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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 2019-02-17T14:47:00-05:00
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Steelers Stock Report: See whose stock is rising and falling after a drama-filled week

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 9:20am

Time to check in on the Pittsburgh Steelers Stock Report as the offseason rolls on.

The 2018 NFL season has reached its coda. The vile and despicable Patriots narrowly defeated the Rams in the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to quarterback Jared Goff exhibiting a lack of situational awareness and object permanence generally reserved for first-term fetuses and Boy Wonder Sean McVay filling his khakis to the brim with sour, nervous diarrhea. New England is now home to six Lombardi Trophies, every one of which the Pats have claimed this millennium, which puts them in a deadlock with the Steelers at the pinnacle of the league’s all-time elite.

As if watching the Patriots, a team that has thoroughly established themselves as the Steelers’ daddy during the Ben Roethlisberger era, march unabated toward an eventuality that we all saw coming—the only people who genuinely believed the Patriots were actually underdogs were Jim Nantz, Bill Simmons, a handful of players on the Patriots, and maybe 60 percent of the repellent landbeasts that populate the Northeast—wasn’t bad enough, Yinzers have spent the last four weeks watching in abject horror as the once-peachy relationship between Antonio Brown and the Steelers rapidly deteriorates. So, since it’s been a minute since we’ve done a Stock Report, let’s start there:

Stock Down: Antonio Brown

The latest installment in the never-ending Antonio Brown Tragedy comes in the form of an alleged domestic incident between Brown and the mother of his child, which occurred last month at Brown’s Florida residence. According to the police report—which you can read in full here—the mother of Brown’s child drove to Brown’s Hollywood, Fla. home to deliver their daughter following a hair appointment. She then demanded payment for said appointment, and when Brown refused and told her to leave the premises, she positioned herself athwart the entryway, thereby preventing Brown from closing the door. In response, Brown, according to the aforementioned report, “used both hands to push her out of the doorway, causing [her] to fall backwards to the ground.” However, she did not complete a victim affidavit and insisted that she did not intend to press charges against Brown. As such, Brown was not arrested.

Tuesday, Brown’s attorney issued the following statement:

The closed police report proves that Antonio Brown did absolutely nothing wrong, as insinuated by the recent headlines. Unfortunately, the media alluded wrongdoing on the part of my client in a “domestic dispute” when in fact no wrongdoing ever occurred on his part. The complainant, who is the mother of Mr. Brown’s child, acknowledged that she refused to leave Mr. Brown’s property after being asked and further refused to leave the doorway of his personal residence. The complainant did not want to provide a statement or press charges, and asked to retract her report after it was made. the media must be held to a higher standard and should issue an apology to my client for harming his reputation without cause and without full report in their possession. Additionally, the complainant unnecessarily involved my client’s minor child in her false reporting, causing irreparable harm to a minor child. Therefore, Antonio Brown’s family law attorney, Jaclyn Soroka, Esq. will be filing an action with the court today seeing full legal custody of his child accordingly.

What this statement says, in essence, is that Antonio Brown did nothing wrong and that, as such, the matter is now a non-matter. This is all good and fine from a legal standpoint—for now—but it does little to absolve Brown of blame in the court of public opinion or, perhaps, in the omnipresent gaze of one Roger Goodell, the longstanding judge, jury, and executioner in the NFL’s disciplinary issues who has demonstrated on numerous occasions that an arrest is not necessarily a prerequisite to levy a suspension. Ezekiel Elliott, for example, served a six-game suspension—one that was infamously delayed thanks to great deluge of appeals—back in 2017 after he was accused of battering his then-girlfriend, despite not being arrested (to be fair, though, an extensive investigation by the NFL revealed “substantial and pervasive evidence” that abuse did occur, so I don’t mean to imply that Brown’s circumstances are analogous to those of Elliott). The NFL reportedly plans to conduct its own investigation, so it’s entirely possible we haven’t heard the last of this case.

The Steelers and Brown have looked to be headed toward a divorce for the past month, but never has that outcome seemed more inevitable than it does now. This isn’t necessarily to suggest that the Steelers somehow take domestic violence more seriously than any other franchise in the NFL—in fact, given that the late Dan Rooney once defended James Harrison after Harrison was accused of beating down his girlfriend’s bathroom door, snapping her phone in half as she tried to contact police, and slapping her across the face, one could be forgiven for arguing the inverse—but more so that, even if Brown does manage to evade the NFL’s gallows, public opinion regarding Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh has smashed right through the floor of rock bottom and settled neatly at a nadir whose constraints are unimaginable. I’m a very firm believer that time heals all wounds, but I don’t know if there are enough hours in our simplistic, meat-brained dimension to mend the festering avulsion that is the Brown/Steelers relationship.

Stock up: Le’Veon Bell

Reports trickled out last week suggesting that the Steelers could use the transition tag on free-agent-to-be Le’Veon Bell, who voluntarily skipped the 2018 season as part of his ongoing crusade to reset the running back market, and, friends, I am extremely into this idea.

The NFL’s transition tag is functionally akin to restricted free agency in the NBA. More specifically, it enables players to explore employment opportunities elsewhere and even negotiate contracts, but it grants their original teams right of first refusal, effectively permitting the original team to match any offer the player may receive from another team. In the article I hyperlinked up in the first paragraph there, we outline the myriad reasons why applying the transition tag is not an awesome idea—namely, that doing so could complicate the Steelers’ cap situation or prevent them from receiving what could potentially be a valuable compensatory pick, to say nothing of the fact that re-signing Bell could irreversibly stunt the development of James Conner and promising backup Jaylen Samuels—but, like, screw that. Can you even imagine the collective megatonnage of the takes that would ensue if the Steelers announced that “Oh, by the way, we’ve signed Le’Veon Bell to a $60 million contract”? It would be glorious.

Unfortunately, there is very little chance that the Steelers will actually apply the transition tag to Bell—even to facilitate some sort of sign-and-trade, as suggested by CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora (who I am not entirely confident possesses the ability to accurately report on what color socks he’s wearing, let alone highlight the particulars of a complex transaction).

At this point, it probably behooves Bell and the Steelers to part ways on equitable terms; Bell can chase what he believes he’s worth in free agency, and the Steelers can move forward with the pieces they have in place.

Stock up: Steelers Twitter

Wednesday morning, the Steelers’ official Twitter account posted the following tweet:

The entire 2019 #NFLDraft order is set.

DRAFT ORDER: https://t.co/2CdKmjBH8k pic.twitter.com/6UWqdBRuCI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 6, 2019

Innocuous enough, right? Not so for Andrew, who wanted a little spice on his breakfast:

What mid-to-late 3rd rounder are we taking 20th overall this year

— Andrew (@i_are_andrew) February 6, 2019

Now, it’s generally true that responding to a team’s social media profile with team-specific gripes makes you look like a huge moron; these accounts are managed almost exclusively by former public relations majors who just scheduled everything the night before in Hootsuite so they can sleep off their hangover at their desk, so directing your ire toward them will do little to initiate the change you hope to see. Functionally, you are screaming at the bank teller because you’re upset about interest rates.

HOWEVER: Andrew’s response is a big mood. It’s hard to be thrilled by the prospect of a pick in the back half of the draft when the Steelers have developed something of a penchant for “reaching.” Terrell Edmunds, a purported second-day prospect who the Steelers selected 28th overall in the last draft, had fleeting moments of bland okayness during the 2018 regular season, but the direction of his career trajectory has yet to be established. T.J. Watt, the Steelers’ first-round pick the year prior, is exceptional. No complaints there. The year before that, though, the Steelers used the 25th overall pick to select the cursed Artie Burns, a prospect who was on nobody’s radar during the first round. Hindsight is always 20/20, but here’s a list of some players the Steelers could’ve picked instead in 2016: Xavien Howard, Myles Jack, Chris Jones, Deion Jones, Kevin Byard, and Kendall Fuller. Burns was a bad pick at the time, and he’s a horrendous pick in retrospect. Your dog is a substantially better defensive back than Artie Burns, and, by God, Andrew is right to be upset!

Random Life Upgrade: Pot Roast

Since we’re quickly gonna run out of stuff to talk about this offseason, I’m gonna conclude each weekly Stock Report with a tip for instantly improving your life. If your life is already perfect, please consider the article over.

Okay, so I don’t wanna bore you with a verbose preamble about how I discovered this pot roast recipe during a spiritual journey through the dense jungles of Laos, so here is a decent recipe for a pot roast to impress your family and friends.

