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Updated: 32 min 3 sec ago

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers offensive line will once again be represented at the Pro Bowl

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 10:30am
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: The Steelers offensive line will once again be represented at the Pro Bowl

Why it will happen: The 2021 NFL season was only the second time in the last 12 years where the Steelers did not have an offensive lineman who was selected to the Pro Bowl. The only other year was 2013 as Maurkice Pouncey missed the season due to injury. Although history means very little moving forward, it does go to show that, since the Steelers are known for having offensive linemen as selections, it is easier for them to get noticed. With the Steelers making improvements via free agency, the offensive line should be improved across the board. If the line is improved, it’s much easier for a player, such as a James Daniels, to get noticed around the league. Add in the fact the Steelers offensive line is a group who is expected to have players ascending in their NFL career, they could easily show the ability to gain a selection whether it be an original choice or a replacement.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers offensive line has not been good the last couple seasons. When it comes to the Pro Bowl, it’s mainly name recognition that will stand out as much as anything unless a player is head and shoulders above everyone else. Even if one of the Steelers offensive lineman emerges as a great player this season, it may take another year before they would be selected and their name to gain more traction. But this could be putting the cart before the horse as the first thing any of the linemen have to do for the Steelers is to have quality, consistent play.

Prediction: I am once again going to have to disagree with the scenario. Despite it being the Steelers going two consecutive years without an offensive lineman making the Pro Bowl since 2008 and 2009, the squad simply wasn’t good enough last season for anyone to gain traction. Believe it or not, most of the offensive lineman who will be selected for the Pro Bowl would probably be getting the votes right now based on reputation regardless of how well they played. It’s just not a flashy position built on stats. Although I think James Daniels has the potential to be a player who could be Pro Bowl caliber, I do not want to set those expectations on him in his very first season. If I expect him to be that great and he ends up being a quality lineman that isn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, I don’t want to be disappointed. But if James Daniels plays well enough to get his name into the mix, that’s just an unexpected bonus.

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.

Does a return to Saint Vincent actually matter for the Steelers?

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Does a return to Saint Vincent actually make a difference for the Steelers?

In 22 days the Pittsburgh Steelers players will do something they haven’t done since 2019, and that being report to a training camp outside of Pittsburgh. The team will be back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA once again, living in dorms and having the experience of having nothing but football on their minds for the month, or so, they are in that part of western Pennsylvania.

The past two seasons the team hasn’t traveled out of Pittsburgh for obvious reasons. 2020 was when things were shut down due to protocols, and in 2021 it was reported there would be limited fans permitted to attend due to protocols, so the team decided to stay in town. Now, with restrictions lifted the Steelers are heading back to Latrobe.

The last time the Steelers were there was when tragedy struck. 2019 was the camp when the team had to deal with the death of wide receivers coach Daryl Drake at camp, something which wrecked the team, especially the receivers.

Now the team returns, and all that was said between 2019 and 2022 was how they missed being in the college environment. How they value their time in Latrobe. Before a decision was made final this offseason, some thought the Steelers wouldn’t be going back to Latrobe, doing what so many other NFL teams have done in the past and just stay in the comfort of their team headquarters, opting for a handful of open practices for fans to attend.

Throughout this time, it made you question whether the team truly values their time there, or if it is more just for the fans. As my mind works, this brought up a follow-up question...

Does going to Saint Vincent even matter? Does being in that environment do anything to help forge a better Steelers team?

You hear a lot about how the players despise the dorm set up, and can’t wait to get back to the comforts of their homes. Then you hear others who talk about the comradery built during their time there. When Mike Tomlin was on the Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor he spoke about those nights where players sat on a curb outside a dorm talking. Not about football, but life, and how those moments help create a brotherhood which can’t be duplicated just anywhere.

Don’t confuse this question with if the team can improve from the X’s and O’s during camp. Every training camp, no matter where it is located, will have players working on their craft as they trim their roster from 90 to 53. If the Steelers being on Chuck Noll field somehow helps trimming the roster easier is up for debate.

In my opinion, I feel the Steelers making the trek to Latrobe does matter. I think the bond which is developed on the road, albeit in Latrobe, is one which is tough to duplicate elsewhere. Anyone who has ever attended a camp, doesn’t have to be a sports camp, which was away from home typically talks about how the experience was different...usually for the better.

But this is when I want to open up the question for you to respond. Do you think the Steelers going back to Saint Vincent matters? 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 training camp in just a couple weeks.

When will Kenny Pickett take over as the Steelers QB?

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have a three horse race for their next quarterback, and many are wondering when Kenny Pickett will be named the starter.

The question posed as the headline of this article is what every Pittsburgh Steelers fan wants to know. You don’t draft a quarterback with your top pick, 20th overall, just to have him be a perennial backup. This doesn’t mean Kenny Pickett will be the full-time starter in Week 1 of his rookie season, but the question remains...

When will Kenny Pickett take over as the Steelers quarterback?

At ESPN, they asked this very question to those who cover teams with rookie quarterbacks. Brooke Pryor, who is the beat reporter for the Steelers for ESPN, took the honors with answering the key questions for the fan base.

Let’s get the background information every fan knows out of the way...

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers

Drafted: Round 1, No. 20

Competition to start: Mitch Trubisky, Mason Rudolph

So, according to Pryor, what are the odds Pickett is the Week 1 starter when the Steelers travel to Paul Brown Stadium to play the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals?

Chance of winning the starting job in Week 1: 2%. Throughout OTAs and minicamp, Pickett consistently took third-string reps behind Trubisky and Rudolph. To supplant Trubisky as the starter by Week 1, Pickett would have to be the second coming of Johnny Unitas as soon as he hits training camp. That’s not happening. And that’s OK — the Steelers don’t need to rush Pickett’s development.

Trubisky has looked comfortable and confident throughout offseason workouts, and his early rapport with the locker room signals that he’ll be a leader on this team. Add in the fact that the Steelers open on the road against the AFC champion Bengals, and it’s even more likely Trubisky begins as the starter.

Clearly Pryor doesn’t foresee the Steelers throwing Pickett out right away, but is there a chance he does nothing but hold a clipboard his entire rookie season?

