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Updated: 2 hours 12 min ago

Steelers 2023 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerbacks

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers still lack a true #1 cornerback, but the 2023 NFL Draft could change that.

Ready for the NFL’s dog days of summer to be over? If you have fallen into this category and are currently suffering from football withdrawal, how about a splash into the pool entitled, “2023 NFL Draft”?

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a brief look at the outlook of each primary position in the 2023 NFL Draft, breaking down the top prospects of note while also taking a look at the prospects who make the most sense for the Steelers. This week, we will be looking at a position the Steelers have many unanswered questions at: cornerback.

The Steelers traded for Ahkello Witherspoon before the 2021 season and chose to sign him on a cheap 2-year deal following the season. However, he has never held up when depended upon as a CB1. This year, he will be entrusted with that role, likely covering the right side of the field while newcomer Levi Wallace covers the left. Wallace, a well-received free-agent signing, may be limited athletically, but he is incredibly sound instinctually. Regardless of how well those two play together, neither player is locked up long-term, and the 2023 draft class provides us with several intriguing cornerback prospects, as you will see in a minute.

If you have any thoughts on these prospects, be sure to share them in the comment section below.

Let’s dive in!

First Rounders 1. Kelee Ringo | Georgia

Ringo is one of the more “toolsy” corners in the 2023 class, displaying great length and speed for the position. His long strides allow him to recover if he gets beat early in the route, and his ability to close on the ball quickly will likely lead to more splash plays down the road. I also love the fight and physicality he plays with, although there are times he can get too grabby downfield. If he continues to develop at his current pace, he will be a first-round lock come April.

2. Joey Porter, Jr. | Penn State

As you will read below, I am higher on Porter than the majority of draft pundits you will find. I love the feistiness he displays in press coverage, and I love the fluidity with which he moves. I also like the fact that he is not afraid to lower the boom and make a momentum-shifting tackle on a receivers either. We will dive into him a little more closely in just a moment.

3. Eli Ricks | Alabama

Ricks is yet another long corner who possesses lockdown potential. A transfer from LSU, Ricks burst onto the scene as a freshman with four interceptions, but we did not see the same production in 2021, as his season was shortened due to a shoulder injury that ended his season after only six games. The only other thing of note is that he was arrested in May for speeding and possession of marijuana. While the marijuana charge was dropped, teams may still have concerns about his character and maturity.

4. Malachi Moore | Alabama

Moore was one of the best defensive backs in the country as a freshman in 2020, recording 3 interceptions and 6 passes defended. Nagging injuries limited his impact in 2021, but if he can get back to his 2020 form, he could go as high as the top 10. Moore is a good, but not elite, athlete who is best known for his versatility and instincts. He will have plenty of talent around him in that Alabama secondary, and the dividends could pay off if he can take advantage of his situation.

Rest of the Top 10

5. Cam Smith | South Carolina
6. Clark Phillips | Utah
7. Antonio Johnson | Texas A&M
8. Garrett Williams | Syracuse
9. Nehemiah Pritchett | Auburn
10. Mekhi Gardner | LSU

Steelers Prospect to Watch Joey Porter, Jr. | Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The son of former Steelers player and coach Joey Porter, Sr., Porter has everything you look for in a corner. He is fast, physical, long, and fluid. He flips his hips cleanly and quickly in coverage, and he is versatile enough to play in either man or zone. However, we have not yet seen much from Porter in terms of splash plays. This is likely why there is not much buzz surrounding his draft status.

Whether you are confident in Ahkello Witherspoon and Levi Wallace or not, they are both on incredibly cheap deals. The Steelers have two young pieces in James Pierre and Justin Layne, but 2022 could be the final chance for both of them, as neither player has been able to enjoy sustained success during the regular season. Cameron Sutton and Arthur Maulet are the other corners of note, but Sutton is a free agent in 2023, and Maulet’s deal can easily be terminated after this year as well.

At the end of the day, the Steelers will need to take a close look at cornerbacks in the next couple drafts. There is no denying the fact that this team has struggled to get the position fixed through the draft, but at some point, you have to be able to develop your own talent at a position like corner. Playing the free agent game year after year is not sustainable. If the Steelers can find that elite corner they have lacked since the days of Ike Taylor, it will alleviate any concerns I have about the looks of this secondary moving forward.

Who is your favorite corner in the 2023 draft? Which one makes the most sense for the Steelers? Would you be okay with the Steelers taking one in the first round? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 8: Inside Linebackers

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part Eight, we’ll break down the Inside Linebackers.

The Steelers face uncertainty at a position that historically has been a strength of the team. That position is Inside Linebacker (ILB). In addition to a lack of solid depth, the group has questions at the top, with it’s 2019 1st Round selection coming off a severe injury just two seasons ago which caused a substantial reduction in performance in 2021. How does it shake out for 2022? Let’s dive right in.

The Players

Devin Bush, Myles Jack, Robert Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert III, Marcus Allen, Buddy Johnson, Mark Robinson

Group Breakdown

Devin Bush holds the key to the entire position group, as his ability to rebound fully from his Torn ACL in 2020 will go a long way to determine the effectiveness of the unit. I, for one, am a believer in his ability to return to form, but it is far from a guarantee. If Bush can turn back the clock pre-injury, a unit that was a liability in 2021, especially against the run, gets a major boost from one of the most athletic ILBs in the game when healthy.

The Steelers big Free Agent acquisition on the Defense was Myles Jack, the former Pro-Bowl ILB from Jacksonville. Jack’s signing didn't necessarily make sense from a stylistic approach, due to his striking similarity to Bush in that regard. However, the combination of Bush and Jack will give the Steelers one of the most athletic duos in the league. Despite not fitting the traditional role of BUCK Linebacker that would typically play opposite Devin’s spot on the Defense, the Steelers value speed and coverage ability, something Jack displays in spades.

Robert Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert, and Marcus Allen are the familiar faces playing backup roles for the guys we have already discussed. None of these three spark much confidence as spot start replacements as we currently sit. Spillane has the most in-game experience, but Gilbert and Allen represent the more athletic and versatile of the three. Gilbert is likely on his final chance to prove he can live up to that athletic potential. If he can show real improvement, you’d feel a lot better about the depth of this squad.

Buddy Johnson and 2022 Draft pick Mark Robinson don’t have much experience at ILB, but their potential is undeniable. Johnson will be given an opportunity to be a contributor in this defense and on special teams. Robinson, a collegiate Running Back for the majority of his career, shows superb but extremely raw athleticism. The Steelers are betting on Linebacker Coach Jerry Olsavsky and Brian Flores to help him grow and grow quickly.

Depth Chart Prediction

Right now the projections are less than stellar for this 2022 collection of ILBs. Despite the obvious skill of both Devin Bush and Myles Jack, the former’s confidence in his health going into the season will likely make or break the unit, and potentially the overall effectiveness of the entire Defense. If Bush isn’t a full go, the Steelers could elect to play Myles Jack more in Bush’s role while supplementing the position opposite with a mix of players including Bush and Spillane.

The team will look long and hard at potentially adding another player at ILB, although I suspect they will ride with their belief in their own ability to develop the depth talent on the roster. The players on the roster now most likely are the ones filling spots on the 53-man roster. The Steelers kept six ILBs in 2021. They could choose to do so again.

STARTERS: Devin Bush, Myles Jack

DEPTH: Robert Spillane, Buddy Johnson, Ulysses Gilbert III, Marcus Allen

PRACTICE SQUAD: Mark Robinson

Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after signing Kenny Pickett

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now that all of the Steelers 2022 draft class is under contract, one known expense has now been accounted for.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, there is always the chance something else changes things whether large or small. As reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they signed their final 2022 NFL draft pick with quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Since it was known this deal would be getting done, it was estimated how much Pickett would count against the 2022 salary cap. After the numbers came in that Pickett’s cap hit this year will be $2,557,801 according to spotrac.com, it is about $330k less than the estimate given by OTC pryor to the draft. This number actually makes a lot of sense as it is exactly the number between 19th overall pick Trevor Penning and 21st overall pick Trent McDuffie. With a base salary of $705k, Pickett has a signing bonus of $7.411 million which will be spread over the four years of his contract.

