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A level-headed news-discussion site with a sense of history and community https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/community_logos/47293/steel_curtain_fave.png 2019-06-26T06:31:00-04:00
Updated: 44 min 2 sec ago

Rookie WR Diontae Johnson impressing teammates and coaches

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 9:30am

The young wide receiver from Toledo appears to be one of the early standout performers through OTAs

While it is always worth tempering your enthusiasm about reports coming out of OTAs regarding the performance of any player, it was hard to ignore the positive words coming from some of the veteran players about rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson on Tuesday.

With the entire team in Pittsburgh for the start of the Steelers three day mandatory minicamp, the former Toledo product was a popular topic of conversation, highlighted as one of the standout performers by his teammates when talking to reporters.

As per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ben Roethlisberger has been spending extra time with his new receivers this offseason and is already impressed with the potential Johnson has been showing.

“The one thing I noticed was he caught every ball I threw to him, I even threw him some bad balls on purpose, throw some high, behind him, just to see if he would catch them. And he caught every one. It was impressive.”

A sentiment echoed by Joe Haden when asked who had stood out at OTAs to him, as reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.

“For me the receiver, No. 18 (Diontae Johnson). He runs some really, really crisp routes. He is natural. He is fast. He comes out of his breaks really well. He has been impressive. I watch receivers. I watch tape on them. He is a good one.”

Special teams coach Danny Smith is also excited to see what the young player can do as a return man having spent extensive time scouting him for that role ahead of the draft.

“You know, I studied him a lot. I liked him a lot. I put together tape on him. We discussed him in the draft in that fashion. I went over to Toledo to visit with him and meet him. I spent a lot of time with him. He’s a good player. He’s a real good player. And we’ll see, you know, how he handles all this, you know, at the next level, but he’s a very good player.”

For his part, Johnson is starting to find his footing after missing much of the first few weeks of OTAs with a hamstring injury, as reported by Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I think it’s going pretty good. It’s getting into the flow of things and getting comfortable again. Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. As the days go on, I’m starting to feel comfortable.”

“I’m learning the offense, but I feel like I’m playing smoother than I did first coming in. If I have a question, he’ll [Ben Roethlisberger] tell me what to do, how to adjust to certain things and stuff like that. It’s just little details like how many yards before the break. He’s just testing me right now to see how I adjust to the ball and stuff like that.”

Given the limited amount of time Roethlisberger spent throwing the ball to James Washington during his rookie offseason, it is encouraging to see that Johnson is getting comparatively more time with Big Ben this year. The sooner he can develop a rapport with Big Ben, the better his chances of being able to contribute early on in 2019.

But while it may be far too soon to tag him as the starter opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster as Pro Football Focus did recently, these initial reports suggest it should not be completely discounted.

Steelers 2019 Minicamp Recap, Day 1: David DeCastro pleased with the new team upon his return

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 8:06am

Time to check in on everything that went down at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Day 1 of Mandatory Minicamp.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back to work for the final time before they report to training camp at the end of July. The Mandatory Minicamp session started Tuesday and will last three days, wrapping up on Thursday. While there is no hitting involved, this is as close as football gets until the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA for their annual training camp.

For those who attended Organized Team Activities (OTAs), minicamp wasn’t that different. But for David DeCastro, who missed OTAs due to the birth of his second child, his return was met with a pleasant surprise. With Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell on new teams, the drama was gone.

Dave DeCastro is here for mandatory mini-camp: “Things have changed pretty well around here...Everyone is on the same page. More team orientated.”

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 11, 2019

And since DeCastro doesn’t do social media, and wasn’t there for OTAs, he also chimed in on what the thinks of Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership:

“I think things have changed pretty well around here, more team-oriented, and that’s the first step,” DeCastro said. “I think everyone is on the same page. Ben’s always been a great leader to me and I’m excited to play with a guy like that. I have a ton of respect for him. How could you not? He’s one of those guys that you get in the huddle with, he brings you up, because he’s so competitive. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field with him.”

DeCastro was someone who was very outspoken with his disgust the past two years regarding the drama surrounding the team. It seems that he is also outspoken enough to discuss how he is happy that drama is gone, even if it means losing some talent on the team.

David DeCastro talks about being back on the field, Coach Sarrett, Ben Roethlisberger and more. pic.twitter.com/OlMFYEueOj

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 12, 2019

Time to check out what else went down on Day 1 of Minicamp:

  • Ben Roethlisberger speaks, and praises his wide receivers

Ben Roethlisberger isn’t one to gush over any teammates during minicamp. If he talks about anyone constantly in a positive light, it would be his offensive line. But we all know Roethlisberger will call it like he sees it when it comes to his receivers.

So far, Roethlisberger has been very high on his receivers, especially Donte Moncrief.

.@_BigBen7 said you can already see Donte Moncrief’s knowledge of the offense, even with no huddle stuff. Ben added, Moncrief is in and grinding with Coach Drake every morning to get up to speed.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) June 11, 2019

But Moncrief wasn’t the only one who caught some of Roethlisberger’s praise, check out what he said during his media session Tuesday.

Ben Roethlisberger speaks about minicamp, who has made a mark this offseason and more. pic.twitter.com/3xpbRopr8j

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019
  • What do the players actually learn in minicamp?

Many often wonder what the players actually learn during a minicamp session. Luckily for those who think this way, head coach Mike Tomlin outlined that and much more after the first workout of the week.

Coach Tomlin talks about on field work, rule changes and more after our first day of minicamp. pic.twitter.com/GGQ8JOq1ka

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019
  • Some lesser known coaches speak

Minicamp is the first opportunity for fans to hear from some of the assistant coaches who help coach specific position groups. Definitely worth the watch/listen.

A few of our assistant coaches spoke to the media about their position groups. pic.twitter.com/TFHNrXMRml

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019
  • VIDEOS/PHOTOS

JuJu up close pic.twitter.com/BzcQ1hUoOx

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) June 11, 2019

QB leadership pic.twitter.com/Uw6biXDm08

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) June 11, 2019

Xavier Grimble scoring practice points as @JFowlerESPN lends us some free voiceover work. Thanks, bro. pic.twitter.com/hwVCJITscS

— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) June 11, 2019

Minicamp Day 1️⃣☑️

: https://t.co/AKZJu3xxjK pic.twitter.com/hbnZWNrdzx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019

Call him Crief pic.twitter.com/46EI3M7MKZ

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) June 11, 2019

It seems as if an 18-game NFL season is inevitable

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 6:54am

The idea of an 18-game regular season has been floating out in the NFL ether for quite some time. What does that mean? The owners desperately want it. And in the world of big business, the people writing the checks eventually get what they want.

The NFL CBA is up in 2021 which could lead to a lockout, a strike or, if all goes smoothly, a harmonious and successful renegotiation with specific changes that, if the owners finally get their wish, will include an 18-game regular season.

It seems like the threat of an 18-game regular season has been hanging up there in the ether for close to a decade (if not longer). Unfortunately for NFL owners, their desires for a lengthened regular season have coincided with growing concerns for the toll the game of football takes on an athlete—specifically the toll it takes on his brain—who decides to make that his first post-college profession.

To the league’s credit, it has responded—no doubt, reluctantly—to the concerns by spending many hours and many millions of dollars over the past decade researching ways to make injuries associated with head trauma— injuries both of the short term and long term variety—less of a factor than they ever were at any point in NFL history.

This has led to several rule changes, a focus on proper technique and an enlightenment for everyone—including owners, players and even the fans—to the dangers of the sport of football.

Will this be successful in the long run? It’s hard to say. No matter what one does to try and make football safer, it’s a violent sport at its very core, and there’s only so much one can do to lessen the toll it takes on the body and, more importantly, the brain.

So why an 18-game regular season? If the league is so concerned about player safety, how can it even think about expanding its schedule?

Because of money, that’s why. Hypocritical? No doubt. But people need to remember that the owners, well, own the teams. They are in charge—believe it or not, it’s not commissioner Roger Goodell.

More regular season games means more revenue for the league, as well as the major networks, who, believe me, would love two more weeks to air the ratings juggernaut that is NFL football.

As someone who has worked for many bosses in my day, believe me when I tell you, when a boss wants something, eventually the boss is going to get his or her way. Is it always fair? No. But the person writing the checks usually has a stronger vote.

This ongoing threat of an 18-game schedule kind of reminds me of those all-too familiar threats from various team owners throughout the years who always seem to want a new stadium...or else. Sure, the politicians and citizens complain, and these fights often go on for years. But in the end, the owners usually win out and get their new stadiums built—at little cost to the owners.

Again, fair? No. But the NFL is big business, and the kind of revenue it generates is ultimately too much for a city to walk away from.

I’d imagine the same can be said for your average NFL player (emphasis on “average NFL player,” meaning the rank and file).

As least that’s what former NFL player and current analyst Phil Simms said recently.

