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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community 2022-09-30T18:45:00-04:00
Updated: 1 hour 56 min ago

Panthers come to terms on trade for Baker Mayfield, leaving the Brown in a tough spot

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

A big trade has sent the former first overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers. This puts the Browns in a very interesting situation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base has been waiting for the Cleveland Browns to make a move with Baker Mayfield since the 2021 regular season came to a close. There were a ton of rumors swirling during the 2022 NFL Draft, free agency and even leading up to minicamps.

Yet no move was made.

The reason no move was made wasn’t that no team felt Mayfield could play anymore, but the amount of money he was owed on his 5th year option was too steep for a team to want to take on that contract for just one season.

For a move to be made, the Browns were going to have to eat a large portion of Mayfield’s contract. After months of reports and deliberation, it is being reported the Carolina Panthers are that trade partner.

This per Ian Rapoport:

A new QB in Carolina: The #Panthers are acquiring former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield from the #Browns for a 2024 conditional 5th-round draft pick, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Deal is pending a physical. All parties split the financials to make it happen.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 6, 2022

According to multiple reports, the Panthers are taking on just $5 million of Baker’s current contract, with the Browns picking up the rest of the deal for the 2022 season. Unless the Panthers are able to sign Mayfield to a long-term deal, he will be a free agent after this upcoming season.

What did the Browns get for trading the former first overall draft pick to Carolina? A conditional 2024 5th round pick.

There were rumors the Browns might try to make amends with Mayfield considering the off-field issues they are having with Deshaun Watson. With Watson likely facing a suspension, the duration is still unknown, this trade would mean the team would be looking at Jacoby Brissett and/or Joshua Dobbs to anchor the quarterback room until Watson is cleared to return.

To say this puts Cleveland in a bind is an understatement, but it also could mean the organization is confident they’ll have Watson available at some point in the 2022 regular season. A lot still to unpack to this trade, and the Browns’ quarterback situation, so stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for training camp in a few weeks.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

The War Room: What could the future be for the Steelers at key positions?

Check out BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers in an attempt to put you in the mind of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, Brandon Hunt and Kevin Colbert when it comes to personnel. This week, Matty examines the the future at key Steelers’ positions.

Rundown of the show:

  • What could the future be for the Steelers at key positions?
  • Much More

Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matty in The Steelers War Room.

The Steelers Curtain Call: Inspecting the Steelers rebuilt offense

It’s the show where Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White break down a black and gold off-season full of change in the manner in which they examine the enemy. Scenarios, questions and more will be pondered on the latest episode of the BTSC family of podcasts. This time around, Geoff and Shannon talk up the Steelers’ 2022 offense.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the Steelers ‘22 Offense

Geoffrey and Shannon walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-Gold.

The Steelers Stat Geek: What stats does it take to be a top-tier NFL quarterback?

NFL quarterbacks are measured by so many intangibles, but what stats are pertinent for a QB to be top tier? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed by Dave Schofield on the Thursday episode of the AM podcast lineup, “The Steelers Stat Geek”. Join BTSC’s Editor as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Top QBs and the stats that measure them
  • and more geeky numbers!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Dan Moore Jr. & T.D. Moultry

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 25 of Going For Two, featuring Dan Moore Jr. and T.D. Moultry

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Dan Moore Jr. Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Offensive Tackle
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 315
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 128, 2021
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Lock

After starting 16 games at left tackle in his rookie season, as well as the Steelers Wild Card game in the postseason, Dan Moore Jr. logged the second-most offensive snaps of any player on the Steelers in 2021. Although Moore was not accused of taking the NFL by storm as a fourth-round rookie, he did an adequate job in his first year, one in which he was a surprise starter. When it comes to 2022, he’s an obvious roster lock with the only question being the security of his starting job. With the Steelers not adding any other big-name offensive tackles to the mix in order to compete, it is assumed Moore is the starter for 2022. Should this be something of concern to Steelers fans? If Dan Moore Jr. continues to grow, bringing in another offensive tackle may leave that new player on the bench. With Moore being only 23 years old and already having over 1,000 NFL offensive snaps to his name, there is a lot of potential for him to develop even more in 2022.

T.D. Moultry Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Linebacker
Age: 24
Year: 1
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 253
Drafted: UDFA, 2022
College: Auburn
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in

Much like Tyree Johnson, T.D. Moultry is a UDFA who has a chance to impress enough to get himself in the mix to make the 53-man roster based on the position he plays. With the position group of outside linebacker being very top-heavy on the depth chart, the Steelers would have little reason to stick with some of their current options in place of others if they show themselves to be worthy. But even if he doesn’t snag a spot on the 53, a player like Moultry still has an excellent opportunity to land on the Steelers practice squad.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Where does the AFC North rank as the NFL’s toughest division?

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Is the AFC North the toughest division in the NFL?

The NFL consists of 32 teams, and since 2002 every team has been distributed into a division which consists of four teams. The realignment got rid of the old AFC Central, and introduced the newly formed AFC North.

Since the realignment, there has been a yearly debate as to which division is the best in the league. With that being said, it’s time to broach the subject again, heading into the 2022 regular season.

Let’s go by division and try to hash out which division is the best in the league...

(*- 2021 Division Winner)
(+- 2021 Playoff Team)

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers +
Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals *

The AFC North has been a bloodbath of a division since it was created. Entering 2022 you would be hard pressed to find a team who would be considered a lower tier team. Some may consider the Steelers to be that team, or the Browns without Deshaun Watson, but there is no doubt the AFC North will continue to be as tough as always.

AFC East

New England Patriots +
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills *

The AFC East was once a laughing stock of teams who were trying to compete with New England, but not anymore. Miami has been adding talent, the Patriots seem to be finding their footing with Mac Jones at quarterback and the Buffalo Bills are the front-runners again. The Jets, while young, are also a vastly improved roster. Don’t sleep on the AFC East in 2022.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans *

If there is a division in the AFC which is considered a laughing stock, it’s the AFC South. The Colts seem to be the cream of the crop, if Matt Ryan can become the steadying force the team needs at quarterback. Tennessee will be tough as always, but Jacksonville and Houston drag this division down when comparing them to the rest of the divisions.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs *
Los Angeles Chargers
Las Vegas Raiders +
Denver Broncos

What might possibly be the most complete division in the league is the AFC West. When you think about the high-powered offenses each team possesses, this will be a tough division to predict. Whichever team escapes unscathed might be the most battle tested in the playoffs...if they are still standing when they get there.

NFC North

Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers *
Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings

The Packers will again be the toughest team in this division, but the Vikings will be pushing to get their name in the conversation. Will Chicago improve? Only if their quarterback can stay healthy. As for Detroit, they, like the Jets in the AFC, are a team making some good moves, but I don’t think they’re a finished product yet.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers *
New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will be the team to beat, especially with Matt Ryan out of Atlanta and being replaced by Marcus Mariota. Jameis Winston continues to rehab his injured knee, and no one knows who the quarterback will be for the Panthers this season. The NFC South is a very top-heavy division.