If you are looking for the salary cap implications of Larry Ogunjobi, an estimation will be included at the bottom of the article.

To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, were given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million

Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
DeMarvin Leal: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072
Bryce Watts: Released with $10k in dead money: -$0.01
Tuzar Skipper: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Stephon Tuitt: Saved $9.05 million salary; After displacement+: +$8.155 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Reported $8.124235 million; Replaced $10.612 million: +$2.487765 million
Kenny Pickett: Reported $2.557801 million; After displacement+: -$1.662801
Larry Ogunjobi: No specific report

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $21.4 million

*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)

+A $895k contract was displaced

++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $23,106,733 under the salary cap. OTC does not have the new Pickett contract yet, but without it we had the exact same dollar amount.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $20,956,076 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts but also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals.

I have said in the past how he Steelers will need as much as an additional $10.8 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year. But there is one more expense that could add to the $5 million the Steelers like to take into the season (in years past). If the Steelers elevate players from the practice squad, they must receive a full game check. Taking this into account, along with significant increases in league-minimum salaries of players who could be added to the roster if another player is injured, the Steelers may want to carry as much as another $2-3 million into the season. For this reason, a more conservative estimate of what the Steelers need to have available to start the season is $13 million.

Based on this number, the Steelers could have at least $8 million above what they need for the 2022. Even though there could be some dead money in contracts with players not making the 53-man roster, it should be offset even more by larger contracts of players who are waived.

What about Larry Ogunjobi?

On Thursday, it was reported that the one-year deal the Steelers worked out with Larry Ogunjobi will be worth up to $8 million with part of the contract being incentives. This per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The #Steelers are giving former #Bengals DT Larry Ogunjobi a one-year deal worth up to $8M including incentives, source said. After an unfortunate free agency situation with the #Bears, Ogunjobi’s foot has improved and he now has another chance to cash in next free agency.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 23, 2022

The two questions now with Ogunjobi‘s contract is how much of it is incentives, and are they in the category of ‘not likely to be earned.’ The NFL deems all incentives either as likely or not likely to be earned. Based on this designation, it determines whether or not the amounts will fall on this year’s salary cap. If an incentive is deemed not likely to be earned, It does not count on the 2022 salary cap and will go towards the 2023 cap if the player achieves the bonus. If the incentive is deemed likely to be earned, it counts on the 2022 salary cap and if the player does not earn the bonus then it is taken off of next year’s salary cap.

If all of Ogunjobi‘s incentives were deemed likely to be earned, he would count $7.105 million against the Steelers salary cap after displacement. This amount seems extremely safe to know that it is the most he could count, assuming the $8 million figure is correct.

Once the incentives and their designations are known, then an accurate figure to be given for exactly what Ogunjobi will count on the Steelers’ salary cap.

One item of note which may or may not mean anything is the NFLPA‘s salary cap report earlier this week had the Steelers with exactly $3.5 million less than what I expected their figure to be. Could this be how much Ogunjobi counted against the salary cap after displacement? It could be. If so, that would mean that Ogunjobi counted as $4.395 million in salary cap space (since the $3.5 million would be after roster displacement) for 2022 and would have approximately $3.605 million in incentives. I’m not saying this is what happened with his contract, but I’m saying that it is one possibility.

For this reason, I estimate Ogunjobi will count between $3.5 million and $7 million toward the 2022 salary cap after displacement. If I were to guess, I would not put his number being around $5 million unless the incentives are all deemed likely to be earned.

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

Steelers expecting to have Larry Ogunjobi ready to go for training camp

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 6:00am
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are confident Larry Ogunjobi will be ready to go when the team reports to training camp on July 26th.

The newest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries a giant ‘if’ with him. Whenever anyone is talking about Larry Ogunjobi joining the black and gold, it is likely followed up with a statement which resembles, “if he is healthy.”

Ogunjobi played well enough for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021 he was set to sign a multi-year contract with the Chicago Bears this offseason before he failed his physical. The injury is a Lisfranc injury which occurred at the end of last season and required surgery.

Hesitation on expectations certainly is warranted, but the Steelers are expecting Ogunjobi to be healthy and ready to play when the team reports to Saint Vincent College for training camp on July 26th.

This per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Steelers expecting DT Larry Ogunjobi to be ready for training camp after having Lisfranc surgery. Hey, they wouldn't have signed him if he couldn't pass their physical.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) June 23, 2022

Steelers fans who have been a fan of the team long enough will remember a similar situation with Ladarius Green. Green was a highly sought after tight end who played his entire career with the San Diego Chargers. During his time in San Diego he suffered a nasty ankle injury which required offseason surgery, and a history of concussions.

The Steelers rolled the dice, and while Green eventually got on the field, it was short-lived. You can’t control concussions, but if you remember Green missed the vast majority of training camp and the preseason with his ankle, something the Steelers are hoping to avoid with Ogunjobi.

With the team not reporting for over a month, there will be plenty of time to see if the Steelers’ latest addition will be at full strength, or if he’ll start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 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 four 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.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: The Tomlin Talk Heard Around the World

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenvent) expose the hottest and most toxic Steelers takes on the internet. This week, we break down the most important interview of Mike Tomlin’s career, and why the haters can no longer deny him. Plus, how the media missed all the important and interesting parts of Chase Claypool’s “top 3” claim. And the revisionist history of Super Bowl XLV. Join Kyle and Greg for their black-and-gold breakdown of everything “Stillers” on Twitter and beyond.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Mike Tomlin’s approach to coaching on “The Pivot”
  • Chase Claypool’s Claims
  • Revisionist Rashard
  • Matt Canada Conspiracies
  • Welcome Larry Ogunjobi?
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Should the Steelers’ front office be satisfied with the 2022 roster?

After signing Larry Ogunjobi, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers are wondering if another corner or a running back may be next on the list to pursue. However, the team may feel tat the roster is complete going into camp. Are they satisfied enough to stand pat. Join Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield, and Bryan Anthony Davis as they determine whether it’s the former or the latter for the Steelers.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Latest News
  • Are the Steelers done making moves?
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride, Friday: Why I’m rooting hard for Kenny Pickett to be QB1

.The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback battle has been talked about a lot this offseason, but there is a rooting interest within the ranks of BTSC. Senior Editor Jeff Hartman dives into this topic, and more, on the latest episode of the Let’s Ride podcast.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Hart to Heart
  • Rooting hard for Kenny Pickett to become the Steelers QB1
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Chaz Green & Kendrick Green

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

It’s Day 12 of Going For Two, featuring Chaz Green and Kendrick Green

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:

Chaz Green Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tackle
Age: 30
Year: 5
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 318
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 91, 2015 (Dallas Cowboys)
College: Florida
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

After spending the majority of his rookie season on the PUP list, Chaz Green did not appear in a game his first year in Dallas. Through three seasons, he logged a total of 18 games with six starts. Failing to make the Cowboys in 2018, Green landed in New Orleans but never appeared in a game when he was cut a month later. Finishing the year with the Oakland Raiders, Green appeared in four games with one start. Not making a team in 2019, Green landed in Indianapolis for 2020 and played in 15 games with one start. On the Steelers practice squad for 2021, Green was called up for two games but only logged a total of four special teams stats. Based on the résumé, Chaz Green is a player that brings NFL experience. But at 30 years old, he is merely a depth piece and not a project for the future. For this reason, Green is unlikely to make the 53-man roster and would have to show his worth to even make the Steelers practice squad.

Kendrick Green Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Center
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 315
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 87, 2021
College: Illinois
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Appearing in 15 games his rookie season, Kendrick Green started all of them at center for the Steelers. Logging 977 snaps on offense, Green struggled a lot with inconsistent play. With the addition of Mason Cole through free agency this offseason, Green has to fight for a starting position for 2022. Whether it be at center or guard, Green will have the opportunity to win a job or else will be relegated to reserve duty for the interior of the offensive line. If Green makes a big jump in year two, it will be interesting to see if it’s enough to land a starting job.

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.

After signing Ogunjobi, the Steelers will have some tough decisions on the DLine

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 12:45pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers added Larry Ogunjobi, and it adds to an already defensive line room.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who had several holes to fill this offseason. Under Kevin Colbert’s guidance the team navigated the offseason with expert precision. Signings like Mitch Trubisky, James Daniels, Mason Cole and Levi Wallace gave the team a flexibility, and experience, they didn’t have after the 2021 regular season.