Chance of sitting all season: 40%. The Steelers must believe Pickett is the future of the organization; otherwise, they wouldn’t have selected him in the first round. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the immediate future. If the Steelers navigate the season-opening gauntlet that includes games in Cincinnati and Cleveland, along with home games against Tampa Bay and New England, and Trubisky isn’t losing them games, they should stick with him.

If the Steelers can field a strong defense and improved offensive line to aid running back Najee Harris, they just need a steady quarterback who doesn’t make big mistakes. Assuming Trubisky has truly matured and learned a lot in Buffalo behind Josh Allen, he’ll be that guy.

With a 40% chance of sitting all year, there is a 60% chance, according to Pryor, Pickett does start in 2022. So, what game would be the best choice, or best guess, for Pickett to start?

Best prediction for first NFL start: Week 18 vs. Cleveland Browns. Truthfully, I have two weeks circled as possible 2022 NFL debuts for Pickett. The first is Week 10 vs. the Saints after the bye. If Trubisky isn’t performing, the bye gives the Steelers a natural break to make a starting quarterback change. But if Trubisky is playing well, there’s no point in making a change at that juncture.

The second — and more likely — date is Week 18. Even in years in which the Steelers weren’t supposed to be part of the playoff conversation, they’ve still had a fighting chance late in the season. This season might not be any different, and as long as Trubisky isn’t losing the team games, it makes sense to stick with him. But if Week 18 turns into a formality game with nothing on the line but bragging rights, then the Steelers might give Pickett a taste of an AFC North rivalry game.

When you look at the above questions, how do you answer them?

  • What is the chance Pickett starts Week 1?
  • Will Pickett sit the entire 2022 season?
  • What is your prediction for Pickett to get his first start?

Put on your prognosticator hats, and let us know what you think about these questions in the comment section below. And be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for all the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason before reporting for training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

Kenny Pickett goes back to New Jersey to have field named after him

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 6:30am
Tanya Breen / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Pittsburgh Steelers new quarterback was honored in a special way in his hometown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time making Kenny Pickett their top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Being the only quarterback taken in the first round, and having a tremendous five year career at the University of Pittsburgh, Pickett was back in his hometown of Ocean Township, New Jersey for a unique honor.

The same fields Pickett grew up playing pop warner football were being named after him.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Ken Pickett Sr. told Yahoo! Sports. “This is where I spent most of my time with him when he was growing up, on these practice fields.”

Like his father, Pickett has fond memories of growing up playing football on the field which now carry his name.

“I remember being on this particular field when I was 9 or 10 years old,” he said. “Bill Cowley and my dad were my coaches, and I’m best friends with a lot of the guys I played with back then, and they’re here today.

“For me, this is special because I grew up there, and all these kids are doing the same thing I did. And hopefully I give them motivation to keep chasing their dreams.”

The honor goes well beyond Pickett, the player. It goes deep into the area and those who had a hand in helping Pickett become the player he is today. A professional in every aspect of the word.

“It’s more than just recognizing Kenny’s accomplishments,” Ocean Township head coach Don Klein said. “It is important for our community because of the person that Kenny is.

“I remember being at a Pop Warner camp when he was about 10 or 11. We had passing drills in the afternoon he was in like fifth grade and camp went up to 8th grade. And the older kids were all asking him to throw the ball to him. And he said, ‘I only have one football and I am going to throw it to the person who gives us the best chance to score.’ When you have that awareness at that young an age, you have a chance to be pretty special.”

Pickett has just under a month until he reports to his first professional training camp, and he is planning on spending the majority of the next month on the jersey shore training and spending time with family and friends.

But don’t let that fool you, Pickett is focused on the new task at hand — to be the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“The goal is to get on the field. You can’t do anything without getting on the field,” Pickett said. “I’m just trying to work as hard as I can to put myself in the best position.”

Pickett views the naming of the field after him as his football journey almost coming full circle. A chance for him to help motivate the next group of young players who have their eyes on big goals.

“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces is really special, and I’m just incredibly grateful to have the field named after me,” Pickett said.

“So many people helped me get to where I am today and a lot of them were here, a lot of them were at my draft party. I hold those people close to me. They are very special and they all know who they are. I definitely wouldn’t be here without their love and support.”

The Steelers report to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, something the team hasn’t done since 2019. In this regard, Pickett won’t be the only player getting used to their new surroundings, but expectations are high for the former Pitt quarterback to put his best foot forward when it matters most.

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.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Mon, 07/04/2022 - 5:30am

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 written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

We Run the North: Defending the AFC North Best

Who has the best line of defense among the Bengals, Browns, and Ravens and where do the Pittsburgh Steelers rank? Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • AFC North Updates
  • The defenses
  • Special Guest: Brandon Herriott
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: Independence Q&A

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete. so is their minicamp for rookies, voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Andrew WIlbar and Shannon White as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
Let’s Ride: How does the 2022 Steelers roster stack up?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 roster has a lot of question marks on it, but how do they stack up to the previous Super Bowl teams since 2000? BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman dives head-first into this topic on the latest episode of the “Let’s Ride” podcast.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the Steelers 2022 roster
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended over four months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Monday 6/27

EXCLUSIVE: #Steelers WR Calvin Austin III
"I don't see myself as a guy who fits in one role - I'm not that type of player. I can do a variety of things and contribute in a variety of ways."https://t.co/6OM5VepRIS pic.twitter.com/N0sBdTxwcV

— Steelers Takeaways (@PittsburghSport) June 27, 2022

There is a lot of hype over CA3. If he is able to bring to the Steelers what he knows that he has to offer, look out!

Tuesday 6/28

Mark Kaboly: "Unless Trubisky gets hurt or plays terribly in camp and the preseason, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t start the season as the No. 1. How long he stays there will depend on how he plays." #Steelers #NFL

— Blitzburgh✨ (@Blitz_Burgh) June 28, 2022

A lot can happen in Latrobe, but at least the Steelers have a possible blueprint.

Commanders’ Terry McLaurin is signing a 3-year extension worth up to $71 million in new money that places him amongst the NFL’s top-five highest-paid WRs, sources tell ESPN. Buddy Baker and Tony Bonagura of Exclusive Sports Group finalized deal today w/ Washington SVP Rob Rogers. pic.twitter.com/9O6nxXzNXd

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 28, 2022

Yeah, Diontae Johnson is going to ask for a lot of loot after another receiver signs for big bucks.

