everywhere. Not just one position. We are centering off of one person.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • NFL Hard Knocks is a tremendous show, regardless of the team being featured, but with the Oakland Raiders being the team selected for this year you have to wonder if they will live up to the hype with their crazy cast of characters.

Tim Benz: Will Raiders on ‘Hard Knocks’ live up to the hype?

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Most football fans have been rooting for it.

I’ve made it a mission to advance the cause.

And now it’s official.

HBO’s all-access training camp show, “Hard Knocks,” will be covering the Oakland Raiders.

This isn’t just the “Hard Knocks” season we wanted. This is the “Hard Knocks” season we deserve.

As the Raiders’ own website described last week, “A 30-person NFL Films crew will be in Raiders’ training camp in Napa Valley, shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. Camera and sound crews will have unencumbered access to players’ and coaches’ meeting rooms, training rooms, living quarters and practice fields.”

Only 30 people? That’s it? Is that gonna be enough for this motley crew in Silver and Black?

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

8️⃣0️⃣ days until #SteelersKickoff. #TBT pic.twitter.com/tyqFbWTYpo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 21, 2019

We've had a blast at our first few #YouthFootballCamps! We've seen a lot of hard work and dedication from our campers! #LetsPlayFootball pic.twitter.com/qbCcX0YM6t

— Steelers Youth FB (@SteelersYouthFB) June 20, 2019

We're still trying to figure out how @tpolamalu did this. #TBT pic.twitter.com/sNzCZFvz6Z

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 20, 2019

Dance with the stars ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/fZwjelbIIt

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) June 21, 2019

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 25

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 5:44pm

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. If you had to choose between JuJu Smith-Schuster or James Conner to provide more fantasy value for you, which would you choose and why?

2. Who wins the camp battle at RT? Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor or Jerald Hawkins?

3. Give me your QB depth chart before Week 1 of the 2019 regular season...obviously we know who is No. 1.

4. This past week on the ‘Steelers Preview’ podcast we broke down Ulysees Gilbert III. Do you see Gilbert being able to not only make the 53-man roster, but possibly push a veteran off the roster? Please explain your answer...

5. This isn’t Steelers related, but while in the gym this morning I saw all the coverage for the NBA Draft. Not much coverage at all is spent on the MLB or NHL Drafts, but the NFL Draft is almost like a holiday. What is it about the NFL which trumps all other sports in every phase?

6. a) OVER/UNDER Steelers wins in 2019 — 10
b) OVER/UNDER James Conner fumbles in 2019 — 3

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Pittsburgh has felt like home to Devin Bush from the moment he arrived in the Steel City

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 1:00pm

The Steelers rookie linebacker spoke about his initial impressions of the city he will call home for the foreseeable in a interview on Thursday

With the Pittsburgh Steelers travelling en masse to see Devin Bush workout during pro day ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, his first visit to the Steel City was not until after he heard his named called as the team’s first-round selection. And like many outsiders who have never been to Pittsburgh before, the dramatic view that opens up as you emerge from the darkness of Fort Pitt Tunnel can have a profound impact on your initial impression of the city.

When speaking to Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack on The Fan Morning show on Thursday, it would appear that Bush was instantly drawn to the place he will call home for the foreseeable future when he made that familiar trip in from the airport. Asked when he knew he had been drafted by the right team, the former Michigan product revealed he was won over from the moment he arrived.

“I think I felt that when I got off the plane. There was just so much people just waiting on me and cheering me on. And then when I got in the limo and went through the tunnel, everything just opened up. I seen everything, I seen the building, the water, the bridges, the field, the baseball field, the fountain, it kind of just all hit at one time. The first thing that went through my mind was, like, ‘hey, I’m home.’”

The video of that journey highlighting how much that view impacted Bush at the 47 second mark below.

And while Bush has not yet had the opportunity to catch up with former Michigan teammate and Pittsburgh native Chase Winovich to find out more about his new home, it would seem that the rookie is already starting to gain a fairly accurate view of the Steel City and its residents.

“Being in the city, being there, you know I definitely feel how diehard and how much they put their lives on the line for the Steelers and it’s crazy. Honestly, it reminds me a lot about Michigan and how traditional they are and how hard they go about their football.”