The moves didn’t end there when Omar Khan took over for Colbert as the team’s General Manager (GM). Khan signed Minkah Fitzpatrick to a new 5-year contract, and most recently signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract.

What did the Steelers get in Ogunjobi? For a better look at the X’s and O’s of Ogunjobi’s game, check out the film room article by BTSC’s Kevin Smith below:

Outside of what Ogunjobi brings to the team on the field, he also delivers a crippling blow to some players who were vying for the final roster spot along the defensive line. The Steelers’ defensive line room has been packed with players, but lacking quality starting depth with the retirement of Stephon Tuitt. Sure, Chris Wormley filled in admirably last season, but he is a far cry from what the team needs in terms of rotational depth at the position.

This is where Ogunjobi’s impact will be felt the most. With Ogunjobi being able to rotate into the defensive line, it will save players like Tyson Alualu and Cam Heyward from having to play the majority of the snaps. Instead, the line can remain fresh without seeing a drastic drop in talent on the field.

But who will make the team, and who will be on the outside looking in when roster cuts are announced at the end of the preseason? With Ogunjobi on the team, the first question everyone has to answer is how many defensive linemen the team will keep on the 53-man roster.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume the Steelers are going to keep seven defensive linemen in 2022. Let’s take a look at who are locks to make the team, and those who will be left out.

Locks

Cam Heyward — No explanation necessary for the defensive captain.

Tyson Alualu — The aging defensive lineman still provides value.

DeMarvin Leal — You don’t cut a 3rd round draft pick.

Isaiahh Loudermilk — The Steelers traded up to get him in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he provided some great run-stopping value last year. The hope is for a big jump in 2022.

Montravius Adams — Just signed to a two-year contract, it is highly unlikely the team parts ways with Adams.

Larry Ogunjobi — Unless he isn’t healthy, which the team wouldn’t have signed him, Ogujobi will have a role on the team this year.

Chris Wormley — With one year remaining on his contract, Wormley looks to remain a valuable asset on the defense. However, if there was a player who could be moved, I have a feeling it could be Wormley.

Do the simple math above. There are seven defensive linemen right there, and a pretty solid group of linemen who could all rotate into the lineup depending on the situation. Plain and simple, the Steelers went from a cupboard which was bare last season, relying on players like Loudermilk as a rookie and Isaiah Buggs, to now having to make some tough decisions on players.

Left Out

Carlos Davis — Davis showed some promise as a rookie, but an injury-plagued 2021 has him on the outside looking in. Unless a trade or injury occurs, Davis might be on the way out or hoping for a practice squad designation.

Khalil Davis — Carlos’ brother has yet to play for the Steelers, but finds himself on the short list of those who don’t have much of a shot outside of the practice squad.

Henry Mondeaux — Mondeaux is a guy who seems to always stick around. I see it happening again in 2022, but I think it happens on the practice squad for the second year in a row.

Daniel Archibong — Best chance is to be on the practice squad.

Donovan Jeter — Best chance is to be on the practice squad.

The Steelers have a good problem when it comes to the defensive line. Better to have too many than not enough, but it doesn’t make the decision making process any easier. As I stated earlier in the article, injuries happen and if so someone like Carlos Davis will likely be the next man up. However, if the team decides to stay put they’ll absolutely have some tough decisions to make in the process.

What do you think? Who stays and goes? If there was to be a surprise cut/trade, who would it be? 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 team as they prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College for the first time since 2019.

Burning Question: What is the ceiling/floor for the 2022 Steelers?

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not expected to do much in 2022, but the fan base might disagree with these sentiments.

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2022 regular season with a lot of uncertainty swirling around the organization. What will life with Ben Roethlisberger be like for the offense? How will Teryl Austin and Brian Flores work together as a unit? How will Austin handle the duties of defensive coordinator compared to Keith Butler? What will Omar Khan do differently than his predecessor, Kevin Colbert?

You get the picture, but what it all boils down to is how many games will the Steelers win this season?

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Steelers’ current win total is 7.5. This number is certainly staggering for the faithful fan of the black and gold, but it is the perfect example of how no one truly knows what the team will do this season.

With all that said, now is the time to let us know what you think of the 2022 Steelers. The questions are what is the ceiling, most wins if all goes well, and the floor, the worst-case scenario, for the team this year?

Here are the options:

What is the ceiling for the Steelers win total in 2022?

  • 10-12
  • 7-9
  • 6

What is the floor for the Steelers win total in 2022?

  • 4-5
  • 6-7
  • 8-9

Below you will see the SB Nation Reacts poll where you can place your votes. Be sure to vote in the poll, and then go down to the comment section and explain why you voted the way you did.

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.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country.

Please take our survey

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

The 2022 season is a career-defining moment for Mike Tomlin

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL season could be a career defining moment for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, but his recent behavior suggests he feels no pressure.

The 2022 season is destined to be a revealing season for Mike Tomlin. For the first time in his illustrious career, Tomlin will be without the services of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers franchise quarterback for the past 18 seasons.

I know what you are thinking, “Didn't Roethlisberger miss the majority of the 2019 season?” Yes he did, and Tomlin and company did a masterful job of keeping the Steelers relevant and in playoff contention until the final game of the season. Kevin Colbert made a career defining move of his own by trading for All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick not long after Roethlisberger was lost for the season due to injury.

That singular move catapulted the Steelers defense towards being the best unit in the NFL, and allowed the Steelers to remain competitive even with one of the worst offenses in the league. No way that the Steelers would have had a successful season in 2019 without the acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Yes, I consider that 8-8 season a success for Tomlin and the Steelers, especially when taking that atrocious offense into consideration.

Now, for the first time in his illustrious career, Tomlin will be without the supportive services of Ben Roethlisberger and Kevin Colbert. The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are Mike Tomlin's team, now more than ever before. I keep hearing fans discussing who will become the next face of the franchise now that Roethlisberger has retired, and I find it fascinating.

Mike Tomlin is the face of the franchise, make no mistake about it.

If you question that opinion, you must not be paying attention to the national sports media and numerous podcasts. Mike Tomlin is virtually everywhere. Like a movie star making the rounds on every late night talk show promoting their next feature film, Tomlin seems to be campaigning for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As if to assure the Steelers faithful and football fans across the world that although Roethlisberger is gone, the Steelers have every intention of remaining relevant and competing for the AFC North division.

One thing is for certain, Mike Tomlin is an individual comfortable in his own skin. He has grown so much in his Steelers tenure, both as a person and a coach. He still has the ability to utilize a ridiculous amount of words to convey very little necessary information, but we get actual glimpses into the inter sanctum of the man with far greater frequency.

Tomlin was still a relatively young man by head coaching standards when he assumed the mantle with the Steeler in 2007. It was his first rodeo, as far as being the man in charge was concerned. He made some mistakes associated with youth, such as poor time management and challenge flag decisions.

Some mistakes were the byproduct of the intense competitiveness of youth. Moments which stand out would be the "standing too close to the sidelines" moment caught on tape against the Ravens, or the infamous "Unleash Hell" statement meant to motivate the troops, but failed to inspire. I don't think those incidents even occur with the more experienced version of the man.

Tomlin displays the countenance and confidence of a man secure in his career and legacy. He works for the most stable franchise in the sport. Three head coaches in over 50 years. The Steelers organization simply doesn't make spur of the moment, knee jerk reactions. Even if Tomlin's team struggles in his first real season sans Big Ben, the Rooneys will not overreact to the situation, just like they didn't when Bill Cowher's teams struggled on occasion.

Tomlin has unique job security, so his cool and calm demeanor doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but one aspect of the situation is extremely intriguing in my opinion.

Tomlin has the perfect opportunity to silence even his most passionate critics, and extend his own NFL record setting statistic. Tomlin already has the record for the most non-losing seasons as a head coach to begin a NFL career, at 15 seasons and counting.

I feel certain Tomlin would like nothing more than to extend that record this season, considering that Ben Roethlisberger never had a losing season in his own illustrious career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have a legacy of winning, but Tomlin has the opportunity to create a legacy all his own.