Wednesday 6/29

The hottest unis on the market

Whose jersey are you getting next? pic.twitter.com/TA9ppNAgPZ

— NFL (@NFL) June 29, 2022

Kenny Pickett is popular. He is the highest 2022 draft pick as far as jersey sales go. Even BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman wants a Pickett jersey. That is, of course, after he gets his Dick Shiner Throwback.

Thursday 6/30

Fun fact: Larry Ogunjobi and Alex Highsmith played college ball at Charlotte together (they were there at the same time in 2016).

In 6 combined college seasons between these two players, Highsmith and Ogunjobi combined for 76.0 TFLs and 26.5 sacks. #Steelers

— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) June 30, 2022

Since Ogunjobi was signed, I have contended that Alex Highsmith would benefit the most from the addition of the former Brown and Bengal. I hadn’t known that they played together at Charlotte. This is promising.

Friday 7/1

& it’s official nothing else needs to be said, let’s gooo pic.twitter.com/lBGwwI7nyg

— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) July 1, 2022

Anything to stay relevant. I, personally, would rather see hobos battle in an alley over a half-eaten Arbys Beef ‘N Cheddar.

For all you nerds out there. #StrangerThings4 pic.twitter.com/xZXq6tgZg0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 1, 2022

The Steelers celebrating the release of Season 4, Volume 2 of Stranger Things with a fun tweet. Let’s hope 2022 isn’t as disturbing as what I watched on Netflix over the weekend.

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

Going For Two: John Leglue & Isaiahh Loudermilk

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 2:00pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 22 of Going For Two, featuring John Leglue and Isaiahh Loudermilk

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:

John Leglue Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Position: Offensive Lineman
Age: 26
Year: 2
Height: 6’7”
Weight: 310
Drafted: UDFA 2019 (Denver Broncos)
College: Tulane
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

One year ago, John Leglue was a longshot to make the Steelers practice squad, let alone a the 53-man roster. After a solid preseason, Leglue found his way onto the Steelers practice squad, a place which was familiar as he spent 2019 on the New Orleans Saints squad. But when the injuries kept piling up at the guard position for the Steelers in 2021, Leglue found himself getting his first NFL action against the Baltimore Ravens after B.J. Finney went out on the third snap of the game. Leglue started the remaining five regular season games and the Steelers Wild Card game and logged a total of 407 regular season snaps. While his playing time to end the year gives Leglue an advantage for 2022, he still will find himself on the bubble to make the roster based on the Steelers making additions to the position group. The fact that Leglue has played center, guard, and tackle throughout his NFL career may bode well for him, but he also may be looking for another practice squad position depending on how everything else shakes out.

Isaiah Loudermilk Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Position: Defensive End
Age: 24
Year: 2
Height: 6’7”
Weight: 293
Drafted: Round 5, Pick 156, 2021
College: Wisconsin
Roster Outlook: Very likely
Analysis:

While Loudermilk is very close to a roster lock after the Steelers traded into the fifth round of the 2021 NFL draft to acquire him, it is a very crowded defensive line room at this time. For that reason, they are very well could be a player expected to make the 53 who ends up released come September. Although I doubt it will be Loudermilk after he showed promise in 2021 when he ended up with two games started, three passes defensed, and a sack on the season while playing 288 defensive snaps. What’s more important is to see how much Loudermilk progresses in 2022 and if he can emerge as one of the young players to be the future of the Steelers 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.

The More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Steel Radial edition

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Time to learn more about your favorite NFL team, and some trivia as well!

It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the coordinator conundrum, the next quarterback, the NFL Draft, signings, retirements and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?

Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.

412 Fosters Forever

Sal Vulcano may hail from Brooklyn, but when it comes to his NFL team, the comedian doesn’t joke about hailing the Pittsburgh Steelers. Back in 2015 on Twitter, the organization was pleasantly surprised to learn that the standup and Impractical Jokers star is a self-professed Steelers die hard.

@steelers Born in 76. Fan since I'm a kid. I'm freaking out right now. #STEELERSNATION I'd wear all 6 of my jerseys on the show if u let me!

— Sal Vulcano (@SalVulcano) March 9, 2015

Staying up through the night to watch this game in London. @steelers #SteelersNation #Steelers #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/6JppM54JxO

— Sal Vulcano (@SalVulcano) January 16, 2017 BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Steel Facts

This is kind of a bizarre stat, but in 8 Steelers Super Bowl appearances, the Men of Steel have only played after seasons with years ending in zero, four, five (3 times), eight (twice) and nine. Upon thinking about the Steelers being crowned AFC champions after the 1975, 1995 and 2005 seasons, I figured that their best combined record since the Chuck Noll era began in 1969 would be in years that ended in cinco or ocho due to the Super Bowl wins after ‘78 and ‘08. But actually, four is the winner here. Only the combined nines are the seasons under .500, but barely. Let’s take a look.

Zero (‘70, ‘80, ‘90, ‘00, ‘10 & ‘20) 56-38

One (‘71, ‘81, ‘91, ‘01, ‘11 & ‘21) 53-39

Two (‘72, ‘82, ‘92, ‘02 & ‘12) 46-24-1

Three (‘73, ‘83, ‘93, ‘03 & ‘13) 43-35

Four (‘74, ‘84, ‘94, ‘04 & ‘14) 57-20-1

Five (‘75, ‘85, ‘95, ‘05 & ‘15) 51-27

Six (‘76, ‘86, ‘96, ‘06 & ‘16) 45-33

Seven (‘77, ‘87, ‘97, ‘07 & ‘17) 51-26

Eight (‘78, ‘88, ‘98, ‘08 & ‘18) 47-30-1

Nine (‘69, ‘79, 89, ‘99, ‘09 & ‘19) 45-49

Middle Name Madness

We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we honor a former first rounder that started on the Steelers Practice Squad in 2021 after being released by the Raiders.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Karl Myrthell Joseph This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

7/3 Neil O’Donnell (1966)

7/4 Frank Lewis (1947)

7/5 Sam Davis (1947), Diontae Johnson (1996), Jerrol Williams (1967)

7/6 Matt Bahr (1956), Gary Ballman (1940), Nat Berhe (1991), Joe Krupa (1933)

7/7 Demarcus Ayers (1994), Chase Claypool (1998), Matt Feiler (1992), Cassius Marsh (1992)

