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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 2022-08-08T14:19:59-04:00
Updated: 25 min 18 sec ago

Heinz finds a way to remain with the Steelers for 5 more years

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As Steelers fans bemoan the departure of the name Heinz Field, the Heinz company isn’t going to completely leave the Steelers after all.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base has been through the emotional ringer the past few weeks, and it all started with the naming rights for the stadium going from Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium.

When it felt as if the wound was starting to heal, and fans were coming to grips with the name change, video of the history ketchup bottles on the scoreboard being removed ripped open the wound and made it fresh all over again.

Well, if you are a fan and will long for the return of the ketchup bottles, or the Heinz name to somehow be associated with the Steelers, Kraft-Heinz and the Steelers have agreed on a corporate sponsorship lasting 5 years.

This per Mark Belko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“We’re happy to say we’re going to continue to work with Heinz. Heinz is going to continue to be a corporate partner of ours,” Ryan Huzjak, Steelers vice president of sales and marketing, said Thursday.

He declined to release financial terms.

For those wondering, as part of the deal, Kraft-Heinz will continue to sponsor the Heinz Red Zone, as it is called when the Steelers get to the opponent’s 20-yard line near the end zone.

But does this mean the ketchup bottles will return? Does this mean they will still turn and tilt as if they are pouring ketchup onto the digital screen?

“There’s a lot that needs to be covered in terms of detail but we’re working on an opportunity where we can have a bottle visible at the stadium,” Mr. Huzjak said.

“There are some challenges because the bottles are old and the materials provide some challenges. But we’re hopeful to have them on display in a Heinz-sponsored area so the fans can continue to sort of enjoy the history of the building and enjoy that aspect of it.”

The talk is over digital ketchup bottles instead of the giant plastic ones, but the giant plastic bottles could find their way into the concourse area for fans to have a photo-op, or to check out some of the Kraft-Heinz condiments at concessions.

In a statement confirming the new deal, Kraft Heinz spokeswoman Kathy Krenger said the bottle will be featured in a prominent location at the stadium “where visitors can get a coveted photo op!”

“There are other important elements of the deal that will give fans the opportunity to experience our brands such as concessions, tunnel covers and more,” she added.

While the name of the stadium won’t be changing back to Heinz, hopefully this news will provide some solace to those who were emotionally hurting after the name changed to Acrisure Stadium.

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

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Fri, 07/22/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: Madden Misinformation

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the Conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the week’s hottest and most toxic takes on the internet. This week, the guys fell victim to some Madden Misinformation. They talk to CBS photographer Scott Danka (@ScottDanka) who witnessed the Heinz Ketchup bottles come down from Acrisure Stadium. Kenny trades in his bachelor pad for celebrity dingers. And the Steelers fan who is putting their money where their heart is in Sin City.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Madden Misinformation
  • KDKA’s Scott Danka
  • Kenny’s Bachelor Pad
  • Cam’s Celebrity Softball
  • Long Live Charles Johnson
  • The bettor with a black and gold heart
  • Much, Much More

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

The Steelers Preview: 10 things Steelers fans should be excited for about training camp

The Steelers 2022 training camp is less than a week away, and the excitement continues to grow. So what are the 10 things to be most excited about when it comes to Steelers training camp? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio (minus one) as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • Things to be excited about for training camp
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride Friday: Training Camp Preview, The Trenches

BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman previews the Steelers trenches on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Jordan Tucker & Derrek Tuszka

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 41 of Going For Two, featuring Jordan Tucker and Derrek Tuszka

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

Jordan Tucker Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Offensive tackle
Age: 23
Year: 1
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 340
Drafted: UDFA, 2022
College: North Carolina
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

Normally an unddrafted rookie free agent would get the ‘unlikely’ designation before training camp, but most Steelers fans know how much they like their UDFA linemen. While I don’t look for Jordan Tucker to come on so strong that the Steelers can’t leave him off the roster, I also can’t dismiss it as a possibility. Being the biggest player on the 90-man roster, Tucker does bring a size quality that could intrigue the Steelers much like when they took a shot on Alejandro Villanueva who wasn’t even playing offensive line. But this is getting the cart way before the horse as Jordan Tucker first must show he is an NFL-caliber player throughout training camp and the preseason. If he does, at least landing on the practice squad should become part of the scenario with him moving forward.

Derrek Tuszka Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Position: Outside linebacker
Age: 26
Year: 3
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 246
Drafted: Round 7, Pick 254, 2020 (Denver Broncos)
College: North Dakota State
Roster Outlook: Likely
Analysis:

While some Steelers’ fans automatically want to dismiss reserve players who aren’t at an All-Pro level like the ones playing in front of them, Derrek Tuszka provided quality depth for the Steelers in 2021. Whether or not it was high enough quality for them and if there is a better option moving forward is the ultimate question. While Tuszka creates a baseline of what the Steelers want in a reserve outside linebacker, if others can pass that line then Tuszka could be out of a job. But coming into his third NFL season, Tuszka could also raise that line, which is ultimately good for the Steelers. Remember, last year the Steelers chose Jamir Jones over Quincy Roche, and then chose Derrek Tuszka over Jamir Jones. There’s something about Tuszka the Steelers like, so him landing on the 53-man roster again is likely.

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

The Browns begin preparing for life without Deshaun Watson

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The AFC North rivals are starting to prepare for not having their starting QB to start the season.

The AFC North, at least on paper, is considered to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL this season. The quarterbacks for the teams who call the division home, mainly the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, are all thought to be elite.

But for the Browns, their situation is unique. No, they aren’t replacing a legend like the Pittsburgh Steelers, they are dealing with losing their starting quarterback, Deshaun Watson, for a lengthy period of time.

The length of Watson’s suspension is not known at this time, but reports are suggesting the Browns are expecting a suspension of at least eight games. With that in mind, the team has started the process of filling out the depth chart with Watson out of the lineup.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Browns are working out A.J. McCarron and Josh Rosen to be potential backups to Jacoby Brissett.

The Cleveland Browns are working out quarterbacks this week, including veterans A.J. McCarron and Josh Rosen, per sources. Cleveland looking to go to training camp with four quarterbacks, with Jacoby Brissett to be the QB1 depending what happens with Deshaun Watson's status.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) July 21, 2022

If you were like me, you saw these reports and thought, “What about Joshua Dobbs??”

Dobbs was signed as a free agent this past offseason, and most thought he would round out the quarterback depth chart, even if Watson’s suspension was a lengthy one. With the talks of adding another arm, it seems Dobbs might be getting pushed down the depth chart — again.

Ummm they are doing Dobbs dirty… https://t.co/3ztay16wmI

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) July 17, 2022

There have even been rumors of the Browns flirting with a trade for Jimmy Garropolo of the San Francisco 49ers, but those are to just be considered rumors at this point.