If Mike Tomlin is able to guide this extremely young roster to a successful season in 2022, then he will strengthen his already Hall of Fame worthy resume. If the Steelers can exceed expectations, and actually win the AFC North division, maybe even a playoff game or two, Tomlin will achieve living legend status.

He would finally silence the critics that insist that the Steelers have accepted a standard of mediocrity for embracing and acknowledging the non-losing seasons streak.

Tomlin and the Steelers need to experience some playoff victories to get back to their winning ways.

FILM ROOM: Steelers make another smart free agent signing with DT Larry Ogunjobi

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers made yet another move on Tuesday, and this one was great for a lot of reasons.

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed former Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract on Tuesday, adding a starting-quality player to a unit that was short on proven veterans after the recent retirement of Stephon Tuitt.

Ogunjobi was a 3rd Round draft pick by Cleveland in 2017. He played four seasons there, starting 46 games over his final three years. In 2019, Ogunjobi was involved in the infamous fracas with Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph during which Browns defensive end Myles Garrett clobbered Rudolph with his helmet. Ogunjobi shoved Rudolph to the ground during the altercation, earning a one-game suspension for his actions. In 2021, he signed a one-year deal to play in Cincinnati. Ogunjobi started all 17 games with the Bengals, recording 49 tackles and 7 sacks. He injured his foot during the post-season, causing him to miss most of Cincinnati’s Super Bowl run. The Steelers were confident enough in Ogunjobi’s health to sign him. In Pittsburgh, he will compete for reps along a defensive line that now appears deep with both prospects and proven talents.

There’s a lot to like about Ogunjobi. but before we get to that, let’s address his biggest potential red flag — the injury. Ogunjobi initially sign a 3-year, $40 million contract with Chicago in the early days of free agency in March. He failed his physical, though, which negated the deal. His agreement with the Bears came only three months removed from his injury, so it’s quite possible he was not fully healed when he took his physical in Chicago. With three additional months, he obviously appeared healthier when the Steelers evaluated him. The hope is that Ogunjobi will continue to rehabilitate over the next month before he reports to training camp, and that he will be unhindered by the injury come September.

At age 28, Ogunjobi is young enough that his body should heal fairly quickly. Still, he’s a large man (6’3-310), and foot injuries can be problematic with all of that weight to bear. A player’s best “ability” is his availability, and the Steelers just went through a season where two of their three best defensive linemen were mostly unavailable. It’s understandable, then, to have concerns about Ogunjobi and to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

That said, the player the Steelers have acquired is a very good NFL defensive tackle. He’s not a superstar, but he’s the kind of player who makes life easier on superstars. Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt should be as excited as anyone in the organization with this signing. At worst, Ogunjobi will push Tyson Alualu for reps as the 1-tech tackle in Pittsburgh’s base 3-4 and as the lineman opposite Heyward in their 2-4-5 and 2-3-6 sub packages. If Alualu gets injured again or if his play falls off, Ogunjobi will step in seamlessly. He’s not a pure 1-tech the way Alualu is, but he’s better suited to play there than anyone else on the roster.

At best, the Steelers will be able to scheme him to free up Heyward. He’s an excellent penetrator, which disrupts blocking schemes and forces double teams. With all the slants and line stunts Brian Flores likes to run, I can see Ogunjobi aligning as a 2i or 3-tech and coming hard into the A-gap, drawing a double team from the center and guard and subsequently leaving Heyward one-on-one on the other side of the ball. In the passing game, Ogunjobi has an excellent get-off and is adept at pushing the pocket, thereby creating better opportunities on the edge for Watt. Like Alualu, Ogunjobi’s value may not be revealed in his own statistics but in what he’s able to do for his teammates.

Here’s some video that demonstrates these qualities in Ogunjobi’s play. First, we see him lined up on the nose last season against Kendrick Green and the Steelers. You can see his burst at the snap and his active hands. The ball comes out in typically quick Ben Roethlisberger fashion, but against a quarterback looking to hang in the pocket longer to throw a deeper developing route, this type of push would prohibit him from stepping up and away from the edge rush. That creates opportunities for Watt, who is deadly when he has a target confined to the pocket.

Here’s an example of just that. Against Minnesota, quarterback Kirk Cousins is looking to push the ball downfield to an in-cut breaking to his right. He has to hold the ball as the route progresses. This allows Ogunjobi, who is aligned on the nose, to drive the center into Cousins’ lap. Cousins can’t step up as a result, and the rush eventually converges on him:

If you watch that clip again, look at Cincinnati’s edge rushers. Neither does a bad job, but both stay blocked long enough for Cousins to find a receiver. The pressure in his face from Ogunjobi prevents that from happening. Now picture one of those edge rushers is T.J. Watt. There’s no question Watt would have gotten to Cousins faster than either player here. If Ogunjobi can create this sort of push as a pass rusher, Watt is going to benefit tremendously.

Against the run, Ogunjobi can be similarly disruptive. Here’s another clip from the contest against the Steelers. Ogunjobi has kicked over to align as a 2i on the inside shoulder of left guard Kevin Dotson (69). He will execute a slant like the ones I was referencing above when discussing how Flores moves his linemen. Ogunjobi starts in the left A-gap and rips across Green’s face into the right A-gap, forcing right guard Trai Turner to pick him up. Turner’s assignment on this play — it’s a Power RPO where Roethlisberger can hand the ball to Najee Harris or throw a quick route to his slot receiver — is to block the backside linebacker. Turner can’t get there because he’s forced to pick up Ogunjobi. Had Roethlisberger handed off to Harris, the backside backer would have run unblocked to the football. This is the hidden value a player like Ogunjobi provides. He can impact a play even if he’s not making it himself.

Ogunjobi’s quickness can make him difficult to block on the back side of plays. In the next clip, Ogunjobi is aligned as the 3-tech to the left of Minnesota’s offensive formation. He is circled in the photo below:

This is a wide zone run to the right. Minnesota’s left tackle will have the task of cutting off Ogunjobi to keep him from pursuing the play. The lead-in on this clip isn’t great, but focus on Ogunjobi’s mechanics. He quickly diagnoses the run action, gets his feet moving laterally and expertly uses his right arm to create separation from the tackle so he can’t be held (every offensive lineman at every level of football holds on backside cut-off blocks, and only the most egregious ones are called). Ogunjobi finishes the play with a good hit on running back Dalvin Cook:

This is a play Steelers’ fans grew accustomed to seeing from Tuitt. It’s easy to recognize shades of Tuitt in Ogunjobi at times. I’m not suggesting Ogunjobi is a player on Tuitt’s level. But there are similarities, more so than with any defensive lineman on Pittsburgh’s roster.

Ogunjobi’s quickness doesn’t just show up on the backside of plays. Here, circled in the photo again, he’s aligned as a 2i on the left of the defensive front:

Minnesota runs a split-zone concept right at Ogunjobi. It goes nowhere, because he dips inside the guard, beats the center and is into the backfield just as Cook receives the handoff:

Again, this is a play Steelers’ fans have seen Tuitt make. Ogunjobi is a disruptor, and will fit well in the movement-based scheme I expect the Steelers to implement.

Ogunjobi’s biggest weakness is that he’s never been a guy who can play 70 or 80% of the snaps in a given contest. He has lapses where he disappears, and if he’s forced to play a steady diet of snaps on the nose, he can wear down. Fortunately, Pittsburgh will not need him to play anywhere near that often. I anticipate Ogunjobi will split reps at nose with Alualu depending on the situation. Alualu will be there in the base 3-4 in run situations, while Ogunjobi may spell him when the Steelers want to stunt the line or create penetration. Ideally, they’d love Alualu on the field against inside zone concepts and Ogunjobi out there when teams pull their guards or run the wide zone play. The odds are slim that opposing offenses will volunteer that information ahead of time, so the Steelers will have to substitute smartly.

Ogunjobi can also play some 5-tech in the base 3-4 alongside Heyward and Alualu, where he will probably take reps from Chris Wormley. He should also see time in the nickel package due to his ability as an interior pass rusher. There will be plenty of opportunities for the proven veteran while some of the younger players in his unit, like Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal, mature.