NFC East

Washington Commanders
Dallas Cowboys *
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles +

There was a time when the NFC East was called the NFC Least, and while it isn’t the toughest division, in my opinion, it is an improving division. The Giants under newly minted head coach Brian Daboll, the Eagles with Jalen Hurts at the helm, look to compete with the Cowboys for NFC East supremacy. The Commanders with Carson Wentz leave a lot to be desired, and are likely to be bottom dwellers in 2022.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks
Los Angeles Rams *
San Francisco 49ers +
Arizona Cardinals +

The NFC West has long been known as one of the toughest divisions, but with Seattle going into rebuild mode after the Russell Wilson trade you have to wonder if it still carries this connotation. The Rams are defending Super Bowl champions, the 49ers will be strong with Trey Lance at the helm and the Cardinals will continue to be a tough out, at least in the regular season.

So, which division is the toughest? Here are my Top 5:

1. AFC West
2. AFC North
3. NFC West
4. AFC East
5. NFC East

What do you think? Which division is the toughest in the NFL? What would make up your Top 5? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

ESPN ranks T.J. Watt as the NFL’s premiere pass rusher

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

ESPN, unlike, views T.J. Watt as the cream of the crop in terms of pass rushers, and all is right with the world.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base was up in arms Tuesday when ranked second in the “disruptor” category. They used Next Generation (Gen) Stats to justify their argument, giving the nod to Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Try Hendrickson.

In case you missed the article, check it out below:

On the heels of this series, ESPN is getting ready to roll out rankings of their own. They will go position by position until training camps start, and they started with one of the most controversial positions in all of football.

Pass rusher.

Steelers and Cleveland Browns fans constantly argue who is better: T.J. Watt or Myles Garrett? In this series last season it was Garrett who got the nod. But not in 2022. Before we get to the Top 10, take a look at how Jeremy Fowler of ESPN shaped these lists:

Here’s how our process worked: Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, hundreds of interviews, research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 50 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with our rankers. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy — even the honorable mentions.

The objective is to identify the best players right now for 2022. This is not a five-year projection or an achievement award. Who are the best players today? Pretty simple.

So, where did the Steelers fan base’s favorite son, T.J. Watt, end up on the list? Try where he belongs — No. 1.

ESPN’s Top 10 Pass Rushers

1. T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers

Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 3

Age: 27 | Last year’s ranking: 2

Watt claims his first-ever No. 1 ranking here, after jumping from No. 7 in 2020 to No. 2 last year. And his 22.5 sacks to tie Michael Strahan’s single-season record make his case for him. Watt was the unanimous AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. But his impact comes from the total package he brings to the field.

Watt’s 35.5 disrupted dropbacks — which include sacks, interceptions, batted passes and passes defended — ranked first in the NFL last season by a wide margin (Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs was next at 32.0). Furthermore, his 23.1% pass rush win rate ranked seventh overall.

“Rare motor and quickness with his hands, has developed good power, and he can also dip and bend high side,” an AFC exec said. “Basically, he can beat you inside through you or outside. And [the Steelers] bring so much pressure typically that he’s able to add good chase production.”

Where is Watt truly elite? The exec pointed to his ability to locate the quarterback quickly and burst to him if his initial pass-rush move stalls. He’ll stop, look and then close.

As Watt keeps increasing his sack totals every year, the NFL record of 200 held by Bruce Smith is perhaps something he can chase. He is currently sitting on 72.0 takedowns through five seasons.

2. Myles Garrett — Cleveland Browns
3. Nick Bosa — San Francisco 49ers
4. Joey Bosa — Los Angeles Chargers
5. Maxx Crosby — Las Vegas Raiders
6. Von Miller — Buffalo Bills
7. Chandler Jones — Las Vegas Raiders
8. Brian Burns — Carolina Panthers
9. Khalil Mack — Los Angeles Chargers
10. Cameron Jordan — New Orleans Saints

If you want to see more details of why Fowler and company chose Watt over Garrett, click the link before the Top 10. Otherwise, what do you think of the list? Is it the way it should be? Or would you rearrange the order?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: There is one starter for the 2022 Steelers who is still not on the roster 

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: There is one starter for the 2022 Steelers who is still not on the roster

Why it will happen: The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers do not seem to be content with standing still and not looking for ways to improve. With new general manager Omar Khan, it appears that if the Steelers have a need he is going to go out and look to make a move if it is available and it makes financial sense. Therefore, If there appears to be a deficiency or significant injury, look for the Steelers to add another player along the way in order to cover for anything needed. Last season, it was the retirement of Vince Williams just before training camp which caused the Steelers to trade for Joe Schobert. When the need arises, the Steelers show they will do what is necessary to start off the season.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers have been very active in free agency throughout the 2022 offseason. They have added a good number of players and re-signed some of their own, so now they are in a position where they appear to have all their starters in place. While fans possibly may want to add another offensive tackle into the mix, I don’t know that it would be enough to displace one of the current starters. Because the Steelers have continued to make these moves, they did an adequate job of getting in on the best available options early. Add in the fact the Steelers don’t have much more when it comes to the salary cap and what they will need going into 2022, although they could restructure T.J. Watt to free up a lot more money, the Steelers will have to be more strategic with anything additional they would spend the season.

Prediction: This time, I’m going to agree with the scenario. While some fans may have a specific position they have in mind they would like the Steelers to upgrade before the regular season begins, I am not going to go that far. I am simply thinking the likely scenario is the Steelers could suffer an injury somewhere on the roster and would like to add a replacement prior to the start of the season. If the Steelers emerge from training camp and the preseason uninjured, it is an absolute blessing and they would be fine. But sometimes teams need to prepare for the worst, so knowing who is available across the board should an injury occur is something the updated front office will be prepared to do if the situation arises.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Game Plan: Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense offers a preview of the 2022 Steelers

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be copy cats in the NFL, and that should be fine with the fan base.

It feels like there’s been volumes written about “Matt Canada’s offense” these past few months. If you do a Google search you find dozens of articles, with titles like “Finding Hope in Matt Canada’s Offense,” “Kenny Pickett A Seamless Fit in Matt Canada’s Offense,” and “Mason Rudolph Says Steelers Didn’t Run Matt Canada’s Offense.” It’s a virtual cottage industry of all things Canada, from ESPN to BTSC to, hell, I don’t know, maybe Teen Cosmo.

So many of these articles describe Canada’s offense as “his.” That’s interesting. Realistically, no scheme or system belongs to a single coach. Everyone has borrowed from someone else, then tweaked it to fit their needs. There are only about three offensive systems currently being run in the NFL, with most teams using some version of one of them.

There is the wide zone/boot scheme popularized by Kyle Shanahan and his coaching tree, which comprises about 1⁄3 of the teams in the league. This includes San Francisco, Green Bay, Minnesota, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, the New York Jets and both teams in Los Angeles.

There’s the spread scheme, which matriculated up from the college ranks and incorporates elements of the Air Raid offense. Spread concepts are common in Arizona, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Washington.

Then there are the “heavy” teams, who have re-introduced fullbacks and multiple tight end sets. These offenses like power concepts and play-action passes as answers to all the sub-packages defensive coordinators started using a few years back. “Heavy” teams include Baltimore, Cleveland, Tennessee, New England, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.