“More money,” said Simms in a quote courtesy of his podcast, Unbuttoned, and Profootballtalk.com. “More game checks. It’s pro-rated. Give me two more game checks. If you put it up to a vote by the NFL players, it’ll overwhelmingly go over and say yes. Some of the elite quarterbacks and a few players, no. Well yeah, you’re making 25 and 30 million. But the guys that are making a million or less...two more game checks? Are you kidding me? Think about what those checks look like and how much that is and how much of a difference that makes in their lives.”

Onto the fans...

I could never figure out why they don’t want more regular season games. We say we hate the over-saturation of the league (“Damn those Thursday games!”), but most hardcore fans do nothing but talk about football the entire off-season.

Is more football really such a bad thing? If yes, why? How can more of something we enjoy really be a bad thing? You might say it will dilute the product and produce more meaningless games. It could. But it could also lead to more teams remaining in the playoff hunt longer, which will lead to more meaningful football.

No matter how you slice it, the league isn’t going to move away from the 20-game revenue model it’s been using since at least the 1960s and early-to-mid ‘70s, when there were 14 regular season games and six preseason games.

You might think it sucks that you have to pay full price to watch a meaningless preseason game, and you’re right, it does suck. But the owners simply aren’t going to cut the current four-game preseason schedule in half and be done with it. Again, they’re going to want to keep their 20-game revenue model, which will mean expanding the regular season.

Fans also seem to be concerned about player safety.

But is player safety really a concern to the average NFL fan?

If so, great, but that doesn’t mean an 18-game regular season won’t be a good thing.

One thing we can say now that we couldn’t say even 10 years ago, is that, again, we know the deal with regards to the toll the game of football takes on the body—specifically, the brain.

If you’re a high school or college football player (or his parents), and you don’t know the dangers of playing that sport, shame on you for a thousand years.

But you probably do know the dangers. The NFL may have reluctantly allowed us all to know the real do about the game of football, but at least it finally let us know.

Now, a player gets to decide on his life path—and do so with all the important information at his grasp. If a player knows what he’s putting himself through and still wants to play, who is anyone to stop him? Even Troy Polamalu, of all people, said he knew the deal years ago but chose to keep playing anyway. James Harrison once said he was willing to go through hell so his kids wouldn’t have to.

Perhaps the fans will one day be the judge and jury on the dangers of the game of football and begin to tune out in numbers that will ultimately cripple the National football League.

However, that day doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon, which means an 18-game regular season will likely be a reality in the very near future.

Podcast: Vince Williams won’t be playing much for the Steelers in 2019

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 5:31am

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

As the Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their 2019 Mandatory Minicamp Tuesday, there are a myriad of story lines which will run through social media over the next week or so. One of those questions will be how the Steelers plan on deploying their Inside Linebackers for the upcoming season.

Vince Williams is the mainstay with Mark Barron and Devin Bush taking on the role as newcomers. But how will the team utilize all three of these players? It seems as if someone is going to lose out on playing time, and what if it just happened to be Williams?

Yes, he is the veteran of the group, but in the ever-changing world of NFL football, speed is the priority.

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams, talks about how he expects Vince Williams to get the short end of the stick in 2019.

Lance is the perfect man for the job, and delivers the goods in the latest show.

Check out the audio below:

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

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Black and Gold Links: Fans shouldn’t let Cameron Sutton get lost in the CB shuffle

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 4:30am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, mainly mandatory minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how cornerback Cameron Sutton, while often overlooked, shouldn’t be lost in the CB shuffle as the 2019 season approaches.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Cameron Sutton was one of those popular mid-round cornerbacks drafted by the Steelers, but will be break the mold considering the success rate of those aforementioned picks?

Carter’s Classroom: Don’t forget Sutton

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

The Steelers’ investment into the cornerback position in recent years has boosted their depth chart to the point that Cameron Sutton struggled to get playing time toward the end of 2018.

With the addition of Steven Nelson and Justin Layne, Sutton has gone from being the first replacement at cornerback to maybe fighting for any defensive snaps in 2019. But that shouldn’t be any reason for Sutton to be left behind.

Here’s why he’s a player I’m keeping my eye on through training camp:

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Without Antonio Brown on the roster, many are downplaying the potential of a stellar wide receiver group. Donte Moncrief disagrees with that thought process.

Donte Moncrief thinks Steelers can have “electric” WR group

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

Pittsburgh will be counting on another big season for JuJu Smith-Schuster, but won’t be looking to one player to replace Brown’s numbers alongside him. Donte Moncrief will be part of the group vying for time alongside Smith-Schuster and he feels that he and the other wideouts have the potential to make a big impact.

“As [wide receivers] coach [Darryl Drake] said, you’re always going to be as strong as your weakest guy,” Moncrief said, via the team’s website. “In our room we try to pick everybody up, make sure everybody’s on the same page and make sure everybody’s ready to go to play every position. If we can do that, our receivers room will be electric.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Devin Bush is a rookie, but he sure is adjusting to live in the NFL nicely...

7 weeks into NFL career, Steelers’ Devin Bush adjusting to life as a pro

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

That’s just part of the reason that, seven weeks into his own NFL career, Bush feels as if he’s been adjusting well.

“Every day is a lesson learned for me,” Bush said on the opening day of Pittsburgh Steelers mandatory minicamp Tuesday. “I come in, I learn something new every day. I keep my mind open to new ideas and new ways of going about this job and everything that comes with it. Week in and week out, I’ve grown.”

The son of eight-year pro safety Devin Bush Sr. who played at Michigan for longtime former NFL quarterback and head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bush came to the Steelers with high expectations after being the No. 10 overall pick in the draft.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • David DeCastro missed OTAs due to his second child being born, but when he returned for minicamp he was pleasantly surprised with the team assembled.

David DeCastro: Steelers ‘more team-oriented’ now

By: Jeremy Bergman, NFL.com

Roethlisberger isn’t the only Pittsburgh player to feel a sense of relief and rejuvenation in the locker room. His guard, David DeCastro, feels similarly, lauding his longtime quarterback in the process.

”I think things have changed pretty well around here, more team-oriented, and that’s the first step,” DeCastro said, per SteelersNow.com. “I think everyone is on the same page. Ben’s always been a great leader to me and I’m excited to play with a guy like that. I have a ton of respect for him. How could you not? He’s one of those guys that you get in the huddle with, he brings you up, because he’s so competitive. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field with him.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Social Media Madness

The #Vanimal #TDTuesday | @VMcDonald89 pic.twitter.com/2b9s0XFFR7

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019

QBs beware. pic.twitter.com/c4pZwTgUN0

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 11, 2019

1️⃣ 1️⃣ 1️⃣ catches
1️⃣4️⃣2️⃣6️⃣ yards
7️⃣ touchdowns
1️⃣st #ProBowl appearance#UltimateHighlight | @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/9m5MqL65ri

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 10, 2019

Ben Roethlisberger not buying the underdog tag - ‘We’re still the Pittsburgh Steelers’

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 2:35pm

While the outsiders my consider the Steelers underdogs in their own division, Big Ben does not necessarily agree

If the bookmakers are to be believed, the Pittsburgh Steelers loss of Antonio Brown at the same time as the Cleveland Browns acquired Odell Beckham Jr. has made them significant underdogs in their division heading into 2019. And while that has been a popular narrative for many in the national media to run with this offseason, it would appear that at least one member of the Steelers organization has failed to get the memo.

When speaking to reporters on the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, Ben Roethlisberger left no doubt that he was not buying into the underdog label that teammate Joe Haden seemed willing to embrace.

“Well I’ve been here a long time and we’re still the Pittsburgh Steelers. We’re still going to go out and try to win every football game. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the big one. But, you know, like I said, if everyone puts forth the effort that we all think we can and with the talent that we have in this room, we feel pretty confident we can be pretty good.”

Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers perceived as underdogs: ‘We're still the Pittsburgh Steelers.' pic.twitter.com/N4E0I3oCSD

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 11, 2019

The Steelers will need more of that fighting spirit if they are to be successful in 2019, but there is a lot to like about many of the new additions Pittsburgh has made this offseason. And while the national media and the bookmakers may already be counting them out this year, there appears to be a quiet understated confidence emanating from the locker room right now that bodes well for the season ahead.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Player Profile: Tevin Jones

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:37pm

Taking an in-depth look at some of the players who are striving just to have a shot at the team’s 53-man roster.

Tevin Jones might be the least known of the Pittsburgh Steelers wideouts who are with the team. He has never made an NFL roster like Johnny Holton. He does not have a famous father like Trey Griffey. He has never garnered accolades in the Canadian Football league like Diontae Spencer. Heck, the former Memphis Tigers does not even have a Wiki page.

If you were glued to your TV during the fourth preseason game in 2018, you should recognize his name at least. In the preseason finale, Jones hauled in three catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.

His career at Memphis was nondescript with 90 receptions over 46 games.

His redshirt freshman year, Jones snagged 10 receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown. He was not limited to just catching the ball. He also had 10 rushes for 32 yards and a second touchdown. He also impacted special teams with a punt block and a recovered punt block for a touchdown.

In 2013, he sophomore season, Jones Hauled in 25 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. Jones made seven starts and played in all 12 of the contests.