Ogunjobi’s presence on the roster does create an interesting situation for those other players. The Steelers are likely to carry seven defensive linemen on the active roster. Heyward, Alualu and Ogunjobi, assuming there are no setbacks with his foot, are locks. That leaves four spots among the remaining group of Loudermilk, Leal, Wormley, Montravious Adams, Henry Mondeaux, Daniel Archibong, Carlos Davis and Khalil Davis. Loudermilk, Leal, Wormley and Adams seem like the favorites to lock down those spots. But it will create an intense camp battle, making defensive line one of the most interesting position groups to watch this summer.

The Ogunjobi signing is another is a string of smart free agent acquisitions the Steelers have made this off-season. It’s been an exciting one in that regard, as Pittsburgh has meticulously addressed needs at almost every position group on the roster. Whether these moves pay dividends remains to be seen. But the Steelers have proven they don’t view their first season in the post-Roethlisberger era as a wasted one. They believe they can win, and they’re doing everything they can to make it happen.

Steelers sign first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 7:05am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers have now signed all seven members of their 2022 draft class.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished up Phase 3 of offseason workouts with mandatory minicamp and players are scattered to various places before heading to Latrobe in July. After everyone went their various ways, the Steelers have continued to conduct business first by announcing the five-year contract with Minkah Fitzpatrick and then adding Larry Ogunjobi to the roster. Taking care of another important item prior to training camp, the Steelers have now reportedly signed first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett. This per ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

And the Pittsburgh Steelers now have signed their first-round pick Kenny Pickett, per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 23, 2022

Taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 20th overall selection of the 2022 NFL Draft, Kenny Pickett opted to go back to college for a fifth year rather than enter the 2021 draft. Appearing in 52 games at the University of Pittsburgh, Picket threw for over 12,000 yards and 81 touchdowns in his college career. In his final season where he led the Panthers to an ACC title, Pickett completed 330 of 497 passes for a 67.2 completion percentage with 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Pickett also added 20 rushing touchdowns in his career, five of which came in his last season. Pickett’s outstanding final year with the Panthers landed him third place in the Heisman voting.

With the signing of Pickett, all players from the Steelers 2022 NFL draft class are now under contract. He was the final pick from the first round of the 2022 draft to sign, and is the first of the five quarterbacks taken in the first four rounds to agree to their deal.

Although exact financials of Kenny Pickett’s contract have not been announced at this time, it is the typical four-year rookie contract with the fifth-year option that comes with being taken in the first round. According to overthecap.com and their estimations based on the rookie pool and a player’s exact draft location, Pickett is estimated to have a 2022 salary cap hit under $2.9 million.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

What’s the more exciting Steelers event to attend: Training camp or a preseason game?

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Is it more exciting to attend a Steelers training camp practice or a Steelers preseason game? It’s so tough to decide.

The Steelers are roughly five weeks away from arriving at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., for yet another summer of training camp in preparation for the 2022 regular season. Speaking of preparation, Pittsburgh is about seven weeks away from playing its first tune-up game, which is to say a preseason affair against the Seahawks at Heinz Field on August, 13.

I’ve been to both events more than a few times in the past—training camp practices and preseason games—but I just can’t decide which one is more appealing.

It’s common for me to get an invite or two to training camp once practices open up to the public, and I always get offered free tickets to preseason games.

Will I attend one or both events this year, and which one will I enjoy more?

Training camp is a rather chill affair for me, mainly because I normally go by myself (I never said I accept the invites to go with other people, other than when children ask me to take them, of course—I’m not a total monster, but they have to pay for everything, including gas and tolls).

Preseason games are another matter. Sure, the outcome is fake, but everything else is like a real game. The beer is the same price as it is at a real game. Parking is the same price. The whines from the children to buy them hotdogs and jerseys are just as loud and annoying. I can go on, but I won’t. I realize I usually get offered a free ticket to a preseason game, but after spending money on beer, parking and a jersey just to say, “Thanks,” I may as well have financed a new car.

What about accommodations?

Let’s face it, for as much as I love the late, great Chuck Noll, the stands at his field are always full. I seriously have not been able to sit on those bleachers since 2009, and I often go during the week. Don’t people have jobs? Are they at camp while on vacation? Anyway, the lack of available seats at Chuck Noll Field means I have to try and pop a squat on that painful hillside. And it’s just not painful, either. I always feel like I’m sliding down the hill, and I constantly have to readjust my “squat.” What about the heat? Wow. It’s one thing to work out in that kind of heat while wearing 20 pounds of football equipment. Try sitting there bored out of your mind while the sun is beating down on your semi-bald head, and you’re listening to other fans clamor for Jordan Dangerfield’s autograph—no disrespect to him, I tell ya’, no disrespect at all.

Preseason games are much better when it comes to seating. I know I have a seat going in because that’s part of the deal when you buy (or are given a free) ticket. The seats are comfortable enough. Yes, it might be rather hot, but at least these “games” usually occur in the evening. Yeah, but what about always having to move my “squat” because that big guy three seats down won’t stop getting up to go buy “cotton candy”? The struggle is real.

What I really like to do when I’m at a training camp practice or a preseason game is just sit and talk to someone.

But if I do go to training camp with someone, like my nine-year-old niece back in 2018, all they want to do is talk about JuJu Smith-Schuster. “Where’s JuJu?” “Do you think I can get JuJu’s autograph?” “Do you think JuJu will do the floss dance?” She had no desire to learn anything about her uncle that day. My nickname is T.J. Did she want my autograph? Did she ask me how many sacks I recorded while playing for the Sheraden Vikings back in 1984? No. I still can’t believe I drove her back home.

Preseason games are actually better for sitting around and shooting the breeze. But nobody is interested in talking to you there, either, unless you’re in their section with a ticket you got from a friend. Then, it’s the Spanish Inquisition, “How do you know Bill? Good guy. He ain’t coming? What’s he doing, loafin’?” It’s like when you park near someone’s house, and the owner comes out and asks, “Can I help you?” No, you can’t, person who doesn’t own the street around your house.

I never know what I’m watching while at a training camp practice—it could be a drill, or it could be stretching.

I never know who I’m watching while at a preseason game—it could be Jordan Dangerfield, or it could be Rodney.

Oh well, it’s hard to say which event is better, but at least JuJu won’t be around to take attention away from me this year.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Thu, 06/23/2022 - 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: Can Pickett be the Steelers’ pick fans wish for?

He played college football in the Steel City, has an All-American personality and loves the movie “Wedding Crashers”, but can Kenny Pickett be a franchise quarterback at the NFL level for the Pittsburgh Steelers? 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.

Rundown of the show:

  • When will Kenny Pickett be QB1?
  • Much More

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

The Steelers Curtain Call: The crap shoot that is bringing players in after June 1

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, Bryan Anthony Davis (subbing for Geoff) and Shannon welcome BTSC’s K.T. Smith to talk Larry Ogunjobi’s arrival to the Steelers.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at Larry Ogunjobi
  • Special Guest: K.T. Smith

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

The Steelers Stat Geek: Where do the Steelers pass catchers sit on the wide receiver totem pole?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a stable of talented wide receivers, but what level of the pass catching totem pole do the Steelers wideouts appear on? 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:

  • Steelers Wide Receivers
  • and more geeky numbers!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Ulysees Gilbert III & Nate Gilliam

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 12 of Going For Two, featuring Ulysees Gilbert III and Nate Gilliam

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:

Ulysees Gilbert III Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Position: Inside linebacker
Age: 24
Year: 4
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 230
Drafted: Round 6, Pick 207, 2019
College: Akron
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

It seems like Ulysees Gilbert continues to hang on towards the bottom of the depth chart at inside linebacker. Despite appearing in 17 games last season, he only saw 36 defensive snaps compared to 337 on special teams. In fact, Gilbert only appeared on the field for the defense in two regular season games in 2021: Week 15 against the Chiefs and Week 16 against the Browns. Not viewed as a top option at inside linebacker based on his playing time, Gilbert’s special teams contributions keep him in the mix. Scoring a special teams touchdown on a Miles Killebrew blocked punt in Week 1 of 2021, Gilbert continued to get a helmet each week. But if the Steelers can find another option which adds more to the linebacking corps and still brings the special teams value, Gilbert could be on the outside looking in for 2022.