What you will need:

-2-3 pound chuck shoulder roast (If you live around Pittsburgh, you can get one of these at Giant Eagle for, like, $15).

-EV olive oil or canola oil

-Fresh garlic (maybe 5 cloves, minced; garlic powder is fine, too)

-Small onion, minced (likewise, onion powder is fine).

-Fresh thyme, rosemary, and sage

-Worcestershire sauce

-The highest-quality beef stock you can find in your grocer’s soup section

-Salt and pepper

-Red wine or red wine vinegar

-Soy sauce (optional, but a decent umami enhancer if you’re into that kinda thing)

Prep:

  1. Prepare a roaster pan and preheat oven to maybe about 300 degrees.
  2. Liberally coat the roast in salt and pepper. On the stovetop, heat a couple tablespoons of your cooking oil over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides.
  3. Extract the roast and place in your roaster pan or dutch oven or whatever (probably a crock pot is fine, too, I guess).
  4. Using the same pan in which you browned the roast, throw in the diced onions. Centuries of innovation have brought us to this point; do not waste this opportunity. Cook over high heat until translucent. Add the diced garlic during the last minute or two of cooking (but don’t burn it! Scorched garlic will throw everything off).
  5. Add the browns onions and garlic to the topside of the roast. (If you’re using powders, skip step 4 and just cover the roast once brown). Add the herbs at this stage.
  6. I don’t really measure stuff, but at this point you wanna add maybe 2-ish cups of beef stock, a glug of red wine/red wine vinegar, another couple tablespoons of oil, and a dash of soy and Worcestershire sauce to the cooking vessel. Basically, you wanna ensure the bottom third of the roast is submerged.
  7. Cover the pan and roast/braise for 2-3 hours. After the first 90 or so minutes, give it a check. Remember, you aren’t cooking filet here; chuck is a crappy, tough cut of meat that responds best to low and slow cooking times. Take your time.
  8. Once the roast reaches completion, extract, wrap in foil, and let rest.
  9. In the meantime, run the leftover cooking liquid through a strainer or mesh sieve. Return the unsullied liquid to a saucepan and reduce over high heat until just slightly thickened. Shred or slice the beef and return to the sauce before cooking.

Enjoy!

ESPN’s Bold Predictions have the Steelers losing two key offensive playmakers this offseason

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 7:56am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a couple big-name players who are in flux this offseason, and ESPN predicts where they land.

The Pittsburgh Steelers once boasted the moniker the ‘Killer B’s’. This was representative of the following players:

Ben Roethlisberger
Le’Veon Bell
Antonio Brown
Chris Boswell
Martavis Bryant

When you look at where things have gone since the 2014 season, let’s go over the list again and talk about where we are now, entering the 2019 offseason.

Ben Roethlisberger — Awaiting a contract extension
Le’Veon Bell — Awaiting Free Agency
Antonio Brown — Hoping to be traded
Chris Boswell — Hoping to just keep his job
Martavis Bryant — Out of the league after being traded to the Raiders and then being suspended again.

It is hard to believe there is a chance the Steelers go into 2019 with a ‘Killer B’, and that standing for only Ben Roethlisberger.

As Bell and Brown await their fates this offseason, both situations being so different in many ways, ESPN recently produced a ‘Bold Prediction’ article which gave some predictions as to where Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will play next season.

Take a look at what they think...

Antonio Brown will lead the league in receptions with the San Francisco 49ers

The odds strongly favor Pittsburgh trading Brown this offseason. Releasing him would allow a conference rival like Baltimore or New England to get him, and that’s not in the Steelers’ interests at all. So shipping him off to an NFC West team makes more sense. San Francisco has the cap space to give Brown a new contract if he wants one, and there’s no doubt Brown knows all about what Julio Jones did in Atlanta two years ago as the No. 1 wide receiver in a Kyle Shanahan offense.

If you follow Brown on social media, and read headlines, you know this is an outcome which could be seen as obvious. Brown has figuratively flirted with 49ers players on social media, and Jerry Rice has been very active in regards to his efforts to recruit Brown to the Bay area.

While predicting Brown to be traded to an NFC team isn’t out of the picture, Brown’s recent issues off the field, combined with what the Steelers feel is a legitimate return for the All-Pro player, would strongly limit the suitors for No. 84.

What about Bell? Here is where they think he will play in 2019...

The Texans will sign Le’Veon Bell to a deal that eclipses Todd Gurley’s

Bell didn’t just sit out a whole season to take a penny less than the four-year, $57.5 million contract Gurley signed with the Rams last summer. And in spite of that missed season, Bell will have a market for his services. The Jets, 49ers and Texans are all in it, but Houston wins out by selling Bell on what he can do in an offense that features Deshaun Watson at quarterback and DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver.

The Texans must -- and likely will -- address the offensive line in free agency and the draft. But Bell is what my colleague Bill Polian calls a “BYOB” back (bring your own blocking). He can help elevate the Texans’ offense to where it needs to be to compete for an AFC title.

The Texans won’t be the only players in the Bell sweepstakes, but you can imagine how Bell could be drawn to them. A playoff team this year, and plenty of offensive weapons already there...it seems as if Bell could be a very big final piece to the Texans’ puzzle. This doesn’t guarantee it will necessarily work out, but it would certainly look good on paper.

The New York Jets have also voiced some reported interest in Bell, but other reports have said the team isn’t prepared to break the bank to bring Bell’s talents to the Big Apple.

Where will these players end up? Only time will tell, and it seems more and more unlikely these two players will ever don the black-and-gold again. Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as the offseason drags on.

A Steelers fan guide to the Alliance of American Football

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 6:44am

All the information you need to know to be ready for the debut of this new professional football league on Saturday.

The NFL may not be due return to the field until August, but there is still plenty of football to watch in the coming months thanks to a new professional football league set to begin play on Saturday. Founded by noted film and television producer Charlie Ebersol and former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian, the new Alliance of American Football league will feature eight teams playing a 12 week season.

Watch:

Broadcast contracts with CBS, NFL Network and TNT should mean that the games are available in most regions and the league’s mobile app will offer live streaming of all games, while B/R Live will also carry one game a week.

Rules:

Following a similar rules structure to the NFL, the AAF will still feature a few notable differences to the game fans have become used to.

  • There were be no TV timeouts and fewer full-screen commercial in attempt to reduce game time by around 30 minutes.
  • All teams must attempt a two-point conversions after a touchdown. There are no extra point kicks in the AAF.
  • There will be no kickoffs, with all possessions starting at the 25-yard line instead. In place of onside kicks, a team must convert a fourth-and-12 from their own 28-yard line in order to maintain possession of the ball or turn it over to their opponent.
  • The play clock has been reduced to 35 seconds.
  • In overtime, each team will be given the ball at their opponent’s 10-yard line and be given just one possession to score a touchdown and attempt a two-point conversion. Field goals are not allowed. The other team then gets the same chance and the game ends, regardless if it is still a tie.
  • An additional “Sky Judge” referee using real-time technology will correct any missed calls centered around player safety and can correct any pass interference called inside the final five minutes of the game.
Teams:
  • Arizona Hotshots
  • Atlanta Legends
  • Birmingham Iron
  • Memphis Express
  • Orlando Apollos
  • Salt Lake Stallions
  • San Antonio Commanders
  • San Diego Fleet

The Birmingham Iron and San Diego Fleet may have the best looking uniforms based on the initial publicity photographs.

The Alliance of American Football launches in February, and we just unveiled our uniforms. Check them out! #JoinTheAlliance pic.twitter.com/F7uBDo6mNE

— The Alliance (@TheAAF) November 27, 2018 Schedule: Head coaches:
  • Arizona: Rick Neuheisel
  • Atlanta: Kevin Coyle
  • Birmingham: Tim Lewis
  • Memphis: Mike Singletary
  • Orlando: Steve Spurrier
  • Salt Lake: Dennis Erickson
  • San Antonio: Mike Riley
  • San Diego: Mike Martz

In addition to these familiar names in charge of each team, former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu will serve as the league’s Head of Player Relations and Hines Ward is the league’s Head of Development.

Players:

The AAF will also feature a number of players that Pittsburgh fans should recognize with several former Steelers under contract with all but two of the eight teams in the league.