In the meantime, the Steelers are preparing for life without Roethlisberger as they report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Burning Question: Which player will have a breakout season in 2022?

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 11:30am
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Which member of the Steelers will step up their game in 2022?

There are a lot of questions swirling around the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the start of training camp next Tuesday, July 26th at Saint Vincent College. However, one question which needs an answer from the fan base is more of a prediction...

Which player will have a breakout season in 2022?

When it comes to a breakout season, the definition would be simple: A player who has a significant jump in production.

Production would obviously depend on position, but the term for breakout player/season still holds value to fans. Let’s take a look at the players nominated for such accolades...

Alex Highsmith

Can Highsmith become the Robin to T.J. Watt’s Batman? Fans have seen flashes of this from Highsmith, but nothing consistent.

Can Highsmith do what it takes to reach the next level of his game, mainly as a pass rusher? It’s the sack totals which could equate to Highsmith being the breakout player we all hope he will be in 2022.

Pat Freiermuth

Freiermuth battled some nasty concussions in 2021, and also learning the NFL game on the fly. When Eric Ebron was lost for the season due to a knee injury, it was Freiermuth’s show. He didn’t disappoint, scoring 7 touchdowns, but can he take his game to the next level? Can he beat Heath Miller’s tight end record for touchdowns in a season by catching more than 8? 2022 could be a big year for the former Penn State product.

Ahkello Witherspoon

Witherspoon finished the 2021 season with a bang, but everyone wants to know if he can pick up where he left off last season?

When you talk to those who covered him during his time with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, and they all talk about consistency. If Witherspoon can find that level of consistency he might just be here to stay in the Steel City.

Chase Claypool

Last, but certainly not least, Claypool is hoping to re-gain some of his rookie season magic in Year 3. His sophomore season was disappointing on many levels, but he didn’t get much help. With a new quarterback in the fold, will Claypool’s production ramp up, or will it continue to plateau? Have we seen the best of the former Notre Dame product? The fans have to hope that isn’t the case...

Okay, so now is when you voice your opinion. Sure, all four of these players could step up in a big way this season, but which will have the biggest year? Let us know by voting in the poll below, and also commenting in the comment section below.

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

Please take our survey

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

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: Najee Harris will once again lead the NFL in touches

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 10:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: Najee Harris will once again lead the NFL in total touches.

Why it will happen: Last season, as a rookie, Najee Harris led the entire NFL with 381 touches. For those who don’t know, that includes both rushes and receptions. I still find that number staggering — 381. However, it almost comes as expected anymore with Mike Tomlin teams. He loves his bell cow running backs, and Harris is the epitome of just that.

One of the main reasons I believe this will happen, outside of Tomlin’s desire to have a 3-down back who never leaves the field, is the way the organization approached the position this offseason. In other words, they did nothing. They plan on going into training camp with Harris, Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland and some undrafted rookies.

That’s it.

So, unless the Steelers believe a combination of Snell/McFarland will be good enough to spell Harris from playing as much as he did in his rookie year, this trend is likely to continue.

Why it won’t happen: The Steelers have already talked about how they want to decrease the workload placed on Harris in Year 2. Harris didn’t seem to thrilled about the suggestion, but also added he’ll do whatever the coaches want him to do.

Earlier, in the why it will happen section, I spoke about the depth behind Harris as a reason he will get almost the same amount of touches as he did in 2021. However, McFarland has yet to remain healthy for a full season. If, and that’s a big if, McFarland can stay healthy, along with Snell, the trio of backs could at least get Harris off the field a time or two during games.

Snell can manipulate short-yardage situations, if needed, and McFarland can be the change-of-pace back Matt Canada likes to have in his backfield. In fact, McFarland was in his backfield when he was the interim head coach at the University of Maryland.

Keep that trio together, and healthy, Harris’s touches very well could diminish.

Prediction: Harris not touching the ball as much doesn’t seem like a good thing, but keeping your best offensive weapon healthy is absolutely paramount. Decreasing the overall number of touches can be a positive, but I don’t see it happening.

The Steelers will likely try to parade Snell and McFarland out there as if they are capable of getting the job done, but when the game is on the line, and every game could be close with this 2022 roster, Tomlin will want his guy on the field. Again, getting Harris the ball isn’t a bad thing, but his health should be brought into consideration as well. Nonetheless, throw it out the window, Harris will be getting another heavy workload in 2022.

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

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

Steelers Vertex: Finding the right amount of playing time for Robert Spillane

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Can the Steelers find the right balance in how they implement Spillane on defense?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are chugging on through the 2022 offseason. Looking at a number of players and positions as the roster has fluctuated, sometimes it’s players the Steelers have on their roster taking a step that can really add to the coming season. When it comes to Robert Spillane, too much of him on defense seems to be a problem, but not enough has a similar result. Can the Steelers find the right balance in how they implement Spillane on defense? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

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

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

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

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

Since joining the Steelers in 2019, Robert Spillane has appeared in 34 games with 11 starts during the regular season. Only playing one defensive snap in 2019, his contributions can be better understood by looking at 2020 and 2021. Starting seven games in 2020 where he had an interception return for a touchdown, four passes defensed, a fumble recovery, 2.0 sacks, and 45 tackles, Spillane played 377 defensive stats in 12 games. In 2021 in 14 games with four starts, Spillane played 346 snaps where he had 56 tackles and no other statistics in the categories mentioned above.

Where things get interesting is when Geoffrey pointed out to me the results of Steelers regular season games based on Spillane’s usage. It appears that in 2021 the magic number of snaps played for Robert Spillane on defense was between 10 and 50. When Spillane played fewer than 10 snaps in a game where he was active, the Steelers were 0-3-1. During the three games Spillane did not play at all, the Steelers went to 2-1. When Spillane had those magic number of snaps between 10 and 50, The Steelers were 6-1 with their only loss being in Week 11 in Los Angeles against the Chargers. When Spillane played more than 50 snaps in a game, the Steelers were 1–2.

Based on the success the Steelers had with moderate usage of Robert Spillane, it appears the best results are when he is utilized in certain situations. So how does that work out for the Steelers? Let’s check the film.

The Film Line:

For the film we are going to look at the Steelers only win in which Robert Spillane played 50 or more snaps, their Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns. Even if you are a superstitious person it is easy to see how Ben Roethlisberger’s final game at Heinz Field. . . actually the last game at Heinz Field period, would overwrite playing Robert Spillane too much.

The truth is I love to find crazy splits like that, and in this case there is a film to back up why you like having a player like Robert Spillane to rotate in, but you don’t want to have to rely on him to play the whole game. Let’s start by looking at Robert Spillane in run defense.