7/8 Colin Holba (1994), Jack Lambert (1952), Bill Mackrides (1925), Mat McBriar (1979)

7/9 Will Blackwell (1975)

Strange Sights for Sore Steeler Nation Eyes

Not every NFL player retires with their original team, having played with no other franchise. We may try to forget the image of our Steel Heroes wearing another uniform, but it’s a part of fandom and legends sometimes change team colors. The Hall of Famer featured today may just be the biggest black-and-gold fish to get away. The legendary cornerback played for the Steelers from 1987 through 1996, but the franchise wanted Hot Rod to switch positions and they were reluctant to pay him what he thought he was worth, triggering an exodus to San Francisco. The first rounder from Purdue was injured in the first game of 1995, but still managed to play, despite a torn ACL, in the Super Bowl XXX loss to Dallas. Woodson did win a ring for, of all teams, the Baltimore Ravens in 2000 as a safety. The NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 concluded his career with the Raiders in 2003 and was inducted in Canton in 2009. Rod Woodson does participate in Pittsburgh events as an ambassador to the Steelers, however the sight of No. 26 wearing the silver and black, purple or scarlet was disconcerting.

Varsity Blues Black & Golds

James Daniels is finally back in black and gold, but he was never a Pittsburgh Steeler until now. The dynamic offensive lineman came to the Steel City as a free agent after having been drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2018 in Round 2. When Big James puts the home uni on for the first time, it will be deja vu all over again.

James Daniels Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood

Black Sunday isn’t exactly Die Hard on a blimp, but it is a genuine action-thriller from 11 years earlier. When a suicidal Vietnam vet turned blimp pilot plots with a Palestinian terrorist to crash his blimp into the Super Bowl, action and intrigue ensues as an Israeli military agent teams up with the F.B.I. to try and stop the mass murder-suicide. The teams playing for the Lombardi at the Orange Bowl were the Steelers and Cowboys. Producer Robert Evans did the impossible by getting the NFL to permit Director John Frankenheimer to film Super Bowl X. For 1977, this film was ahead of its time and gave Steeler Nation the chance to see their team on the big screen.

Cliff Clavin Corner

It’s a little-known fact that Uniroyal manufactured a tire that honored the toughness of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Check out the commercial.

Steelers Jeopardy Answer in the Form of a Question: What is Tom Brady?

When Terry Bradshaw had his infamous surgery back in 1983, the Shreveport hospital dubbed the celebrity quarterback “Thomas Brady” for the sake of privacy and to quell a possible media circus. The other TB12 was a mere five-years-old at the time.

So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain.

We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: Najee Harris will stay healthy for the entire season

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 10:30am
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 Saint 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: Najee Harris will stay healthy for the entire season for the second year in a row.

Why it will happen: When it comes to players who take care of their bodies, Najee Harris would certainly rank near the top of that list. You hear it from Mike Tomlin, position coaches and teammates. They all laud Harris’ unbelievable willingness to take care of his body from everything to the way he trains, to what he puts into his body. Harris will need to keep his body in tip-top shape in 2022 based on his rookie workload.

On top of his physical conditioning, I think the Steelers will be more willing to spell Harris more this season. Whether it be with Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, an undrafted rookie or a player to be named later. The Steelers understand the value of Harris, and keeping him healthy will be paramount.

Lastly, Harris will have to understand when it is smart to just go out of bounds, and when it is worth taking the punishment of staying in bounds and fighting for those extra yards.

Why it won’t happen: There are several factors which playing into Harris missing a game or two this season, and the fact Mike Tomlin likes to have a bell cow back would top the list. He wants backs who don’t have to come off the field. He didn’t take Le’Veon Bell off the field, nor did he want to take James Conner off the field. Harris fits the bill, and I don’t expect Tomlin to take Harris off the field, even if another running back is acquired at some point.

On top of running back usage, Harris’ running style is certainly one which seems to draw big hits at every turn. Last season the hit by Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks comes to mind.

Jamal Adams le reinició las ideas a Najee Harris, luego de ese golpazo #NFLEspañol #SNF pic.twitter.com/xKsoaW2lBO

— Mundo NFL (@MundoNFL) October 18, 2021

Playing running back in the NFL isn’t a “safe” position. You are going to take a beating, and when you combine Harris’ style to his usage it seems less likely he would be able to suit up for 17 games for a second year in a row.

Prediction: James Conner was a tremendous running back for the Steelers would couldn’t stay healthy. Le’Veon Bell was one of the most dynamic backs to ever wear the black and gold, but always seemed to get injured at the worst times. Is Najee Harris headed down this same path?

I don’t think he is, and I think the Steelers realize how valuable Harris is to the offense, and team. Whether the Steelers bring in another running back isn’t important right now. Why? Because I think the team is ready to use Snell and McFarland as necessary to take some hits off Harris. 17 games is a long time, but I think Harris is built to handle the abuse, and combined with the Steelers using other backs more it should equate to another healthy season for the former Alabama star.

Lastly, for those superstitious, I just knocked on wood...

Check out yesterday’s prediction in the link below:

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.

A Letter From the Editor: Looking back to the 2002 Steelers for guidance in 2022

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 9:00am
Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP via Getty Images

How will the Steelers win in 2022? I look back at 2002 for some answers...

The other day in preparation for one of my Let’s Ride podcasts, I pulled Jim Wexell’s Polamalu book off the shelf to look at a blurb from Polamalu’s first season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. As I was leafing through this tremendous book, if you haven’t read it yet, you should, and I stumbled upon information about the 2002 Steelers.

This obviously jogged some serious memories, and one game in particular.

The 2002 AFC Wild Card game between the Cleveland Browns and Steelers at Heinz Field.

I remember this game vividly for many reasons. Kelly Holcomb and Dennis Northcutt carving up the Steelers’ defense, and of course the finish. Who can forget the draw play to Chris Fuamatu-Maʻafala in the snow to give the Steelers the lead?! Tack on the two-point conversion, a direct snap to Antwaan Randle El and pass to Jerame Tuman, and the Steelers somehow walked away with a 36-33 victory.

I actually watched the majority of the game just the other day. Want to watch the game in its entirety? Click HERE...