Arizona Hotshots: None

Atlanta Legends: CB Dorian Grant

Birmingham Iron: WR L’Damian Washington, OT Larson Graham, DT Casey Sayles, DT Josh Frazier, DE Johnny Maxey, CB Jamar Summers, S Jacob Hagen

Memphis Express: QB Zach Mettenberger, RB Rajion Neal, DE Greg Gilmore, DB Malik Boynton, P Brad Wing

Orlando Apollos: TE Scott Orndoff, DE Giorgio Newberry, LB Terence Garvin

Salt Lake Stallions: None

San Antonio Commanders: QB Dustin Vaughan, RB David Cobb, RB Trey Williams, WR Demarcus Ayers, TE Cameron Clear, LB Darnell Leslie

San Diego Fleet: RB Terrell Watson, OT Brandon Hodges, LB Travis Feeney, CB Greg Ducre

Betting:

Will you be betting the AAF, which starts next week?

Odds To Win AAF Championship
Arizona 5/2
Salt Lake 4/1
San Antonio 5/1
Atlanta 5/1
San Diego 10/1
Memphis 10/1
Birmingham 10/1

— SportsLine (@SportsLine) February 4, 2019

The season will run from Saturday, February 9 through Sunday, April, 14 with the top four teams in the league making the playoffs. The championship game will be held on Saturday, April 27 in Las Vegas.

Podcast: Will the Steelers be without both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in 2019?

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 5:37am

The once famed ‘Killer B’s’ are a thing of the past. Will the Steelers be without both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown in 2019? This question once seemed like a slam dunk, but not anymore.

Remember back when the Pittsburgh Steelers were best known for having the best set of ‘triplets’ in the NFL? Triplets obviously referring to the best QB, RB and WR in the game? Those positions were filled with household names like Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.

Fast forward to 2019, and the future is quite murky for the trio.

  • Ben Roethlisberger is entering the final year of his contract, but expected to receive an extension.
  • Antonio Brown wants a trade, but off-field issues might hamper those requests.
  • Le’Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 season, and is hopeful to hit free agency this offseason.

So, the question this week is will both Bell and Brown being somewhere other than the 412 area code when the 2019 NFL season finally arrives?

Inquiring minds want to know the answer to this burning question, and this was the crux of the new podcast ‘Steelers Burning Question’ which aired last night on our YouTube channel.

In the podcast I go into greater detail on what will become of this dynamic duo.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment who you think is to blame in the comment section below!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here:

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: Matt Feiler might not be guaranteed a major role on the 2019 roster

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 4:36am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether the surprise of the season in 2018, offensive tackle Matt Feiler, might not have a huge role on the 2019 roster. This all despite having a tremendous 2018 season filling in for oft-injured Marcus Gilbert.

Whether he should have a bigger role, or not, nothing is guaranteed as the 2019 season approaches.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers’ Matt Feiler awaits role after establishing himself as a viable starter

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As Matt Feiler entered his fifth NFL training camp and after four seasons as part of organizations in the league, he’d had all of five regular-season games and 75 offensive snaps to his credit.

So it had to be gratifying to Feiler that in 2018 for the Pittsburgh Steelers he proved he was a viable, effective NFL starter-caliber player.

“It’s nice to see the hard work pay off,” Feiler said at the end of this past season. “But there’s still a lot more work ahead.”

Feiler started 10 games for the Steelers this past season – and he started them at right tackle. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound native of the Lancaster area who played Division II college football at Bloomsburg had previously practiced mostly at guard during his time in the NFL as a practice-squad player for the Houston Texans (2014) and Steelers (2015-16, with 2017 a season mostly spent as a Sunday inactive).

Yet when Marcus Gilbert suffered what would become a season-ending knee injury in October and with the Steelers short at tackle because of injury to Jerald Hawkins and a desire to bring along 21-year-old rookie Chuks Okorafor slowly, Feiler became the man at right tackle.

“It is kind of crazy to think about,” Feiler said in how far his career came during 2018, “but I haven’t spent much time looking back at it. I was in camp to just prepare for whatever, and that’s what I did.”

By all indications, Feiler performed well in his first regular NFL action. Pro Football Focus graded him as the 14 th -best right tackle in the NFL, giving him an overall “above average” grade as well as an “above average” designation in pass blocking and an “average” mark in run blocking.

But that won’t assure him any role in 2019. Gilbert could return to health and regain his starting job (though neither of those is a guarantee, and the Steelers might elect to cut him). Hawkins also figures to be healthy, and Okorafor would seem be in line for an increased role.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

The blame-shifting for — and enabling of — Antonio Brown

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As you probably have heard by now, Antonio Brown was reportedly involved in a domestic dispute .

As you have also probably heard, it’s the media’s fault.

To be clear, Brown was not charged . No arrests were made as result of the police inquiry.

Which is exactly what the media entity that first reported the story — TMZ — stated in its post Tuesday.

Multiple times.

Which is what made the response from Brown’s attorney so curious.

”The allegations are baseless and false,” said Darren Heitner. “It’s unfortunate that the media is trying to use distractions like this and prior stories in an effort to tarnish my client’s name and reputation.”

First of all, the media isn’t trying to tarnish Brown’s name or reputation. Brown is doing that all by himself.

And it’s time for his lawyer, his friends, and his family to tell him that. Because blaming the public for discussing it won’t slow the process.

It’s not the media’s job to promote Brown’s brand. It’s his job to protect it. And no amount of “work ethic in practice” will offset the road he is traveling right now.

It’s entirely possible that the domestic allegations really are “baseless and false.” At the very least, they weren’t deemed significant enough to warrant an arrest or charges of any kind.

But the Hollywood (Fla.) Police Dept. confirmed to TMZ Sports that Brown “was involved in a domestic dispute.”

Whatever prompted the police to investigate the case didn’t involve a member of the media. Similarly, no one from TMZ was alleged to have helped Brown throw patio furniture off a balcony near bystanders. That’s something else he is accused of doing.

No one from the Trib was driving him 100 mph down McKnight Road. None of the Pittsburgh TV stations hit “send” on Brown’s phone when he made a physical threat to a reporter on Twitter.

Someone should remind Brown — and his lawyer — of those situations.

Brown is responsible for being accountable to society. The media isn’t responsible to bury these allegations once they become public record.

What we’ve got here is a macro version of Brown’s illogical meltdown back in June when he blamed the press for attention that was being paid to him via posts on his own social media accounts.

Or a macro version of when he got frustrated with the media for asking him questions about his own “Trade me let’s find out” tweet back in September.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II once described these occasional AB news dumps as “minor annoyances.” We’ve graduated beyond that description.

The Facebook Live stream simply made Mike Tomlin look bad. Celebration penalties only cost 15 yards at a time. Going AWOL this December just impacted football. Throwing a cooler merely wasted $10 of Gatorade.

Now the safety of others is potentially being compromised.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

Analysis: These advanced stats say Antonio Brown slipped sharply in 2018

By: Adam Bittner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Antonio Brown’s stats were as solid as they’ve ever been in 2018. He finished among the NFL’s top 11 in catches (104), yards (1,297) and touchdowns (15), numbers that square nicely with his reputation as one of the game’s premier receivers.

Still, it felt like his “WiFi” connection with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was just a bit off at times. The explosive plays that seemed so effortless for the pair in the past would go missing for noticeable stretches. For every vintage performance — 185 yards on 14 catches against New Orleans, for example — there was a dud like his five catch, 35-yard effort in an embarrassing loss at Oakland two weeks prior.

Your eyes weren’t deceiving you. Advanced statistics from analytics website Football Outsiders suggest Brown did considerably less with his opportunities this season than he has in the past.

If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve probably heard wins above replacement, or WAR, tossed around a lot in recent years. The stat is the product of a complex calculation aimed at estimating a player’s offensive and defensive value in one number, expressed as wins contributed to the player’s team compared to what an easily-acquired “replacement” player might produce over the course of a season. If you’re unfamiliar, you can read more about the methodology here.

Football Outsiders produces a similar number: defense-adjusted yards above replacement, or DYAR. With consideration given to the quality of opposing defenses, its goal is to estimate how many yards — or equivalent value in first downs, touchdowns, and turnovers — a player produces for his team beyond what a run-of-the-mill backup might in similar situations.

You can read more about the methodology here, but the important thing to know is that DYAR attempts to separate quality from volume. Any receiver can be targeted 160 times in a season, for example. DYAR is an estimate of how much more the best receivers produce with their opportunities.

Brown had been among the NFL’s best in this category before 2018, ranking no worse than seventh in the league in any year from 2013 to ‘17. He topped the ranking with 554 DYAR in 2014, 517 in 2015 and 430 in 2017.

In 2018, his 191 DYAR was good for just 19th. Not only was he beaten out by teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster (235 DYAR), he also produced less than half of top receiver Tyler Lockett’s total of 464 and came in behind second-tier names including Detroit’s Kenny Golladay (250) and Green Bay’s Davante Adams (246.)