Jones had his best collegiate season during his junior season hauling in 33 receptions for 442 yards and three touchdowns. While starting 10 of the 13 games during the season, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder reeled in a solid 13.4 yards per reception.

In his final season at Memphis, Jones only garnered 22 receptions for 316 yards and four touchdowns. He did, however, notch 45 yards on nine rushes over the course of the season.

While at his pro day, Jones put up solid numbers with a 4.48 forty time, 10’5″ broad jump, 36.5” vertical leap, and a 6.88 second three-cone drill. Even with the good SPARQ numbers, he went undrafted.

The Houston Texans signed Jones as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2016 but he did not make an impact in their preseason and was cut prior to the season. However, he was resigned to the Texans practice squad in December.

In January 2017, he signed a reserve/future contract with Houston but his Houston career came to an end in May when he was again cut by the team. The Kansas City Chiefs scooped him up in June to kick his tires. Again, Jones was unable to stick with an NFL team and was cut prior to the season.

Out of the league for the season, Pittsburgh signed Jones to a reserve/future contract in January 2018.

The first three games of the 2018 preseason Jones accounted for one lone catch for five yards. The fourth preseason game is the one where starters barely play and fans have a tough time watching with the deep reserves seeing plenty of playing time. This was the game that earned Jones a spot of the Steelers 2018 practice squad. Three catches, 90 receptions, and two touchdowns later, Jones finally put up film for the coaches to evaluate his true talent. His eye-popping 30.yards per reception night could have been better except for a pair of brutal drops.

Was it the drops or just the Steelers deep wideout crops in 2018 that kept him from making the 53-man roster? Sticking with the Steelers practice squad through 2018 had to be a great learning experience and possibly a leg up on his 2019 competition. JuJu Smith-Schuster, 2018 second-round pick James Washington, 2019 third rounder Diontae Johnson along with free agent acquisition Donte Moncrief are the four wide receivers who are locked in with the team this season. Will the Steelers keep five or six receivers on the 53-man roster will be debated all fall and have fans waiting impatiently for the final roster to be released early in September. Jones will have to showcase his skills that were in the spotlight against the Carolina Panthers last August if he wants to make a name for himself this summer to land with the Steelers and possibly get a Wiki page.

Bud Dupree once again confident of a breakout season in 2019

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 11:00am

Entering a contract year with the Steelers, the outside linebacker believes his fifth season in the league will be the year he puts it all together

Of all the financial moves the Pittsburgh Steelers have made over the past year or so, the decision to exercise the fifth-year option on Bud Dupree is among their more questionable. Rather than attempt to fill his position via free agency or the draft, the front office opted to commit $9.232 million to the former first-round pick in hopes that he will finally play at a level consistent with his draft status.

A total of 20 sacks in four seasons is far from the return on their investment the Steelers could have envisaged when taking Dupree with the 22nd overall pick, a feat T.J. Watt has matched in just two years, but it seems his lack of relative success has not impacted the edge rushers belief in himself heading into 2019.

When speaking to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN during OTAs, while Dupree is clearly more than aware of the expectations of those around him, he remains confident about his prospects this season.

“Everybody is waiting on that year to come. I know and I feel this year will be the year to show the person I am and just put everything together.”

And despite only recording 5.5 sacks in 2018, Dupree feels he was far more successful than the statistics suggest.

“Last year, I had double-digit sacks in the books -- we can watch the film, put it up. You can see I had double-digit sacks; it’s just that I didn’t finish plays. I got held on four plays, blatant holds. Those should have been strip sacks, missed sacks, people in my arms.

”This year, I have to capitalize on it. If they hold me, I have to rip through the hold and get the sack. If I grab the quarterback, I can’t miss him. I have to finish that. Then it will be a big year, not only for me, but for the team.”

A grade of 60.5 from Pro Football Focus last year indicates Dupree might have more than just a few issues with finishing off a play here and there to worry about, and fans should be forgiven for thinking they have heard this all before.

In 2016, a confident Dupree predicted a big year heading into his second season, only to see it derailed by injury. In 2017, he was even more enthused.

“I’m gonna turn it up another notch. It’s gonna go down. It’s gonna be a big year, man. It’s gonna be a great year. It’s gonna be a big year for me but not only for me, for my whole defense as a whole.”

In 2018, it was the front office hyping up his prospects.

“I think Bud is just scratching the surface to what he can be,” said Kevin Colbert. “He’s shown us enough signs that that can happen and will happen.”

A double-digit sack season from Dupree would not only be cause for huge celebration, but would likely accompany a successful season for the team on defense. Should both he and Watt achieve those numbers in 2019, a deep run in the playoffs could well be a possibility.

But given the failed projections of the last four years, it is difficult to take his latest remarks too seriously. While not expecting Dupree to tell reporters he has no chance of improving, it is somewhat disheartening as a fan to hear the same words year after year and yet to see no real change to the product on the field. Hopefully this is the season he finally proves the skeptics like myself wrong.

Which Steelers Jersey is best to purchase for 2019?

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 9:31am

For most, a Steelers jersey is a multi-year investment so the decision should not be made lightly.

We’ve all been there. It’s time to update our Steelers fashion with the newest jersey, toiling over which player to represent on game day at Heinz Field. Choose wisely and the high-fives may increase while walking through the Great Hall. Choose poorly and your newest attire could be buried in the back of the closet before the aroma fades from the splash of the adult beverage in which it was showered during a touchdown celebration.

In all seriousness, investing in a Steelers jersey is no joking matter. The last thing you want to do is spend your hard earned cash to only last a season before the player has gone elsewhere. And as BTSC’s Jeff Hartman recently pointed out in his letter from the editor, owning a dozen jerseys does not give you a Steelers “fan card.” Many fans only buy a jersey every three to five years in order to keep up with changing styles such as color rush or throwbacks. So if you’re looking to invest in a jersey for the 2019 season, and you are looking for one to stand the test of time, we here BTSC are here to help.

The purpose of this exercise is to avoid the “corner of shame” in one’s closet. I’m sure we all have it. It’s the jersey you’ll never wear again because of the player. Jeff Hartman has his Kendrell Bell which was given to him after his rookie-of-the-year season and before his ankles were determined to be made of glass. Bryan Anthony Davis has his infamous Jarvis Jones (I’m uncertain at what point it ever seemed like a good idea) and I’m sure he has a host of others as he collects jerseys more than a Browns fan collects paper bag masks. For myself, it’s my recently retired Antonio Brown bumblebee jersey which was given to me for Christmas in 2012. I’m sure there may be one or two other Steelers fans with an 84 jersey now in their corner of shame.

Personally, I think any jersey that could be confidently worn to the stadium for 3 to 5 years is a worthwhile investment. So which Steeler players at the present time would give you such a return on your purchase?

Up until about five years ago, there were some fantastic articles on this site from a “jersey committee” in order to help fans make their choice. In recognition of the great work that was done in 2014 and before, I am going to use their same categories for jerseys with an ever so-slight-twist of subcategories. Those main categories are:

- Don’t Buys

- Qualifiers

- Finalists

- Champion

Before diving into each of these categories, I’m going to bring up a separate issue in which it is fair to choose at any moment: the retro jersey. Steeler greats will always have a jersey which can be worn throughout eternity. These jerseys will never reach the corner of shame. Classic jerseys like Greene, Harris, Lambert, Swann, and (most of the time) Bradshaw will always be welcomed into the tailgate party at the Heinz Field parking lot. The more recent batch of retro players will also gain you entrance to such festivities, such as Bettis, Ward, and Polamalu.

I also believe that there is a special category here: active retro. I think it’s fairly safe to say that Ben Roethlisberger’s jersey will also be one which can be worn throughout eternity. Yes, Ben is still playing and there are still things which could happen at the end of his career which could change this, but I believe the likelihood of Ben not being on the Mount Rushmore of Steelers players is unlikely. But chances are anyone with more than one Steelers jersey in their collection has probably already invested in a number seven jersey (or has specifically chose not to invest in one), so therefore crowning him the champion would serve a very small portion of the fanbase. Additionally, It would be a stretch for his jersey to apply to have 3 to 5 more active years of playing.

I went through this process in the 2017 off-season as I decided to upgrade to a color rush jersey as it would match perfectly with my custom-made Kylo Ren Star Wars Steelers helmet.

I made the decision to not repeat the jersey of a player I already had, so Rothlisberger, Pouncey, and Brown were all excluded. I wanted to wear this new jersey for at least three seasons and hoped to have someone who would personify “The Darkside.” As I go through these categories, I will refer back to my own dilemma and how I came to my final decision.

So here we go...

Don’t Buys The Custom-Named Jersey

Don’t. Just don’t. You aren’t on the team, so unless your name is Polamalu, don’t put your own last name on the jersey.

After purchasing my 2017 color rush, someone suggested that I should have done a number seven and put the name “Kylo Ben” on the back. While I have always been against the custom jersey, the pure awesomeness of the helmet outweighs the cheesiness of the custom name (which, not being my own, becomes more acceptable). I must admit that I have considered ordering this jersey as my next purchase.