However, given that we are still deep in the offseason, it would be fair to say that Bush has not seen anything yet when it comes the intensity of the locals on gameday. When the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns finally come to town, the rookie will get a chance to see what crazy really looks like.

Jerald Hawkins not yet 100% heading into critical Steelers Training Camp battle

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 11:10am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one opening along their offensive line, and Jerald Hawkins will be heading into a camp battle not fully healthy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have an offensive line battle about to ensue when the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 25th, and one of the participants will be battling without being fully healthy.

Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, Jerald Hawkins, Zach Banner and even rookie Derwin Gray will be looking to impress the coaching staff in hopes of winning the spot vacated by Marcus Gilbert when he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason.

To be honest, it is one of the few genuine training camp battles for the Steelers this season, but for Jerald Hawkins, he will have to be heading into this competition not 100%. It was during Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in 2018 when Hawkins was lost for the season with a torn quadriceps injury. One year later, and he still doesn’t label himself as back to full health.

“I like where I am at with (the knee), the mental aspect and what I can do with it and what I need to work on.

“Honestly, it did better than what I expected. I knew I was back strong, and I knew it was stable. But now being able to anchor down and be able to take bull rush, just being able to run on screens, I feel good with it all. Still not where I want to be, but I will say I am like 75% right now, so doing pretty good.” Hawkins told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The team now has over one month off until the start of training camp, and Hawkins estimates he will be roughly “80 or 90%” when the team reports. But don’t think his rehabilitation will keep him out of the running for the tackle spot. Then again, Hawkins is also willing to show he is capable of playing guard too.

“Wherever they want me at, I’m gonna be there,” Hawkins said. “If they want me, I’m going in there. I’m not going to tell them ‘no.’ ”

It has been a long and arduous process for Hawkins as he gets closer to return with a full bill of health, but during this time off he is focused on one thing and one thing only — getting back and being able to trust his knee.

“Right now I am focusing on just making sure I am back to the best of my ability,” Hawkins said.

Of all the camp battles the Steelers are facing heading into the 2019 camp, this might be the most highly contested battle, and it will be critical the Steelers find someone capable of rounding out one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL.

Bryant McFadden confident Steelers will win more than nine games in 2019

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:30am

Former Steelers cornerback turned media analyst Bryant McFadden is one of a handful of former players who still has faith in the Steelers this year.

Anyone who has spent any time listening to the “experts” this offseason will be well aware of the national media narrative predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers demise. A sentiment echoed by the bookmakers this offseason when they made them second favorites to win the division behind the Cleveland Browns and longer odds to win the Super Bowl than teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears.

But while many of his colleagues in the press have been more than willing to dump on the Steelers as of late, it would appear that former Pittsburgh cornerback turned CBS Sports analyst Bryant McFadden still has faith in the Black and Gold. Asked for his opinion about the Steelers chances against a win total of nine set by the sportsbooks, McFadden left no doubt which side of the line viewers should be betting.

“This is easy for me Hakem, it’s over. Here’s why. Pittsburgh still, they have the best quarterback in the division. They still have the best coach in the division. And when you look at the statistics from a year ago, they have the best running back in the division with a much improved defense led by T.J. Watt who had a breakout year – 13 sacks, 6 forced fumbles. This defense will be much better. They were tied for first in total sacks with 52. Add in Devin Bush. Print the t-shirts, he will be Defensive Rookie of the Year by the way, so go ahead and print your t-shirts now.

“Yes, take the over. Looking at the schedule, they have what, three long west coast trips out west to Arizona, to L.A. and to San Francisco? As long as they’re not playing Oakland in Oakland, book the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you want to add a little more sauce to your fire, go ahead and put something on them Superbowl odds. What? + 2500 and division +180? Book it, print the t-shirts. Over.”

Best QB, RB, coach in the division, and best defensive rookie in the league? Print the shirts of the #Steelers! @CBSSportsHQ @CBSSports @SportsLine pic.twitter.com/O0kLN2GlQr

— Bryant McFadden (@BMac_SportsTalk) June 20, 2019

Wearing the Terrible Towel on his shoulder was a nice touch by Bryant as an extra sign of his allegiance to his former team, and while many will claim his remarks are born out of bias, it is nice to hear a former player say something positive about the Steelers for once.