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

10 Things I Think I Thought while watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 2:33pm

The New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl? Yeah, there were some thoughts flowing during Super Bowl 53.

My brain’s still working, though clearly not at peak performance. Here are ten things I think I thought watching the big game this past Sunday.

  1. Why am I watching this again? Oh yeah, to cheer the Patsies to defeat. Though it would have been a taste of heaven, that, of course, is not what happened. But I came away thinking even if it had I still would have felt like I’d wasted four hours. I’m going back to not watching any more Steeler-less Super Bowls.
  2. Could this game be any more boring? No.
  3. Every time I saw Donta Hightower make a play I wondered about the FO’s decision to pass on him. I’m not saying they did wrong in not signing him, just wondered if it might have made a difference. And wondering if the uncertainty on Bell influenced that decision. I agree with all those who affirm Bell wasn’t evil for not signing, but really did wrong in not being honest with the team.
  4. I obviously don’t know, but wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind knowing he would fail a drug test.
  5. I paid even less attention to the commercials and half time show than I did the game. Such would have no impact on the actual game. That said, they might have turned out to be less boring.
  6. Thirty more weeks until we start the process of trying again. That’s a lot of weeks. Especially if they will be thirty more weeks talking about Antonio Brown.
  7. We made it through the season without missing Landry Jones. I’m glad we have both Rudolph and Dobbs on the roster. I will never get over having Ben on the bench in Oakland. I want reps, reps and more reps for both of them. I’m old enough to remember when quarterbacks were brought up slowly. It works better. But it only works if they are actually working on it. Please let one of these two be our Aaron Rogers.
  8. Art Rooney Sr. was an incredibly lovable man, a genuine hero to the city. He wasn’t, however, good at producing winning teams. The glory years had more of Dan’s fingerprints than Art’s. Should we be fearful Art II has more in common with his namesake?
  9. Apparently Sam Darnold, quarterback for the New York Jets and Aaron Donald, defensive tackle for the LA Rams are not the same person. Who knew? To quote Seattle’s favorite talk show shrink- “egg all over my face.”
  10. I love my beautiful wife, even more than I love the Steelers. I’ll make it through the next thirty weeks.

Police report detailing alleged domestic dispute involving Antonio Brown emerges

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 12:23pm

A report that was also met with a statement from the wide receiver’s lawyer, shared via ESPN.

The latest drama surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and an alleged domestic dispute involving the mother of his daughter took another turn on Wednesday with the release of the official police report of the incident.

SLATER SCOOP: Here’s the Antonio Brown incident report.

Brown allegedly pushed female with two hands, causing her to fall to the ground.

Details below. pic.twitter.com/CzauY3NsgX

— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) February 6, 2019

Noting a argument between Brown and Ms. Jackson that ended with an altercation at the doorway to his home in Florida, the police report claims that Jackson ultimately refused to complete a victim affidavit with the detectives that attended the scene.

In response, Darren Heitner, the lawyer for the steelers' star receiver, was quick to release a statement via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN addressing the details of the report.

A follow-up statement from Antonio Brown’s lawyer, Darren Heitner, in light of police report leaking. pic.twitter.com/njZGeH0VoO

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 6, 2019

Aside from an initial statement on Tuesday, the Steelers have yet to comment on these recent revelations from Wednesday, and the league office had not addressed the issue publicly either at the time of writing.

Statement from @steelers Spokesman Burt Lauten on Antonio Brown: We were made aware earlier today of the alleged incident involving Antonio Brown last month in Florida. We are still in the process of gathering information, consequently we have no further comment at this time.

— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) February 5, 2019

2019 NFL Draft Prospects: Florida State EDGE Brian Burns has the makings of a star

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 10:48am

Brian Burns is an elite EDGE prospect

With the Steelers possibly taking a more conservative approach, and looking at all their needs this offseason, it could be inferred that if an elite EDGE prospect were to be there at 20, they might just jump on him. Enter in Brian Burns, who is a top 5 player on my big board and even in a stacked EDGE class, really sticks out as a potential star. Burns has some traits that are eye-popping and continues to show out on tape every time you watch him. Thus, it is tempting for any team with EDGE as a secondary team to go and try to get him.

Measurements

Ht: 6’5”

Wt: 235 lbs

Expected 40: 4.62

Film Room

Burns has some insane bend, he can just bend around the edge like a dang slinky. The dude is a super polished pass rusher and it shows up all over his tape. Honestly, just check out how this guy beats guys around the edge, it isn’t even funny.

Brian Burns is EDGE2 for very good reason. Fantastic hand usage and awesome bend around the edge are mainly why, even with that thin frame, he is going to be so hard to stop. He is like a slinky coming around the edge man. pic.twitter.com/ZiutZyG2VK

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 21, 2019

Burns, as shown here, has a great first step. He times the snap count absurdly well and can use that burst to convert to speed, power, and then bend around the edge. Look at the way he uses his hands to gain the edge here and maintain leverage, as he plays lows. Then, as he bends, his inside leg takes is super flexible and behind his hips. Fantastic job of moving around the edge and bending to get this sack.

Yet, Burns has one of the most lethal moves in the entire class, a wicked spin move that I love every time it shows up on film.

Brian Burns, a true problem.pic.twitter.com/ZQfFJQZOEC

— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) January 30, 2019

Burns plays this off well because of the leverage he has. Every time he comes off the ball his shoulders are literally level with his hips and he lets his hips anchor himself for power. Thus, with that burst, the conversion allows him to win off of the snap. Burns thus can use this spin move once he gets the Tackle off balance, and boy does he ever do it. It is a wicked quick move that takes advantage of that quickness and nets extremely easy pressures for Burns all the time.

Brian Burns - DE/LB, Florida.

Positive
Again, showing his great athleticism with the smooth hips to help stop the 1st down. Lovely play! #NFLDraft2019 pic.twitter.com/EZQGzfUvD6

— Sam Ainger (@sam_ainger) January 26, 2019

Burns is never going to be a fantastic run defender, largely due to his frame, but he is more than apt at doing so due to his impressive pass rushing traits. Burns has a fantastic rip move here to beat the guy of the edge and then takes an easy angle to make the tackle. Just textbook stuff.

Weaknesses

He has incredibly light frame for an EDGE rusher and should really bulk up for the sake of gap discipline too. I just hope that doesn’t affect his agility too much if it does happen. He can fill out that frame, get the anchor he needs to hold the edge, and thrive. He hasn’t been asked to drop back into coverage much, which actually matters in the Steelers’ system.

Fit with the Steelers

Burns fills a need and would be a great partner for TJ Watt to have, although he cannot drop into coverage too often I would suspect. He has the agility to do it, but it is just not his forte at all. So, that might knock him down slightly, but that is why they have Bud Dupree, I guess.

Final Thoughts

Optimistic View: Burns fills out his frame, becomes a stout run defender, and can still bend like a slinky and be an elite EDGE rusher. He becomes a perennial pro bowler and he and TJ Watt become one of the best duos in the NFL period.

Pessimistic View: Burns is just better staying at the weight and never becomes a truly good run defender, but he is still an elite pass rusher. Burns still makes huge plays and is a great partner in crime for Watt.

My Take: I think there is so much more room in that frame and Burns won’t lose much. He is almost a slam dunk pick. His floor is high and he has a high ceiling too. Burns should be a stud at the next level.

Midweek Mock Draft Roundup 3.0: A look at the Steelers latest mock draft projections

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 9:34am

We take a look at 10 of the latest mock draft offerings from some of the more notable names in the game.

With the Super Bowl in the books and all eyes looking forward to the 2019 season, updated mock draft projections are beginning to emerge with the draft order now set for April.

Each and every Wednesday for the next 11 weeks, we will bring you a selection of the latest mock draft projections from around the NFL draft community. So far, we have looked at 20 contrasting offerings from some of the more well-known names in the business, with two different defensive players standing out from the pack as the most popular names to project to the Pittsburgh Steelers in each of the last two weeks.

This week we have found 10 more mock drafts worthy of review, a group that includes several multiple-round projections.

Chad Reuter, NFL Network - WR, Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

“If Antonio Brown ultimately does not return to the Steelers in 2019, “Hollywood” Brown’s similar skill set will be needed in Pittsburgh.”

Round 2 - LB, Mack Wilson, Alabama - “Wilson’s a good find for the middle of the Steelers’ defense”

Round 3 - CB, Iman Marshall, USC - “Coty Sensabaugh is ticketed for free agency and a rejuvenated Joe Haden is in the last year of his deal. It’s a good time to pick a corner.”