The Rookie

Although I believe Devin Bush would be a good five-year investment as a jersey, the last thing I would want to do was feel my purchase was the jinx which led to a Sean Spence situation.

I could have thrown in another category of “The New Free Agent Signing,” but since they are technically a rookie to the Steelers I will just mention them here.

The Contract Year

Never, never, buy a jersey of a player going into the final year of their contract unless you plan on getting a new jersey every season. For example, Joe Haden may not be the best investment right now unless he signs an extension before the start of the season. Javon Hargrave and Sean Davis are two more players who are entering the final year of the rookie contract and will possibly be extended. But until they are, the investment is high risk.

One suggestion for my color rush jersey was for James Harrison, mainly based off his no-nonsense attitude. My three year requirement nixed the suggestion quickly.

The Roster Bubble/Non-Starter

If Tyler Matakevich has you convinced he’s going to be the next big thing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, then go for it. But for me, the players who aren’t cracking the starting lineup could find themselves expendable and render your jersey obsolete.

Going back to my color rush decision, this category made me nix Nix. While I thought Rosie would be a great choice, I was unsure at the time how much the Steelers would continue to employ a fullback. If only his Pro Bowl selection had come one season sooner I might be wearing number 45.

The Specialist

Are you really going to go with a kicker? It reminds me of when I traveled to Washington DC in 2008 for the Monday night game and sat behind someone wearing a Daniel Sepulveda jersey. I wondered why back then, and I continue to wonder why even now.

The Distraction

Any player who is a problem in the locker room, regardless of their skill, should be disqualified. This is a brand new type of player to be avoided in the last two seasons. I’ll just leave it at that.

Qualifiers The Third Year Player

Any player drafted by the Steelers who is entering their third season (other than a first rounder which will be explained later) becomes a player who qualifies, but isn’t quite there yet. I’d like to think of this is an “on the cusp” option. Both JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner fit this profile as they have two years down, Pro Bowl experience, and two years to go. In the 2020 off-season when both these players sign extensions (fingers crossed), they instantly vault to finalists or champions.

The Annual Starter

Players that have stuck around and held a starting spot for several years are never a bad choice. Player such as a Ramon Foster or Vince Williams are in the mix, but may not be the best option. At this point in their careers, their longevity with the team can be questioned.

Finalists The Pro Bowler

As long as they meet the criteria (like not being in a contract year), any Steelers player that is made a trip to the pro bowl would be an excellent choice. Player such as DeCastro, Villanueva, Pouncey, and Heyward are all on their second contracts and have shown they are all about being a Steeler their entire career.

At this point it is important to mention a player on the Steelers roster who is still a viable candidate to definitely wear their jerseys to game, if not even purchase one: Ryan Shazier. While he still hopes to play football again someday, his commitment to the Steelers is the one to be celebrated. Making the selection of Shazier is unquestionable in my opinion if one is led to go in that direction.

The First Rounder

With the fifth year option, any non-rookie first-round selection of the Steelers fits my “rule of five.” This rule, which I cleverly made up, is where a player must have at least five years total of number of years he played for the Steelers plus the number of years they are still under contract. I would consider a player with only two years left on their deal if they played for the Steelers three years already. But the more likely scenario is a T.J. Watt who has already completed his second year, been to the Pro Bowl, and has three years left with his fifth year option.

But one must be careful that they do not pull a Bryan Anthony Davis and too quickly invest in a Jarvis Jones (or Artie Burns) jersey. I wouldn’t say a first rounder has to make the Pro Bowl in their first three years, but if they were close enough to be considered a snub your selection would be justified.

The Dependable Veteran

Not every player can make the pro bowl but they can still be worthy of your jersey choice. Players such as Vance McDonald or Stephon Tuitt have been quality players for the Steelers and are still under contract for three and four years respectively.

Champion

As much as I’d like to bring this exercise to a definitive conclusion, I feel each person is better equipped to make their own decision as to their champion and, ultimately, their purchase. As for my color rush from two seasons ago, I went with Cam Heyward. Although he is a great champion for me, it may not be the best fit for each person. So please vote in the poll to see who the consensus BTSC champion for jersey purchase is for the 2019 off-season!

5 things to watch for during Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mandatory Minicamp

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 8:06am

The Pittsburgh Steelers start their Mandatory Minicamp Tuesday, and here are 5 things to be on the look out for during the three days of practice.

The offseason workouts will come to a close this week when the Pittsburgh Steelers wrap up their mandatory minicamp on Thursday. The three day workouts are mandatory, unlike Organized Team Activities (OTAs), and while it is still just ‘football in shorts’ it is the last football we will have until the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA for their annual training camp.

With that said, even though there won’t be any hitting during the three minicamp workouts, it doesn’t mean there can’t be aspects of the team to keep an eye on. Therefore, I give you five story lines to keep an eye on from Tuesday to Thursday as we take in the last ounce of football before the dog days of summer.

Mason Rudolph vs. Joshua Dobbs

This battle won’t be settled until training camp, but don’t think the coaches feel the same way. They are watching every rep, every pass and every mistake. You can expect the two quarterbacks to split time with the first team while Ben Roethlisberger rests, but what these two young signal callers do with those reps will be worth noting.

Devin Bush and the other ILBs

Will Devin Bush start with the 1s from the start? Or will it be Mark Barron alongside Vince Williams with the team easing Bush into the rotation? Whatever happens during minicamp won’t necessarily means this is how the season will begin, but will speak volumes of how the coaching staff feel about the prized rookie early in the process.

Justin Layne’s spot

There are a lot of cornerbacks vying for a few positions on the roster. When you look at the depth chart, rookie Justin Layne will get a start on trying to be above players like Cameron Sutton, Brian Allen and Artie Burns on the depth chart to be the CB2 on the outside if Steven Nelson and/or Joe Haden were to not be available for whatever reason.

Three’s Company at Right Tackle

Just like who gets starter reps at the backup QB position, who see starting time at right tackle will be noteworthy. We all assume it will be Matt Feiler, but if Mike Tomlin is smart, and wants a genuine competition, he would start a different tackle every day. Feiler Day 1, Chukwuma Okorafor Day 2 and Jerald Hawkins on Day 3. I’ve never been so excited for an offensive line battle in my life...

Wide Receivers

This will be the first minicamp without Antonio Brown, and fans are itching to see who, and what, will take place without No. 84 on the field. Everyone knows what JuJu Smith-Schuster brings to the team, but Donte Moncrief, Diontae Johnson and to an extent James Washington remain relative unknowns. Who makes plays, who doesn’t and who sees time catching passes from Roethlisberger will be something to watch this week.

In the social media age, it is nice to see players like Arthur Moats get a decent send-off

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 6:48am

Unlike many journeymen and role players who came before him, former Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats got a decent retirement send-off thanks to social media.

Growing up in the 1980s, it was rare to know about the retirement of your average, everyday-type Steelers players. You know the ones I’m talking about. Your role players. Your journeymen. Your guys who started for several seasons, even, but just didn’t have the careers worthy of a fitting send-off.

Yes, while the Mean Joe Greene’s and even the Rocky Bleier’s of the black and gold-clad world got their press conferences and “Goodbye!!!!” banners, those working stiff ballplayers were lucky to have their retirements mentioned on the nightly sportscast or in a little blurb in the morning paper.

I was a young boy in those days, and I don’t remember even questioning the sudden disappearances of these players from one year to the next—even those guys that started several seasons.

As I sit here today, in this modern era with technology at my finger tips (quite literally) that allows me to join in on his retirement party with this here Internet article, I’m happy to say the same can’t be said for linebacker Arthur Moats, who officially announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday.

Thanks to blogs and social media, many fans got to attend Moats’ virtual retirement party, thank him for his contributions to the NFL and wish him well in the next phase of his life’s journey.

Moats was more journeyman/role player than he was a full-time starter of several seasons. But at least he got to spend nine years playing football at the highest level after being selected in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Not many players of Moats’ draft pedigree can say the same thing. And while this has certainly been covered by quite a few people, Moats wasn’t a role player who did all that he could just to hang on to his NFL career. He was a community presence no matter where he went—including Buffalo and then Pittsburgh after signing with the Steelers as a free agent prior to the 2014 regular season.

That says something about Moats, that he took the time to take time for others. While all players are encouraged to do such things, we generally see the superstars really take the football and run with it.

As for those journeyman types? You might see them pop up once in a while at Children’s Hospital or at a food bank. Not Moats. He was about as visible as a player of his status has ever been in the short time that he was a Steeler.

No, Moats wasn’t a superstar, as evidenced by his 45 career starts and 16.5 sacks. But I’m not a superstar at anything, yet I get a bunch of “likes” whenever I post a picture of one of my 200 rec-league bowling scores on social media.

That’s the great thing about today. Even the average person gets to bask in the glory of his or her accomplishments. The same can be said for your average NFL player, only on a much grander scale.