That’s it, for the most part, A few teams do their own thing, running a mash-up of these various systems with some nuances figured in. Dallas is a hybrid offense with Dak Prescott. Houston is too, although “hybrid” might be a nice way of saying they’re a hot mess. So too were the Steelers the last few seasons. They allowed Ben Roethlisberger to stand in the shotgun, catch the snap and get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. It wasn’t so much a system as a survival strategy for an aging, immobile quarterback playing behind a woeful offensive line.

That is set to change. When Canada was hired in Pittsburgh, it was expected he would have to bend his philosophy to Roethlisberger’s preferences. PFF described the Roethlisberger-Canada marriage by saying, “There might not be a more dissimilar quarterback-offensive coordinator pairing in NFL history.” Now that Roethlisberger has retired, and their marriage has dissolved, Canada is free to do his thing. Which explains the deluge of articles on the subject.

There’s just one problem: no one really seems to know what that “thing” is. We know he motions a lot. And he likes the wide zone play. And play-action. And a shifty slot receiver. And tight ends. And the occasional gadget. But is that a system? Wherever Canada went in college, he adapted his scheme to the personnel on hand. At Northern Illinois, it was the read-option game with a dual-threat quarterback. At Wisconsin, it was power runs from 22 personnel. At North Carolina State, it was a spread passing attack behind Jacoby Brissett. And at Pitt, it was the football version of the Sgt. Pepper’s album: a sophisticated, inventive and sometimes surreal experience that used smoke and mirrors to provide nuance to tried and true concepts. The Beatles had “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Canada had this:

What, then, should Steelers fans expect the “Canada offense” to look like? By default, it won’t be a spread or heavy scheme. The Steelers are ill-suited, from a personnel standpoint, to commit to either of those. And their hybrid approach was a disaster the past few years. Therefore, it’s likely they’ll borrow from the Shanahan philosophy. This makes sense, since Canada has been doing Shanahan things as long as Shanahan has, just not at the NFL level. Canada now has most of the elements in place to make Shanahan’s wide zone, boot, and constraint scheme work — a mobile quarterback, a bell cow running back, an athletic tight end and receivers who can stretch the field. The line remains a question mark, but the upgrades the Steelers made this off-season should render it functional. That’s faint praise, perhaps. But at least it’s praise.

At first blush, modeling the offense after San Francisco’s may not make Steelers’ fans jump for joy. Few people think “Jimmy G” when they contemplate offensive juggernauts. But with Garoppolo, or perhaps in spite of him, the 49ers were one of the better units in the league last season. They finished 7th in total offense at 376 yards per game. They were 12th in passing and 7th in rushing. They were 13th in points per game, 5th in offensive DVOA and 4th in red zone scoring percentage.

To get a better idea of what San Francisco does, I’ve pulled film from their playoff win in Green Bay last January. The 49ers didn’t exactly light it up that day — they scored 13 points and gained 212 yards. Then again, it was 11 degrees in Green Bay with a wind chill below zero. Not exactly optimal conditions for an offensive explosion.

Canada’s offense already looks like San Francisco’s in several ways. Shanahan uses some sort of shift or motion on almost every play. He and Canada are kindred spirits in that sense. Both will shift from any configuration to any other configuration: tight to open sets, open to tight sets, linemen flipping sides, strength changes, jet motions, long motions, orbit motions. They will alter the entire structure of a formation in one movement, like this:

San Francisco changes from a two-tight end set with an I-formation backfield to an open set with bunch twins on one side, a slot on the other and the fullback split wide. That’s a lot for a defense to digest, before the ball is even snapped.

Often, these pre-snap movements result in mismatches. Here, Shanahan puts his All-Pro tight end, George Kittle, out wide. Kittle initially draws a corner in coverage with linebacker help inside and a safety over the top. Then, Shanahan shifts his running back to outflank Kittle. The corner walks out and the safety loosens up, leaving Kittle isolated in the slot against a linebacker:

From there, it’s easy pickings:

When defenses put smaller, quicker players on Kittle, the result is often the same. Here he is, lined up in the right slot, working the same route against a safety:

Canada did similar things with Pat Freiermuth last season. Freiermuth increasingly played in the slot as his game matured, where he was too athletic for linebackers and too big for safeties:

That’s the same concept San Francisco used above, meaning Freiermuth showed as a rookie he could run some of Kittle’s route tree. With a year under his belt, Freiermuth’s production could skyrocket this season, as Canada finds ways to maximize his mismatch potential.

Aa far as mismatches go, Shanahan is not opposed to thinking outside the box to create them. Here, he uses Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams as a fullback to get a great kick out block on a short yardage play. Williams wipes out Green Bay’s force defender, opening a lane to convert a 3rd down:

Steelers fans should expect this type of creativity from Canada now that he’s free to run the offense at his discretion.

Another similarity between the two is how Shanahan layers his plays to create complexity. Rarely is a play as simple as it looks on the surface. Often, there are options packaged into the play, or actions within the scheme that set up other plays. We see this below, where, after some shifts and motions, the 49ers run a split-zone concept. Split-zone means the line is blocking one way but there are other players blocking opposite. This muddies the read for the linebackers and prevents them from coming downhill at the snap:

Here, the line blocks left while the fullback and tight end go right. Watch the fullback, though. He’s not really blocking. He’s running a flat route. His movement creates a cross-read for the backers but also allows Shanahan to study how Green Bay defends the back side. The alley player takes the fullback, which suggests the boot pass off of this run action will be covered. Had the alley pursued the run, it’s likely Shanahan would have come back with boot. This is how his system works — he is constantly probing the defense for weaknesses that set up play-action opportunities.

Canada did a lot of this as a college coordinator, most notably at Wisconsin, where his power runs were a nice compliment to the play-action game. The Steelers have not run the football well the last few seasons, but studies have shown a great rushing attack is not necessary for effective play-action.

Shanahan likes fullbacks in his offense, too. He has a good one in Kyle Juszczyk. You can see in these clips how Juszczyk moves about the formation. Shanahan uses him to get an extra blocker at the point of attack, where Juszczyk is excellent. He’s a solid receiver out of the backfield, too. And, when Shanahan picks the right spot, Juszczyk can be an effective runner as well:

Canada will probably use a fullback more often than he did with Roethlisberger, who preferred three receiver sets. The Steelers have two players — Derek Watt and Conner Heyward — who could play the Juszczyk role, with Heyward being an interesting candidate due to his versatility as a runner, blocker and pass catcher.

Shanahan’s most important piece, though, is Deebo Samuel. Samuel plays running back, H-back, wide receiver, even the occasional Wildcat quarterback. When Shanahan needs a play, he doesn’t turn to the playbook. He turns to Samuel. Sometimes, it’s as simple as whipping the ball to the perimeter and letting Samuel do his thing:

Other times, it’s more intricate, like this option route. Here, Samuel comes out of the backfield and reads the leverage of the alley player. The alley widens, so Samuel bends his route inside to the open grass. It’s an impossible route to cover, given how good Samuel is in space:

If the Steelers are looking for their own version of Samuel, Najee Harris is their man. Harris is an elite running back who proved last season to be a versatile receiving threat as well. Canada increasingly shifted him out of the backfield as the season progressed, lining him up in the slot and even out wide at times. He will never run a full receiver’s route tree, but he’s as diverse as a 244-pound back can be. The Pittsburgh offense will run through Harris this season, and Canada would be wise to get him the ball any way he can.