Nate Gilliam Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Guard
Age: 24
Year: 1
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 310
Drafted: UDFA, 2020 (Los Angeles Chargers)
College: Wake Forrest
Roster Outlook: Unlikely
Analysis:

Despite entering his third year of trying to catch on with an NFL team, Nate Gilliam has yet to appear in a regular season game. After a year with the Chargers, Gilliam was on the Steelers practice squad at two different points in 2021. Still eligible to participate in rookie minicamp, Gilliam is considered a first year player. When it comes to his possibility of making the team this season, his best bet would be to squeeze back on the practice squad again for 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.

Will the Steelers make more moves, or are they content where they stand?

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made several moves, and it makes you wonder if they’re done or if more moves lie ahead.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy recently. After singing Minkah Fitzpatrick to a new 5-year contract last week, the team added defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi to their deep depth chart of defensive linemen. It has equated in the team’s salary cap space dwindling, and this begs the question if the team is done making moves this offseason?

The next move to be made, and why it hasn’t happened yet is a mystery, would likely be the singing of 2022 NFL Draft pick Kenny Pickett. Pickett isn’t just the only member of the Steelers’ seven player class left unsigned, but is also the last first round pick to sign on the dotted line.

Since this move is inevitable, you have to wonder if there are any other moves left for the team to make. Fans will tell you there are more moves to be made, but it doesn’t mean Omar Khan and Mike Tomlin agree with the assessment.

For instance, many will suggest the Steelers could add a veteran running back to their depth chart to help spell Najee Harris from time to time. Others will suggest bringing in another capable cornerback to bolster the proven depth at that position. Another option would be the team to give new contracts to some of their own players. Players like Chris Boswell or Diontae Johnson.

In a recent ESPN article written by Field Yates, he projected one final move for each NFL team before training camps begin. For Pittsburgh, he had them extending Diontae Johnson’s contract.

See what Yates’ thought process was behind the decision:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Extend wide receiver Diontae Johnson

The Steelers knocked off one major item from the to-do list when they extended safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on a record-setting deal for his position last week. Now, Johnson is put further into focus. He is just the latest in a string of outstanding wideouts drafted by the team not in the first round and deserves a lucrative deal. He is only 25 and has shown legitimate improvement in each of his first three seasons. The wide receiver market has exploded this offseason, so a deal with surely be a pricey one.

The suggestion of extending Johnson isn’t out of left field. In fact, anyone who has a platform of some kind has discussed this throughout the current offseason. However, agreeing on the value of Johnson is where things go off the rails. Johnson, coming off a Pro Bowl season, still has issues with drops, and where he stands among the league’s best receivers is up for debate.

As Yates suggests, the deal would be a pricey one for the Steelers. Is Khan willing to make that move, and allocate that kind of money into Johnson and his future with the team? Or is he a player the organization views as expendable and let’s walk in free agency?

If you don’t count JuJu Smith-Schuster’s one-year, void year laden, contract a year ago, the last receiver to get a second contract in Pittsburgh was Antonio Brown. In recent history, the team is more willing, and likely, to move on from a receiver than keep them in the fold. It is unknown whether Khan will take that same approach, or if he will blaze a new trail as it pertains to the retention of talent.

What do you think? Should the Steelers make another move before training camp? If so, what move would you make? Or would you prefer the Steelers to save some cap space for emergency, and be willing to roll it over to 2023 if need be?

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 Steelers as they prepare for the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Mike Tomlin outlines the excitement, and uncertainty, of not having Ben Roethlisberger

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

When Mike Tomlin joined the Pivot podcast, he talked about what it means not having Ben Roethlisberger under center anymore.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been known for a lot of things since they started the franchise in 1933. In the recent history of the franchise, the Steelers have been synonymous with Mike Tomlin. Since being named the head coach of the team in 2007, Tomlin has been through it all with the Steelers.

Championship wins.

Championship losses.

Tragedy.

Good times.

Bad times.

Through it all, Tomlin has been known to have a way with words. Whether it being in his weekly press conferences, or his rare occasion on an outside media source. Many fans might feel as it they’ve heard it all from Tomlin since being hired in 2007, but when he recently joined The Pivot Podcast, co-hosted by Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder, fans saw a different side of Tomlin.

An openness and willingness to share stories and wisdom never heard from other media outlets. It took a former player, and former NFL players, to bring it out of Tomlin. Throughout the entire hour-and-a-half podcast, which can be viewed at the bottom of the article, you can hear Tomlin talk about a myriad of topics. Hear him talk about his early years of coaching, stories about his time in Tampa Bay and even about what it will be like without having Ben Roethlisberger at the helm in 2022.

Tomlin’s answer to that question, was telling.

“First of all, the dude’s [Roethlisberger] talent. When you watch someone do something at a certain level for so long, it messes up your perception of what’s regular and what’s not” Tomlin said. “The dude’s arm talent was so special for so long. When you see special stuff every day, you get used to it. I’ve enjoyed that comfort, we’ve all enjoyed that comfort, I’m excited about being uncomfortable.”

Of course Roethlisberger’s talent was evident and on display for 18 seasons, but what about moving forward? How will Tomlin approach the next quarterback, whoever that may be.

“Yeah, we might not have the same type of quarterback play we’ve had, we might not have the special talent we’ve had, but we have capable dudes. And we’ve got a team.” said Tomlin.

One facet of the quarterback discussion which often times gets lost in the shuffle was brought up by Tomlin, and that would be the financial obligation to a franchise quarterback. Every team needs one, but it also comes at a cost. And heading into 2022 the Steelers don’t have that cost for the first time in a long time.

“We’re also not allocating the damn money that we’ve allocated at the position in the past.” Tomlin said. “So there’s a redistribution of the money, so there better be a redistribution of the playmaking.”

Nonetheless, Tomlin knows moving forward without Roethlisberger isn’t as easy as a few catchy phrases. It’s going to be difficult.

“I just view the challenges of what lies ahead in that way. First of all, I’m looking forward to the anxiety associated with that uncertainty. To have to stand and deliver, to live out what we believe in — the standard is the standard.

“It’s like McDonald’s. You know what a No. 1 is. It doesn’t matter what corner of the globe, a No. 1 is a No. 1, and that’s what I want Pittsburgh Steelers football to be. So it doesn’t matter who puts their hands underneath the center, as far as I’m concerned.

“But, with all that cool stuff being said, it’s scary. But exciting.” added Tomlin.

It isn’t as if Tomlin hasn’t spoken about life without Roethlisberger before, but he sheds a new light, and honesty, on the organization moving on from the franchise quarterback they called their own since 2004.

For more of this outstanding interview, and to see/hear the entire podcast, check out the video below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 26th.

Steelers Vertex: Can Devin Bush get back to his pre-injury form?

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After starting his career strong, the ACL injury Bush suffered in 2020 still affected his play throughout 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are chugging on through the 2022 offseason. Looking at a number of players and positions as the roster has fluctuated, sometimes it’s players the Steelers have on their roster taking a step that can really add to the coming season. Looking at inside linebacker, can Devin Bush get back to his pre-injury form? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

Since we are focusing on comparing Devin Bush before his injury to afterwards, I’ll break the numbers down in that manner. In Bush‘s first two seasons, he appeared in 21 games with 20 starts where he had two interceptions, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble, and four fumble recoveries with one being for a touchdown. Bush had 2.0 sacks and 135 tackles through the first 21 games of his career. He also had nine tackles for loss as well as four quarterback hits.

In 2021, Bush appeared in 14 games, starting all of them. Coming back strong in his first week against the Buffalo Bills, Bush had 10 tackles and a forced fumble. But after missing Week 2, Bush never got back to the same numbers again. On the season, he finished with 70 tackles and 2.0 sacks with four passes defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Bush only had two tackles for loss of the season but did have four quarterback hits.

Playing every snap of the 2020 season before he was injured, Bush saw his playing time greatly reduced in 2021. Only two times on the season did Bush play 90% of the snaps in a game which was in Week 4 at the Green Bay Packers (90%) and Week 10 against the Detroit Lions (96%).

So while there was a difference in the numbers with Devin Bush, was it that obvious in his play on the field? You know it’s coming… It’s time to check the film.