Judging by his personality and charisma, Moats may yet find his true calling in the sports media world and become one of those guys more famous for that than his playing career (I certainly wouldn’t be surprised). But if he doesn’t, at least he got to play in the modern era of pro football, where even the journeymen and role players get cool retirement parties.

Podcast: Do the positives far outweigh the negatives so far in 2019?

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 5:32am

Join Tony and Bryan for the Steelers news of the week in the latest episode of the ‘Steelers Hangover’.

With a tumultuous 2018 and the subsequent turbulent offseason, pessimism was abound in Steeler Nation. Now things seem to have shifted in a much more positive direction.Join Bryan Davis and Anthony Defeo from BTSC as they share their thoughts afterwards for the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

In case you are new to the show, you can check out a complete rundown of the show below:

  • Fact or Fiction
  • NFL happenings that effect Steeler Nation
  • Looking forward to 2019
  • and MUCH MORE!

Check out the show below:

Black and Gold Links: Steelers aim for perfect attendance at Mandatory Minicamp

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 4:34am

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

With the 2019 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2019 season is fast approaching, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is far from over. As the team now turns their attention to more offseason workouts, mainly mandatory minicamp, there is no shortage of news.

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the Steelers are hoping for perfect attendance at mandatory minicamp with starts today.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Mandatory Minicamp is what it says it is: Mandatory. But that doesn’t mean some teams have players who will take the fine and skip. The Steelers are hoping for perfect attendance during their minicamp this week.

Steelers finally could have perfect attendance for minicamp

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Minicamp, the final portion of the NFL’s offseason workout program, takes place this week. It starts with physicals on Monday and practices Tuesday through Thursday.

Like the organized team activities that preceded them, minicamp represents a scaled-down version of practice. Helmets can be worn. Pads cannot. And no tackling is permitted.

At minicamp, teams can have players at the facility for 10 hours a day and can conduct two-a-day practices totaling 3.5 hours – provided that the second practice is a walkthrough.

Nine NFL teams wrapped up what is known as Phase 3 of the offseason program by conducting their minicamps last week. That included the Cleveland Browns. Along with the Steelers, the other two AFC North teams will hold their minicamps this week.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the success the Steelers have experienced the past decade. But what if these numbers are nothing but a facade?

Tim Benz: This decade of Steelers football isn’t what numbers suggest

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Steelers in this decade — 2010 through 2018 — are in the top 15. No. 14 to be exact.

The Steelers of the ‘70s are sixth. And the Steelers of the ’90s are 12th.

Now let’s get into the commentary part.

I’d say these numbers are as damning of this run of Steelers football under Mike Tomlin as they are complimentary.

On the one hand, you may look at this table and say, “Wow! The current-decade Steelers have been more successful than the Cowboys and Bills of the ’90s. That’s pretty good!”

Yeah. It is. Until you look at the numbers besides regular-season wins.

There’s a zero in the “Super Bowl wins” column for these Steelers. And there’s only a “1” in “Super Bowl appearances.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Will Devin Bush run with the 1s at minicamp?

Minicamp: Will Bush run with the 1s right away?

By: Dale Lolley, DKPittsburghSports

It used to be a big deal. In the pre-OTA days 20 years ago, coaches would say goodbye to their players at the end of the season and not see them again until minicamp began. But with the advent of OTAs in the early 2000s, minicamp became more of an extension of the offseason workouts.

It’s still “football in shorts” as Mike Tomlin likes to classify it, with limits on contact and the amount of practice time.

But minicamp still holds some special meaning. It’s the culmination of the offseason program. And it’s the last opportunity for teams to see what their roster might look like before it begins training camp at the end of July. Think of it as the mid-semester exam for NFL players before they take the final in training camp.

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Safety Jordan Dangerfield knows there is an opportunity for him on the Steelers this year, and he is doing everything he can to grasp it.

Steelers safety Jordan Dangerfield follows the rules in trying to find a role

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jordan Dangerfield has spent his football career trying to find a balance between breaking barriers and following the rules. That’s typical life for an undrafted free agent in the NFL.

Even when Dangerfield was playing with the first-team defense during organized team activities this spring, the Pittsburgh Steelers safety always reminded himself of the rules.

So he brought a backup’s mentality to a starting role.

“That’s the first rule: Never get comfortable,” Dangerfield said. “There’s always somebody in life trying to take your spot. You’ve got to come out and prove it every day.”

The 28-year-old is trying to carve a spot in the Steelers’ secondary as the No. 3 safety behind starters Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds and a valuable special-teams player. While Davis missed the first two weeks of OTAs, Dangerfield took advantage of his extra snaps at free safety.

“It’s been big,” Dangerfield said. “I’ve been here. I know the defense.”

To read the full article, click HERE

  • Merril Hoge breaks down 6th round pick Ulysees Gilbert III’s game:

My breakdown on LB - @Ulysees_G5 shows how he uses his hands and plays in space and in the box. He also has great range and understands how to play the passing game which is very important in the @NFL . @steelers #HereWeGo #Steelers #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/Pc0oFbdisW

— Merril Hoge (@merrilhoge) June 10, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

1️⃣ 1️⃣ 1️⃣ catches
1️⃣4️⃣2️⃣6️⃣ yards
7️⃣ touchdowns
1️⃣st #ProBowl appearance#UltimateHighlight | @TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/9m5MqL65ri

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 10, 2019





: https://t.co/sG5oQAOaST pic.twitter.com/rZY7BzkhjN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 9, 2019

Thanking God For This Amazing Opportunity pic.twitter.com/0ZImuIQy0g

— Isaiah D. Buggs (@BigPooh_91) June 10, 2019

No ’s.......Push to Start!

Credit: @karlroser @steelers pic.twitter.com/boHHEWE7W4

— Josh Dobbs (@josh_dobbs1) June 10, 2019

Year ✌ , let’s get to work ⏰ pic.twitter.com/G0Up9hQAS4

— Terrell Edmunds (@rell_island6) June 10, 2019

“I show my a** in public, you’d do the same sh** if you came from nothing” #ThisismyYear #Year2 pic.twitter.com/pi8eBVt09f

— Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (@Love_Ola_9) June 10, 2019

What would the NFL look like if they re-aligned by geographical location?

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 2:35pm

If the NFL actually had the teams in the North be in the North divisions, etc. what would it look like?

If you have followed the NFL for any duration of time, you know the way they broke up all 32 teams. Four divisions per conference, four teams per division. Simple math, but the one thing which always got me was how some of the teams don’t seem to be in the right division.

For instance, why are the New England Patriots not in the AFC North? Instead, they are in the AFC East. Thinking about this I thought it would be fun to look at the divisions and see what they would look like if they were to re-align, but by geographical location.

Just to clarify, I decided not to move any teams from their current conference, just looking at divisional alignment. Every division has at least one new team in it except for the NFC West considering all four of those teams are predominantly on the western portion of the country compared to the other teams who could be moved.

Let’s see how this shakes out...

AFC North

Current:
Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals

New:
New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cleveland Browns

AFC East

Current:
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins

New:
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
New York Jets
Tennessee Titans

AFC South

Current:
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans
Houston Texans

New:
Jacksonville Jaguars
Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts
Kansas City Chiefs

AFC West

Current:
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers
Denver Broncos

New:
Indianapolis Colts
Oakland Raiders
Los Angeles Chargers
Denver Broncos

NFC North

Current:
Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
Chicago Bears

New:
Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions
New York Giants

NFC East

Current:
Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins
New York Giants

New:
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins
Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears

NFC South

Current:
New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New:
New Orleans Saints
Dallas Cowboys
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West

Current:
Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams
Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers

New:
Division would remain the same with almost all teams geographically in the west.

So, what do you think of these re-aligned divisions? Would you be on board? Are there other changes you would make? Let us know in the comment section below!

From a personnel standpoint, how close is the Steelers’ defense from being dominant?

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 12:47pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is often ridiculed, but how close are they from being a dominant unit?

On the latest episode of the BTSC Pittsburgh Steelers podcast “The Standard is the Standard” (you can hear it in the player below) I asked my co-host Lance Williams how close he thought this defense was to becoming dominant. When I mentioned dominance, I referenced the feeling felt in those early-to-late 2000s when you always had the feeling the defense was going to step up and make a play.

To the contrary, most recently the Steelers’ defense has left fans with the “here we go again” feeling more than the “they got this” feeling. But how close are they to bringing a dominant defense back to Pittsburgh? Shockingly, Lance thought they weren’t as far off as many might believe.

From a personnel standpoint, I wanted to go back and look at those 2000s defenses, look at the personnel they had and compare it to what the Steelers will be putting on the gridiron this season. A lot has changed in the game since then, but this is a great point of reference to the overall potential of the defense heading into the 2019 regular season.

Noseguard:
Then: Casey Hampton
Now: Javon Hargrave

Hargrave isn’t nearly the run stuffer Hampton was, but when it comes to rushing the passer Hargrave is far superior. Hampton was known to plug holes and occupy blockers, while Hargrave registered 6.5 sacks in 2018. Two different styles, both great in their own way.