Despite generally considering myself something of a glass half empty kind of fan who often sides with the more pessimistic projections for Pittsburgh, I struggle to find fault with McFadden’s predictions. Devin Bush winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors does not actually seem that outlandish either given the amount of playing time he is likely to see in the early going. I might stop short of backing them to win the Super Bowl, but ever increasing odds to win the division and a low season wins total are becoming almost too tempting to ignore.

Can Donte Moncrief become the latest version of Jerricho Cotchery for the Steelers?

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 7:58am

Replacing Antonio Brown won’t be easy, but will the Steelers get some of the vacated production from Donte Moncrief?

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to find a way to replace Antonio Brown’s production in the 2019 season. Anyone who thinks the team will just be able to plug a new receiver(s) in that position and not miss a beat is fooling themselves. It will need to be a group effort for the Steelers, and the newest wide receiver/tight end group has big shoes to fill.

Can JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, Ryan Switzer, Eli Rogers and others be able to make up for the lost production? Yardage will likely be divided among the group, including Vance McDonald, but where will the touchdowns come from? Many are pointing to free agent acquisition Donte Moncrief as a potential target for Ben Roethlisberger when it matters most.

Looking at Moncrief’s history, he has never been one to rack up the statistics, then again he hasn’t really ever had an elite quarterback throwing him passes. His best season, in regards to yardage, was in 2015 when he tallied 733 yards. But his highest touchdown reception total was in 2016 when he snagged 7 touchdown catches.

Not exactly inspiring statistics, but I wonder if Moncrief might be able to be the Steelers’ next version of Jerricho Cotchery.

Cotchery was drafted by the New York Jets in 2004, and put up mediocre numbers until he logged 1,130 yards in 2007. But he was never a touchdown machine for gang green. While in New York he never caught more than 5 touchdown passes (2008) in a season, but when he came to Pittsburgh things changed.

After two seasons where he struggled to find his place, Cotchery became a red-zone machine and notched 10 touchdown passes in his third, and final, season in Pittsburgh (2013). He turned those 10 touchdowns into a lucrative contract with the Carolina Panthers, where he lasted just two seasons before leaving football altogether.

The kicker here, and the hope for Moncrief in 2019, is Cotchery’s yards receiving in that 2013 season. Sure, his touchdown receptions were off the charts, but he only caught 602 yards that season. While Moncrief might not be the main person to fill Antonio Brown’s production, if he can become a primary target in the red-zone, even if he doesn’t lead the team in yards receiving, it will go a long way to helping fill the production left by Brown.

When I think back to when the Steelers acquired Cotchery, there were similarities between what fans were saying then, and what they are saying now when referring to Moncrief. Both played with mediocre-to-bad quarterbacks most of the time, had at least one decent season and hopefully finds a spot in the Steelers’ offense.

Moncrief’s 6’2” 216 lbs. frame will be a tremendous red-zone target, and if he is able to set a career high in touchdowns, and in the process mirror Cotchery’s 2013 season in Pittsburgh, the acquisition should be viewed as an A+ by the Steelers’ brass, and the offensive coaching staff for putting him in the best chance to succeed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dubious “Cowabunga Brothers”

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 6:46am

Chris Boswell and Artie Burns were undoubtedly the Steelers two biggest disappointments last season as they did their best trapped in a turtle shell impressions.

Maybe I was just having flashbacks to watching episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with my son as he was growing up, but a couple of the Steelers players sure did remind me of our favorite talking turtles last season.

Chris Boswell and Artie Burns were brothers from another mother in 2018. Their seasons were almost mirror images of each other, but definitely not in a good way. Both players were being counted on to continue the upward trend of their careers and help the Steelers, coming off a 13-3 season, take the next step toward a Super Bowl championship. Instead both players struggled right out of the gate and imploded. With their confidence shot, they retreated to the inner sanctuary of their protective shells. They finished their disastrous seasons about as useful as a doorstop or paperweight. Their NFL futures are very much in doubt.

Both men can thank their lucky stars for the fact that their current salaries and perceived potential have afforded them their second chances. The Steelers are coming off a 9-6-1 season were one additional win would have had them participating in the playoffs. The failures of both men, especially Boswell, directly contributed to the Steelers missing the post season. Many players in similar situations find themselves unemployed. Boswell and Burns are presently on the roster, but understandably with a much shorter lease.