As I was watching Tommy Maddox and company do their best to avoid a deflating postseason loss to the Browns, I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons to the team the Steelers are going to roll out onto the field in 2022.

No, not just the fact Maddox and rookie Kenny Pickett both had No. 8, but the uncertainty the 2022 team faces are some of the same uncertainties the 2002 team faced, especially in that playoff game.

For anyone who thinks the 2002 defense was like the 70s steel curtain, you must be thinking of a different team, and most importantly that specific game. In that 2002 playoff game Kelly Holcomb threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns. During the game, Holcomb, who was the backup for injured Tim Couch, had passes of 83, 32, 29, 15 and 43 yards. In the Steelers’ defense, they were without Chad Scott and Mike Logan, both out due to injuries.

So, what’s the point?

The point is I could see the 2022 Steelers having to win some wild games this season, just like the 2002 team did on more than one occasion.

Offensively, the Maddox-led team wasn’t always pretty. They had playmakers, but often times had to overcome some bone-headed decisions, especially by the quarterback. I think it’s safe to say the same could be said about whoever is the team’s quarterback this upcoming season.

Defensively, I already mentioned how the Steelers were shredded through the air by a backup quarterback from the moment the game started, till the scoreboard read zeroes. They had to make timely plays, and hope their offense would bail them out. Granted, this isn’t the recipe for success in 2022, but there will be games when things don’t necessarily go the Steelers way on defense.

When you look back at that one particular playoff game, it truly had it all. Turnovers, special teams plays, Randle El’s punt return touchdown, and a down-to-the-wire finish.

Am I drawing too much from one game? Absolutely. However, I do think looking at a game like this provides perspective for the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. When Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, and went on his magical run that season, everything changed in the organization. Expectations were elevated and it was Super Bowl or bust. When I think back to 2002, even though the Steelers were coming off a 13-3 season in 2001, the uncertainty at quarterback, who can forget the Kordell Stewart experiment, and the question marks in the secondary certainly do sound familiar heading into this 2022 season.

The Tommy Gun era of Steelers football never produced a championship. Division title, yes, but a championship? No. They didn’t even reach an AFC Championship game with Maddox at the helm. But the one thing which was known to almost everyone was how Maddox wasn’t considered the long term answer at the position. Looking at the Steelers’ current depth at the position, and you see more hope for the future at quarterback than the team had in 2002. And I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you those games were exciting to watch. The team finished 10-5-1 in 2002, and almost punched their ticket to the AFC Championship game if Joe Nedney didn’t happen in the Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans.

To wrap up this trip down memory lane, be prepared for Steelers football to look different this season. It isn’t going to be the same-old, same-old considering so much has changed. No Roethlisberger, no Butler and no Colbert will leave plenty of opportunities for others to step up and leave their imprint on the team. I, for one, am looking forward to that, and am keeping the faith for 2022...just like I did in the Wild Card game back in 2002.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor article runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

2021 Steelers Top 10: Ahkello Witherspoon takes the final spot

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 6:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

BTSC voters have chosen the most valuable Steelers from 2021.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue through the offseason, building 2022 roster, we took time to take a look back at 2021 again and rank the Top 10 Steelers players of the season. Today we finalize the list with our last addition, Akhello Witherspoon.

Ahkello Witherspoon joined the Steelers one week before the Steelers first game of 2021, when the Steelers traded a 5th round pick for the veteran corner. Witherspoon has had a roller coaster of a career with patches of great and terrible play intermixing throughout his first four years in the NFL. His tenure in Pittsburgh was no less chaotic.

Witherspoon’s first time in a Steeler uniform was in week 2, and it went about as bad as it could, giving up a 61-yard touchdown and getting benched after only 4 snaps, all of them bad. He would next see the field in week 11, and was much better. He wouldn’t give up another touchdown or even 50 receiving yards in any game the rest of the season.

In his 35 targets after the week 2 debacle Witherspoon allowed only 13 catches, while he recorded 9 pass defenses and 3 interceptions. Both numbers led the Steelers despite playing fewer games and far fewer snaps than most of his fellow defensive backs.

With Akhello Witherspoon winning the last spot on our list we now have a complete top ten:

Best Steelers of 2021:
1. T.J. Watt
2. Cameron Heyward
3. Najee Harris
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick
5. Chris Boswell
6. Pat Freiermuth
7. Diontae Johnson
8. Ben Roethlisberger
9. Alex Highsmith
10. Akhello Witherspoon

Our top ten list includes 5 defenders, 4 offensive players and Chris Boswell. A pretty good balance, although the top of the list is definitely headed by the defense.

This list is likely different from the top ten list most of us would make. I would have put Minkah Fitzpatrick ahead of Najee Harris and I would swap out the last two for Terrell Edmunds and Kevin Dotson, but this is a pretty solid list. What do you think?

Everyone knows the most important part of any top-10 list is arguing about what you disagree with. So make sure to give your arguments and superior lists in the comments, and also vote for the worst part of the BTSC Top Ten Steelers of 2021.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Sun, 07/03/2022 - 5:30am

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 two 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 written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

The Steelers Retro Show Rebroadcast: Forget cat, Bradshaw spells win without being spotted the “w” and “i”

Lets go back to a time when The Deer Hunter, two months away from winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, was number one at the movies, Le Freak and Y.M.C.A. were burning up the radio air waves and gold was at an epic high. But just as big, the Steelers and Cowboys were vying for the Lombardi Trophy and to become the first team to earn three of them. Relive that awesome classic on the Steelers Retro Show.

Listen to the show below

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Connor Heyward makes a “mandatory” impression

Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. This week, Chris Pugh, Joe Frost and Paul Yanchek talk about Connor Heyward’s role on the team, the Steelers salary cap situation and Le’Veon Bell’s upcoming boxing debut.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: Blame it on Canada

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food, music, and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Another picture perfect day in my beautiful hometown that is just a little south of Detroit. In fact it is so beautiful that my northern neighbors will be celebrating this weekend. So nice of them to join in on the party we are throwing in honor of Canada’s birthday.

On Monday, the celebrations started with the annual Windsor Detroit Fireworks. I can honestly say that if you enjoy fireworks this would be worth the trip. The video gives you a feel but experiencing them in person, especially up close to literally feel the sound waves bounce off nearby buildings is worth the nuisance of the crowds.

