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Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/29/2022 - 4:30am

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

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC. With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

The Steelers War Room: Do the Steelers possess the talent to turn it around?

As of right now, there are questions and doubts regarding the success for the Steelers over their remaining 14 games of the 2022 season. Do they possess the talent to turn it around? This will be one of the topics discussed as BTSC invites you to heck out our Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers in an attempt to put you in the mind of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, Andy Weidl, Sheldon White and Dan Colbert when it comes to personnel.

Rundown of the show:

  • Is the talent there for the Steelers?
  • Much More

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

Know Your Enemy: How potent is the Jet fuel for the Steelers Week 4 foes

It’s time once again to become a scout for the Steelers before their latest game. This time around, we get to know more about the New York Jets of Jersey in the latest edition of Know Your Enemy. It’s the show where Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White break down the upcoming opponent for the black-and-gold. This week, Geoff and Shannon, welcome Andrew Golden of Bleav in Jets to the podcast.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the 2022 New York Jets
  • Special Guest: Andrew Golden of Bleav in Jets

Geoffrey and Shannon walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

The Steelers Stat Geek: Numbers through 3 weeks that might surprise you

The Steelers are 1-2, and all looks gloomier than that. But there are certain stats that may surprise you. 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:

  • Some surprising stats for the Steelers through the first 3 games
  • A rant about running play action
  • Comparing the ranks of the Steelers and Jets
  • 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

Steelers Injury Report: Minkah Fitzpatrick practices on Wednesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 2:55pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There were four players on the Steelers first injury report of Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of injuries coming out of their Week 3 defeat, many of which were not known until Mike Tomlin’s press conference on Tuesday. As the Steelers take the practice field for their first official day of preparation for the New York Jets, there was one player who did not participate while none were limited. In the first injury report of the week courtesy of Steelers.com, only Ahkello Witherspoon missed time.

Pittsburgh Steelers Participation/Injury Report, Week 4

Wednesday, September 28

P Pressley Harvin (Left Hip) - FP

CB Ahkello Witherspoon (Hamstring) - DNP

S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Concussion) - FP

OL Kevin Dotson (Ankle) - FP

What many believes the most significant injury on the list is the concussion to All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Tuesday was the first time any issue with Fitzpatrick was reported.

“Minkah is in the concussion protocol, he got evaluated postgame and he’s in the protocol,” Tomlin stated in his regularly scheduled press conference. “I’ll give you guys an update as he continues to move within the protocol.”

Having the extra few days with the Steelers playing on Thursday night may be enough for Fitzpatrick to get on the field Sunday. The first step is for Fitzpatrick is to be symptom free and then get on the field and increase his activities without symptoms. On Wednesday, Fitzpatrick was on the field as a full participant which is a great sign for him moving forward.

An injury that was known coming out of last Thursday’s game was the hamstring issue with Ahkello Witherspoon which kept him off the field throughout the fourth quarter. For the first practice of the week, Witherspoon was unable to take the field.

Another injury to keep an eye on is that of punter Pressley Harvin who is dealing with hip inflammation. In order to make sure the Steelers have all their bases covered, they signed Jordan Berry to the practice squad on Tuesday. As for Wednesday’s practice, Harvin was able to participate fully in the first practice of the week.

Another player mentioned by Coach Tomlin in Tuesday’s press conference was Kevin Dotson dealing with an ankle injury. Having it be an ankle which cost him a portion of the 2021 season as well as this preseason, it’s uncertain at this time if it is a re-aggravation of the same injury or a new issue. On Wednesday, Dotson was on the field as a full participant.

As for the Jets’ injury report, you can see the names below when available.

Jets offensive line suffers another blow prior to Steelers game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The New York Jets have been shuffling offensive linemen this season, and that trend continues in Week 4.

Thought the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was in bad shape? Well, compared to the New York Jets’ current situation, they are golden.