Finally, the San Francisco model is especially good for Pittsburgh when considering the quarterbacks. Trubisky and Garoppolo are basically mirror images of each other. Both are 6’2 and around 220 pounds. Both are mobile and most effective throwing on the move or outside the pocket. Even their statistics are similar. In 63 career games, Garoppolo has 11,852 yards passing, 71 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a 67.7 completion percentage. In 57 games, Trubisky has 10,652 yards, 64 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a 64.1 completion percentage.

While Garoppolo’s numbers are slightly better, he’s had the advantage of being coached by Bill Belichick in New England and Shanahan in San Francisco. Trubisky, meanwhile, labored under a dysfunctional regime in Chicago. It’s a wonder his numbers are even close.

Garoppolo and Trubisky also have enough weaknesses to essentially be place-holders with their respective teams. Both struggle with read progressions from inside the pocket and are prone to bad decisions when pressured. Neither is seen as a championship quarterback, which has prompted both franchises to spend 1st Round draft picks on players with higher upsides — Trey Lance and Kenny Pickett. Lance could win the starting job in San Francisco this summer. Pickett may have to wait a year, if that.

For 2022, though, the Steelers could do worse than to take their cues from Shanahan. They should operate a motion-heavy offense centered on the inside and outside zone running of Harris, the boot and play-action passing game, the diverse skills of Freiermuth and a receiving corps with big play potential. That’s the “Matt Canada offense” I anticipate, and I can’t wait to see it.

Isaiahh Loudermilk needs to be a starter for the Steelers

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the 2022 Steelers defense to operate at peak efficiency to start the season, Isaiahh Loudermilk needs to be a starter.

Although it is something I don't particularly like to do, and definitely don't want to make a habit of, I always admit when I am wrong. Steelers defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk seems determined to prove me incorrect about everything from his draft status to his overall abilities.

Instead of reliving and rehashing all the boring details of my own personal meltdown immediately after the Steelers traded away future draft capital to move into the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft to select a non-descript defensive lineman from Wisconsin I wholeheartedly believe the Steelers could have selected in the sixth round, I still openly question if he would have actually been drafted at all.

That may sound a little harsh, but have you actually watched his collegiate film. Even the most ardent Loudermilk supporter would have a hard time describing it as impressive, at least with a straight face.

Then Loudermilk, an extremely big-boned individual with an abnormally large frame, arrived at camp still noticeably less than his collegiate playing weight. Questions about his future position began to arise. Was he a defensive end, or a defensive tackle? He appeared to be a gigantic behemoth without a clear position.

Thankfully the Steelers had a deep and talented defensive line, so the kid wouldn't need to see meaningful minutes as a rookie. Or so we thought. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

Flash forward to the present, and now you will hear me singing a far different tune. Not only do I think that Loudermilk needs to receive an increase in opportunities, but I believe that the young man needs to start in the base defense if the Steelers are going to reach their full potential. Talk about a complete 180°.

Let me try to explain my reasoning.

Loudermilk remains an extremely raw prospect; however, Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar has done a masterful job of getting Loudermilk up to speed, to the point he was the Steelers’ best run-stuffing defensive lineman not named Cameron Heyward last season. This fact is something few could have imagined taking place when he was drafted. My Grading the Pick article on Loudermilk paints a clear picture of my first impression.

With the recent Stephon Tuitt retirement, the Steelers need Loudermilk to start in their base defense to have their best run defense unit on the field to begin each contest.

The Steelers 2020 starting defensive line of Heyward, Alualu, and Tuitt was arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. With Tuitt's absence in 2021, and Alualu's season ending injury in the second game of the season, Cameron Heyward was the last man standing. Although Heyward played at a All-Pro level, the defense suffered mightily, finishing last in run defense.

However, there is hope on the horizon. Alualu appears set to make his triumphant return, fit and properly motivated. The biggest remaining question mark is who is going to fill Tuitt's shoes, or take over his starting position in other words.

Loudermilk is the optimal choice for that role to start this season. He proved to be stout against the run in 2021, even though he lacked experience and any semblance of a pass rush. He has worked hard this offseason to add functional mass and strength, and worked closely with Cam Heyward to add to his pass rushing repertoire, especially his bull rush.

The early portion of training camp and the preseason should reveal some much needed answers for the Steelers. If Loudermilk has improved his already impressive run stopping ability, and he can at least consistently collapse the pocket on passing downs, then I believe he is destined to be the starting defensive end.

A starting defensive line of Heyward, Alualu, and Loudermilk would be extremely difficult to run the ball successfully against. Then the Steelers depth chart would consist of recently signed Larry Ogunjobi, Montravius Adams, Chris Wormley, and talented rookie DeMarvin Leal.

The Steelers could work Ogunjobi slowly into the defense, focusing specifically on his pass rush prowess, as he continues to recover from his Lisfranc injury. Adams is a quick twitch athlete who is probably best served in the limited minutes of a rotation. Wormley is a savvy veteran with some pass rush ability, but vulnerable against the run. In this scenario, barring injuries, Leal will be allowed to grow and learn at his own pace. But as I mentioned earlier, the best laid plans and all.

As Ogunjobi rounds into form as the season progresses, his snaps would undoubtedly increase, to the point he could take over starting duties. That is, unless Loudermilk lays claim to the position and runs with it.

Either way, the Steelers would be sitting pretty, and last year's nightmare run defense will be nothing more than a bad memory.

The Devin Bush cat video “controversy” sure seems silly one year later

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been a year since Devin Bush’s unfortunate quote tweet. Still mad?

It was about a year ago at this time—the evening of July 4, 2021—when I stumbled upon a video published by some random Steelers YouTuber who “buried” me for writing my satirical (but accurate if you know how Steelers fans talk) article titled: “11 Reasons Why the Steelers Will Be Totally Horrible in 2021.”

Naturally, being me, I basked in the glow of this video. I mean, I’m all about heat. Give me the heat. Give me the “1980s when heel wrestlers needed actual security to escort them to the backstage area” heat every day of the week and twice on Sunday. As a writer, I love it. I thrive on it.

Anyway, it wasn’t long after that, hours later, when I stumbled upon a tweet from Steelers linebacker Devin Bush, where he actually quote-tweeted a video of a cat falling down a stairwell and then joked about it not landing on its feet. This sparked outrage from all over Twitterland, but especially among some Pittsburgh reporters and radio personalities. One, in particular, was really outraged by it. I won’t name names, but his name rhymes with “Mark Madden.”

I, being a naive and innocent 49-year-old at the time, defended Bush and said that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. This immediately led to the local radio personality, who I will continue to refer to as “Mark Madden,” muting me on Twitter after calling me a Steelers shill and a member of the pretend media. (Please don’t forget to visit Behind the Steel Curtain: Your one-stop shop for all your Steelers needs.) That’s right, even though Michael Beck got all the royalties and sympathy for being labeled “pretend media” by the suddenly aware of BTSC “Mark Madden” the next day and the rest of the summer, I was the one who got the ball rolling by going toe-to-toe with the Great One that infamous Sunday evening regarding the Bush video. I was the fifth Beatle. I was the original drummer.