The Film Line:

Devin Bush struggled a lot in 2021, but I don’t want to talk about how bad he was after he missed Week 2, I want to look at later in the season when he was playing better and compare that to his film from 2019 and 2020. Because the important question isn’t how bad was Devin Bush in 2021. The important question is what could we see from Bush in 2022.

Let’s start by looking at Devin Bush before his 2020 season ending injury.

As a rookie Devin Bush was a play maker, he was all over the field tackling everything. A year after free safety Sean Davis led the team in tackles Devin Bush recorded 109 tackles as a rookie and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick ranked tenth on the team in tackles. Devin Bush brought instant impact at linebacker, and the film of his run defense shows why.

2019 Steelers vs. Bills, 1st quarter, 7:03.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker on the hash marks to the right side of the screen.

Bush is sidestepping and keeping up with the running back, effortlessly mirroring the run to meet the back in his run lane and make the play. Bush wasn’t the greatest tackler in the world, missing 11% of his tackle attempts. But he was always there, always slowing the play, making the runner deal with him, and with the Steelers #2 tackler Terrell Edmunds (2nd in tackles with 105) frequently right behind him, his misses usually ended up getting tackled anyway.

2019 Steelers @ Ravens, 1st quarter, 11:29.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker in the middle of the screen.

Devin Bush had weaknesses, a main one was his size making it hard for his to take on blockers. Here he is effectively blocked but is able to get off the block to make the tackle. Bush wasn’t going to take on offensive lineman or blocking tight ends and blow them up like Vince Williams. Players Bush couldn’t avoid with his quickness could move him, but he did show ability to shed blocks laterally.

In 2020 Devin Bush was used differently. The Steelers used him as a major component in coverage, and were incredibly aggressive in front of him. The Steelers recorded 20 sacks in the first four games of 2020, Vince Williams led the NFL in tackles for a loss with 9, T.J. Watt was second with 8 and Mike Hilton was tied for 4th with 5 tackles for a loss.

Together Hilton and Williams had 5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss over the first four games of 2020. They would combine for 1 sacks and 8 tackles for a loss the entire rest of the season.

Losing Devin Bush meant they couldn’t be as aggressive and had to cover more. Bush’s excellent coverage shows up on film constantly in those few games.

2020 Steelers vs. Texans, 2nd quarter, 4:23.

Devin Bush is the linebacker on the hashmarks to the bottom of the screen.

Bush absolutely locks down the Texans tight end, reads his eyes, and knocks the ball away. You can see the Steelers sending 5 players at the quarterback, the ball coming out 2 seconds after the snap, and no one is open.

2020 Steelers vs. Texans, 2nd quarter, 4:23.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker on the hash marks to the bottom of the screen.

Bush’s man on this play stays in to block, so he’s free to try and make a play here. He helps cover the tight end then peels off to disrupt Deshaun Watson’s ability to throw the ball. The play ends with a sack.

The Texans know that the slot heading inside means Hilton is coming, the Steelers weren’t really trying to hide that at this point, they just let Hilton go do his thing. They also know that means Edmunds is going to be covering that TE from a deeper alignment. It was a great time to gain a few cheap yards and maybe more with a broken tackle. If you watch Watson on the play you can see how Bush disrupts this entire play, especially with how quickly he goes from covering to pressuring the quarterback.

Not hard to see Bush was a decisive, but mostly a quick and fast linebacker whose chief skillset was how effortlessly he covered ground and how well he could run with receivers.

2021 Steelers vs. Vikings, 1st quarter, 4:50.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker near the hash marks to the left side of the screen.

That’s not the same Devin Bush. His first step is noticeably slower, making him appear much less decisive. It’s one thing to read the play and know where to go, it’s another to get there. Devin Bush was always good at seeing the play, but he was elite in his ability to get to where he needed to be.

Not last season though. Also notice the block hits him angled toward Bush. If he’s even a step farther that block is flatter and Bush can get off the block laterally to chase the play at a better angle. If he’s two steps faster, he’s past the block and cutting off the runner. That’s his burst and quickness not being what it was. After that you see he can’t run down the play like he used to, and has to take a longer angle to get to the back.

2021 Steelers vs. Vikings, 1st quarter, 1:13.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker between the hash marks in the middle of the screen.

Devin Bush can still read the play, he can find the right spot to go to, and he’s still a good, not great, tackler. Just like in 2019 and 2020 he needs to be kept clean of lineman, but when he was, he was still a solid to good linebacker even without his speed.

2021 Steelers vs. Vikings, 3rd quarter, 2:11.

Devin Bush (#55) is the linebacker in the middle of the screen.

Bush still has the same instincts in coverage, and that’s enough to get just enough of this ball to alter the trajectory. The ball bounces off the receiver’s hands and Ahkello Witherspoon comes away with the interception. But you can also see that even as Devin Bush was playing better towards the end of the season, he didn’t have the elite quickness or speed that made him great.

The Point:

It is common for injuries like Bush’s to affect a player in their first season back, and then less in the following years. But there is enough concern seeing him play with such a drop from the elite mobility he had to warrant the Steelers going out and signing Myles Jack who brings a very similar skillset to Devin Bush pre-injury. News coming out of practices that Devin Bush is working on playing Buck linebacker may also be a sign that his mobility may not fully return and he is trying to adapt his game to survive in the NFL. Then again, a player is classified as being a Buck linebacker based on their alignment, so there is the chance the Steelers may be doing things different when it comes to the responsibilities of each linebacker position this season. Regardless of where he lines up, Devin Bush needs to regain his decisiveness along with his speed to be the player Steelers fans saw in 2019 and 2020.

Steelers fans needs to embrace the uncertainty of 2022

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to enter a season of uncertainty.

Regardless of what any individual tries to tell you, nobody knows the future. When it comes to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers, the only certainty is uncertainty.

The Steelers have been the most stable and consistent franchise during the modern era of professional football. They have also been one of the most predictable organizations in the NFL. The Steelers are renowned for consistently having an intimidating defense and bludgeoning rushing attack. Although the degree of success can vary greatly from season to season, the hard earned reputation remains.

Even when the product on the field looks absolutely nothing like the reputation. Don't believe me, just listen to the broadcast team during any nationally televised Steelers game over the past few seasons. Even though recent Steelers squads have hardly resembled the reputation, it gets mentioned during virtually every broadcast. That actually started to change every so slightly during the past couple of years, as announcers started mentioning how the Steelers no longer represent their own reputable standards.

The punishing running game left the building years ago. Don't get me wrong, the Steelers had a very effective running game during the peak Le’Veon Bell days. That being said, while the rushing attack was very productive, it was far from punishing or pounding. The Steelers weren't imposing their will on the opposition, pounding them into submission, wearing them down by the fourth quarter, and controlling the time of possession.

The Steelers’ running game has evolved, right along with the rest of the NFL. You either evolve, or get left behind. The Steelers utilized Bell's rushing and receiving versatility to it's fullest. Therefore, they built the finesse offensive line that best fit Bell's specific skill set and abilities. That line was also a perfect fit for the elite talents of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, hence the success of the Killer B's.

As far as the intimidating defense goes, that mentality is no longer prevalent or possible, thanks to multiple rule changes. Intimidating, hard hitting defenders like Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Donnie Shell, Greg Lloyd, Ryan Clark, and James Harrison struck fear in the hearts and minds of skill position players. Those aforementioned players would always be great, but they would have to make some serious adjustments to their games to be as effective in the modern NFL. Intimidation, as they relied on, is no longer an option.

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers face a season of even more changes and uncertainty. For the first time in nearly two decades, the Steelers enter training camp without the benefit of a franchise quarterback. Instead, they have a three headed quarterback competition. There are some who believe that if you think you have three starter capable players at the position, you really have none, because that means none of the three have separated themselves from the competition. For the Steelers sake, hopefully one of the candidates grabs the reigns early in camp and runs with it, winning the position outright, rather than by default.

Adding to the uncertainty is the complete installation of Matt Canada's playbook to the Steelers new look offense. That was an impossible endeavor last season, as the Steelers simply lacked the personnel to execute the game plan. Kevin Colbert, in his last hooray as the Steelers General Manager, shrewdly acquired what appears at first glance to be many of the pieces that were no doubt missing last season. They also got noticeably younger in the process.