I make the turtle shell reference because both men appear trapped in their own noggins. The Steelers know they are in there, peaking out. The question is how do you get them to get out of their own heads and play to their abilities? They either break out of their mental shells and compete, or they are in danger of being turtle soup. It's now or never.

Chris Boswell's fall from grace was prodigious. Boswell was arguably the second best kicker in the league, behind Baltimore's Justin Tucker, the season prior. Chris was making last second, game winning kicks with regularity, seemingly every week. He parlayed that reliability into a new five year contract and as much security as any NFL kicker can realistically hope for. The life of an professional place kicker is beset by stress and expectations. Cue the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately crowd. All the game winning kicks of the years prior meant nothing during last season's repeated failures. Just make one of those last second opportunities and the Steelers would have been playoff bound and maybe the end of the season horror show could have been averted.

Kickers are paid to do one thing. Kick the football through the goalposts. Any kicker that can't perform that responsibility with near perfect regularity has no real value to their team. With kickoffs slowly being regulated out of the game, that statement is more true today than ever before.

Hopefully Boswell has put last season behind him and has regained his lost confidence. The Steelers still have a sizeable investment in the player, and seem to be rather fond of the man. A bounce back season from Boswell could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Steelers back on top the division where they belong, especially early in the schedule when the offense may still be finding their footing with all the new additions.

The second most surprising development last season, after Boswell's struggles, was the regression of Artie Burns game. I fully expected that the trio of Haden, Burns, and Hilton would offer the Steelers some stability at the cornerback positions, with Sutton and Sensabaugh providing solid depth. I also predicted that the addition of Coach Bradley would produce positive results. While the jury is still out on that last prediction, I sure was wrong about Artie Burns.

Burns couldn't seem to trust his reads and appeared to be in a constant state of confusion, often finding himself hopelessly beaten in a trailing position. His impressive athleticism was nowhere to be seen as he was paralyzed by the fear of failure. He found himself firmly planted on the bench whenever the defense took the field, and he became an immediate target the moment any QB seen him step between the lines. The low point occurred when Burns was torched by tortoise slow Antonio Gates, who resembles a middle aged father playing backyard football with the family after Thanksgiving dinner, on a key two point conversation.

So where does Burns go from here? If he can somehow find his way back from the abyss and regain his lost confidence, he will be given every opportunity to make the roster. The Steelers could really use a bounce back season from Burns. Nelson is a proven performer, but he will have to learn the defense just like any other newcomer. Layne is young and talented, but that is on paper. Haden isn't getting any younger, and has proven injury prone. Burns has more experience with the Steelers defense than any cornerback presently on the roster. If Burns can find a way to utilize that experience in a positive way on the field he could prove to be a valuable component on a Pittsburgh Steelers defensive revival.

All reports thus far about both players coming out of OTA's and minicamp have been positive, thankfully. One things for sure, this upcoming training camp bears extreme importance for both players and will directly impact the future success of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Podcast: Will Ulysees Gilbert III push someone like Tyler Matakevich off the roster?

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 5:31am

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 NFL Draft is over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for a fresh, new season — so it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers 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:

  • News and Notes
  • 2019 NFL Draft Breakdown: Ulysees Gilbert III
  • Steelers News
  • The ever popular Either/Or segment
  • 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: What will Sutton Smith be for the Steelers in 2019?

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 4:29am

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

With all of the Steelers’ 2019 offseason workouts in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base has to suffer through the dog days of summer until the boys of fall return to the gridon. In the meantime, don’t think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over. As the team disperses for the summer, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until training camp!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at trying to decipher what 6th round draft pick Sutton Smith will bring to the Steelers, if anything, this upcoming season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Steelers fans have become enamored with Northern Illinois draft pick Sutton Smith. He plays outside linebacker, inside linebacker and even fullback! What’s not to love?! But then again, what will Sutton Smith actually be in 2019?

Tim Benz: For Steelers, what will ‘The Hybrid’ Sutton Smith be?

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

“A little bit of everything, man,” Smith said as he smiled. “I try to do it all. Just call me ‘The Hybrid.’ ”

“The Hybrid” doesn’t sound as football-tough as “The Bus.” But it’s more eco-friendly. Maybe Smith is the Steelers’ “Green New Deal”

“Things are going well with fullback. They are throwing me in a little bit more,” Smith said. “They don’t want me to pick a position. They want me to learn both positions.”