Steelers vs. Browns, 1st quarter, 7:57.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker just inside the hash marks, in the middle of the field.

This is a really good job by Spillane. Reads the play quickly, beats the puller to the spot and knocks a pulling guard backwards and out of the play. The problem is the rest of that side of the run defense got driven out of the play and the blockers were able to reach the other linebacker, Ulysees Gilbert III. This is a problem every inside linebacker the Steelers played faced in 2021. When the defensive line loses that badly, you aren’t winning the battle on your own. Fortunately, in Week 17, the defensive line didn’t lose that badly very often.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 2:57.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker between the hash marks, farther to the top of the screen.

The defensive line does a better job here, and Spillane is able to work around the traffic to limit the running back to a short gain. Notice that T.J. Watt and Terrell Edmunds take on the two pullers and Spillane is able to run free to the ball. Spillane does a good job navigating the traffic and getting there, but without an unblocked path to the ball, this doesn’t happen.

Steelers vs. Browns, 3rd quarter, 1:37.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker just inside the end zone, the linebacker closer to the bottom of the screen.

Another play where his linebacking partner takes on the blocker and Spillane gets to the ball carrier, but this time I want you to look at both linebackers and their reaction to the play. Spillane reacts a good bit quicker than Ulysees Gilbert III here, and that’s a big reason why Robert Spillane is the #3 linebacker. He’s not the athlete other players are, but he reads the defense quickly and that’s very valuable for a linebacker.

Now let’s take a look at Spillane in coverage.

Steelers vs. Browns, 2nd quarter, 0:49.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker right next to the hash marks toward the top of the screen.

The Steelers are running a pattern-match style coverage on Spillane’s side of the field. You can see how the inside receiver of the trips bunch (#85) runs outside and is picked up by the cornerback. Spillane lets the first receiver going deep past him, a safety will be picking up that route, and Spillane picks up Jarvis Landry (#80) underneath. He does a good job executing the defense and finding the right player to cover here.

Now watch Baker Mayfield. After looking to his right, Mayfield progresses to the middle of the field, and is looking for Jarvis Landry. Spillane has the route covered so Mayfield starts to scramble, and that’s when T.J. Watt gets his ankles for one of his 5.5 sacks against the Browns in 2021.

Steelers vs. Browns, 4th quarter, 1:20.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker in the middle of the hash marks.

Here’s another example of Robert Spillane navigating coverage really well. He starts off covering David Njoku, and you can see Mayfield looking to that route early in the play. Then at the end of the play Minkah Fitzpatrick is covering Njoku and Spillane can briefly be seen running into the middle of the field. If you watch Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR to the top of the screen) you can see some of Mayfield’s chief targets on an extended play are going to be Njoku facing Spillane and then Peoples-Jones coming on a deep cross in the end zone. As Minkah Fitzpatrick picks up Njoku, Spillane drops into the middle to help take away that deep route and Mayfield throws a ball into traffic.

Steelers vs. Browns, 4th quarter, 15:00.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker in the middle of the hash marks.

Here Spillane is in straight up man coverage, and Austin Hooper shakes him with a pretty basic outside fake. This is one reason you don’t want Robert Spillane playing the whole game, because when coverage becomes an all-game matchup, receivers can set up fakes with previous routes, and Spillane doesn’t have the athleticism or anticipation to deal with receivers who can throw down moves on him to get open.

Steelers vs. Browns, 4th quarter, 5:42.

Robert Spillane (#41) is the linebacker in the middle of the hash marks.

Also when he’s in the game a long time, you start to see lapses like this. Spillane is better than this on almost every play he’s in coverage, but here he is just slow to react to the route entering his zone as he watches the quarterback’s eyes but doesn’t react to them. Terrell Edmunds isn’t a quick processing player either but look at his reaction to the play and Spillane’s. They reach the receiver at the same time despite Spillane being much closer. You can look through these clips and see much better reactions than this. But as the game goes on, you are more likely to see a play or two like this when Spillane is playing every snap.

The Point:

There are two points to be made about Robert Spillane based on the stats and the film. First, Spillane has value he brings at inside linebacker, both against the run and the pass. But with the value Spillane brings, there is a limit to what he can do before things break down. When calling on Spillane to be an every-down back, things broke down in his game during 2021. The trick with Robert Spillane in 2022 and his usage within the Steelers defense looks to come down to how much and in what situation he is used, assuming his play is similar to last season.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: Najee Harris inside the Top 5

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Here is why Najee Harris should be a top-five pick in your fantasy draft.

The 2022 fantasy football draft season is almost here, and I, for one, cannot wait to see the twists and turns of my fantasy drafts. Each league is so unique, but that is what makes fantasy football so enjoyable, is it not? From work leagues, to friend leagues, to family leagues, the impact fantasy football has had in our lives as fans cannot be copied by any other fantasy sport.

It is about that time of the year where fantasy managers begin looking at expert rankings, strategies, and formulas, all in the hope of developing the perfect plan to dominate their fantasy leagues. Perhaps you fit that description as well. Are you trying to determine which players you should draft and which ones you should avoid? Are you an early drafter looking for some last-minute advice? Are you looking for advice on late-round sleepers? If you said yes to any of the aforementioned questions, you have come to the right place!

Over the next couple weeks, we will be ranking the top players at each of the four primary fantasy positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. These standard (non-PPR) rankings will also include detailed breakdowns for all Steelers players who are considered draftable in standard 10 or 12-team leagues. Today, we will be looking at the position most heavily sought after in the early portion of drafts: running back.

If you have any thoughts on these rankings, be sure to comment down below.

Let’s dive in!

Fantasy Running Back Rankings

1. Jonathan Taylor | Indianapolis Colts
2. Joe Mixon | Cincinnati Bengals
3. Derrick Henry | Tennessee Titans

4. Najee Harris | Pittsburgh Steelers

Both Najee Harris and Mike Tomlin have stated that the plan is to decrease the amount of snaps Harris is on the field. While this puts a slight damper on his fantasy outlook, fantasy owners must remember his lack of efficiency in 2022. Combine a less-used Najee Harris with an offensive line that added Mason Cole and James Daniels to the mix, and all of a sudden, Najee’s lack of efficiency is hardly a concern.

The Steelers do not have much in the way of proven threats behind Najee at running back, although Anthony McFarland, Jr. could emerge as that guy if he can finally stay healthy for a full season. Benny Snell is Benny Snell, and he should be thankful just to secure a roster spot. Undrafted rookie Mateo Durant could give Snell and McFarland a healthy battle in training camp, but his impact will be irrelevant to Harris regardless.