The Steelers improved their quarterback mobility, the speed and big play ability of the wide receivers, and the talent and stability of the interior offensive line. Now, Canada and the Steelers should be able to utilize the complete playbook to keep defenses off balance and guessing.

The severe limitations of the past few seasons created crippling predictability, resulting in an anemic offense that was quite frankly hard to watch. The 2022 offense should be anything but predictable, as even the Steelers can't be too sure what to expect.

The same could be said about the Steelers defense. Linebacker whisperer and pass rush maestro Keith Butler has left the building, no doubt wondering aimlessly throughout the early stages of retirement, still feverishly trying to devise a plan of attack to stifle the unstoppable Tyler Eifert. Sorry, I just couldn't resist the temptation.

In all seriousness, the impact of Butler's absence will no doubt affect the Steelers pass rush. I believe that is a huge reason that Mike Tomlin and company felt compelled to bring in Brian Flores, a defensive minded coach who definitely knows a thing or two about devising and executing an effective pass rush.

Similar to the Steelers new look offense, none of us really know what to expect with the Steelers new look defense. While there will still be familiar faces in some places, numerous newcomers have been added to the equation: names like Jack, Wallace, Kazee will be expected to quickly become acquainted with their new teammates and schemes so they can operate at peak efficiency.

We all know the plan, even if none of us have a clue what the final results will look like. Truth is, we seldom do. That's what makes it all so exciting.

The origin of one’s Steelers fandom is a big factor in expectations

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Asking when someone became a Steelers fan can tell a lot about what they consider being successful.

As I’ve stated multiple times, Steelers’ Nation is a diverse crowd. Whether young or old, from the Pittsburgh area or never setting foot in the United States, there are a lot of differences in the people that make up the Steelers fan base but a very common thread in which they are united.

As I participate in various podcasts on he BTSC network, there are some complaints about the Steelers that get to me quite often. Talking about the team not making the Super Bowl in 12 seasons, or only having three playoff wins since the last appearance, I understand that the Steelers could give much better results. But I’ll dive more into that later.

In looking at some of these differences in expectations for the Steelers, I found it was very common that it wasn’t just about how someone became a Steelers fan, but when they became a Steelers fan.

While I’m not going to try to speak for all fans at this time, I can do what anyone of us can do and share our perspective about my history with the Steelers and how it affects my expectations each year.

Born in the late 70s, I have no recollection of the great Steelers dynasty. They are very few players I remember at all only because their career spanned later in the 80s. Players such as Mike Webster, John Stallworth, and Donnie Shell are ones that I saw play as a kid, but not that I knew of them as being Super Bowl champions.

The first quarterback I remember for the Pittsburgh Steelers is Mark Malone. I have no idea where my first memory of games fell between 1984 and 1987, I just know it was during the Malone era that I can remember seeing the games on television.

Because the first two quarterbacks I experienced in my lifetime with any memory of the Steelers were Mark Malone and Bubby Brister, I started off my Steeler fandom as someone following a team that used to be good but wasn’t anymore. Hearing about the Steelers winning four Super Bowls in the 70s was ancient history to me. My experience with the Pittsburgh Steelers was a team that was unlikely to make the playoffs and nowhere close to the dynasties I saw in San Francisco and then Dallas.

With expectations of the Steelers not being a good football team anymore, I followed them through my middle school years but also paid attention to other dynamic players around the league such as Randall Cunningham. The Steelers would always be my team, but it’s not like I was cheering for someone who was going to hold a Lombardi trophy at the end of the season.

When I entered high school, the Bill Cowher era began and it was exciting as a Steelers fan. Seeing that team through the 80s, as well as my father constantly saying how bad they were when he watchedthe games, I still never really believed the Steelers could be Super Bowl champions. Even when they won the AFC Championship Game, I still never had an expectation that the Steelers could win the game. They were two touchdown underdogs to the Dallas Cowboys and I never really thought a win would happen. So when it didn’t, I wasn’t surprised.

The first ever NFL draft I watched was in 2004. There was all the drama of Eli Manning and where he would or wouldn’t play, plus I had watched a prime time college game late in the season where they were highlighting Miami of Ohio because their quarterback was someone who was going to get drafted. I remember saying how I would love for the Steelers to trade up and get him. But when the Cleveland Browns passed on Ben Roethlisberger, I knew that he would be there for them to draft at the 11 spot.

It was also an interesting time in my life because that was the first NFL draft that happened after I got married. I had followed the Steelers as much as I could the prior season, but now living outside of the Pittsburgh area and games not yet being available via the internet was a how things were. So when I got to actually see Steelers game on television, it was exciting.

As the Steelers kept piling up victories in 2004, more and more of their games were available to watch. I saw Roethlisberger take his first snaps earlier in the season as they were playing the Ravens which was the home market for my area. The back-to-back wins against the undefeated New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were really exciting. But I still didn’t have Super Bowl expectations.

The 2005 season changed everything. The Steelers squeaked into the postseason, and I got together with my former college roommate to watch the playoff game against the Bengals. I thought the Steelers had a real good chance. As we know, they were victorious and moved on to the following week. I was excited because I felt they could upset the Colts, but I wasn’t banking on that they would. The fact that Indianapolis rested their players to end the season and had a bye, I felt that was unwise and that they were in the best position of the entire postseason to get knocked off. If the Steelers weren’t going to do it, they were going to run through the Super Bowl.

After that victory against the Indianapolis Colts, it was the first time in my life that I honestly believed the Pittsburgh Steelers could win a Super Bowl. I was 27 years old, and for the first time as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan I felt my team could actually win it.

As we all know, the Steelers went on to appear in three Super Bowls over the next six years and won two of them. It was a great time in the life of Steelers fans who weren’t alive in the 70s. I couldn’t believe I was getting to experience such a thing.

Because I had such low expectations of the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout most of my life, I’m not one of those people who are down on the team for not winning more playoff games over the last decade. Instead, I’m someone who loves the team is relevant every year. Looking back at Ben Roethlisberger and seeing that he only played in two games in his entire career where the Steelers weren’t still alive for the playoffs and therefore had a chance at a Super Bowl, that’s an amazing stretch. With the 2005 season showing all that it took was getting a ticket into the postseason and playing well at the right time, I thought the Steelers have had a chance ever since. Even if they haven’t won playoff games, knowing that your team at least is in a position to where they could contend has been an absolutely amazing run.

How long will this run continue? I don’t know. It would be great if it does through the 2022 season and then take it from there. But I’m just grateful for what the Steelers have offered through my adulthood. Because when I look at my childhood, I didn’t have any hope that my team would ever do anything.

Because this is where I come from, it frustrates me when other fans complain about the playoff wins or saying that not having a losing record is settling for mediocrity. I get it. But if your Steelers fandom started with Ben Roethlisberger, no wonder you feel that way. Even if it started with Neil O’Donnell, there’s a lot of good Steeler seasons in there to be happy about. But for me, growing up watching Mark Malone and Bubby Brister, I’m just happy going into the final week of the season and knowing that my team still has a chance to play for the championship.

Steelers will have two of their three preseason games televised

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Who’s ready for some football that doesn’t count?!

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a national brand, and one the NFL loves to put in prime time. This is why the team usually has the league maximum five prime time games year-in and year-out.

The league wants to have the Steelers on television, and the preseason is no different. The three-game slate of preseason games will have the Steelers aired live for their first and last games of the preseason.

The NFL Network announced they will air the Week 1 preseason game vs. the Seattle Seahawks live, but you should prepare yourselves for the network to go away from the game at 9 p.m. ET when the Cowboys and Broncos games begin.

22 live #NFLPreseason games are coming to NFL Network this summer! pic.twitter.com/sLC3pOWGzm

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) June 13, 2022

The Steelers’ final preseason game, against the Detroit Lions, will also be televised live on CBS. That leaves only the Week 2 game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars as the lone non-televised game for the Steelers as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

For the first time in a long time, there will be plenty to watch during the preseason. How will Mike Tomlin divide the reps for the trio of quarterbacks vying for the starting role? How will Teryl Austin and Brian Flores handle the defense? What will the offense look like with a more athletic quarterback at the helm?

These are just some of the storylines heading into the preseason, and thankfully the fan base will get to see plenty of action from the comfort of their own homes.

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 starting July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

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