(Previous pick - first mock)

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report - CB, Greedy Williams, LSU

“The first cornerback comes off the board at No. 20 overall, which might seem impossible, but the group of corners in this year’s class is not particularly strong at the top. Each of the cornerbacks being considered in Round 1 comes with concerns, which is why Greedy Williams is available here.”

“A 6’3” cover man with excellent length, Williams has to prove at the NFL Scouting Combine that he can run with pro receivers. If he can do that, he’ll be off the board way earlier than this.”

“The Steelers seem to have missed on Artie Burns in 2016 and still have a need for a starting outside cornerback. Williams’ size, instincts and ball skills are exactly what the team must add as it transitions in the secondary.”

(Previous pick - LB, Tre Lamar, Clemon)

Dane Brugler, The Athletic - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington

“The Steelers have several question marks in the secondary and could use a young upgrade at cornerback. Murphy won’t be the biggest or fastest cornerback in this class, but he might be the toughest and most instinctive.”

Round 2 - OLB, Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion - “The Steelers picked up Bud Dupree’s option for the 2019 season, but it would be a surprise if they don’t add young pass rush depth in the first few rounds.”

(Previous pick - LB, Devin White, LSU)

Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports - CB, Deandre Baker, Georgia

“If Baker were a little faster I think he’d be a top-10 pick. He may only be 5-foot-11, but he’s long, and I love his makeup. He’s physical and not afraid to stick his face in places not all corners are willing to tread. Not a shutdown corner, but someone who could become a solid NFL starter.”

(Previous pick - first mock)

R.J. White, CBS Sports - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington

“Murphy is a smart player capable of handling man-to-man or zone coverage, and his anticipation on routes should have him on the highlight reels often as he chases pick-sixes. Once teams get a good look at him, he could end up getting locked in to the top half of the first round. Pair him with Joe Haden and suddenly the Steelers have the talent to match up with any passing offense.”

(Previous pick - first mock)

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports - CB, Deandre Baker, Georgia

“The Steelers need to better the secondary. It’s that simple. Baker may not be the fastest corner in the class. And that’s fine. He has an argument as the most NFL ready. He can thrive in zone and stick with receivers in man.”

(Previous pick - CB, Deandre Baker, Georgia)

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports - CB, Deandre Baker, Georgia

“Baker may not be the athlete that Greedy Williams or Byron Murphy is, but he put up better college numbers. He shows good long speed, smooth hips, and the ability to change direction. He was rarely targeted during his senior season in part because his mirroring technique was superb. And with 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns getting benched for much of last season, finding his replacement will be a priority. ”

(Previous pick - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington)

Ben Standig, NBC Sports - LB, Devin Bush, Michigan

“The inevitable Antonio Brown trade puts receiver into the equation, though the Steelers often find their pass catcher Day 2 or later.”

“For now let’s stick with the clear needs. Edge rusher Bud Dupree has yet produce like a first-round pick and inside linebacker remains a focus in the wake of Ryan Shazier’s neck injury. Bush, the Big Ten DPOY offers three-down talent.”

Round 2 - CB, Trayvon Mullen, Clemson - “Cornerback ranks among the primary concerns after Pittsburgh benched 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns during the season.”

“Running back Le’Veon Bell’s situation could come into play on Day 2, though James Conner’s strong campaign may simply remove RB from the list altogether.”

(Previous pick - first mock)

Dan Kadar SB Nation - LB, Devin White, LSU

“White is the draft’s top true linebacker, and the Steelers shouldn’t hesitate to pick him if he’s around at No. 20 overall. White would add a dimension of playmaking ability on the second level the Steelers lost when Ryan Shazier got injured.”

Round 2 - QB, Will Grier, West Virginia - “Retirement talk has come up with Ben Roethlisberger the past two seasons, and the Steelers should find a successor to groom.”

(Previous pick - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington)

Joe Marino, Draft Network - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington

“With Artie Burns continuing to get torched left and right and Joe Haden’s contract expiring after next season, Pittsburgh needs to get the cornerback position right in a hurry. Coverage blunders became the norm for Pittsburgh last season and it has to stop.”

“Murphy is the best cornerback in the coming draft. He has lightning quick feet, fluid hips, explosive burst, ball skills and the overall coverage skills needed to become a lockdown guy in the NFL.”

(Previous pick - CB, Byron Murphy, Washington)

Cornerback Byron Murphy remains in the top spot as the most popular player to mock to the Steelers for a second week in a row, albeit in a tie with fellow cornerback Deandre Baker. Both are consensus top five players at their position and most experts have then coming off the boards in Round 1.

We will add more mock drafts to our weekly roundup as they appear and we encourage you to let us know which experts you think we should be highlighting over the next 11 weeks.

Using transition tag on Le’Veon Bell makes little sense for Steelers in 2019

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 8:04am

With the use of the transition tag costing the Steelers a potential compensatory draft pick in 2020 if he signs elsewhere, there appears to be little value in applying it to Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

With the 2018 season complete and the start of the new league year still five weeks away, the national media will spend much of that time speculating about things that will never happen this offseason. Trade rumors and projected free agent destinations for a large number of players who will ultimately never hit the open market will fill the headlines, all backed up by anonymous sources and insider information.

As one of the more desirable potential free agents this offseason, it should be expected that Le’Veon Bell will inspire more column inches than most in the coming few weeks. Likely to be connected to every team with salary cap space to spare regardless of their needs, it will be hard to separate the fact from fiction surrounding Bell.

With that in mind, both Adam Schefter of ESPN and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported on Sunday that the Pittsburgh Steelers are thinking about using the transition tag on Bell ahead of the March 5 deadline. As per Schefter citing “a league source”.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers are still considering using their transition tag on Le’Veon Bell, which would give them the right to match any offer sheet the free-agent-to-be signs with any other team, a league source told ESPN.”

“Pittsburgh’s decision depends on how much another team would value Bell and whether the Steelers would be willing to match the offer sheet.”

While Canfora’s “source” took it to a whole new level.

“The Steelers were advised by the NFL Management Council that they can utilize another tag on the running back in 2019, sources said, and the transition tag remains a quite likely scenario. That would be the precursor to an eventual trade, with the Jets and Eagles potential landing landing spots.”

In reality, the move seems to make little sense for the Steelers.

Under the terms of the transition tag, Pittsburgh would have the right of first refusal against any contract offered to Bell, but it would offer them no compensation should he sign elsewhere. Similar to the franchise tag, it would come with a designated one-year contract initially, a figure that would appear to be $9.5 million based on the terms of the CBA, but one that Bell’s agent may possibly be able to argue should be worth $14.5 million.

Regardless of what the transition tag number ends up being, the entire amount would be counted against the Steelers salary cap in 2019 from the moment it is applied, remaining there until Bell signed a long term contract with Pittsburgh or another team. Should that team not be the Steelers, not only would they not get any compensation in 2019, they would also be ineligible to receive a compensatory draft pick in 2020.

The expectation that Pittsburgh would tag-and-trade Bell, as Canfora is suggesting, appears to have very little credibility. Any contract that the running back agrees to is likely to have a significant signing bonus attached to it, a figure the Steelers would have to eat as dead money should they match the deal and then try and trade him. Given the limited amount of salary cap space Pittsburgh has to work with this offseason and the abundance of space others have, it would be very easy to create a contract that made it virtually impossible for the Steelers to attempt such a thing.

It is difficult to believe that any NFL team would be prepared to offer Bell a lucrative free agent contract and then also be willing to give up draft picks on top to still get him. The running back would be equally crazy to sign a contract that Pittsburgh could easily match when it would give the Steelers the power to decide where he goes.

The decision to transition tag Bell is fraught with issues the front would be wise to avoid. Not only would they have to contend with a near certain arbitration hearing between the NFL and the NFLPA over the value of the tag, they would lose valuable salary cap space at a time when they should be trying to re-sign their own impending free agents. If Bell’s negotiations with prospective new teams drags on, this shortfall could carry over into the start of free agency. Not to mention the animosity that is likely to ensue from Bell and his agent throughout the ordeal.

Should the market not meet the offer the Steelers made in 2018, Pittsburgh would unquestionably be able to secure the player they wanted all along at a discount, but the embarrassment for Bell would be obvious. Given previous suggestions he would retire if he did not get paid what he felt he was worth, it would not be a surprise to see Bell reluctant to rush back into training with teammates who openly criticized him less than a year ago.