Determining how involved Najee will be in the passing game is the other concern fantasy owners must weigh on the balance. In 2021, Harris recorded 74 receptions on 94 targets for 467 yards and 3 touchdowns, but that was coming from a Ben Roethlisberger who kept almost everything underneath. Fortunately, Mitch Trubisky has shown love to running backs in the receiving game before. In 2018, Bears running backs were targeted 117 times, and in 2019, that number increased to 139. In those two seasons combined, Trubisky started 29 of 32 possible games, proving those numbers to be an accurate representation of his affection for throwing to the running back. This is only a good thing for the Steelers’ lead back.

Najee Harris should be a top-ten pick in all formats, and he should be considered one of the safest options across the board.

5. Dalvin Cook | Minnesota Vikings
6. Nick Chubb | Cleveland Browns
7. Christian McCaffrey | Carolina Panthers
8. Austin Ekeler | Los Angeles Chargers
9. Saquon Barkley | New York Giants
10. Aaron Jones | Green Bay Packers
11. David Montgomery | Chicago Bears
12. Cam Akers | Los Angeles Rams
13. Javonte Williams | Denver Broncos
14. D’Andre Swift | Detroit Lions
15. J.K. Dobbins | Baltimore Ravens
16. Ezekiel Elliott | Dallas Cowboys
17. Leonard Fournette | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
18. Alvin Kamara | New Orleans Saints
19. Antonio Gibson | Washington Commanders
20. Elijah Mitchell | San Francisco 49ers
21. James Conner | Arizona Cardinals
22. Josh Jacobs | Las Vegas Raiders
23. Breece Hall | New York Jets
24. Tony Pollard | Dallas Cowboys
25. Chase Edmonds | Miami Dolphins

What do you think of these rankings? Do you think Najee Harris deserves to be a top-five fantasy running back? What is the highest you would draft him? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

Trades the Steelers should make before signing this free agent and putting Tomlin on the hot seat

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 6:00am
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers offseason used to be about honoring the past or, heck, not caring about football at all. Not anymore. Nope, the offseason—at least the portion of the offseason that occurs during the “dead” time—is now all about trading for this guy, signing that guy and/or firing Mike Tomlin.

The Steelers' 2022 offseason is about to end with the beginning of training camp on July 26 at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. With that in mind, I’ve concluded that there was never a Steelers 2022 offseason.

In fact, I don’t think there’s been a true Steelers offseason for quite some time.

Why do I say that? Because, for many years, the Steelers' offseason was about baseball, basketball, hockey and golf. It was about spring vacations and summer trips. It was about talking about anything but the Steelers unless you met up with some long-lost friends and/or not-so-long-lost family members during one of those spring vacations or summer trips. Then, it was a conversation that began with, “So, what are ya’ thinkin’ this year?” and ended with, “Still, you gotta like their chances.”

After that, you went about enjoying the rest of your spring vacation and/or summer trip and really didn’t talk about the Steelers again until training camp.

You can’t do that anymore. NFL fans are engaged 24/7/365. Sure, the NFL has mastered this by conditioning us to place great importance on the Combine, free agency and the draft.

But even the “down” time of the offseason—basically, the better parts of both June and July—one that used to be great for articles that honored past heroes like underrated 1980s running back, Frank Pollard, has become a time for “now” Steelers coverage.

You write an article about Chuck Noll, the late, great former Steelers head coach, around the anniversary of his passing, nothing; if you are lucky enough to get a comment or two, you’re not shocked when someone spells Noll’s surname with a “K.”

However, if you write an article about this trade the Steelers should make, you get plenty of eyeballs and spark debate. Sure, these trade proposals often involve players who have fallen out of favor with their current teams for one reason or another, but they could revive their careers in Pittsburgh, right? One team’s trash is another team’s hypothetical treasure.

What about those free agents that are still sitting on their couches in July? It doesn’t matter that they’re old. It doesn’t matter that they’re still unsigned late in the offseason even though many teams are flush with cap space in 2022. It doesn’t even matter if some of those players man positions that are currently occupied by promising youngsters on the Steelers roster—left tackle Dan Moore, Jr. would be a good example—“I would sign this guy!” is a popular response to such an article.

Heck, even articles about acquiring depth are great for baiting clicks. I seriously have never seen a fan base as obsessed with trading for and/or signing backups as the Steelers faithful have been the past few years. Who really gives a dunk who the backup running back is behind a young player—Najee Harris—who will likely get 99.9 percent of the carries in 2022?

In the past, I have joked about the Steelers changing their name to the “Pittsburgh Acquirers,” but I now think that’s what they should be unofficially known as based on what drives the discussions, even deep into the offseason when trades and signings rarely happen.

Speaking of things that rarely happen late in the offseason, even debates (heated arguments that go on forever) about head coach Mike Tomlin’s coaching abilities a.k.a. “Should he be on the hot seat?” a.k.a “Should he be fired?” are very popular this time of year.

Like I said recently, the last thing I want to talk about is the warmth of Tomlin’s seat in late July, right on the cusp of training camp when he’s about to try and find joy in misery.

If you ask me that question, I will shut it down with a simple “No.” and move on to another topic. Why? Because it’s ridiculous. You want to talk about that in late January, right after a home playoff loss to the Jaguars or Browns? Fine. But if it hasn’t happened by July, it’s probably not going to happen in time for the 2022 regular season to start.

However, may I offer you this lovely article about how NFL Films and its legendary musical scores inspired me to learn about the game of football in my youth?

No? More for me, I guess.

I briefly considered changing up my writing style this offseason and becoming a more “3 Trades the Steelers Should Consider” kinda guy, but I’m glad I didn’t. Those works aren’t fulfilling for me. “But that’s what the people want!” Who cares?

That may be what the people want, but I’m a person, and I don’t want that.

I think part of the problem is that being a sports fan is so much about emotion and adrenaline that people need that “fix” even in the middle of the summer when nothing is happening on the scoreboard. A trade or a free-agent signing in June feels like a “win,” something to celebrate and/or shove in the faces of the “haters.”

T.J. Watt is ranked lower than Aaron Donald on someone’s list about things? Time to break out the black-and-gold facepaint and go to war on Twitter!

But I believe there’s a time for rest. I believe there’s a time to reflect and honor the past. No? I guess we can agree to disagree.

After all these years, I still believe that you write for yourself, and if the people want to come along for the ride, fine, but if they don’t, it’s nice to know you’re doing something you’re proud of.

That’s what I’ll be doing next offseason and every offseason after that.

Give me a Chuck Noll article any day of the week over some hypothetical piece about the Steelers acquiring Mehki Becton.

No offense—and I say this with all due respect—but yawn.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Thu, 07/21/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

The War Room: Where do the Steelers rank in the AFC North in their talents’ performance?