Tuesday marked another day when the Jets found out they would be without one of their offensive tackles for the foreseeable future. This latest news was when the team placed left tackle George Fant on Injured Reserve (IR) with a knee injury.

Another blow to the Jets’ OL: They’re placing LT George Fant (knee) on IR, per @FieldYates. #Jets

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 27, 2022

Losing a left tackle is difficult, but when you look at how many tackles the Jets currently have on IR, well, it would be a hat trick in hockey.

#Jets Tackles on IR:

Mekhi Becton (out for the season)
Duane Brown (eligible next week)
George Fant (eligible Week 8)

— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 27, 2022

When you consider the fact the Jets should know soon if quarterback Zach Wilson will be under center in Week 4 at Acrisure Stadium, or another week of Joe Flacco, their issues along the offensive line could loom large.

The Steelers as a collective currently have 9 sacks, with 4.5 of those coming from Alex Highsmith. Highsmith currently leads the NFL in the sack category after three games, but the team will need to pressure the quarterback as a group.

Coming off their 7 sack performance in Week 1 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, a game where T.J. Watt registered just one of those sacks, the team’s pass rush has cooled in recent weeks. No sacks vs. the New England Patriots in Week 2, and only two in the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Could the banged up Jets offensive line be just what the doctor ordered for the Steelers’ offensive line? Nothing is a guarantee with this 2022 Steelers team, but if one team’s misfortune is another team’s opportunity, that opportunity might just be the Steelers going against an offensive line without many of their key pieces.

Sitting at 1-2, you won’t find too many Steelers fans complaining about the Jets being down several of their tackles. Hopefully the Steelers can take advantage and break their two-game losing streak.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 NFL action.

Jets Zach Wilson cleared to play, will start vs. the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 11:02am
Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing Zach Wilson for the first time on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

The Pittsburgh Steelers now know what quarterback they will face on Sunday in Week 4 when the New York Jets invade Acrisure Stadium, and it isn’t Joe Flacco. Rather than Flacco’s 22nd meeting against the Steelers, it will be Zach Wilson’s first of his career.

Wednesday news broke Wilson was medically cleared following his knee injury suffered in the preseason, and Jets head coach Robert Saleh announced Wilson will start Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Zach Wilson is back and will start this week for the #Jets against the #Steelers, Robert Saleh says.

He received medical clearance, as was expected & talked about on Sunday.

First start for Wilson in Year 2 days away.

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) September 28, 2022

Wilson, the former BYU product and second year quarterback, is coming off a rookie season where he played in 13 games, winning just three, in 2021. Statistically, here is how Wilson performed last season.

Games: 13
W/L: 3-10
Yards: 2,334
TD: 9
INT: 11
Rating: 69.7

The Jets, with Joe Flacco at the helm, finished the first three weeks of the regular season with a 1-2 record. Their lone victory was a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Cleveland Browns. The Jets’ two losses were to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, and the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. Playing the Steelers in Week 4 will complete their AFC North division schedule, in order.

The debate within the Steelers fan base has been who they would rather face, an aging, but experienced, Flacco, or an inexperienced Wilson coming off injury. The decision is clear, but you have to wonder how the time off will impact such a young player like Wilson. With that said, Wilson’s athleticism and mobility pose a different set of issues for the Steelers defense this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in regular season action.

Steelers Burning Questions: Deciphering what’s wrong with the team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost two in a row, and we want to know why they are on their current trajectory.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their Week 4 game vs. the New York Jets, and many fans of the black and gold are starting to see their confidence fluctuate heading deeper into the regular season.

Even after a Week 1 win, a 23-20 overtime victory vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, there are still massive questions which remain. Throw in the Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots with a prime time loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, and doubt has officially crept into every fans’ mind.

So, with that being said, it is time to ask some key questions to the fan base as the Jets game quickly approaches. We call them the ‘Steelers Burning Questions’, and there is one which is consistent every week.

Are you confident in the team moving forward?