Defensive End:
Then: Brett Keisel / Aaron Smith
Now: Cameron Heyward / Stephon Tuitt

On paper, Heyward and Tuitt should be the better unit, but Smith was possibly the most underrated player on those legendary defenses, while Keisel was a grinder who always seemed to make a play when it mattered the most. Heyward is one of the best 3-4 DE in the game today, and Tuitt is brimming with potential. If Tuitt can live up to his contract this duo could be absolutely dominant.

Outside Linebacker:
Then: James Harrison / LaMarr Woodley
Now: T.J. Watt / Bud Dupree

Of the positions covered so far, this might be the one skewed the most towards those 2000s defenses. When Woodley and Harrison were on, no one was stopping them. While Watt is showing flashes of dominance, Dupree is hardly the equivalent opposite him and this causes issues.

Inside Linebacker:
Then: Larry Foote / James Farrior
Now: Vince Williams / Devin Bush or Mark Barron

Again, a huge nod to the 2000s units, but there is a lot which has yet to be known about the 2019 defense. On paper you look at Foote and Farrior and realize how great they were in their prime, but no one knows what Devin Bush, or Mark Barron, will look like on the inside. Either way, Farrior played at a defensive player of the year candidate in his prime, and gives a big reason why this current group might be lacking at this position.

Cornerback:
Then: Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden, Deshea Townsend
Now: Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Mike Hilton

Call me crazy, but I like the 2019 cornerbacks a lot. Granted, a lot of those feelings are riding on the success, or failure, of Nelson, but let’s not pretend those 2000s defenses had the greatest cornerbacks ever seen in black-and-gold.

Safety:
Then: Ryan Clark / Troy Polamalu
Now: Terrell Edmunds / Sean Davis

Possibly the biggest discrepancy of those dominant defenses and the current group is at the safety position. Polamalu was a generational talent, and he and Clark played together perfectly. While Edmunds’ and Davis’ stories have yet to be completely written, they are a far cry from those aforementioned players.

Conclusion:

While this exercise was a fun and nostalgic one, you can clearly see where the deficiencies lie within the current defense. While I like the Steelers’ front three, their OLB, ILB and Safeties leave a lot to be desired.

Before fans start to think twice about considering this current defense as legit, understand the players we are referencing from those previous defenses. Polamalu and Harrison were Defensive Player of the Year players. Those don’t just grow on trees. Could Bush/Barron and Williams be as good as Foote and Farrior? Maybe not, but they could be pretty close. Could Edmunds and Davis put some legitimacy back to the Steelers’ safety position? One would expect them to only get better in Year 2.

All in all, I feel this defense has continued to take steps in the right direction from a personnel standpoint. The question now is whether the team can put everything together and show some improvement on the field.

Steelers mandatory minicamp could be Artie Burns’ last chance in Pittsburgh

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 11:00am

Due an $800,000 roster bonus once training camp begins at the end of July, the Steelers might yet decide to cut the former first-round draft after watching him perform during mandatory minicamp.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers set to hold their mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday, there is every chance that this could be the final time Artie Burns will ever wear the Black and Gold.

Due a roster bonus of $800,000 on the first day of training camp towards the end of July, the former first-round draft pick from 2016 is running out of opportunities to convince the coaching staff he is worth keeping around. The addition of Steven Nelson via free agency was a clear sign the team will be looking elsewhere for a starter this season and the selection of Justin Layne already had him in a precarious position regardless of the financial considerations.

But with Pittsburgh sitting at just $984,968 under the cap as of Monday, releasing a player who figures to be a part-time backup in return for a total cap saving of $1,757,862 might be too tempting to ignore. Bringing him to Latrobe is essentially an $800,000 gamble that he will show enough to make the final 53-man roster and that is a wager few outsiders would be willing to make based on his past performances.

Despite a promising rookie season, Burns appeared to regress in 2017 and that decline would continue into his third year, ultimately costing him his job and any real semblance of playing time towards the end of the season. After starting every game in his second season, Burns would be limited to just six starts in 2018 and would barely see the field after the bye week, registering just 14 snaps in the final 10 games and not playing on defense at all in seven of them.

The Steelers opened the season with five cornerbacks in the roster last year and seem unlikely to keep anymore than six this time around. Assuming Joe Haden, Nelson, Layne, and Mike Hilton are locks, Burns is left fighting with Brian Allen, Cameron Sutton and a whole host of futures signings for what might be the final slot.

The upcoming three-day training session will arguably be more important to Burns than any other player on the roster, but if he cannot do enough to convince the coaching staff he can bounce back at Latrobe, there seems little point in paying him the $800,000 to find out what they already know. Much like with Chris Boswell, perhaps his best shot of making it to training camp would be to agree to defer his roster bonus until the final preseason game.

Former Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats officially announces his retirement

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 9:30am

After nine years in the NFL, the popular linebacker has decided to move onto the next phase in his life.

While his name might not go down in history as one of the league best ever defensive players, the NFL lost one of their kindest personalities on Monday when former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats officially announced his retirement on social media.

View this post on Instagram

It’s been a awesome run and I’ve been blessed to have lived out my dream of playing in the NFL for 9 incredible seasons! The lifelong bonds I’ve made throughout this journey I will forever hold near and dear to my heart. I have to give a big thanks to the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers for giving me this opportunity to not only live out my dream on the field but to have a platform to positively impact people off it! Last but certainly not least, I have to give a big shoutout to 2 of the best fan bases in all of professional sports with #BillsMafia and #SteelersNation !!! The support I’ve received throughout my playing career and up until now has been nothing short of amazing! ALL LOVE!! #DontCrossTheMoats #OfficiallyRetired

A post shared by Arthur Moats (@dabody52) on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:18am PDT

After nine years in the league with the Buffalo Bills, Steelers and Arizona Cardinals, the popular linebacker has decided to move onto the next phase of his life away from the football field.

Selected by the Bills in the sixth-round of the 2010 draft, Moats would make his way to Pittsburgh via free agency in 2014, initially signing a one-year deal with the team. Re-signed to a three-year contract in 2015, Moats would primarily act as the backup to both outside linebacker positions and would record 11.5 of his career total of 16.5 sacks while with the Steelers, despite only starting 26 of the 64 games he played in Pittsburgh.

But as valuable as the veteran linebacker was to younger players like Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo and T.J. Watt when it came to teaching them how to be a professional, it would be fair to say that Moats had an even greater impact on the communities where he lived.

Named as his team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year while with both the Bills and the Steelers for his charitable work off the field, some fans might also be unaware that Moats donated 10-percent of his salary each year, as well as providing a considerable amount of his time to helping a variety of causes.

Noted for his work with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Pittsburgh, Moats has also made significant donations to his alma mater James Madison University and a number of other charities in the cities he has called home at various points in his life.

The loss of Moats from the NFL also means the loss of his wife Shonda, a passionate and knowledgeable football fan and a great supporter of many charities in her own right. But with the couple opting to remain in Pittsburgh to raise their family, there should be little doubt that the Moats family will continue to have a significant impact on the local community.

Fans who follow Moats on social media might also already be aware that the linebacker has a promising career in media on his hands with his own podcast and more recently as a reporter for Steelers official website and Steelers Nation Radio. And with his infectious smile and positive personality, it would seem to be a job he is well suited for.

Analyzing the Pittsburgh Steelers ‘Midfield’ defensive roles and depth

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 8:08am

Defensive roles matter more than positions in modern day football.

This article first appeared in 2018 as part of the pre-draft analysis to explain why analysts insist that modern defenses center around “roles” more than “positions.” It concluded that Pittsburgh needed to upgrade the available talent for the midfield roles at Mack-, Nickel-, and Dime-ILB; could benefit from a super-stud athlete at Buck ILB; and could also use a young athlete to play Safety behind Sean Davis and Morgan Burnett. Burnett is gone but the team has done a lot to address the rest of it. So now seems like an appropriate time to revisit the analysis with an eye toward current conditions.

NOTE: All statements regarding football X’s and O’s were reviewed and corrected by Cliff Harris Is Still A Punk. You should absolutely read this in conjunction with his fabulous 2018 piece on Cover-2 Safeties from the following week.)

For the past few years there’s been all but universal agreement that Mack ILB (the gap left by Ryan Shazier) was the Steelers’ biggest hole. The Steelers addressed this sideways in the 2018 draft, by selecting a multifaceted Strong Safety in Round 1 (Terrell Edmunds) and then doubling down with the selection of a hybrid SS/ILB type in Round 5 (Marcus Allen). Then they addressed it again by paying fairly big money on a true, if undersized, free agent Mack ILB in 2019 (Mark Barron) before making a huge trade up on draft day to select Mack ILB Devin Bush. So what does the situation look like now?

What do the terms really mean?

Most of you know that I’m a lawyer in my real life. Here’s a lawyer’s truism for you: most arguments about theory or principles come down to competing definitions of the terms in question. It therefore makes sense to start the discussion by specifying exactly what we mean by the terms we throw around so blithely: Buck ILB, Mack ILB, Strong Safety, and the various “hybrid” positions like Nickle LB, Dime LB and Box Safety.