Wait. “Both?” Which “both?” Inside and outside? Fullback and halfback?

“Offense and defense,” Smith replied.

Oh. Is that all? And special teams, too?

Yeah. No doubt. If Smith is going to make this team, he’s going to have to be Tyler Matakevich 2.0.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Remember Jerald Hawkins? Yeah, the former LSU tackle who impressed his rookie season before being injured, and the same player who was injured last season during OTAs? Yeah, that Jerald Hawkins. Seems he is expanding his horizons to try and ensure his spot on the 53-man roster.

Jerald Hawkins at ‘75%’ for Steelers minicamp, took reps at tackle, guard

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Back on the practice fields at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex the past four weeks, Hawkins was relieved he made it through OTAs and minicamp healthy. He also was heartened his leg held up better than expected.

“This whole OTAs (and minicamp) helped to show me a lot,” Hawkins said as mandatory minicamp wrapped up Thursday. “I like where I am at with (the knee), the mental aspect and what I can do with it and what I need to work on.

“Honestly, it did better than what I expected. I knew I was back strong, and I knew it was stable. But now being able to anchor down and be able to take bull rush, just being able to run on screens, I feel good with it all. Still not where I want to be, but I will say I am like 75% right now, so doing pretty good.”

Hawkins estimated his quad would be “80 or 90%” by the time the Steelers reconvene at training camp July 25 at Saint Vincent. It will be in Latrobe where Hawkins is hoping to impress enough to win the starting right tackle spot.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Will Ben Roethlisberger be able to lead the league in passing yards again in 2019? Odds are against him.

Mahomes is favored to lead the league in passing yardage

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Caesers Entertainment has installed Mahomes as a 7/2 favorite to throw for more passing yardage than any other quarterback, even though Caesers has taken receiver Tyreek Hill off the board regarding the odds to lead the league in receiving yardage.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who led all passers in 2018 with 5,129 yards, has 12/1 odds, likely due to the departure of Antonio Brown.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 11/2, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is 7/1, and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is 7/1. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is 9/1, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 10/1. Rams quarterback Jared Goff is 12/1.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Love the Steelers? Love Steelers memorabilia? Would you pay this much for a Jack Lambert jersey?

Jack Lambert jersey from 1982 fetches $50K at auction

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A game-used jersey worn by the Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker during the 1982 season fetched $50,131 at a recent auction of Steelers memorabilia held by Lelands.com.

Lambert’s jersey received the highest auction bid among dozens of items, mostly game-worn jerseys, by some of the Steelers’ most prominent former players. A 1981 Franco Harris jersey was second among the items with a $31,127 high bid. A 1976 Mel Blount jersey went for $30,326, and a 1980 Terry Bradshaw jersey sold for $28,297.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

We're still trying to figure out how @tpolamalu did this. #TBT pic.twitter.com/sNzCZFvz6Z

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 20, 2019

pic.twitter.com/xxpERVxIZg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 20, 2019

We know who's worn #️⃣7️⃣ since 2004. See who wore it before @_BigBen7.

: https://t.co/aCZjYGkM7a pic.twitter.com/uhpdb6HvNv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 19, 2019

@francoharrishof #Steelers #LongRunThread pic.twitter.com/nXulq7k6Ru

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) June 20, 2019

Steelers rookie Devin Bush named University of Michigan Athlete of the Year for 2019

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 2:45pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ prized rookie won a presitgious award from the University of Michigan.

As if Devin Bush needed more accolades than being a Top 10 draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the University of Michigan did just that when Bush was chosen as the Michigan 2019 Athlete of the Year.

Check out this video the university released in honor of Bush’s time wearing blue and gold.

It's official.

The 2018-19 U-M Athlete (and Dude) of the Year: @_Dbush11 !! #GoBlue 〽️ pic.twitter.com/0ZigncPLEy

— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) June 20, 2019

Bush finished his final season at Michigan with 66 tackles, 4.5 sacks and four pass breakups. The Steelers then traded with the Denver Broncos, to move up 10 spots to No. 10 overall to select the true junior.