Check out BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers in an attempt to put you in the mind of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, and Omar Khan, when it comes to personnel. This week, Matty examines the value the Steelers get in the first round of the NFL draft compared to the rest of the AFC North.

Rundown of the show:

  • Comparing the Steelers first-round draft success with the rest of the AFC North
  • Much More

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

The Steelers Curtain Call: The Conspiracies and Controversies of the Steelers offseason

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

  • News and Notes
  • A look at offseason controversy and drama
  • Special Guest: Daniel from State of the Steelers

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

The Steelers Stat Geek: Is there a home-field advantage when kicking in Pittsburgh?

Whether it be Heinz Field or Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh has been known to fool many a kicker over the years. Do the Steelers hold a decisive home-field advantage in the kicking department? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed by Dave Schofield on the Thursday episode of the AM podcast lineup, “The Steelers Stat Geek”. Join BTSC’s Editor as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • How the kicking numbers compare in Pittsburgh
  • What makes for a really poor draft class?
  • and more geeky numbers!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Cameron Sutton & Mitch Trubisky

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 40 of Going For Two, featuring Cameron Sutton and Mitch Trubisky

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

Cameron Sutton Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Cornerback
Age: 27
Year: 6
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 188
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 94, 2017
College: Tennessee
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

While there is no doubt as to the roster status of Cam Sutton going into the 2022 NFL season, the biggest question is going to be his usage. Will Sutton once again see 93% of the defensive snaps like he did in 2021, only behind Terrell Edmunds? Or will Sutton be used more in the slot rather than on the outside with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon both on the roster? When the Steelers aren’t in subpackage, will Sutton remain on the field? These are some pretty big questions that will work themselves out throughout training camp and the preseason. But when it comes to a spot on the roster, there’s no question.

Mitch Trubisky Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Quarterback
Age: 27
Year: 6
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 220
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 2, 2017 (Chicago Bears)
College: North Carolina
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

This is another case of the roster spot of a player not being in jeopardy but merely their usage for the season. The Steelers are very likely to have Mitchell Trubisky on the roster after signing him this offseason to a two-year deal, regardless of what they would be offered by another team. Before the start of training camp at the preseason, Trubisky would likely be the starter for the Steelers if one had to be named now. Will he hold that job throughout the process? Just as important as that question is, there is also the idea of ‘it’s not about who starts, but who finishes’. If Trubisky is the Steelers Week 1 starter quarterback, will he hold the job the entire season? You better get your popcorn ready to see how it all plays out.

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

Is there any truth to the anti-Steelers social media machine?

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Steelers seem to be getting disrespected left and right, but is there a reason for this madness?

Go on social media at any time this offseason and you’ll likely see some larger media outlet doing their annual rankings. Doesn’t matter what the rankings are, there is a reason they do them — because people love them.

Rankings in any way are great for debate, discussion and downright vitriol from fans. Whether they be power rankings, Top 10 lists, or, most recently, Madden ratings, fans love to debate how their favorite team/player was disrespected.

When ESPN released their Top 10 at every position, and Cam Heyward was 5th among defensive linemen, even Heyward himself took to social media to say how disappointed he was in the latest rankings.

Now, the Madden video game series has decided to give Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns the ever-illusive 99 rating, and has him tops among pass rushers. Where was T.J. Watt? 2nd with a 96 rating.

As you can imagine, the Steelers fan base, even the team’s official Twitter account, was livid with the news.

He's a 96 overall? lol ok https://t.co/4W8Tmkcx3c

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 19, 2022

How could Madden do this to the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year?

But this was far from the only question Steelers fans asked throughout the offseason...

  • How could Pro Football Focus rank the Steelers as a lower tier team?
  • T.J. Watt wasn’t the top pass rusher by NFL.com?!
  • Why wasn’t Najee Harris on the list of second year players about to break out?
  • Why was Pat Freiermuth left off that same list?!

You get what I’m talking about, but what if there is a method to these type of articles/reports/rankings? What if the ESPNs of the world, and PFFs know just what they’re doing.

Make the Steelers fan base made, and guess what they’ll do?

They’ll react.

They’ll quote tweet the heck out of the story on Twitter, their share it on their Facebook feeds with nasty comments attached and they will absolutely put it on their Instagram stories bemoaning the author for being a moron.

Throughout it all, guess what is happening? The content is being shared over and over again.

In the modern world of sports content, that’s what you call winning. It doesn’t matter how the story gets spread, just that it gets the ever illusive page views. When you look at the aforementioned stories and reports about the Steelers this offseason through this lens, it brings a new context to the content fans have seen this offseason.

Giving Watt a 96 rating isn’t the end of the world, as long as he is the top ranked pass rusher. However, put him behind rival Myles Garrett, and give Garrett a 99 rating, and now you have reaction.

Saying Heyward didn’t grade as well as players like Aaron Donald doesn’t make many upset, but when PFF says there were seven other interior defensive linemen who graded out better throughout the 2021 season, and you have reaction.

So, I ask you to think back on this past offseason — did you react? Did you fall into the trap?

Some can say they didn’t, and they avoided the reaction, but if you are honest, like I’m being with myself, I can say I fall into the same trap more often than I’d like. These people know what they’re doing, but it also goes to show the power, and popularity, of the NFL. It has become a 365 day business, and content is king no matter what day or month it happens to be at the time.

With all that being said, you are well equipped to go into the world and try to decipher fact from fiction. A baited trap vs. an authentic story. Can you do it? I’ll try my best, but no guarantees...

Can Ahkello Witherspoon pick up where he left off in 2021?

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could benefit from Ahkello Witherspoon being the lockdown cornerback they need.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are undergoing a lot of turnover in 2022, in a lot of ways. The aspects of the team which are getting the most publicity would be the post-Ben Roethlisberger and post-Kevin Colbert eras, but those aren’t the only areas which could see significant change this season.

A position not many are discussing in length is the cornerback position. Joe Haden seems like a long shot to ever don a black and gold jersey again, and the team signed just Levi Wallace to fill the void left on the roster.

But Wallace isn’t the wild card in this scenario. No, in my opinion, it’s Ahkello Witherspoon.

Who can forget the trade with the Seattle Seahawks to acquire Witherspoon, only to have him sit and watch, or be inactive, on game days. The fondest memory, and I use that term as sarcastically as possible, was watching Witherspoon trailing Henry Ruggs into the end zone for the back-breaking score in the team’s home opener against the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021.

Witherspoon would later say he was expecting safety help over the top on the play, but that’s neither here nor there. What everyone wants to know is if Witherspoon can turn the second half of his 2021 season into his full-time performance in 2022 and beyond?