Talent aside, it is hard to imagine that bringing Bell back into the fold will improve a locker room fraught with drama over the past few seasons. Using the transition tag likely only draws out Bell’s imminent departure at this point. The only reasonable course left for the front office is to let him leave peacefully, allowing everyone to retain what is left of their dignity.

If recent draft classes are any indication, the Steelers locker room culture will change organically

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 6:45am

When it comes to the culture of an NFL locker room, a head coach can only do so much. The players must hold each other accountable. If recent draft classes are any indication, the culture should be just fine in the near future.

They say one of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s main philosophies is to treat his men—his players—like men.

Guess what? Whether most NFL head coaches hold that same belief for not, that’s pretty much the standard coach/player relationship these days. Name one head coach who towers over his players like Vince Lombardi once did as the Packers head coach. You might blurt out Bill Belichick, the head coach of the Patriots, but his tyranny only goes as far as quarterback Tom Brady will allow it to go.

Face it, in a league where the majority of players (or, at least the majority of accomplished and/or star players) make considerably more than their coaches—their bosses—this is how it is pretty much everywhere. You come into the NFL with that “My way or the highway” mentality—one that used to work for you when you coached those varsity boys down in the Big 12—you’ll find yourself back on the recruiting trail sooner rather than later.

This brings me to the current dilemma involving your Pittsburgh Steelers and a culture that’s been described as downright toxic. Why is that? Is it the tone set by the head coach, a guy who, again, likes to give his charges a considerable amount of slack? Or is it simply a bad batch of “me first” players left over from an era where character and history weren’t taken as seriously as they are these days when scouting possible prospects for the annual NFL Draft?

This might not be a very popular opinion, but I’m thinking it’s the latter. And I say this because I remember a time when Steelers players would play ping pong and other such games right there in the middle of the locker room, on a work day, when they were supposed to be hotly preparing for that week’s opponent. Only, they likely were preparing for that week’s opponent, because the guys playing ping pong were often named James Farrior, Larry Foote, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith and a host of other people who really, really cared about winning and holding their teammates accountable to certain standards. Some of those guys were boisterous leaders. Some may have quietly led by example. Some may have even been followers.

Speaking of followers, they’re actually the most important part of leadership, because you can be the greatest leader in the world, but if certain people simply don’t want to follow you, it’s not going to matter.

You don’t think Cam Heyward is a great leader? How about Maurkice Pouncey, in my opinion, the unofficial captain of the Pittsburgh Steelers? You don’t think those guys command a certain amount of respect from their teammates? It’s obvious that they do. The problem is, getting all 53 teammates to buy into their message.

The buying into the message thing, the being a leader or a follower deal, that all comes down to character. And if recent draft trends are any indication, the Steelers have shifted their philosophy towards finding guys who fit the mold of “character player.”

Just take a look at the last three draft classes, for example. Other than Artie Burns’ arrest for driving with a suspended license, the trouble for these youngsters has been pretty much non-existent.

By all accounts, guys likes Sean Davis, Javon Hargrave, Burns, T.J. Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Cam Sutton, Terrell Edmunds and James Washington are just really good people. Furthermore, a great deal of them demonstrate leadership qualities—whether boisterously or by example—and most appear to be driven to succeed.

Whether they succeed on the field....for some, that is already a reality. For others, that remains to be seen. But as these youngsters mature and grow into true leadership—or follower—roles in the locker room, my guess is the culture that currently exists and is led by people named Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (players who clearly don’t want to lead or follow anyone) will become much different and less toxic.

Will this lead to more championships? That remains to be seen, but it will certainly lead to better results for Mike Tomlin and his philosophy of treating his men like men.

Podcast: Why I’m glad the Patriots won their 6th Super Bowl

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 5:35am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As Pittsburgh Steelers fans around the globe watched Bill Belichick and Tom Brady hoist the Lombardi Trophy once again, there was a collective sigh.

Steelers fans had loved to stick the “at least we have six Super Bowls” in the faces of New England Patriots fans for years, until now. Now, the Steelers faithful have to find another place to hang their hat.

Some have pointed to Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll going 4/4 in Super Bowls, never being defeated.

Some still always point to the Patriots’ success being marred by controversy.

And some even go as far as to suggesting the Super Bowl 53 MVP Julian Edelman, who was suspended for PED use this offseason, is still on “the juice”.

Without sounding like an ESPN ‘30 for 30’, what if I told you there was a member of the BTSC podcast community who was actually rooting for the Patriots on Super Sunday, and was glad they won their 6th title?

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. Some are trying to turn this Patriots’ victory, into a positive for the black-and-gold. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams, is the perfect man for the job, and delivers the goods in the latest show.

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

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

Black and Gold Links: It might be hard to stomach, but Hines Ward was right

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 4:32am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at the scathing criticism by Steelers great Hines Ward very well could right on the money. Like it or not, sometimes hear these things just doesn’t sit well, but it doesn’t make it fiction.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: Hines Ward is right – Steelers are now the Bengals, must become the Patriots

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you don’t value my opinion on the declining state of the Steelers, that’s fine. Maybe you’ll value the opinion of another guy many folks said was too short. Except he did play in the NFL.

He was pretty good at it. You might remember him. His name is Hines Ward.

”When we’re talking about the Steelers off the field more than we’re talking about the Steelers on the field, it’s a problem,” Ward said to USA Today. “Remember those Cincinnati Bengals, when they were worried about the shenanigans with (Chad) Ochocinco and T.J. (Houshmandzadeh)? That’s who the Steelers are now.”

Sounds familiar, no?

”I just think the culture that Mike Tomlin has created, or that exists in Pittsburgh, that’s not the standard of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Ward added.

The former Steelers receiver made those comments during Super Bowl week, a few days after I sent that tweet. So, apparently, we are of like mind on this front. The one-time Super Bowl MVP also used the word ”circus” to describe the Steelers. That’s another word I have used myself, much to the chagrin of Steelers management.

Ward is right. The Steelers have become like those other teams: A talented but disorganized and underachieving lot that’s more known for their headlines off the field than the ones they make on it.

The only people refuting that belief are those in the organization trying polish the horse droppings of 2018, some fans who can’t bring themselves to admit the truth, and some media members who feel like carrying water for the team.

Ward said those things from a place of concern for his NFL alma mater. Not to get folks retweeting his quote with flame emojis.

Frankly, I was doing the same. I hate admitting what the Steelers have become. I’d love to see the team get back to what it was when Ward was playing.

It wasn’t the smoothest of times back then either, mind you. Ward played a role in that. He once griped about not getting the ball enough ... in training camp. He questioned Ben Roethlisberger for not playing when the quarterback had a concussion.

Roethlisberger created a monsoon of negative press. Joey Porter constantly found himself in off-the-field situations. Plaxico Burress, too. Not to mention Cedric Wilson and James Harrison.

But when it was time to play — and practice — in the early 2000s, those guys shelved those issues and took care of business and went to Super Bowls.

Remind you of anyone else?

(To read more, click in the link in the headline above...)

Steelers still considering using transition tag on Le’Veon Bell

By: Adam Schefter, ESPN

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still considering using their transition tag on Le’Veon Bell, which would give them the right to match any offer sheet the free-agent-to-be signs with any other team, a league source told ESPN.

The prospect of using the transition tag on the star running back creates an interesting situation, considering the fact that receiver Antonio Brown is likely to be traded, while Bell could possibly be back in Pittsburgh for 2019.

Pittsburgh’s decision depends on how much another team would value Bell and whether the Steelers would be willing to match the offer sheet.

There also is a battle brewing between the NFL and and NFL Players Association over the value of what the transition tag would be on Bell if the Steelers did use it. Bell and the NFLPA will argue that the transition tag is close to $14.5 million based on the escalating value of tags, and the Steelers and the NFL will say it’s closer to $9.5 million because Bell sat out this past season.

No player has ever been in a situation like this. If the league wins the ruling, it will add even more leverage to teams using franchise and transition tags. If the NFLPA wins, it will give players more rights if they decide to skip seasons when tagged.

Kansas City Chiefs early favorites to win Super Bowl LIV next season

By: Ben Fawkes, ESPN

The New England Patriots are champions for the second time in three seasons after defeating the Los Angeles Rams, but Las Vegas doesn’t believe they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl again next season.

Instead, the Kansas City Chiefs and NFL MVP QB Patrick Mahomes are getting oddmakers’ respect.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened odds to win Super Bowl LIV in early January. The Chiefs had the second-best odds at 7-1, with the Rams as the favorite at 6-1. However, in the weeks since, Kansas City has shifted to the 6-1 favorite there and at multiple other Las Vegas sportsbooks.