Other than that staple question, some other questions can be added to help give readers at BTSC, and Steelers fans in general, a voice in what they think about the team. This week the question is based on the struggles the Steelers have in general.

In other words, what area of the team is the biggest issue?

Which is the biggest issue plaguing the team?

The options are as follows:

  • Lack of running game
  • Rush defense
  • Play calling
  • Injuries
  • Inconsistent QB play
  • Other

How do you participate in this exercise? It’s easy. All you have to do is scroll down to the polls and place your vote. The results of the votes will be published on BTSC later in the week, but getting as many votes as possible is the key with the SB Nation Reacts, powered by DraftKings Sportsbook.

So, go ahead in place your votes below, and feel free to explain yourself in the comment section below the article! In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the regular season.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.

Please take our survey

2023 NFL Draft Stock Report: 2 new QBs and a stud CB on the rise

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker headlines the biggest NFL Draft risers of Week 4 of the college football season.

The 2023 NFL Draft is still months in the distance, but with college football having arrived, the beginning stages of the 2023 draft process has begun. With that in mind, it is time to dive into this past week’s biggest games in the college football world, taking a look at draft prospects who improved their stock based on their performance.

Offensive line is definitely an area the Steelers need to address, and the most likely resource for the solution is indeed the draft. Concerns at cornerback and linebacker also loom large over the Pittsburgh’s head. Although we will certainly break down prospects at other positions this season as well, these will be the primary positions of emphasis, especially early in the season.

Nearly every week during the season, there are several highlight games that steal the headlines, but even when these games overshadow the rest of the college football landscape, we will not be negligent of the other games and prospects in action. Every week during the season, we will recap the previous week’s action and determine whose stock rose the most as it pertains to the NFL Draft.

As always, be sure to share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section below, but without further adieu, here are the highest of highs from Week 4 of college football!

DJ Turner | CB | Michigan | 6’0”, 181 lbs

The Steelers currently have a serious lack of depth at cornerback, but the 2023 draft class looks quite strong at the position. As a Michigan fan, I am careful to buy into recruits as they set foot on campus at Michigan, but from the very first time Turner saw the field for the Wolverines, I loved what I saw. After a hot start to the 2022 season, others are finally jumping aboard the Turner hype train as well.

Saturday against Maryland, Turner recorded an interception and defended a pass, but his down-to-down coverage was the most impressive part of his performance. If you want to talk about blanketing receivers for the entirety of a game, Turner did exactly that, forcing Taulia Tagovailoa to hold the ball too long and allowing Michigan’s pass rush to put Tagovailoa under duress. After a strong sophomore campaign in which he contained the likes of Jahan Dotson, George Pickens, and others, Turner is backing it up with a strong start in 2022 and deserves to be in the first-round conversation.

Hendon Hooker | QB | Tennessee | 6’3”, 218 lbs

This year’s quarterback class features several unheralded names who could become value picks in the middle rounds, and if Hendon Hooker fails to secure himself as a first-round talent, he could be the best value pick of any quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. On Saturday against Florida, Hooker completed 22 of 28 passes for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also ran the ball 13 times for an additional 112 yards and a touchdown.

Hooker’s dual-threat ability can be noticed simply by looking at the stat sheet, but that does not mean he is an incapable pocket passer. Hooker is at his best when his receivers run simple route concepts and he is given freedom to move within the pocket. Hooker’s game lacks finesse, but he has proven to be a natural improvisor at the quarterback position. The Steelers are not expected to be in the quarterback market, but in a world where Hooker is not taken in Round 1 and one or both of Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky are gone next season, Hooker could be in play in the middle rounds as a backup option for Kenny Pickett.

Sam Hartman | QB | Wake Forest | 6’1”, 210 pounds

Sam Hartman’s play style may be different than Hooker’s, but his situation and draft status are relatively similar. Surrounded by a solid cast of weapons, Hartman is putting together yet another strong statistical season for the Demon Deacons. In Wake Forest’s near-upset of Clemson, Hartman completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 337 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions.