As an aside, “Mark Madden” wasn’t the first Pittsburgh sports personality to either mute or block me on Twitter. No, “John Steigerwald,” a Pittsburgh sports personality who I grew up idolizing and aspiring to be, blocked me many years before thanks to an ongoing debate about, well, I don’t want to get into that hot-button topic from 2017 (and again in 2020 before the media decided to stop focusing on it), but let’s just say it rhymes with “Trantham feeling.”

Oh well, this article isn’t about me and my social media run-ins with Pittsburgh sports personalities who I grew up with (and, hey, it’s hard to argue with “Mark Madden” for calling me “pretend media” when I brag about getting heat from some random Steelers fan who likes to make YouTube videos).

No, this article is about the fallout from the Bush retweet and how everyone—well, Steelers fans and people who like to hate the NFL—spent the next few days demanding a pound of flesh—mainly in the form of a Bush suspension and/or dismissal from the team.

I woke up the next morning—July 5—and couldn’t believe the reactions on Twitter. I spent the entire day—the recognized for work purposes (it was a Monday) Independence Day—defending Bush against his detractors. I co-hosted the Hangover podcast with Bryan Anthony Davis and Shannon White that evening, and we all agreed that it wasn’t the wisest move by Bush, but that we thought he deserved a second chance.

Doesn’t it all seem rather silly in retrospect? Sure, what Bush quote-tweeted was tasteless, but was it worth all of the arguments, debates, articles and podcast/radio segments that were the result of it?

At the time, this was the worst thing in the history of the world, but if it was so bad, why did I have to write another article to remind you of it one year later?

Did you immediately stop supporting the Steelers because of the Bush retweet of a cat being injured? Are you still demanding your pound of flesh for that incident? Did you hold onto that rage for more than a day or so? Are you still holding onto it one July later?

My guess is that you forgot about it rather quickly. Thoughts, at least as they pertained to Devin Bush, probably shifted to his play on the field and whether or not he could make it all the way back after suffering a torn ACL in 2020.

He didn’t, by the way, which is probably what you’re concerned about at the moment, at least when thinking about Devin Bush and how he may perform in 2022.

I’m not saying Bush’s social media activity in the summer of 2021 wasn't at least a little perplexing—oh, there were many other “winners” tweeted into the social media universe that may have rivaled the cat video in terms of “WTF?"—but it sure seems rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Bush was 22 at the time, and people that age are often weird.

Remember that. After all, we still have a few weeks to go before training camp, and young football players still love to go on social media and act weird.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Wed, 07/06/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each broadcasted episode.

The Steelers Fix: Strategies for Winning Your Fantasy Draft

As we start thinking about our fantasy teams for the 2022 campaign, it’s good to consider all things when drafting your players. Looking for some winning strategies? This week, Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar look at certain players to consider for your 2022 roster.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Winning Fantasy Strategies for 2022
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Scho Bro Show: July Bold and Bizarre predictions for the Steelers in 2022

Dave and Big Bro Scho are out on assignment, so BTSC scoured the back woods of Maryland for Schofield kin. When that went wrong we summoned Kyle Chrise Schofield and BAD Bro Scho to fill in. They couldn’t think of a topic as compelling as what the original Scho Bros would roll out, so they put together a list of bold and bizarre predictions for the Steelers. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Bold and Bizarre Predictions

BAD and Unreal Kyle walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Let’s Ride, Wednesday: The Steelers preseason will be exciting, for once

Steelers preseason has been fairly anti-climactic in the last 18 years or so, especially at the quarterback position. This year, expect a high level of excitement for a change. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Expect a certain level of excitement in 2022 Steelers Training Camp
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Anthony Miller & Henry Mondeaux

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 24 of Going For Two, featuring Anthony Miller and Henry Mondeaux

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Anthony Miller Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Wide receiver
Age: 27
Year: 4
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 199
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 51, 2018 (Chicago Bears)
College: Memphis
Roster Outlook: Bubble

After scoring more receiving touchdowns as a rookie for the Chicago Bears than what they had seen in 35 years, Anthony Miller was traded to the Houston Texans following his third season in Chicago. Only appearing in two games in 2021 with the Texans, Miller was released and signed to Steelers practice squad. Elevated for one game, Miller had one catch for 2 yards and played 25 offensive snaps. But going into 2022, Miller has a chance to reunite with quarterback Mitch Trubisky who had a Pro Bowl season throwing to Miller during his seven touchdown rookie season. Additionally, Miller is hoping to get his name in the mix to step into the Steelers slot receiver role for 2022. While it’s very possible the Steelers could keep Miller on their 53-man roster, he could also once again be destined for the practice squad. Exactly how well Miller can connect with Trubisky and the other Steelers quarterbacks through the preseason will go a lot towards his roster status for 2022.

Henry Mondeaux Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Defensive end
Age: 26
Year: 3
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 280
Drafted: UDFA 2018 (New Orleans Saints)
College: Oregon
Roster Outlook: Bubble

Although this will be the fourth year of Henry Mondeaux being in training camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has never made the initial 53-man roster to start the year. After spending the entire 2019 season on the Steelers practice squad, Mondeaux made it to the active roster in late October 2020 where he appeared in 11 games. In 2021, Mondeaux was back on the Steelers practice squad until the injury to Tyson Alualu. Mondeaux went on to play in 15 games with two starts and 2.0 sacks on 244 defensive snaps last season. But in a very crowded defensive line room, it will be difficult for Mondeaux to land on the 53 to start the year yet again. Perhaps 2022 is when he breaks through and sticks with the team from the very beginning if he can show his worth throughout training camp and the preseason. The only question is who’s roster spot he would take as the Steelers have a lot of bodies on the defensive line.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Counting down the days to key 2022 dates for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the Steelers turn the calendar to the second half of 2022, exciting things are now on the horizon.

Let the countdown continue!

Now that the midpoint of the 2022 calendar year has passed, and the holiday festivities of Independence Day in the United States are behind us, Steelers training camp is just around the corner. With the dog days of summer now more than half way over, players will be reporting to Latrobe before we know it. With all this in mind, it’s time to check in again to count down the number of days to key 2022 dates.

21 days: Training Camp arrival

The Steelers will be reporting to St. Vincent College on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. Returning to Latrobe after two years of being forced to hold training camp at Heinz Field, it looks to be a refreshing return to a tradition, especially for the fans who are able to attend. If you are planning on catching a practice in Latrobe, make sure you get your tickets as they are required to attend. Tickets can be ordered through Ticketmater and are free of charge.

22 days: First Practice

After reporting to St. Vincent College on Tuesday, the Steelers will take to the practice field on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at 1:55 PM for the first time in preparation for the upcoming season. All four of the Steelers first practices until they have a day off on Sunday, July 31, will not be in full pads but will still be open to the public.