Who can forget the way Witherspoon finished the season last year. His ball-hawking was on full display, as was this coverage abilities. No, he isn’t the most physical cornerback, but the way he played in the second half of the season earned him a second contract with the Steelers.

Here is what Football Outsiders had to say about Witherspoon as he hopes to call Pittsburgh his home for the long-term:

Ahkello Witherspoon had one of the great out-of-nowhere second halves in recent memory. He picked off four passes—and had another interception against the Chiefs called back—and allowed just 90 total yards in coverage from Week 12 on. Twenty-five of 32 targets with him in coverage during that span were either incomplete or intercepted. We have seen Witherspoon play this well in small chunks before. He might be worth a full season of snaps in Pittsburgh but his larger sample sizes in San Francisco didn’t work out quite this well.

The last sentence in the above paragraph is what has Steelers fans skeptical, and rightfully so. Every time he has been given a chance to be the guy, he hasn’t been able to hold down the role.

When the Steelers obtained Witherspoon I reached out to Niners Nation, the SB Nation San Francisco 49ers website, about Witherspoon, considering he played the majority of his career in San Francisco. The answers to those questions were telling. It was all about inconsistency and Witherspoon being unable to every string together consecutive performances.

I’d suggest Witherspoon was able to do just that in the second half of 2021, but the question now is can he duplicate this success for an entire season? He has been in the system long enough, has the ability, but can he put it all together? Teryl Austin being the defensive coordinator will certainly help, and the hope is the team has found their next stand out coverage cornerback in Witherspoon.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the team to report to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will win a playoff game in the 2022 season

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

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

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

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

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers will win a playoff game in the 2022 season

Why it will happen: From the majority of Steelers fans perspective, this is the expectation going into every season. It’s not that anything shy of a Super Bowl will be a major disappointment, although some feel that way, the Steelers generally put themselves in a situation where they are in the mix every year. Rarely being eliminated from the postseason with any games left on the schedule, the Steelers are regulars at checking the first box and making the playoffs. Unfortunately, their last win in the postseason came in the 2016 season. While some would look at this as a reason to feel if the Steelers aren’t going to win a playoff game anytime soon, others would see it from the point of view they are due to breakthrough.

Why it won’t happen: In order to win a postseason game, a team must first qualify for the postseason. While it’s easier than years past with seven teams making the playoffs from each conference, the Steelers will still be overachieving simply by making the postseason based on their current odds when it comes to win totals. But even making the playoffs, almost half the teams are guaranteed to be eliminated without achieving a victory. In the 2021 season, with both number one seeds falling in the divisional round, more than half the teams did not win a postseason game as eight of the 14 went 0–1. The best way for a team to put themselves in a more favorable situation is to either win their division or be one of the top Wild Card teams. But even winning the division isn’t a guarantee as the last two times the Steelers have done so they have been one and done in the playoffs. So winning a playoff game is an extremely difficult task that only 18.75% of the NFL did last season.

Prediction: This is a difficult scenario, so I’m going to give the answer from two perspectives. As someone who had to stake their reputation on the question, or place an even-money wager, I would take the safe bet and would disagree with the scenario. There’s so many unknowns with the Steelers this year, such as the quarterback situation and an offensive line that has struggled the last few years. But coming at it from a fan perspective, I would agree with the scenario. This is what makes being a Steelers fan so great. This team has given its fan base hope that it could make a run in any given season. The biggest question is will they do it in 2022. With a defense at the top of the NFL, the Steelers definitely have the ability to make a postseason run. If a couple of things fall their way, such as scheduling matchups and injuries, the Steelers can beat anything on any given Sunday.

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

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

The Steelers could get more than they bargained for in 2022

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers don't always get what they paid for, sometimes they get even more.

We have all heard the old adage "You get what you pay for."

Usually that statement is reserved for some negative connotation, like after you have received subpar quality or service because you were trying to save a buck. In these incidences, you often end up paying more in the long run.

Many individuals who tend to lean to this way of thinking are often referred to as being cheapskates, penny pinchers, or low ballers. None of these terms are necessarily flattering or complimentary.

However, I would argue that there is nothing wrong with a individual or business being smart with their money. The Pittsburgh Steelers fit that description.

The Steelers have a reputation of being a frugal franchise. Some of that rapport has been hard-earned and well deserved, but to some degree the Steelers have fallen victim to hyperbole.

For instance, the Steelers as an organization have been pressing hard against the NFL salary cap ceiling for years, which is hardly the behavior of a franchise that invokes images of a cluster of moths fluttering out of a infrequently opened wallet. It’s not only because they have been paying a franchise quarterback for the past 18 seasons, but because they have been blessed to pay some of the best players at their positions top dollar over that same period. I say blessed because teams that lack elite talent don't have that problem. The Steelers are a franchise that takes care of their talent financially, especially those that display loyalty, and are capable of comprehending the value of an unmatched culture.

The Steelers found themselves in unfamiliar territory to begin the 2022 offseason; without a franchise quarterback, and the corresponding contract that inevitably comes with them, for the first time in many a moon. The Steelers did an admirable job of navigating their newfound financial windfall to it's fullest.

For starters, the Steelers made standout free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick the highest paid player in the NFL at his position, one season after doing the same for reigning DPOY T.J. Watt last year. Now the Steelers will field the most expensive starting defense in the NFL in 2022.

So obviously, it is paramount that the Steelers get what they paid for with the defense. If the Steelers have a top 5 defense this season, which will require a drastically improved run defense to achieve, then the investment will be worth every penny. On the flip side, when it comes to the investment made in the offensive line, the Steelers can only hope they get more than they paid for.

According to recent reports, the Steelers are projected to have the cheapest offensive line in the NFL in 2022, coming in at $23.7 million. This seems shockingly low, but at second glance, makes total sense.

The Steelers projected offensive line is a oxymoron of sorts; incredibly young, but not terribly inexperienced. Let's take a closer look for some additional clarity.

James Daniels was arguably the most talented young interior offensive lineman available in free agency, and could easily turn out to be the best value as well. It's amazing that Daniels, a four-year starter with the Chicago Bears who's career is ascending, is still only 24 years old. He won't turn 25 till mid September. He was penciled in as starting right guard before the ink even had a chance to dry on his contract. I will in no way try to mince words here: great value and a huge upgrade.

The Steelers made another underrated value signing in the young and versatile Mason Cole. Cole is a 26-year-old interior lineman with starting experience for the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings. He is a solid, if not spectacular, performer. Cole is more junkyard dog than purebred, more cerebral tactician than physical specimen. His best attributes may very well be that he is reliable, consistent, and tenacious. All attributes that were in short supply for the interior of the Steelers offensive line last season.