In three years at Michigan, Bush tallied 194 tackles, 10 sacks, one interception and 17 pass breakups. He was a two-time All-Big Ten first team selection (2017-18) on the field, and if you wondered about his intelligence, he twice earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in the classroom.

Congratulations indeed to Bush for his achievements while at Michigan, but, as I’m sure he would attest, his attention is on helping the Pittsburgh Steelers get back to winning Super Bowls, not where played college football.

Make sure you stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the 2019 season with a trip to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 25th for their annual training camp.

Fellow member of the 2004 draft class, Max Starks takes up for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 1:11pm

The NFL continues to try and squeeze out every last drop of Steelers coverage during the slow months of the calendar.

Some say playing sports is like a fraternity. A bond develops between people who have a common goal must work together to achieve said goal. If we are sticking with the fraternity comparison, I would guess if you were in the NFL and were drafted in the same year together, it would be like your pledge class.

For Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he is the last man standing among his 2004 draft class, but that doesn’t mean the NFL won’t try and get every last ounce out of the ‘Ben Roethlisberger is a bad leader’ story by bringing back old teammates and asking them about Roethlisberger.

This is exactly what happened when the NFL Network had former offensive tackle, and 3rd round draft pick in the 2004 draft, Max Starks on to talk about Roethlisberger. They asked Starks about his leadership, where he sees the Steelers moving forward among other topics.

Starks said he and Roethlisberger “grew up together”, referring to them coming into the league at the same time, and how they had “fun”. But when asked about Roethlisberger’s leadership style, he phrased his thoughts differently than many other former teammates who have offered their opinions.

“Some people are vocal leaders, some are physical leaders,” Starks said. “I’ve always know him to be a physical leader. When he gets on the field, he’s giving you every ounce that he has.”

Anyone who has watched Roethlisberger play knows this is what he brings to the team every time he steps on the gridiron. As for whether Roethlisberger will have success in 2019, Starks doesn’t predict a steep drop off in production from Roethlisberger or the Steelers’ offense.

After a wild off-season, is the drama over in Pittsburgh? @maxstarks78 and @Terrell_Davis have some opinions ⬇️ #Steelers pic.twitter.com/rExfhcHQxX

— NFL Total Access (@NFLTotalAccess) June 17, 2019

Will Roethlisberger be able to continue to play at a high level, even in year 16 of his NFL career? Starks feels he is like a fine wine, getting better with age.

“He’s only getting better with age. He’s like fine wine, at this point,” Starks said. “He’s had career-best numbers … This is what you want to see from a franchise quarterback going into his 16th year.”

This is the offseason, and television stations like the NFL Network have to find something to talk about between minicamps and training camps. Unfortunately, that means a lot of nonsense which is often attempted to be construed as news. I will say it was refreshing to hear a former teammate come out and stand up for Roethlisberger.

When it comes to relationships on a football team, the one between a quarterback and his offensive linemen should be near the top in regards to closeness. Given how Starks protected Roethlisberger’s blindside for 8 years, and Roethlisberger helped provide him with two Super Bowl rings, it should come as a shock to no one Starks doesn’t have much to say about Roethlisberger in a negative fashion.

Late roster additions have been the standard for the Steelers in recent years

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 11:14am

Since 2013 the Steelers have made at least one roster move affecting the 53 man roster just prior to the start of the season.

When it comes to the 53 man roster for the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, it would be a safe bet that at least one player will be on the roster Week 1 of the season who is not currently under contract with the team. Over the last six seasons, the Steelers have made multiple moves leading up to their opening game. As injuries and other issues occur, the steelers sign and release players throughout the preseason. For this particular exercise, we will be looking at players who spent time on the 53 man roster who were not originally with the team following minicamp.

2013

The 2013 season began with a flurry of moves before the regular season began. On August 23, the Steelers traded OLB Adrian Robinson to the Philadelphia Eagles for RB Felix Jones. Jones played in all 16 games for the Steelers, rushing for 184 yards on 48 attempts. The Steelers also claimed CB Antwon Blake off of waivers on September 1 after he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blake appeared in 14 games in 2013, and played two additional seasons for the Steelers.

The Steelers then signed a couple of players who had been cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On September 2 the Steelers signed center Cody Wallace, and one day later they signed punter Zoltan Mesko. Wallace played four seasons with the Steelers, while Mesko only managed seven games.