27 days: First practice in pads

When the Steelers open their second week of training camp on Monday, August 1, their 1:55 PM practice, which is open to the public, will be there first one in full pads. For a full list of training camp practices, see the following article:

30 days: Hall of Fame Game

This date won’t be as significant to the Steelers for 2022 as they are not playing in the Hall of Fame Game, which will kick off the weekend on Thursday August 4, 2022. The Hall of Fame activities will be over the course of the weekend from the game Thursday through Sunday with the 2022 enshrinement scheduled for Saturday. For the game itself in 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders will face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

39 days: First Preseason Game vs Seattle

The first chance to see the Steelers in game action for 2022 is now less than six weeks away. With an extra road contest in the regular season, the Steelers have two of their three preseason games at Heinz Field. The first time the Steelers will be in action in preparation for the upcoming season will be on Saturday, August 13, 2022 at 7 PM when they host the Seattle Seahawks. The game is scheduled to be nationally televised on NFL Network, but another game will begin at 9 PM so don’t expect to be able to see the entire contest.

42 days: First roster cut down

The Tuesday after all teams play their Week 1 preseason game, they will have until 4 PM ET in order to reduce their roster from 90 players to 85 players.

45 days: Breaking Camp

After returning to St. Vincent College for one more week of training camp after their first preseason game, the Steelers will break camp on Friday, August 19 before traveling to face to Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, August 20. When the Steelers return from Jacksonville, the remainder of their preseason practices will be at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in Pittsburgh.

49 days: Second roster cut down

After the second week of the preseason, teams once again face a 4 PM ET deadline to trim the roster another five players. This time, the cut goes from 85 players down to 80 players.

54 days: Last Preseason Game vs Detroit

The Steelers have their final preseason game on Sunday, August 28, 2022, at 4:30 PM as they host the Detroit Lions as the national game on CBS. Other than being the final contest for players to make their case for the 53-man roster or the practice squad, it will feel somewhat different as the Steelers are not finishing off their preseason against the Carolina Panthers as they have for so many years.

56 days: 53-man Rosters

Following the same schedule as 2021, teams will be required to cut down to the 53-man roster by 4 PM ET on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. Teams have until noon the next day to make any waiver claim which will be reported by the NFL by 1 PM. At that time on Wednesday, August 31, teams can begin signing players to their 16-man practice squad.

65 days: NFL Kickoff Game

Thursday, September 8, 2022, will be the first game of the NFL season. The game will see the Buffalo Bills visiting the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams for an 8:20 PM ET kickoff on NBC.

68 days: Steelers season opener in Cincinnati

For the eighth straight season, the Pittsburgh Steelers will begin the regular season on the road. While traveling for Week 1 has become familiar territory, the Steelers first opponent is one they have never faced the opening week. To kick off the season, the Steelers travel to the Cincinnati Bengals for a 1 PM ET kick off at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, September 11, 2022.

75 days: Steelers home opener vs. New England

The Steelers will return to the friendly confines of Heinz Field (if it is still named Heinz Field at that time) for their first home game in Week 2 as they host the New England Patriots on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 1 PM ET.

186-187 days: Steelers final regular season game vs Cleveland

I had to give a range for the Steelers final game as it is one that does not have a specific date or time listed. What is known is that the Steelers will be hosting the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. What is unknown at this time is whether the game will be played on Saturday or Sunday and what time it will kickoff.

222 days: Super Bowl LVII

Super Bowl LVII is scheduled to be played on February 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Next Gen Stats suggest T.J. Watt wasn’t the best “disruptor” in the NFL last season

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker was the defensive player of the year, but not the best “disruptor” according to Next Gen Stats.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is a proud group of individuals. When someone, anyone says something negative about their beloved Steelers, prepare for battle. This would include when a player the fan base deems to be the very best at his position is not listed as such in any of the many offseason lists which run across the NFL landscape.

The latest victim of such a crime? Nick Shook of who is doing Top 10 lists of key metrics using Next Gen Stats to justify his lists. One list which caught the eye of Steelers fans was his Top 10 list of “Disruptors”. Before you go down to the list itself, check out what Shook used to categorize players as a “disruptor”:

In this exercise, I’m using Next Gen Stats data to examine the league’s top disruptors from the 2021 season. Disruptors are defined not just by sacks but plays in which they affect an opposing quarterback. NGS defines a hurry as an instance in which a defender gets within 1.5 yards of a quarterback at any moment between the snap and the release of a pass or a sack, and a pressure is when a defender is within 2 yards of the quarterback at the time he’s releasing a pass or within 1.5 yards of the QB at any point during the play. A sack is — well, you know what that is.

I’m taking a closer look at QB pressures (QBP), QB pressure rate (QBP rate), hurries, sacks and turnovers caused by QB pressure (TO-QBP) to determine who was the best at disrupting quarterbacks in 2021.

Okay, so now let’s get to the part where Steelers fans get up in arms over the results. Check out the Top 10 list, and how Shook had T.J. Watt as the 2nd best in this specific category.

Check it out...

Top 10 Disruptors

10. Darius Leonard — Los Angeles Rams
9. Javon Hargrave — Philadelphia Eagles
8. Aaron Donald — Los Angeles Rams
7. Nick Bosas — San Francisco 49ers
6. Myles Garrett — Cleveland Browns
5. Yannick Ngakoue — Indianapolis Colts
4. Micah Parson — Dallas Cowboys
3. Maxx Crosby — Las Vegas Raiders

2. T.J. Watt — Pittsburgh Steelers

  • QBP: 60
  • QBP rate: 16.3%
  • Hurries: 43
  • Sacks: 22.5
  • TO-QBP: 3

Watt tied the all-time single-season sack record in 2021. He was voted Defensive Player of the Year. And he did it despite missing two full games and most of a third.

Watt posted the highest single-season sack rate (6.1%) of the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). Also, he owns the highest sack rate (3.7%) over the duration of the NGS era (min. 1,500 pass-rush snaps). He’s more efficient at getting home than any rusher in the history of Next Gen Stats. However, he’s second on this list because a player from a division rival happened to post the fourth-highest QB pressure rate in a single season in NGS history and force five turnovers via pressure in 2021.

1. Trey Hendrickson — Cincinnati Bengals

  • QBP: 79
  • QBP rate: 19.4%
  • Hurries: 45
  • Sacks: 14
  • TO-QBP: 5

Some in the football world likely saw Hendrickson’s breakout 2020 campaign as a fluke, and then raised both eyebrows at the Bengals when they signed him to a four-year, $60 million deal last offseason. In hindsight, that deal looks like a bargain.

Hendrickson followed up his 13.5-sack performance — which helped him earn the No. 3 spot on this list a year ago — by registering 79 pressures and 14 sacks. His pressure rate (19.4%) is fourth-best in the NGS era (since 2016). What truly separated Hendrickson from the pack, though, was his ability to cause takeaways. Hendrickson forced five turnovers via pressure, tying with Markus Golden, Randy Gregory, Chandler Jones and Odafe Oweh for the league lead. Only one player from that group had a strong enough body of work to land on this list, and Hendrickson’s was good enough to put him at the top of it.