New England, Los Angeles and the New Orleans Saints have the second-best odds at 8-1 at Westgate. No other team has odds in the single digits.

The teams with the next-best odds are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bearsat 14-1 at the SuperBook. The Cleveland Browns are among six teams with 20-1 odds.

”One word: Mahomes,” Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook director John Murray told ESPN, citing why the Chiefs are now the favorite.

”We’ve got the Chiefs as the favorite,” vice president of risk at CG Technology Jason Simbal told ESPN. “We’ve taken the most bets and money on them so far.”

The story is the same in New Jersey, where the Chiefs are the 6-1 favorites at SugarHouse and DraftKings. Kansas City is the second favorite (9-1) behind New England (8-1) at DraftKings.

(To read more, click in the link in the headline above...)

Steelers add to their coaching staff by bringing in Adrian Klemm to assist with the offensive line

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 4:02pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to add to their coaching staff by giving Shaun Sarrett an assistant.

The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to add to their 2019 coaching staff by bringing in Adrian Klemm to assist Shaun Sarrett with offensive line duties.

We have hired Adrian Klemm as assistant offensive line coach.

MORE: https://t.co/PbjxHlq6sk pic.twitter.com/hEtM5FZMLi

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 5, 2019

Klemm fills the position formerly filled by Sarrett when he was the assistant coach under Mike Munchak, and Klemm brings a wealth of knowledge to the Steelers both as a coach and player.

He spent 2012-2016 at UCLA as a run game specialist/assistant head coach, this under Jim Mora Jr. He also coached with now secondary coach for the Steelers Tom Bradley.

Klemm also has extensive playing experience in the NFL. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2000, and won three Super Bowls with the team. He spent his final year in the league with the Green Bay Packers in 2005.

The Steelers’ 2019 coaching staff seems to be finalized for the time being, but additions can still be made. With the departure of Mike Munchak, Joey Porter and James Saxon, the team has filled those voids in some way, shape or form.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for free agency, the 2019 NFL Draft and next regular season.

Alan Faneca no longer a lock to be the next Steelers player enshrined in Canton

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 2:33pm

Alan Faneca was once earmarked as the next Steeler to get a bust in Canton, now that seems less likely.

Alan Faneca has been a finalist for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for four straight years. Steeler Nation has been waiting for Faneca to get the call and the gold jacket as the next member of a prestigious group of men to gladiate for the Black-and-Gold. While Faneca surely will join the likes of Mike Webster and Dermontii Dawson as great Steeler offensive linemen to get their bust displayed in Canton, he may not be the next Steeler to get in. He’s about to get leapfrogged and may soon be staring into a big head of hair.

2020 could be the year for Faneca, but even more...it could very well be a headlining year for Troy Polamalu. 2021 is expected to be a blockbuster year for first-ballot guys like Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson. But Polamalu seems to be the biggest new name to be on the ballot next year. Consider No. 43’s career in the National Football League. Eight times he was voted to the Pro Bowl and six times elected All-Pro (4x First Team, 2x Second Team). Troy was 2010’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year and named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, as well as the Steelers’ All-Time Team. Throw in two Super Bowl wins and you’ve got a legendary resumé.

Besides Polamalu, nobody else seems to have vaulted ahead of Faneca. His accomplishments are in some ways better than Polamalu, but being a lineman holds him back to a certain extent. Nine times he was voted to the Pro Bowl and eight times elected All-Pro (6x First Team, 2x Second Team). No. 66 was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s, as well as the Steelers’ All-Time Team. He won that lone Super Bowl (XL) in 2006 and his pulling-block freed Willie Parker for that record 75-yard score. As for his competition, Hutchinson has two-less Pro Bowls and one-less First Team All Pro, while Boselli was only elected to five Pro Bowls and named All-Pro only thrice. In the next three years, only Logan Mankins, Nick Mangold and maybe D’Brickashaw Ferguson look like potential candidates from the line.

In the next three years, Faneca has a great chance to get in and could go first or third among the competition. As far as other Steelers, Casey Hampton, Hines Ward, Bill Cowher and Thomas Everett are already eligible. Hines and a Cowher may have to wait a bit or get help from the Veterans Committee down the line. Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark are eligible in 2020, while Heath Miller and LaMarr Woodley could make a ballot in 2021. All of these other guys could be Steelers Hall of Honor Inductees, but Canton is probably unlikely.

Faneca fans, don’t worry...the top pick for the Steelers in 1998 is likely to get in the Hall of a Fame. He could possibly get the nod in 2020, but most likely Troy from Troy gets in first.

Antonio Brown involved in domestic dispute according to TMZ Sports

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 12:02pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver has himself involved in some off-field hot water.

TMZ Sports is reporting Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown was involved in a domestic dispute, but was not arrested. In January, a woman contacted the Hollywood, Florida police department about alleged misconduct by Brown. The nature of the alleged misconduct has not been released.

“Mr. Brown was involved in a domestic dispute. No arrests were made.” A representative told TMZ sports.

Brown has been involved in off and on the field incidents the past two years. Already on shaky ground with the Steelers because of missing a must-win Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Brown was also involved in an incident where he is alleged to have thrown furniture off his condo balcony last April.

The Steelers organization, and the NFL, take any report of domestic abuse seriously. It would not be surprising to see the NFL open an investigation into the alleged incident.

Stay tuned to BTSC for details about this incident when they become available.

The Patriots formula for success may be impossible to duplicate

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 11:28am

In this day and age where owners are desperate to find the next young coach to get the best out of their franchise players, the New England Patriots are utilizing a different strategy. They already have the best coach, so they look for players that best fit their culture.

I admit I shouldn't be shocked that the New England Patriots won another Super Bowl Sunday night, and are now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most in NFL history at six apiece. In my head I thought the Los Angeles Rams were well equipped to neutralize the Patriots and hand the Patriots another Super Bowl loss. However in my heart I somehow knew you can never bet against the coaching genius of Bill Belichick.

Even when the Patriots have actually been defeated in the Super Bowl, I have been surprised each time. The New York Giants seemingly have the Patriots number for some odd reason, maybe because Belichick was an assistant coach there for so many years before becoming a head coach. It may just be a case of some bad juju.

Last season Belichick's coaching acumen was effectively neutralized by a equally outstanding performance by Eagles HC Doug Pedersen and an inspired performance from QB Nick Foles. Their individual performances were unexpected and seemed to catch the always prepared Belichick off guard a little, resulting in a high scoring Eagle's victory.

This years Super Bowl opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, were anything but unpredictable. The Rams had lit up the league behind Pro Bowl QB Goff and RB Todd Gurley, with young offensive mastermind HC Sean McVay pulling the strings behind the scenes. The Rams were incredibly efficient during the regular season running the ball which allowed them to be the best play action offense in the league.

McVay was able to muster a myriad of offensive creativity off of about three or four set formations. Goff was the calm, cool maestro at the front of Mcvay's orchestra and it appeared they were preparing to take the title of best HC/QB combo. However, someone interrupted their journey to the podium to make their acceptance speech. His name was Bill Belichick.

Last night's game was one of the best defensive coaching clinics in Super Bowl history. If Sean McVay is a offensive mastermind then he met his superior defensive counterpart in Belichick last night. The Rams were totally outclassed and out coached from the start. It was truly shocking to see. The Rams probably still are not sure exactly what hit them. They came into the game confident in their ability to put points on the scoreboard, but it was an unbelievable struggle for them to even achieve a first down. Their extreme confidence in their offensive abilities may have just been their undoing.

The Rams basically went with the same offensive game plan they had utilized all season, and why wouldn't they, when it had proven so successful. Because they were going up against a Bill Belichick defense that had two full weeks to prepare for them. It was no contest really. Belichick was a great defensive coordinator before he ever became a great HC.

He always has a strong OC who he instructs to stick to the basics, kinda along the lines of keep it simple stupid. If the opposition struggles to stop something, like a back out in the flat or Gronkowski up the seam, keep calling it. If they make personnel changes to stop it, adjust accordingly. Sounds simple I know, but surprisingly it isn't. Many teams, such as the Steelers, struggle with in game adjustments. Tom Brady and the offense is fundamentally efficient and always check their egos at the door.

Belichick's superiority is most evident on the defensive side of the ball. His game plan against the Rams was breathtaking in its effectiveness and its execution. He took up residence in Goff's head early in the game and never left. He flummoxed McVay so badly that the Rams HC looked lost throughout the game and had the appearance of a whipped pup by the conclusion of the game.