In brief, the Buck ILB is an off-ball linebacker who is 50 lbs. shy of being a super-mobile defensive lineman - and who plays that way. Buck ILB’s are the guys with miniature footballs running through their veins instead of corpuscles, and DNA that spirals tighter than a bulleted slant to a receiver over the middle.

In terms of duties, about 70% of the Buck ILB’s attention needs to focus on heading downhill in run support and/or on an inside blitz. This is the sap [ahem!] tough guy who mans up when Rosie Nix comes barrelling forward hellbent on justifying his existence, and some poor soul has to stop him cold at the line of scrimmage. In the absence of a careening fullback your Buck ILB will routinely take on pulling guards that outweigh him by at least 30%, crash into gaps the offensive line is trying to clear, make the tackle on inside runs, and blitz up the middle on pass plays. The other 30% of his job lies in coverage duty on backs and TE’s. Buck ILB’s tend to play in the 245-255 range because they need that mass to survive the constant impacts, but it also makes them vulnerable when asked to play in coverage. They aren’t completely lost like a defensive lineman would be, but they’re likely to have a real tough time and that makes them favorite targets for a canny QB who thrives on finding the right matchup.

The moral of the story: “Don’t get fooled, but if you must get fooled do it stopping the run.”

Mack ILB’s have more and more varied duties based on a 50/50 split in attention. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Field general. Mack ILB’s wear green dot, make the defensive calls, and serve as the hub of the wheel for communications. Leadership skills and football IQ are at a bigger premium here than anywhere else on the defense. The Buck ILB can handle this, but it works better if it’s the Mack because that position has to make the most (and biggest) adjustments. They have to read more keys than Buck ILB’s and can’t afford to focus as heavily on downhill run support. High football IQ is more than just a desirable part of the Mack ILB puzzle; it is a fundamental component of the job.
  • Communication skills. Wasn’t this just mentioned as part of “field generalship?” Yes. Live with it. I am repeat the point to emphasize how big a part above-the-neck assets play in the success or failure of any Mack. It matters that much.
  • Run support. Mack ILB’s are the run-and-chase specialists who shoot through lateral gaps to catch RB’s and screens heading toward the edge. Buck ILB’s do more of the unseen dirty work but Mack ILB’s have to use that help to make enough splash plays for the both of them. Burst speed and football IQ are the premium skills here, which is why Mack ILB’s typically play in the 230-240 range and are built lighter than Buck ILB’s. But that comes at a cost because they still need to defeat/avoid blockers and to tackle even the toughest RB’s when they arrive. It’s a constant trade off that drives film watchers crazy. The size dropped to gain extra speed inevitably causes issues getting away from O-linemen who reach the second level, and removes some oomph when the Mack ILB reaches the ball carrier. It is a no-win situation that even Shazier got criticized for.
  • Coverage duties. Mack ILB’s routinely cover all the escape hatch and check down throws, along with zone coverage duties in the middle of the field. They are supposed to be good at the things that get their slightly bigger running mates exposed. And just to complicate things, modern offenses will often convert those patterns into something like a TE seam route that calls for defensive back skills like change of direction, top notch click-and-close burst to tackle the catch before a slot receiver can dart away, and enough foot speed to keep up with receiving oriented TE’s. It takes an amazing amount of pure athleticism to handle both the run support and pass coverage roles.
  • Versatility and disguise. NFL defenses can change entire games and seasons with big plays that come from tricking the opposing QB into thinking Scheme A and then throwing into Scheme B. Mack ILB’s and Strong Safeties are the most versatile athletes on any given defense, and thus the most likely to switch up their apparent job after the QB makes his read and snaps the ball. Again, this is the position where football IQ, communication/leadership skills, and pure athleticism need to combine into something powerfully unique.

Moral of the story: “Don’t get fooled; adjust really, really fast if you do; and be ready to fill in for anyone else’s mistakes.”

The next step on the continuum gets to the hybrid LB/Safety types. The biggest are the Nickel LB’s. These are true, if usually undersized Linebackers with serious coverage chops (for a Linebacker). Nickel LB’s replace some bigger player to counter spread offenses and in situations where it’s okay to give up five yards but not eight or nine. What bigger player? It can be anyone from the Buck ILB to an OLB or a Defensive Lineman. I can’t be more precise because there are many dozens of variations in these sub packages. A Nickel LB who’s exceptional at coverage may also act as a third Safety, though it is just as common to see an oversized Safety come in to play faux ILB. Run stuffing 40%, Pass coverage 60%. Nickel LB shades over into Dime LB, which is almost always manned by an oversized Safety rather than an extra-quick Linebacker. Call it 30/70. Classic Strong Safeties come in at more like 20/80.

There was an era when hybrid types occupied a starting role on many defenses under the name “Box Safety.” Box Safeties were supposed to be the do-all answer to whatever midfield adjustments the defensive play call required. E.g., take the Steelers’ beloved Fire-X cross blitz where the Buck and Mack ILB’s cross stunt behind the NT. On those plays the Box Safety became the primary run-fitter at the 2nd level, coming downhill at the snap and thinking run-first. And he’d better be a good tackler because the RB can hit a seam and be off to the races if that stunt gets picked up. Other coverage schemes – and you want to leave the QB wondering before the snap – ask the Box Safety to become an alley player guarding against flat routes by RB’s and seam routes by TE’s. That’s typical on stunts from the OLB’s. Then on the next play he might have been asked to drop back into cover-3 against a heavy personnel group, or to be the “force” player against runs toward the edge or passes into the flat where the Mack is likely to get swallowed by one of those extra offensive linemen.

Once upon a time Pittsburgh had a single player who could do all of these things at an expert level. He excelled at everything from taking on kickout blocks to tackling in space, manning the 2nd level like a linebacker, covering tight ends like a Corner, and dropping back in Cover-2 like an extra Free Safety. His versatility and burst toward the play put the fear of God into opposing QB’s because he made it all but impossible to make a pre-snap read on what the defensive scheme would really be. And, after an almost pitiful rookie year, he developed such a high football IQ that he regularly turned the tables and managed to predict what the opposing QB was going to do.

There is a reason Troy Polamalu is going into the HOF about three seconds after he’s eligible.

The “Box Safety” name has died out in favor of sub package roles because there aren’t that many Troys in the universe. The writing went up on the wall when even the players started to describe themselves with terms like,“too small to play linebacker and too slow to play safety.” Modern defenses get better results by dividing the duties among multiple sub-package role players than hoping to find a King of All Trades. But those roles still have to be filled - each and every one - or the opponent will pick that little weakness apart. And modern offenses have developed numerous plays to focus on the soft spot in any given defense. The downside of sub-packages is their tendency to telegraph the defense’s strengths and weaknesses to a really smart QB. Athletes who can play multiple roles let the defense disguise its plan, which is why coaches put so high a value on versatility, but they are never as common as any coach would prefer.

The next steps on the gradient would be Free Safety and Corner-Who-Can-Tackle but we won’t go there. One hopes that the point has been made already. NFL starters need to fill several roles at once, and versatility is a big part of the difference between ‘starter’ and ‘star.’ Sub package players exist for situations where their focused expertise is worth the risk of showing the offense some of your cards. Just to use two examples, Terrell Edmunds is (or so we believe) a Strong Safety with enough size to play Dime ILB, enough speed to play Cover 2, and enough pure athleticism and football IQ to handle all the hybrid roles in between. Think of him as a bigger Polamalu who hasn’t ‘arrived’ and might be missing an inch or two of that HOF burst. There is a reason why the F.O. Put so high a value on his services! Moving up toward the line we see that Ryan Shazier, all joking aside, lived at the Mack ILB position but had the versatility to play Nickel and Dime ILB with equal facility, and really might have served as an emergency-only Safety. Devin Bush is hopefully cut from the exact same cloth.

Who Fills These Roles For the 2019 Steelers?

In the ideal world, every role would be manned by a quality starter, a quality backup pushing for snaps, and a defensive multitool for emergency situations. Here is a list of the roles we just defined and the current players who man them.