I envision Cole entering training camp as the starting center, at least until someone proves capable of knocking him off the mantle, thus making Cole one of the best value interior swing men in the business once again.

The focal points of my offseason articles have been about finding hidden value, acquiring talent where the Steelers were lacking, and getting younger players who can grow with the franchise in the process. Both Daniels and Cole perfectly fit those criteria.

The Steelers now possess the components to field a young offensive line loaded with talented potential. As mentioned in the article, all of the available talent at least has some starting experience in the NFL, a statement that could not be made about the 2021 starting offensive line.

Maybe it's just my black-and-gold glasses distorting my outlook, but at first glance it sure looks like the Steelers have the potential to field a markedly improved offensive line in 2022. Of course, all the potential in the world means nothing without execution, but you have to start somewhere. Young, talented, and experienced sounds like a great launching point.

If the Steelers can turn all that potential into production, then that $23.7 million number that many are calling frugal may just represent the best overall value in the entire NFL.

If so, the Rooneys could showcase the Steelers offensive line on an episode of Fixer Upper to Fabulous, focusing on each small step in building the foundation of a superior offensive line. All of Steelers Nation would tune in for that one.

FILM ROOM: One play that will have fans hyped for the 2022 passing game

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Canada’s offense has weapons to make any of the Steelers quarterbacks look good.

Halfway through the Steelers 2021 season, the offensive line was playing the best it would all season, and Pat Freiermuth was just making his presence known as more than just a promising rookie, but a go-to threat for the Steelers.

But Matt Canada, Ben Roethlisberger and Pat Freiermuth would implant that threat into every defensive coordinator’s brain with a play in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears.

Steelers vs. Bears, 3rd quarter, 2:14

Pat Freiermuth is the Steelers furthest to the top of the screen.

This doesn’t look super-impressive. A nice pitch and catch with Pat Freiermuth bullying a smaller defender to pull in a back-shoulder catch. There’s a lot more to it.

We’ll start with Pat Freiermuth’s part in the play. Freiermuth is the only Steeler to the right side of the offensive line. That puts him in a one-on-one matchup with one of the Bears starting cornerbacks, Kindle Vildor. Vindor engages Freiermuth right off the line, and Freiermuth easily wins the physicality, even turning the route more vertical through contact near the goal line. He secures the catch like he did almost every time he was thrown the ball in the end zone, and the Steelers get the touchdown.

Good job by Freiermuth. This wasn’t his first time going up against an outside corner, and after this play he would get lined up outside more, in sets like this and with him outside and receivers in the slot next to him. Freiermuth’s ability to win those matchups is huge. Often teams will put a tight end or running back outside and a smaller receiver inside to force the opponent to choose between putting a linebacker on the tight end out wide where they are no help in run defense, or putting a corner on the tight end and a linebacker inside, giving the offense a slot receiver matched up with a linebacker.

I’m sure most people reading this can picture plenty of times the Steelers have faced that dilemma and put a Vince Williams or Robert Spillane on a dangerous slot receiver. Most of the time on those plays the tight end or running back on the outside doesn’t factor into the offense as more than a pawn to create a mismatch elsewhere, but top players like Travis Kelce and Alvin Kamara have created major advantages for their teams by being able to be a real threat while lined up outside facing a starting corner. Pat Freiermuth showed in 2021 that he could be that type of player.

And now let’s take a second look at the play, this time from the all-22 film, and check out the defense this time. We’ll start with a picture from right before the snap.

I labeled all the players in coverage so you can see how this alignment creates mismatches. The Steelers are in 11 personnel, they have one running back, Najee Harris, one tight end Pat Freiermuth and three wide receivers, all to the bottom of the screen. The Bears countering with nickel defense makes sense, 3 cornerbacks for the receivers, a linebacker for each of the tight end and running back.

But in this alignment the Bears have a cornerback on Pat Freiermuth and a linebacker on Chase Claypool. No team is going to be comfortable covering Chase Claypool with a linebacker. Now watch how the defense reacts to the play.

You can see the defense is very concerned about the middle of the field, and it leaves Freiermuth one-on-one with a corner who has no help. I love this picture:

Chase Claypool is splitting the linebackers, pulling the free safety to him. If the safety doesn’t get to Claypool it’s an easy pitch and catch to the back of the end zone. The linebacker to the bottom of the screen is moving to cover Diontae Johnson on his shallow cross and the box safety is picking up Najee Harris. The Steelers putting Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth to one side of the field has the Bears covering their tight end and running back with a cornerback and safety. That is how you get two linebackers in coverage on Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson.

There’s several options for Ben Roethlisberger here. He can try to drop the ball into Chase Claypool between the linebacker and safety. He could let Diontae Johnson come a bit farther across and throw it underneath, letting him outrun the linebacker and see what he can get, or he can do what he does on this play, and put the ball up and in the end zone and let Pat Freiermuth make a play. It doesn’t take a Hall of Fame quarterback to make the play here. and Roethlisberger’s back shoulder throw isn’t even a great one. This is a play that Kenny Pickett or Mitchell Trubisky could make, because the talent on the field and the design of the play gives the quarterback mismatches to exploit.

Chase Claypool is expected to play more in the slot in 2022. Pat Freiermuth looks better heading into his second season than he did last year. The offensive line should be at least as good as it was in this game if they are healthy. Swap in George Pickens or Calvin Austin III for James Washington and this play works as well or better than it did in 2021.

Matt Canada’s offense is designed around creating opportunity through misdirection and mismatches. He has an offense with players like Freiermuth, Claypool, Johnson and Harris that have already proven capable of creating and exploiting mismatches in his offense. That should have Steeler fans excited to see what this offense can do in 2022.

Mason Rudolph had a birthday Sunday, and Steelers fans should be ashamed

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 6:00am
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Happy birthday to Mason Rudolph...unless you’re a mean Steelers fan.

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph celebrated his 27th birthday on Sunday.

Normally, an athlete’s special day is an occasion that comes and goes without incident. The team posts a player’s birthday on its various social media accounts. The fans, people who have likely never even met him, wish him a happy birthday, complete with those “Happy Birthday!” gif thingies in the comments section, and the world goes on.

However, the moment the Steelers took to social media to celebrate Rudolph's day, I just knew things would be different. Much like 96.1’s The Freak Show, I immediately went to the Steelers’ official Facebook page to read the comments.

I wasn’t disappointed, which is to say, I was very disappointed in the hatred and cruelty displayed by these so-called Steelers fans.

Below are just some of the comments:

“3 candles for the QB3.”

“Happy birthday! Sorry to see you go. Good luck in free agency.”

“Happy birthday! Go to a new team.”

“Happy birthday! Hope you get a chance to lay down and relax.” (This particular comment was accompanied by a gif of the play in which Rudolph was knocked out by Earl Thomas and suffered a concussion.)