This weekend every good Canadian will be at home bbq’ing something delicious. I am off to the store in a few minutes for a pork butt for tomorrow.

If you are reading this from your parents couch, your deck or even from work remember how lucky you are to live where you live and not in places that are literally the middle of a war zone for example... We are incredibly fortunate.

Enjoy your freedom folks.

  1. Which is more likely to occur this season: TJ beats his own sack record? Someone other than Mitch starts at least 2 games? We lead the league in team sacks? Najee rushes for over 1,300 yards? And, please support your answer
  2. We all know that the browns are well the browns... that being said, what specifically do you think they will do with Baker?
  3. With the Stanley Cup finally awarded will you be watching the draft live, follow on line, get some details by the weekend or don’t care at all?
  4. This ‘hack’ for teaching your youngster how to hit a ball blew up again on the internet... https://www.ksl.com/article/50432768/have-you-seen-this-a-great-dad-hack-for-kids-batting-practice. What is your most impressive or funniest life hack that involves kids
  5. Without going down the obvious rabbit hole... give us your thoughts on what the greatest movie sequel(s) are. NOTE: Anyone that even thinks to mention any of the Star Wars movies will be banned for life.

Here we go Steelers!

Going For Two: Justin Layne & DeMarvin Leal

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 21 of Going For Two, featuring Justin Layne and DeMarvin Leal

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:

Justin Layne Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Cornerback
Age: 24
Year: 4
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 192
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 83 2019
College: Michigan State
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

After three seasons of hanging around and playing special teams, Justin Layne finds himself on the bubble of the roster. With the Steelers having so many safeties that bring different attributes, they may be keeping less cornerbacks than in years past. If so, Justin Layne could be in a battle with James Pierre for a roster spot. But perhaps the Steelers want to keep more cornerbacks and Layne will find his way on the roster. Either way, it will be a very important preseason for the former third-round draft pick and his future in Pittsburgh.

DeMarvin Leal Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Defensive Tackle
Age: 22
Year: 1
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 290
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 84, 2022
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Although the Steelers invest heavily on the defensive line through the NFL draft, it is not often that they do it in the first three rounds. Bringing some pedigree in his rookie season, DeMarvin Leal now has the luxury of not being pressed into action. With the Steeler signing Larry Ogunjobi following minicamp, Leal should be able to progress at a natural level according to his abilities and not the Steelers need. But in a position group where snaps are spread over a number of players, Leal should see the field right away in his rookie season. The only question is how much and how soon.

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.

Chris Oladokun ready to embrace whatever role the Steelers could have for him

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 7th round quarterback doesn’t lack confidence, and is ready for whatever the Steelers have in store for him in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed arms to fill out their quarterback room heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. After the tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins in April, the organization was left with just Mason Rudolph and free agent acquisition Mitch Trubisky on the roster.

It was during the draft the team added two quarterbacks. Everyone knows Kenny Pickett 20th overall, but the second quarterback taken was 7th Round selection Chris Oladokun out of South Dakota State.

Oladokun represents the fourth, and final, arm in the quarterback room, and most aren’t giving him much of a shot to make the roster this season; however, the young signal caller has a lot of collegiate experience under his belt, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the final 53-man roster.

“I think it’s important for me to embrace my role in whatever capacity that is,” Oladokun told the Steelers official website. “Whether I’m thrown into a role this year where I’m starting on Sunday, whether it’s a role where we’re playing the Ravens and I have to act like Lamar Jackson for that week, or the Bengals and I am acting like Joe Burrow in practice. If I’m the guy on the sideline that Mitch, Kenny, or Mason comes to you and ask me for a certain look, I’ve got to know my stuff and give them those answers. Whatever my role is I have to do it to the best of my ability.”

When you look at the four signal callers on the Steelers’ 90-man offseason roster, you have to ask yourself what Oladokun might bring which the other quarterbacks don’t bring to the roster. Ask Oladokun what he brings, and believes his athleticism is what separates him from the rest of the quarterbacks.

“I think I bring a lot of athleticism with my feet and how I can extend plays outside the pocket, the different arm angles and slots I can throw in,” said Oladokun. “The quarterback position has definitely changed, and I don’t think there’s a better time to come into the National Football League. I bring that athletic component.

“All the guys in the quarterback room are mobile. I don’t think we have any statues back there in the pocket. But with my mobility, we see a lot of good defensive ends and defensive tackles in the league nowadays. It’s a challenge getting away from those guys and extending the plays. It’s something that gives me a leg up because of how mobile I am and how I can create.”

Throughout the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps, both rookie and veteran, Oladokun was a sponge as it pertains to gaining as much knowledge as possible before the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

“I took every single day and was a sponge, talking to vets and coaches and will keep doing that,” said Oladokun. “It’s definitely a lot they threw at us right away, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m getting to know the coaching staff and they’re also getting to know me and how I pick up things and how quickly I can learn.

“I am always studying film, studying the playbook. I love knowing exactly what everyone’s doing. I want to make sure I know my responsibility, and the other 10 guys responsibility on the field as well. As a quarterback you are ultimately responsible for all those guys. I think that’s the most important part.

“Anything I can do to help the team at the end of the year hoist that trophy, that’s what I want to do.”

Oladokun knows one thing, and that is the fact quarterbacks will be highly scrutinized no matter what. It comes with the position and is just part of the territory of being the focal point of every play.

“Being a quarterback, you have to be tough. You’re going to hear a lot, the highs, and the lows. You’re going to get praised and people are going to beat you down when you don’t do your job to the best, or what they think is the best. I’ve been through a lot of adversity. I think I’m built for any situation that’s been thrown at me. I’m just ready to see where this journey takes me.”

Will Oladokun be able to carve out a spot for himself on the active roster? That has yet to be seen, but he certainly has an uphill climb ahead of him. The hope could be finding his way to the practice squad and learning for a year, but clearing waivers might be something the Steelers don’t want to wait and see. Camp will be where players like Oladokun can make a name for themselves.