  • Buck ILB’s. Williams and Matakevich. Great football players who are limited athletes. Corpuscles, check; DNA... almost. Both are quite good at the 70% of the job that aims forward but can be exposed in the 30% that requires more movement in space. The #3 Buck player is likely to be Anthony Chickillo and I would not be at all surprised if word started to leak out that he was pushing for more snaps in this capacity. Buck ILB is the sort of do-it-all role where a tough, smart athlete like him could excel. But is he really more mobile than the other two? Watch for all the subtle ways that Pittsburgh’s Buck ILB’s sacrifice their own stats so the Macks can make more splash plays. They really do act as a team.
  • Mack ILB’s. Mark Barron, Devin Bush, Ulysses Gilbert III, and Ryan Shazier’s ghost. Barron started his career as a Box Safety but quickly added 10-20 pounds of muscle and has been a solid if undersized Mack ILB for other teams; a true starter but not a star. Devin Bush was drafted to be a star but will be a rookie and we saw above how hard it must be to grasp the mental part of this position. Gilbert, another rookie, has just as much pure athletic talent as Bush but played at a lower level and faces a steeper and longer learning curve. And of course the ghost won’t help before 2020, if then. This group offers a significant improvement on the 2018 lineup (Fort, Bostic, and the ghost) but has the downside of being a lot more raw. Even Barron, the veteran, is new to this particular defense. I hate to say this, but no one should be surprised at an early season loss or two based purely on misdiagnoses and miscommunications attributable to growing pains on the part of these new/young field generals. OTOH, the end of the year that should have converted into an area of strength. Savvy fans will carefully follow all ILB-related discussions with code words like “learning rate”, “communication skills,” “football IQ” and the like.
  • Nickel ILB’s. This is Mark Barron’s truest home on a football field and he’s good at it. Devin Bush should be at least as good once he matures as an NFL pro but it is going to take some time because the position is so tough from the mental perspective. Gilbert = Bush Lite with much further to go before he arrives. Marcus Allen and Terrell Edmunds could theoretically handle these duties too but would be so undersized that fans would expect to see either mounting injuries or vulnerability to inside runs. Look to see if Marcus Allen has added some bulk for extra strength or dropped some in search of extra speed, and also for unique sub packages based on the new levels of midfield speed. Our film watchers will be busy bees trying to explain all the novelties and twists.
  • Dime ILB’s. We’re rich! Rich I say! And what a change that is from the 2018 predraft season. Terrell Edmunds should excel at this role; Marcus Allen and Jordan Dangerfield live here on their lazy days just like Barron does at the Nickel ILB role; and both Mark Barron and Devin Bush should be able to handle these duties in a pinch or when the team wants to cross up the QB’s reads. But are Allen and Dangerfield limited to this role and to special teams? More of the same when it comes to creative looks and packages.
  • Strong Safety. Terrell Edmunds first, and Terrell Edmunds second. A significant Sophomore Leap by last year’s #1 pick will be all but essential for this defense to reach its true potential. The good news is that everything points to that leap being all but guaranteed. He was already showing the signs in late 2018 and the reports to date from 2019’s workouts have been nothing but positive. Marcus Allen and Jordan Dangerfield will compete to be Edmunds’ backup but both are short on the pure speed you want. Sean Davis can play Strong Safety but there is even less depth at Free Safety so that isn’t a great idea. Stay healthy Terrell!
  • Free Safety. Sean Davis, followed by... crickets? There has been a lot of speculation about whether the hyperathletic, oversized, but underpolished CB Brian Allen could shift over to this role, and whether one of the other CB’s could handle the mental side if Davis had to slide closer to the box. This uncertainty is why many BTSC experts expected to see a Free Safety get picked in the 2019 draft. That could-have-been player was the true cost of trading up to get Devin Bush; the class lacked depth after Round 3.
  • Corner Who Tackles. Pittsburgh has been good about drafting Corners who are willing to throw their bodies into the pile even if it isn’t their true metier. Steven Nelson, Cam Sutton, and Mike Hilton are as ferocious as terriers, albeit not a whole lot bigger from the NFL perspective. Brian Allen, Artie Burns, and Justin Layne all have the size but remain unproven on the coverage end, which matters more. Joe Haden has the will but not the size, and every true fan cringes when he’s asked to mix it up with men who are 30-50 lbs. bigger. Let the master do his work and leave him alone...

All that should illustrate the extent to which Pittsburgh has shored up the middle of its defense over the past few years. The only real question marks go to depth. Buck ILB has two solid players but no potential stars in Williams and Matakevich. Mack ILB has a better starter in Mark Barron, a brand new bundle of unlimited potential in Devin Bush, and an Athlete-To-Hide in Ulysses Gilbert. That position will be S-E-T set once the players absorb the above-neck field general duties. Then come the Nickle- and Dime-ILB roles, which are packed to the bursting point with Barron, Bush and Gilbert on the heavy side, plus Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen and Jordan Dangerfield on the lighter side. Who knows what funky sub packages DC Kevin Butler will come up with?

The past two offseasons have seen a greater investment in hub-of-the-wheel, midfield defensive talent than any other part of the team. It doesn’t hurt that players like this make ideal special teamers too.

More questions exist at the speed-intensive, true Safety positions but you have to peer a bit to get there. The starters look good, and maybe a lot more than that if Terrell Edmunds makes the Sophomore Leap we all expect. That tandem of Edmunds and Davis could - should? - be the best we’ve seen since the days of Polamalu and Clark. The holes start if Edmunds fails to mature, if either gets hurt, or if Sean Davis can’t be extended for future years. The backups at Strong Safety are a step too slow for comfort, while the depth behind Davis comes down to speculation about The Little Corner Who Could. But you can’t have everything.

Pittsburgh’s defense has the potential to rise back toward greatness in 2019 and beyond. The sagging talent level that occurred with the loss of Shazier has actually been addressed and there are no obvious holes left. It would of course help a lot if one of the lengthy youngsters (Burns, Allen, Layne) could step up to claim a boundary Corner slot, but it’s not like Haden and Nelson amount to a weakness. It would of course be nice if the team had a crazy athlete like LVE to man the Buck ILB position, but football heart may matter even more there than it does at other spots and that is one asset both Williams and Matakevich can boast about in spades. As for the D-Line, it boasts three actual stars to man 21⁄2 positions, and has good depth as well. Hard to complain about that for the next few years! And at OLB Watt looks like a star and Dupree no less than a good player who we pick on for failing to meet our statistical demands. The only real point of concern I can see is depth behind the starting Safeties, and they call it “depth” because you never want to dig down there in the first place.

The time has finally arrived to hope for a return to defense greatness, and to expect nothing less than a Top 5-10 unit overall.

JuJu Smith Schuster can't seem to make everybody happy at the same time

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 6:45am

Some of the good old boys in the local media have decided that JuJu Smith Schuster doesn't take his career serious enough, and his social media platform too seriously.

Just when you thought all the excess drama had left the building, some individuals try to pull it back in. Sometimes the drama has substance, other times it is entirely manufactured. Intentionally I am sorry to say. Professional sports are big business and everybody wants their piece of the action. Television channels want their viewers, radio stations and podcasts need their listeners, and newspapers and websites covet their readers. Competition for your attention is intense, and the losers don't survive.

We have all heard the old saying that sex sales, but drama also creates its fair share of conversations, that's for sure. Editors are instructed to capitalize on controversy and to utilize certain keywords and names that will generate public interest. It is a tried and true strategy that works everytime. It is evident everyday here at BTSC. Post a rehashed news report about some current drama, include that special keyword in the title, and watch the views pile up.

Some members of the local media must be desperate for some drama because they have decided to try and generate some. That actually isn't all that surprising. What is surprising is the target chosen in their concerted efforts. They have decided to pursue none other than undisputed fan favorite JuJu Smith Schuster. They are comparing JuJu with the two superstar malcontents that recently departed the facilities because he is social media savvy. They are concerned JuJu is in danger of becoming a 'Me first' player in the mold of his aforementioned predecessors. This is both unjustified and unfair to the young man.

JuJu Smith Schuster is a tremendous performer on the field and has thus far behaved like a quality young man off the field. His smile is infectious and his caring demeanor seems sincere. It is unconscionable to suggest that he will fall for the same pitfalls of stardom that have befallen some who came before him. We shape our own destiny with each decision we make and the other individuals made their choices, which they had every right to do. JuJu deserves that same opportunity.

I feel part of the problem is the fact that the majority of the media members manufacturing this drama have far more in common with me than they do JuJu. The truth is JuJu isn't much older than my own son. Most middle age fathers are not social media savants. We try, but we grew up in an entirely different world. Sometimes it feels like a different planet to be honest. Social media is how young people communicate, and stay connected in this day and age. Many of today's stars had a certain level of followers long before they actually became a household name. Why shouldn't JuJu utilize this platform to it's full potential? It's good for business, JuJu's business. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It very well could work out in the Steelers favor.

JuJu's fan base feels a special connection to the young man because of his accessibility. He doesn't just share the big moments in his life with his followers, he invites them in for the smallest everyday occurrences. He connects with children, the elderly, and the homeless. It is part of his personality and his youthful exuberance, even if it also happens to be positive publicity. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

JuJu Smith Schuster sells. He sells tickets, merchandise, and products. That ability alone will go a long way toward making JuJu a very wealthy man moving forward. This earning potential could prove beneficial for the Steelers. This young man may realize the long term value of his Steelers legacy. He may just decide against smoking some weed on the way to the airport, or picking fights with local media legends and patio furniture.

Nobody knows what type of individual that JuJu will become, but the choices will be his alone. I like the path he has chosen thus far. The get-off-my-lawn contingent needs to back off and let the kid be a kid.

Podcast: How turnovers will tell the tale of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 5:34am

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers season is over, but the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Turnovers are key in 2019
  • What would be a realistic takeaway number for 2019
  • How do you define a die hard Steelers fan?
  • Steelers Questions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

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

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

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