The statistics certainly make a case for Hendrickson over Watt, but what does the eye test show? For people who watch the game closely, can you really watch the game unfold and say the Top 10 list would play out the same way? Some will say yes, while others will say no.

Either way, this is where you get to chime in on the list. Let us know what you think of the Top 10 list, and Watt being listed at No. 2, in the comment section below. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will improve their AFC North record in 2022

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers will improve their AFC North record in 2022.

Why it will happen: Last season the Steelers finished their AFC North play with a 4-2 record. They swept the Baltimore Ravens, who haven’t beaten the Steelers since 2019, and the Cleveland Browns. However, they were swept by the Cincinnati Bengals, who have beaten the Steelers three straight times.

How can they improve upon a 4-2 division record? The answer lies within the Steelers beating Cincinnati. The team who represented the AFC in the Super Bowl will be the cream of the crop of the division once again. If the Steelers can beat the Bengals, fans should be confident they can continue to dominate the Browns and Ravens. 5-1 might be the best they can do, but it is still an improvement on their 2021 record.

Why it won’t happen: The AFC North continues to be a gauntlet for everyone who calls the division home. With Lamar Jackson expected to return, the Bengals expected to be great again and the Browns potentially being improved too, the thought of improving on a 4-2 record seems like a pipe dream.

Throw in the fact there is so much unknown surrounding the Steelers, it seems highly unlikely the team will be able to improve on the 2021 record in 2022.

Prediction: For the first time since starting these scenarios, I don’t see this scenario coming to fruition. The first thing I look at are the division games on the schedule:

Week 1: @ CIN
Week 3: @ CLE
Week 11: vs. CIN
Week 14: vs. BAL
Week 17: @ BAL
Week 18: vs. CLE

The first two games on the division slate certainly are tough to predict considering there is so much uncertainty surrounding the team. Can fans expect the team to come out of the gates red-hot, especially playing three games in eleven days?

If the Steelers stumble out of the gates and lose their first two divisional games, both on the road, this scenario is shot already. Two losses would mean the best they could do is equal their 2021 total.

It is really odd to see the division games so bunched up at the end of the schedule, but this could benefit the Steelers in the long run. If the team continues to improve as the season progresses, they could be playing their best in key games on the schedule. Nonetheless, I don’t see the team improving on the 2021 record. I could see them staying the same at 4-2, or dropping a game to 3-3.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

FILM ROOM: Matt Canada’s Offense, Part 1: The Inside Zone

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Looking at different plays Matt Canada will bring back for the 2022 season.

I wanted to take some time this offseason to dig into some of the things the Matt Canada offense looks to do. We are going to start with some basics with the interior run game.

Matt Canada’s offense relies heavily on being able to run between the tackles. Many college and NFL offenses do, because if you can force defenses to focus on your interior run game it opens up everything you want to do, from outside runs to play-action to QB runs, everything gets easier when you can run up the middle successfully. For evidence I invite you to go watch some of the 2004 Steelers offense, when a dominant interior run game set up rookie Ben Roethlisberger for a fantastic season. That team, with Roethlisberger starting, was undefeated until the Patriots shut down the Steelers interior run game and the entire offense fell apart.

Matt Canada runs a very different offense than that team did, but his offense relies heavily on establishing the interior run game. One of the run schemes the Steelers used a lot in 2021 is inside zone.

To be clear, I’m not running a coaching clinic. I’m not here to dig into nuances of blocking. I’m going to lump several different plays into the category of inside zone. Feel free to get more in-depth than I am in the comment section. This series is intentionally not going that direction. We’re covering basics here.

Steelers vs. Bengals, second quarter, 5:34

Zone runs have one basic thing in common, and that is combo blocks. If you look at the interior defensive linemen, you can see the Steelers offensive line double team them, and then work one player off of each block to get to a linebacker. Reaching the linebacker is frequently referred to as second level block. The goal of the combo block is for one lineman to set up the block for his teammate, then get off the block, reach the second level and take care of the linebacker they are responsible for.

One key to the different inside zone schemes is there isn’t a single designed run lane the back must run through. If you look at Kevin Dotson, you can see he is trying to reach the linebacker. That doesn’t make sense if this run is designed to go up the middle. The blocking is designed to get Najee Harris a gap between Dotson and Dan Moore Jr. But you can also see the linebacker head to that gap, and with Trai Turner winning the backside and Kendrick Green getting good push on the play side (play side is the direction Najee is running to start) the run lane is right up the middle.

Steelers vs. Browns, first quarter, 10:07

This is almost the exact same blocking, and like most of the times the Steelers ran it, Najee Harris ends up taking it through the “A” gap (between center and guard). By the end of the season the Steelers were relying on J.C. Hassenauer and John Leglue, and Matt Canada admitted the Steelers ran these interior zone runs a lot because it was one of the few run plays they could execute reliably.

One of the reasons they could run it well is the excellent work Najee Harris puts into these runs. Watch how Harris doesn’t run at gaps, but instead runs at his lineman. To start the play he heads right for Hassenauer’s outer foot, he’s running right at the combo block, and the linebacker, seeing Leglue trying to get off his block heads to that gap. Harris sees that, and cuts back, running right at the combo block from Trai Turner and Chukwuma Okorafor. As Turner reaches the linebacker Harris puts his head down and runs right off Turner’s hip.

His purposeful running sets up Leglue and Turner to get to the linebackers as they have to move toward their blockers to move toward Harris.

This type of run is just one of the blocking schemes the Steelers used, but it was one of the most common and it is foundational to Matt Canada’s offense. This play was a strong one for both Trai Turner and Kevin Dotson, you can see Turner dominate in both of these runs. Inside zone-based runs are great for bullies like Turner and Dotson.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for more in-depth analysis and film rooms on Matta Canada’s Pittsburgh Steelers offense.

5 players who could shock Steelers fans in 2022

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

These five Pittsburgh Steelers could turn heads this season.

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with plenty of question marks surrounding it heading into training camp at the end of July. These questions will certainly be answered when the pads come on at Saint Vincent College, but there are certainly some players who could turn heads this year. Some might even say they could shock fans in 2022.

To be clear, when I said there are players who could shock fans, you have to immediately look at players who have pretty low expectations placed on them. In other words, if T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick or Najee Harris show out in 2022, no one would be shocked. It’s pretty much expected.

So, let’s take a look at the five players who could shock fans this season, in no particular order:

Connor Heyward

There are some fans who don’t believe Heyward is a lock to make the team, and that’s their opinion. However, it isn’t just Heyward’s 6th Round status, but his versatility which has me thinking he could turn heads in 2022.

Yes, I think Heyward makes the team, and I think Matt Canada has plenty up his sleeve for a player who can play fullback, tight end, H-back and even running back. I think Heyward will turn some heads this year.

Zach Gentry

When Gentry was drafted he looked like a former quarterback. Some even said he looked more like a baby giraffe than an NFL tight end. His second season was cut short with a knee injury, and his third year was when he came into his own both physically and positionally.

Some compare Gentry to Matt Spaeth, but to me that is a cut on what Gentry can bring to the offense outside of blocking. Look for Gentry’s role to only increase in the offense in 2022.