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.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Stephen Maturen/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 Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

Why it will happen: The Steelers finishing last against the run in 2021 was an anomaly. In 2020 they finished 11th in the NFL while in 2019 they finished 14th. With the Steelers expecting the return of Stephon Tuitt last season, which never happened, and the loss of Tyson Alualu in Week 2, it was too much on the inside linebackers to pick up the slack for what was lacking in front of them. Even so, it wasn’t that the Steelers run defense started off terrible as they were ninth in the NFL going into Week 6 and still tenth during their bye week. Giving up over 200 rushing yards in four different games in the second half of the season with another game coming up only two yards short is what did the Steelers in. Interesting enough, the Steelers went 2-1-1 in those games where they gave up more than 200 yards rushing mainly because they gave up less yardage in the air than on the ground. But with the return of Alualu in the Steelers signing Larry Ogunjobi to help fill the void of Stephon Tuitt, they are much better equipped to stop the run in 2022.

Why it won’t happen: Part of the reason the Steelers give up so many rushing yards is because of the teams on their schedule. Having four games each year against the Browns and the Ravens, these two teams were both in the top five in rushing the last two years with the Ravens being there in the last four. Because the Steelers are going up against strong rushing teams, they’re willing to give up some yards on the ground while keeping down the air yards. It’s not that it was a bad thing in 2021 as they went 4-0 in games against the Browns and Ravens. Even more interesting, the Steelers played four teams in the top six in rushing in 2021 (the Bills and Titans) for a total of six games and went 6–0. If the Steelers continue to get after the quarterback and have a strong secondary, they should be willing to concede some yardage on the ground as long as they’re ultimately getting victories.

Prediction: Changing course a little bit, I’m going to disagree with the scenario. While I think the Steelers will have an improved run defense in 2022, I’m not going to go so far as to put them in the top half of the league. If they end up somewhere 18th to 20th, it should be adequate enough for them with anything better than that truly an added bonus. What may be more important is to not see a drop off in pass defense where they finished ninth in the NFL in 2021. With it being a passing league, if a team is better at defending the pass they can still find success while giving up some rushing yards.

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.

Steelers fans predict T.J. Watt’s sack total for the 2022 season

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

How many sacks will T.J. Watt have in 2022? Steelers fans chime in...

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers regular season is quickly approaching, but first is training camp with the players reporting to Saint Vincent College on July 26th. With it being less than a month before Steelers football returns to our lives on a regular basis, many are wondering what the upcoming season has in store for the black and gold?

Sure, we can debate win-loss totals and who will be the starting quarterback in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, but there was another question I wanted answered by the Steelers faithful.

How many sacks will T.J. Watt have in 2022?

This was the Steelers Burning Question last week, as a part of DraftKings Sportsbook and the DraftKings React survey, and when posed with the question the results were split.

Take a look at the breakdown of the poll which had 17-19 sacks for Watt in this upcoming 2022 regular season.

Some might see 17-19 as the most popular prediction for Watt’s sack total and think it would be a step back from his 2021 statistics. After all, he tied the NFL record for sacks in a season with 22.5 last year. In case you forgot, here were Watt’s stats from last season:

2021
  • Games: 15
  • Pass Defenses: 7
  • Forced Fumbles: 5
  • Fumble Recoveries: 3
  • Sacks: 22.5
  • TFL: 21
  • QB Hits: 39

So, if you thought Watt only getting 17-19 sacks was a step back, you would be right, from a statistical standpoint. But when did some digging on players who have recorded 20+ sacks in a season, and how they did the following season, here’s what I found:

2001: Michael Strahan — 22.5 sacks
2002: Michael Strahan — 11 sacks in 16 games

2008: Demarcus Ware — 20 sacks
2009: Demarcus Ware — 11 sacks in 16 games

2011: Jared Allen — 22 sacks
2012: Jared Allen — 12 sacks in 16 games

2012: J.J. Watt — 20.5 sacks
2013: J.J. Watt — 10.5 in 16 games

2014: J.J. Watt — 20 sacks
2015: J.J. Watt — 17.5 in 16 games

2014: Justin Houston — 22 sacks
2015: Justin Houston — 7.5 in 11 games

2018: Aaron Donald — 20.5 sacks
2019: Aaron Donald — 12.5 in 16 games

When you put this into context, if Watt is able to get 17-19 sacks in 2022, it should be viewed as a tremendous feat considering the recent history of players who have been able to hit the 20 sack milestone during a season.

What do you think Watt’s season will look like this year? Do you see a small step back in sacks, or will he continue to dominate the competition every chance he gets and make a new single-season mark? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the remainder of this offseason.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Who is the most underrated player on the Steelers?

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have several players labeled as underrated, but who would top the list?

When it comes to underrated players, the list can be long for many NFL organizations. Players are often overlooked for a multitude of reasons. Maybe they came from a smaller college/university, maybe they have a bigger star at the same, or similar, position, or maybe the player is just starting to come into his own on the team.

The reason doesn’t matter, the fact remains many players get overlooked during the yearly process in the NFL. In a recent ESPN article by Football Outsiders they diagnosed one underrated player for every NFL team. Before diving head-first into the topic, here is a list of who were making these decisions:

The staff of Football Outsiders — Scott Spratt (AFC East), Robert Weintraub (AFC North), J.P. Acosta (AFC South), Mike Tanier (AFC West), Rivers McCown (NFC East), Derrik Klassen (NFC North), Bryan Knowles (NFC South) and Vincent Verhei (NFC West) — highlight some of those underrated players, one from each NFL team, heading into the 2022 season. From a couple of fairly well-known quarterbacks to the linemen who make a quarterback’s job easier, we argue these 32 players deserve more recognition.

If you are like me, you probably would read the above names and ask the same question:

What do they consider underrated?

Football Outsiders explains their criteria, and you can read it below:

Now, underrated can mean a couple of things. It could refer to a good player conventional wisdom tells us is mediocre, or it could refer to a useful player who doesn’t receive the star treatment from NFL fans. Our list below includes both.

Of course Football Outsiders uses their unique tools for grading players, but when the rubber met the road, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers most underrated player?

Let’s take a look:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Levi Wallace, CB

Wallace was an under-the-radar signing from Buffalo, where he turned in a very strong 2021 season and allowed the Bills to survive the loss of Tre’Davious White to injury. Wallace was sixth in the NFL in yards per pass allowed, was 21st in coverage success rate and was a strong run defender as well. His numbers in a vacuum indicate an elite corner — so why was he available in free agency, and for just two years and $8 million?