Sometimes mistaken for moves made before the start of the 2013 regular season, the Steelers also signed three additional players immediately following Week 1. The Steeler signed kicker Shane Graham (only for one week), guard Fernando Velasco, and re-signed running back Jonathan Dwyer.

2014

In 2014, the only significant move the Steelers made before the season was claiming cornerback B.W. Webb off waivers on August 29 after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys. Webb logged at least one snap on either defense or special teams in 11 of the Steelers 16 games. He was released by the Steelers at the beginning of the following season.

2015

In 2015 the Steelers were very active before the season with numerous players who would make the squad. It began on August 1 with the trade for CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles for a 5th round draft pick in 2016. The Steelers made several more signings and waiver claims during the preseason with players who did not make the 53 man squad. They did claim L.J. Fort off of waivers on August 19 after he was released by the Patriots. Fort found himself in the practice squad before being called up at the end of 2015.

The Steelers also signed Michael Vick on August 25, 2015 when their options for a back up quarterback fizzled out due to injury. Another position dealing with multiple injuries was place kicker, so the Steelers traded a 2016 sixth round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for K Josh Scobee. The Steelers also made another trade when they sent punter Brad wing to the New York Giants for seventh round pick in 2016.

The Steeler signed two players after every team made their final cut downs in 2015. Cornerback Ross Cockrell was signed September 5 after he cleared waivers upon being released by the Buffalo Bills. Running back Jordan Todman signed with the Steelers September 6 after being released by the Carolina Panthers the day prior. On the same day, the Steelers also claimed Caushaud Lyons off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lyons was on the roster for three weeks but was inactive for each game. Before Week 4, Lyons was demoted to the practice squad for the rest of the season in favor of Anthony Chickillo.

2016

During the 2016 season, the Steelers claimed Zach Mettenberger off waivers on August 31 after he was released by the San Diego Chargers. Mettenberger was the number three quarterback the entire season for the Steelers with the exception of the two games Ben Roethlisberger did not play where he served as the backup to Landry Jones.

The other move the Steelers made in 2016 just prior to Week 1 of the season was a trade with the Cleveland Browns for cornerback Justin Gilbert. A former eighth overall pick in 2014, the Steelers took a chance on Gilbert in return for a sixth round draft pick in 2017. Appearing in 12 games as mostly a special-teams player, Gilbert did have three kick returns in the regular season and three more in the playoffs. But as far as defense goes, he only logged 11 snaps in 2016 only to be released at the end of the season.

2017

The 2017 season started with a flurry of trades by the Steelers before they played their first regular season game. It began on August 24 when the Steelers Traded Center, Lucas Crowley to the Redskins for CB Dashaun Phillips. Phillips did not make the 53 man roster, but was on the practice squad. On August 29, the Steelers sent to their 2018 fourth round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for TE Vance McDonald and San Francisco’s 2018 fifth round draft pick. One day later, the Steelers signed CB Joe Haden to a three-year deal after he was released by the Cleveland Browns.

On September 2, 2017, the Steelers traded away two of their players for 2018 draft picks. First they sent Ross Cockrell to the New York Giants for their seventh round draft pick. The Steelers also sent Sammy Coats and their 2018 seventh round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for their sixth round pick.

The final trade the Steelers made leading up to the 2017 season was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On September 3, the Steeler sent the sixth round pick they just received from the Browns to the Buccaneers in exchange for free safety J.J. Wilcox and Tampa’s 2018 seventh round draft pick. Wilcox played in 12 games for the Steelers and had one interception before he was released the following off-season.

2018

For the 2018 season, the Steelers were not nearly as active as they had been in past seasons. It should be noted the Steelers signed T Zach Banner on August 12 as a free agent. The reason this signing should be noted is Banner was on the 53 man roster for the entire 2018 season.

The other move the Steelers made in 2018 was on August 27 when they traded their fifth round draft pick from 2019 to the Oakland Raiders for WR/KR Ryan Switzer along with their 2019 sixth round draft pick.

2019

It is uncertain if the Steelers will definitely make a transaction before the start of the 2019 season which will significantly affect the roster. Whether a move is made or not, it is certain that the Steelers front office will be diligent in exploring both any trade possibilities and the NFL waiver wire in order to make needed improvements for 2019.

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