“Can we give him a new home for his birthday?”

“Happy birthday Mr. 1st round grade.”

“Happy birthday hope you get traded as a present.”

I can go on, but I believe I’ve made my point, and my point is this: Even Steelers fans can be jerks (shocker, I know).

I know what you might be saying: “But, Tony, there were a lot of nice and sweet “Happy birthday!” wishes directed at Rudolph.” Yeah, but it should have been 100 percent nice and sweet, just like any other Steeler. It’s his freakin’ birthday, not a review of the tie against the Lions.

I know what else you might be saying: “Look, mate, I just don’t feel Rudolph is a great quarterback.” Wow, well, thanks for clearing that up. When you put it that way...

Imagine your boss and co-workers celebrating your birthday at work and writing on the cake: “Happy Birthday! We Never Should Have Hired You.”

It takes zero effort to not be a jerk when wishing someone a happy birthday on Facebook. You wonder why I am so hesitant about meeting BTSC readers and listeners in person? This is why. (Although, I do have a pleasant story from a recent encounter that I will soon share with you in article form.) Anyone who would take the time to go on social media and be mean to a player on his birthday is someone I may be afraid to interact with. (The fact that you take the time to wish anyone you don’t know a “Happy Birthday!” is rather scary in and of itself. No offense.)

To repeat myself for the millionth time: How can you not root for this guy? How can you not be cheering hard for Rudolph to be QB1 on September 11 against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium?

I hope it happens. I hope Rudolph wins the job on merit and goes on to pass for 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns in 2022.

I hope Rudolph goes on to have a stellar career, complete with NFL MVP awards and Super Bowl MVP awards (if you know what I mean)? After that, I hope Rudolph retires and quickly leaves Pittsburgh in a bitter huff. You’ll be asking, “Why doesn’t Rudolph like us? We love you, Mason!” Rudolph will retort: “You don’t love me. You love winning that game out there.”

Does any of that sound familiar? That’s right, Terry Bradshaw. Speaking of whom, I’m beginning to understand why that man has been in therapy for the past 50 years.

Anyway, I can’t wait to read Rudolph’s post-career biography: “At Least They Remembered My Birthday: The Mason Rudolph Story.”

Happy birthday, Mason Rudolph. Here’s to many more...as the Steelers starting quarterback.

Former Steelers wide receiver Charles Johnson passes away at the age 50

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 5:00am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Johnson was the Steelers first-round draft pick in 1994.

Late Tuesday night, reports surfaced that former Steelers first-round draft pick Charles Johnson passed away at the age of 50. This per Pro Football Talk:

Former first-round draft pick Charles Johnson dies at 50. https://t.co/uhEJA1eOp8

— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 20, 2022

Johnson was the 17th overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 draft out of Colorado. Two players from the University of Colorado were the first two draft picks by the Steelers in 1993 in Deon Figures and Chad Brown. The Steelers went back to Colorado in the 1994 draft to select the wide receiver. The next season, the Steelers followed it up with another selection from the University of Colorado in the second round in quarterback Kordell Stewart. So in a three-year span, the Steelers selected four our their top six draft picks on players from the University of Colorado.

Appearing in all 16 games of his rookie season with nine starts, Johnson had 38 receptions for 577 yards and three touchdowns in 1994. In 1995, a season where the Steelers made it all the way to the Super Bowl, Johnson only had 38 receptions for 432 yards and no touchdowns as he went on Injured Reserve the final game of the season and did not appear in the playoffs. Johnson came back from injury in 1996 with his only 1,000-yard receiving season where he had 60 receptions for 1,008 yards and three touchdowns. In five years with the Steelers, Johnson had 247 receptions for 3,400 yards and 15 touchdowns, seven of which came in his final season in Pittsburgh in 1998.

Johnson spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and 2000 where he had 90 receptions for 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns. Johnson played the 2001 season with the New England Patriots where he had 14 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown and earned a Super Bowl ring. Johnson finished his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills in 2002 where he only had three receptions for 39 yards.

Reports of Johnson’s death first came from CBS 17 in Wake Forest, North Carolina. At this time, the cause of death is unknown.

At the time of his death, Charles Johnson was working as an assistant Athletic Director at Heritage High School in Wake Forest.

RIP Coach. You will be missed by so many, especially your Husky Family. #RIPCJ #HuskyFamily pic.twitter.com/JUfkjELMMB

— Heritage Huskies (@heritagehsfball) July 19, 2022

On behalf of Steelers’ Nation and Behind The Steel Curtain, we offer our condolences to the fiends and family of Charles Johnson.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Wed, 07/20/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

The Steelers Fix: Fantasy Headlines From the Future

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

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Fantasy Headlines From the Future
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Scho Bro Show: Top 5 questions going into Steelers training camp

There has been question after question when it comes to the offseason of the Pittsburgh Steelers. What ere the most pressing? This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Scho Bro Show.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the black-and-gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans! This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Top 5 questions going into Steelers training camp

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Let’s Ride Wednesday: Steelers Training Camp Preview, Defensive Skill Positions

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for training camp, and we want you to be prepared too! Today the topic surrounds the defensive skill position players on the 90-man roster. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look at Steelers Defensive Skill Positions as camp beckons
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Jace Sternberger & Donovan Stiner

Tue, 07/19/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 38 of Going For Two, featuring Jace Sternberger and Donovan Stiner

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

Jace Sternberger Wm. Glasheen / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Position: Tight end
Age: 26
Year: 3
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 251
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 75, 2019 (Green Bay Packers)
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

After a rookie season where he did not have a reception, Jace Sternberger appeared in 12 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2020 where he had 12 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. After being suspended the first two games of 2021 for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy, Sternberger was released by the Packers. After short stints on the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Football Team’s practice squad, Sternberger landed on the Steelers practice squad in November. With the Steelers usually keeping one, and only one, tight end on the practice squad, Sternberger will have to fight just to remain in that position. Can he make a move all the way up to the third spot and grab a position on the 53-man roster? It’s possible, but would really take some convincing for the Steelers to keep him in that position outside of dealing with an injury.

Donovan Stiner Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 23
Year: 1
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 210
Drafted: UDFA, 2021
College: Florida
Roster Outlook: Unlikely
Analysis:

One of the Steelers original undrafted free agents last season, Donovan Stiner stuck around on the practice squad all year and signed a future‘s contract in January. Unfortunately, the path to the 53-man roster did not get any easier for Stiner this year as the Steelers did not lose any safeties and added Damontae Kazee. While this doesn’t bode well for Stiner landing on the 53, he will still have every opportunity to get back on the practice squad for another year of development.

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

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