What makes the performance even more unbelievable is the fact the Patriots defense hadn't looked like that all season. Taking into account the stage and the circumstances, that was the best defensive performance during Belichick's Patriots career.

The Patriots defense is not a collection of Pro Bowl level talent, instead they are a well coached group of fundamentally intelligent individuals who form a cohesive unit on the field. They seldom make self inflicted errors or appear to not all be on the same page pre snap. While it is maddening how often calls throughout the year always seem to go in their favor, it is also true they commit a portion of their practice time specifically toward understanding the rules and how to prevent unnecessary penalties. Sometimes you make your own luck through preparation and discipline. A byproduct of superior coaching.

Now alot of teams will be faced with a dilemma moving forward. The NFL is a copycat league and many franchises are searching for the next Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, or Sean McVay. The next young HC who can grow and mature with a franchise in pursuit of a championship. But the sustained excellence of Bill Belichick and the Patriots may just cause some franchises to rethink how they handle their business.

On most NFL teams at the moment, the HC will be shown the door long before a superstar player. The players make the big bucks and oftentimes appear harder to replace. The HC will be blamed for an underachieving squad and it will be assumed the team is no longer buying into the message the coach is selling. The Patriots success doesn't fit this rational. The difference with the Patriots is Belichick keeps the same message, and that message is winning is the only acceptable goal. However, he changes the cast of characters quite often. Many are not around long enough to grow weary of his message and he keeps his core group of dependable performers around to maintain discipline and balance.

I wonder how long it will be before teams try to mimic the Patriots formula for success? The main problem I see is trying to find the next Belichick. Like Lombardi, Noll, and Walsh before him there is only one.

Steelers open with odds as high as 22/1 to win Super Bowl LIV

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 10:08am

The Steelers can be backed at a range of prices from as low as 14/1 to as high as 22/1 to win Super Bowl LIV according to the updates odds for 2019.

With the confirmation of the 2018 Super Bowl Champions on Sunday, the bookmakers have already released their updated odds for the 2019 season and the Pittsburgh Steelers once again find themselves among the favorites to lift their seventh Lombardi next year.

Available at a range of odds from as low as 14/1 to a best price of 22/1 with sites like BetOnline.ag, Unibet and 888Sport, the Steelers are currently as high as sixth favorites to win Super Bowl LIV with some sportsbooks.

The New England Patriots are the overall favorites with most bookmakers at odds of around 7/1, with the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles and New Orleans Saints also listed as 7/1 joint favorites with a few providers as well.

Ignoring some of the anomalies in the betting offered by one or two sportsbooks, the odds listed by BetOnline.ag are a fair representation of the prices generally available.

These odds will change dramatically for some teams once the opening weeks of free agency have concluded and again after the NFL draft. Should Antonio Brown find himself traded in the offseason, that is also likely to cause the Steelers odds to drift somewhat.

2019 NFL Draft: Amani Oruwariye shows how we must re-evaluate as the process moves forward

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 7:52am

Amani Oruwariye is a perfect example of how the process can get foggy fast

There is a tendency to live in the moment, and be reactionary in the evaluation process of a prospect. If someone blows up the combine, suddenly they are flying up into the Top 10 if they were thought of as nothing more than a late first rounder. Check out John Ross, for example. Most of the amateur scouts, like us on sites like these, were not all that high on Ross before he ran his combine record 40-yard dash.

There are countless examples of Senior Bowl standouts who fly up boards and turn into nothing more than mediocre NFL players. For example, Obi Melifonwu was a monster at the 2017 Senior Bowl and has turned into nothing thus far in his NFL career. The same can be said about 2015 standout Phillip Dorsett.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are losers from events like the Senior Bowl that become very good players. Patriots LT Trenton Brown was as rough as they come at the 2015 Senior Bowl, but he has turned into one of the better OTs in the NFL. Or how about Pittsburgh’s own Ryan Switzer? He looked less than quick and outmatched, but he has proven to have a clear role as a slot receiver, and a very good one at that, in the NFL.

Thus, the Senior Bowl has a discrepancy of creating recency bias that could cloud the mind. How much does it really matter? Well, it does, but for differing reasons.

I want to talk about Penn State CB Amani Oruwariye. I was a huge fan of him pre-Senior Bowl, and honestly, has it changed that much? Not really. Oruwariye is still more than worth an early 2nd round pick, and projects as a more than favorable zone CB with fantastic ball skills and the length and physicality to still be able to press. During his reps, that scheme versatile nature was on display. The length, awareness, and instincts were all on display too. And yet, he somehow overall ended up on the losers list for the Senior Bowl.

At the Senior Bowl, Oruwariye’s negatives were more on display than ever. His rawness and nuances were not there, and they were never there on film. He had always had a trouble of biting on double moves, tackling troubles, and he always played the ball oddly at times. He gave receivers just a bit too much room of a chance to make a play on the ball.

So, what does that all reflect on Oruwariye and the Senior Bowl as a whole?

As for the Senior Bowl, the limitations are simple. This is an immense stage where young men are fighting for their ultimate dream. It is not always indicative of how a guy will actually perform, obviously. And while one-on-ones is great and all, how you play off your teammates is huge. Oruwariye was an all star in the team drills because of how he works and communicates with his teammates. The isolated environment is not always as accurate as one would think, but it does either confirm or show us things we knew on film.

With Oruwariye, the negatives are simply more glaring than I had thought. He is a draft crush, but going back and seeing his negatives and comparing them to the now from his tape are valuable. Oruwariye is rawer than I thought, and that will bump him down a bit for sure. He is not a round one guy, but an early-to-mid round 2 guy who I still believe has a fantastic NFL future ahead of himself. His potential is immense and the Senior Bowl proved that as well with him using some length to really dominate physically.

Thus, this process is all about reevaluating and going back to make sure you are getting the full scope on a prospect. In Oruwariye’s case, his Senior Bowl confirmed our suspicions of his pros and cons, but showed that his cons were far more prevalent that had once been thought.

The type of regrading of a prospect is key to truly nailing down the day one impact of a prospect and their future potential to grow into something. With Oruwariye, the tape never lied, and instead, his stints of positive, while there, are not as central to the story as his rawness is currently.

Thus, the process is something that is ever evolving, and if you are never open-minded to changing your thoughts on a prospect, you are doing this wrong. Going back, looking at the film, and seeing if things line up or if you missed something is critical to this process as an amateur scout.

Oruwariye is only one example. There are countless others. Is Juan Thornhill really as slow as he looked in Mobile? The film never showed that, so is it an injury or is Thornhill just a better player in pads? It is stuff like that that must be evaluated consistently to paint the picture of a prospect.

After all, it is only doing these young men justice.

NFL Post-Super Bowl Power Rankings: Steelers kick off the offseason outside the Top 10

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 6:48am

The 2018-2019 season just ended, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t too early to look forward to next year’s Power Rankings.

The 2018-2019 NFL season is less than 48 hours old, and those major media outlets are always churning out content looking ahead. As a sucker for these items, when I saw ESPN put out their Way-Too-Early-Power-Rankings I bit on the bait.

Count me as someone who realizes these rankings mean absolutely nothing, but at the same time I am always curious about a couple things. First, where the Pittsburgh Steelers rank among the rest of the teams in the league. Second, what the “expert” is saying about the Steelers at this particular time. Lastly, I always like to keep track of where the Steelers rank, and where they go from there.

Considering the offseason has just begun, the Steelers find themselves on the outside of the Top 10, looking in. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, considering their drastic drop off after their 7-2-1 start to the season. Where to they actually fall in the rankings?

No. 11.

This seems to be right where the Steelers should be, considering they missed out of the playoffs, and are the only team who didn’t make the playoffs listed anywhere near the Top 10.

Check out the list below:

ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Power Rankings

1. Los Angeles Rams
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New England Patriots
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. Chicago Bears
7. Indianapolis Colts
8. Seattle Seahawks
9. Houston Texans
10. Baltimore Ravens
...
11. Pittsburgh Steelers
Reason for optimism: Better kicking and a more opportunistic defense. The Steelers can’t possibly expect to be among the league’s five worst in kicking and turnover margin in 2019. Last year’s team ranked 31st in kicking with seven missed field goals and 28th in turnover margin at minus-11. The defensive front seven led by Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt knows it needs more splash. And even an average kicking game -- either with Chris Boswell or a free agent -- will help secure the close games that the Steelers found ways to lose late in the season.”

...

What do you think of the rankings? Do you think the Steelers should be ranked higher? Do you think the top team should be another team, like the defending Super Bowl Champions? Let us know in the comment section below!

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