Ahkello Witherspoon

Been paying attention this offseason and all you’ve heard is about how Witherspoon is the Steelers’ best coverage cornerback, but the worst tackler.

His lack of physicality has been on display, but I see Witherspoon not just picking up where he left off in 2021, but also being a more complete corner. You don’t think the Steelers have a CB1? It might just be Witherspoon this year, and not by default.

Devin Bush

Blame Adrian Peterson for setting a ridiculous precedent with returning from a serious knee injury. Since AP essentially returned to action after just 9-10 months after tearing his ACL, fans think this is the normal timeline for recovery of the injury.

But it isn’t. Most athletes would say it takes two years to feel normal again. For Bush that equates to this season. Throw in the fact he should be extra motivated by the team passing on his 5th year option, and this could benefit the 2022 team. I think Bush will look more like the 2020 pre-ACL tear Bush this season.

Kendrick Green

If you thought putting Bush on this list was sac religious, you’re probably fuming over seeing Kendrick Green on the list.

I think Green will come into camp with a motivation to prove his worth to the team. Not going in with a backup’s mindset. I expect a big step forward from Green at guard and center, and that is great news for the Steelers, even if he is the main interior offensive lineman.

After all, when was the last time there wasn’t an injury somewhere along the line? Green improving equates to the Steelers avoiding a situation like last season where the team is in dire straits after an injury forced their hand.

I expect Green to be vastly improved in 2022.

For more in-depth analysis on these players, and the reasoning for them being on this list, check out my Let’s Ride podcast below:

Deshaun Watson hearing over, no ruling expected anytime soon

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Keeping fans caught up on all the news surrounding the AFC North rival quarterback.

As the NFL offseason continues to drag on, so does the situation with Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. This has been an ongoing battle the entire offseason, and one fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are all keeping a close eye on.

The latest news on the situation is the hearing which started last week concluded Thursday, but before fans expect a decision on Watson soon, think again. In fact, attorneys from multiple women who are suing the Browns quarterback are trying to obtain the NFL’s documents from their investigation on Watson.

This per ESPN:

Attorneys for multiple women suing Deshaun Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct are seeking the documents from the NFL’s investigation into the former Houston Texans quarterback.

According to a motion filed Friday by the women’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, the legal team seeks any and all reports and files from the NFL’s investigation into Watson, including recorded interviews, witness statements and communications. The notice of intention to take deposition by written questions also asks for photographs and “any other type of documents in your files and/or documents regarding the investigation of Deshaun Watson.”

So, if no result is due anytime soon, when will we hear how long the suspension of Watson will be? According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Robinson asked for post-hearing briefs, which will be due the week of July 11.

With that deadline less than a week away, it also doesn’t mean Robinson will be making a ruling immediately. According to Graziano, there is no set timeline for a decision.

There is no set timeline for Robinson’s decision. A source told Graziano that Robinson is expected “to take her time,” although she is expected to rule before the Browns open training camp late next month on whether the 26-year-old violated the league’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.

The NFL has been pushing for a suspension of at least a year, according to Graziano, who reported that both sides engaged in multiple attempts to reach a settlement while the hearing was still happening but remain unable to agree.

This is looking to drag out for the next few weeks, but be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on the Steelers, and this situation, as the team prepares for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Tue, 07/05/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website, but now we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

BAD Language: The independence of Steelers fan dependence

Everybody’s got an opinion. Some subscribe to conventional wisdom. others are ill-informed, while some are unorthodox and way out there. So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language. This week, it’s all about how black and gold fandom starts.

  • News and Notes
  • Bleeding black and gold
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: The best of the black-and-gold underappreciated

Every team has unsung heroes, who on the Steelers are underappreciated now and through the years. Join Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White with discussion of this and more on the Steelers Hangover.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Steelers Unsung Guys
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Steelers Safety Dance, Where will they all end up?

The Steelers have more players at safety than ever, where will they all end up? Geoffrey Benedict examines this and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The surplus at safety for the Steelers
  • and MUCH MORE!

Geoffrey walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Arthur Maulet & Anthony McFarland Jr.

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s Day 23 of Going For Two, featuring Arthur Maulet and Anthony McFarland Jr.

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Arthur Maulet Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Cornerback
Age: 28
Year: 6
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 190
Drafted: UDFA 2017 (New Orleans Saints)
College: Memphis
Roster Outlook: Likely

Signing a two-year deal to stay with the Steelers this past offseason, Arthur Maulet brings something slightly different to the slot cornerback positions than what the Steelers can get from other players in the cornerback room. Logging 379 defensive snaps in 2021, Maulet played all but a handfull of snaps either in the slot position or in the box last season. The biggest question with his roster status comes down to how many cornerbacks the Steelers keep, and do they see his ability to only line up in the slot and not play on the outside as something worthy of a roster position. It is likely the Steelers do, therefore it is likely Maulet is on the Steelers 53-man roster again in 2022.

Anthony McFarland Jr. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Running back
Age: 23
Year: 3
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 193
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 124, 2020
College: Maryland
Roster Outlook: Likely

It was a disappointing season for Anthony McFarland Jr. in 2022. After missing the first six games of the year due to a knee injury, McFarland returned following the Steelers bye only to appear in two games on the season. On the year, McFarland had three rushing attempts for 3 yards and one reception for 11 yards. McFarland saw more action as a kick returner in 2021 as he had three returns for 73 yards. The big question is if McFarland can return with better quality play in 2022 after being nearly a year removed from his knee injury. As of now, he is likely to make the roster based on default, but a poor preseason, or the emergence of one of the young, undrafted players could have McFarland out of the job. This is also assuming the Steelers don’t add another player to this position group prior to the start of the 2022 season. With all this considered, Anthony McFarland Jr. has a very important preseason ahead of him in 2022.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Be a part of the BTSC Fan Post weekly contest/question

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 12:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The “dog days” of Steeler Football are here, but this may help pass that time until the Black and Gold re-take the field.

I still find myself sneaking into the Fan Post section of BTSC. Even with such great content on the front page, there are occasionally some solid articles still being written there. In the past, I have made a point to pass on some of those articles to our Senior Editor, and in return he has posted many of those articles on the front page. Not only does it provide exposure for someone interested in writing, but it can provide BTSC with potential future writers.

This particular idea is not my own, but one from Pin Stripe Alley, where the Editor poses a writing subject/question and the members that are interested write about that subject or question in a Fan Post. The winner gets their respective article posted on the front page.

Every Monday for the next six weeks I will provide a subject or question. The article must be submitted by Friday of the same week with plans for it to be published on Sunday. In the heading of the article make sure to add that it is for the Front Page Submission. also attach your own article heading.

Example: Front Page Submission - Pickett not Marino, Steelers refused to let another Pitt Panther QB slip by them

I shouldn’t have to remind everyone, but I will. Make sure all articles submitted follows the SB Nation/Vox/CORAL Guidelines. Those that don’t will not be considered.

This Week’s Subject/Question:

Like many of you here at BTSC, I bleed all things Black and Gold, but there are times the Steelers drive me absolutely bonkers. Tell me your biggest pet peeve that involves the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Thanks for lasts week’s participation and as always stay safe and Go Steelers.