Part of it is the perception that the Buffalo defense was so strong that Wallace went along for the ride. Part of it is that he played zone for the Bills and lacks man-scheme skills. And part of it is Wallace’s background — he walked on at Alabama and went undrafted. Buffalo has the players to replace him, while in Pittsburgh he immediately becomes the team’s top corner.

To be honest, the fact Wallace was chosen doesn’t surprise me at all; however, the fact he hasn’t played a snap in a black and gold uniform does make me question the validity of this exercise. On top of the fact Wallace is new to the team, and a rather unknown commodity, there were some strong statements regarding Wallace’s time in Buffalo in the above description.

“Wallace went along for the ride.”

“Lacks man-scheme skills.”

“Buffalo has the players to replace him, while in Pittsburgh he immediately becomes the team’s top corner.”

Talk about interesting remarks for Wallace after leaving Buffalo via free agency. Most of the time a player who was a walk-on at a school like Alabama, and contributes, then goes undrafted and turns into a big-time player for an NFL team is celebrated. Guess not by Football Outsiders.

On top of that, the assumption Wallace has no man-scheme skills and is immediately the Steelers’ top cornerback might be a bit hasty. After all, as stated earlier, he hasn’t even played a snap in the Teryl Austin scheme.

But what say you? Who is the Steelers’ most underrated player on the 2022 active roster? 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 and training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

It’s hard to believe Swann and Stallworth only made a combined six Pro Bowls

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 6:30am
Set Number: X155803 TK1 R1 F225

Sometimes a Hall of Fame player simply passes the eye test. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are great examples of that.

It’s amazing how I continue to be amazed by sports things at this point in my life.

I’m 50. I’ve seen it all, or all that I could see, anyway.

Two people I saw a good bit of early in my sports fandom were Steelers receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Swann and Stallworth were both selected by Pittsburgh in the 1974 NFL Draft. They each played integral roles in the team’s four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, with Swann earning MVP honors in Super Bowl X and Stallworth catching the game-winning touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV.

Also, they both made the Hall of Fame, with Swann finally receiving the honor in 2001—or 19 years after he retired. Stallworth got the call one year later—or 15 years after hanging up his cleats for good.

The two combined for 837 catches for 14,185 yards and 114 touchdowns.

None of what I have just mentioned about Swann and Stallworth surprised me one bit. It’s all been well-documented. It’s all well known.

But you know what else is well known, especially if you just visit a player’s Wikipedia Page? The number of Pro Bowls he was elected to during his career.

Judging by their storied careers, I would have guessed that each guy was named to the Pro Bowl countless times. That would have been a horrible guess.

Nope, Swann and Stallworth earned Pro Bowl honors three times each. What about All-Pro accolades? Swann was voted a First-team All-Pro in 1978 and a Second-team All-Pro in both 1975 and 1977. As for Stallworth, he was named a First-team All-Pro in 1979, the same year he was voted team MVP, and Second-team All-Pro in 1984, the same season that he set single-season franchise marks for both receptions (80) and yards (1,395).

How could this be? How could two future Hall of Fame receivers get overlooked so many times during their time in the league?

Yes, their numbers weren’t the greatest, but it was a different era, and relative to the era in which they played, they were two of the more explosive and dynamic playmakers at the position. They were arguably the best receiving duo of the 1970s.

Anyway, despite the incredulous tone I’ve presented in the article up to this point, I actually think it’s kind of neat that Swann and Stallworth weren’t highly-decorated receivers during their time. Why do I say that? Because being a Hall of Fame player is more than just about Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. It’s more than just about stats.

There is something to be said for passing the eye test. There’s something to be said for knowing a Hall of Fame player when you see one.

Swann and Stallworth may not have been First-ballot Hall of Famers, and it may have taken them longer to be enshrined than they would have liked, but when they eventually made it in the early 2000s, it just felt right.

Obviously, playing in so many important postseason games, and actually coming through with clutch contributions, helped the cause. It also didn’t hurt to be on four Lombardi winners—to say otherwise would be disingenuous. But I think that further proves my point.

Today, more than at any other point in the history of sports and Halls of Fame, we seem to be too preoccupied with numbers. If a player didn’t reach a certain statistical threshold relative to his position during his playing days, he just doesn’t deserve to get in.

Hines Ward falls into that category. Yes, he caught 1,000 passes during his career. True, he had over 12,000 receiving yards. Yes, he played on two Super Bowl winners and was voted MVP for one of them, but these things may never help his cause.

Ward was voted to the Pro Bowl four times and was named a Second-team All-Pro three times, but he was never considered to be the best receiver of his era.

But he did pass the eye test.

The same can be said for Antonio Brown, who actually was the best receiver on the planet from 2013 through 2018—only the greatest six-year statistical run for a receiver in the history of the NFL. Brown may or may not be done with the NFL, but if he is, he’ll leave the game with 928 receptions for 12,291 yards and 83 touchdowns. Brown has been to seven Pro Bowls, and he’s been named an All-Pro five times—including four First-team honors. He even won a Super Bowl as a member of the Buccaneers in 2020.

Many say that’s not enough, that Brown is both a victim of the statistically-potent passing era in which he’s played and a victim of his own off-the-field circumstances.

But Brown has more than passed the eye test. In fact, I’d say anything he does from this point on is extra credit.

Antonio Brown, like Hines Ward, is a Hall of Fame football player.

A Hall of Fame player is a Hall of Fame player. You know one when you see one, regardless of numbers, Pro Bowl honors or circumstances.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Sat, 07/02/2022 - 5:30am

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 BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two 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.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: It’s time for the Steelers Pre-camp Physical

Every team goes through physical evaluations before the start of their seasons. Just what is the state of readiness for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go, The Steelers Show. The BTSC duo breaks down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The checkup before the Steelers go to camp
  • and MUCH MORE!
Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under: Which of the Steelers offensive players might be an odd man out?

The offseason rolls on, with training camp around the corner, and Steelers fans can feel excited about the 2022 season. With yet another key acquisition the team is starting to really take shape, which begs the question - who is starting to become the odd man out on the offense? And at which positions? How shaky is their spot on the roster? Can they make the final cut? These are just some of the many questions that Matty Peverell and Mark Davison will address On Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under. Matty P. and Marky P. bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in 2022 and beyond, as they chase a seventh Lombardi.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Possible players on the outside looking in
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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