Hartman was just a three-star recruit coming out of high school, but he has continued to defy expectations in an ACC that possesses a slew of solid quarterbacks. He is far from a physical specimen, but he is unafraid to step up in the pocket and withstand a hit. His ball placement and zip on intermediate passes outside the numbers remind me a little of Baker Mayfield. Whether or not you consider it a good thing to be compared to Mayfield, keep an eye on Hartman as the season progresses.

Others Who Improved Their Stock

Amari Burney | LB | Florida | 6’2”, 228 lbs | 7 SOLO TCKL, 2.5 TFL, 2 SCK
Ivan Pace, Jr. | LB | Cincinnati | 6’0”, 239 lbs | 15 TCKL, 4 TFL, 2.5 SCK, 3 QB HUR
Blake Corum | RB | Michigan | 5’8”, 210 lbs | 30 CAR, 243 YDS, 2 TDs
Tyler Davis | DT | Clemson | 6’2”, 300 lbs | 6 TCKL, 2.5 TFL, 1.5 SCK
Justin Shorter | WR | Florida | 6’4”, 223 lbs | 7 REC, 155 YDS
Byron Young | EDGE | Tennessee | 6’2”, 245 lbs | 4 TCKL, 4 QB HUR
Devon Achane | RB | Texas A&M | 5’9”, 185 lbs | 19 CAR, 159 YDS, 1 TD; 3 REC, 15 YDS
Bryson Jackson | LB | Baylor | 6’2”, 204 lbs | 4 TCKL, 2 SCK, 1 QB HUR
Michael Wilson | WR | Stanford | 6’2”, 209 lbs | 6 REC, 176 YDS, 2 TD
De’Corian Clark | WR | UTSA | 6’3”, 210 lbs | 9 REC, 217 YDS, 3 TD
John Michael Schmitz | C | Minnesota | 6’4”, 320 lbs

What are your thoughts on the aforementioned prospects? Do you think any of them could make sense for the Steelers? Which draft prospects caught your eye this weekend? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

10 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin during Tuesday’s press conference

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers head coach held his weekly press conference with the Pittsburgh media ahead of their matchup with the Jets.

With the Steelers back on a normal schedule, we had a Mike Tomlin press conference on Tuesday. With many players discussed, it’s time for another players mentioned by Coach Tomlin during his media time. Remember these are current players where a specific question was asked during the Q&A period.

Chase Claypool

Talking to the Pittsburgh media on Monday, Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool said he was not frustrated with the Steelers offense because it’s too early. Coach Tomlin was asked about the general gauge of the temperature in the offensive room.

“I don’t know about the offensive room in particular. I don’t know if I’d diagnose it that way. I know that we’re all pretty hacked off that we haven’t won the last two games. We realize that football is our game,and our business is winning, so we’ve got to get back to business.”

Montravius Adams & Tyson Alualu

Just before the press conference on Tuesday, the Steelers released a new depth chart that had Montravius Adams is the starting nose tackle over Tyson Alualu. Coach Tomlin was asked what went in to making the change of going with Adams, and in his response Coach Tomlin mentioned Alualu.

“He’s been playing better than Tyson [Alualu], so we just thought that was appropriate.”

In a later question, Coach Tomlin was asked if Adams was a different style of nose tackle thanAlualu and how he fits with the defense.

“You could say that, but not significantly, no. He’s capable of doing the things that we ask him to do. He’s played a lot of football for us. He played a lot and started a lot for us last year. He missed a lot of time during team development that probably slowed his progress. Since he’s been back from injury, we’ve just seen a real uptick in his consistency and performance.”

Mitch Trubisky

Saying before he was encouraged with Mitch Trubisky‘s progression, Coach Tomlin was asked I specifically what he likes with the way he’s progressing.

“In all areas. In decision making, where he’s going with the ball, the time in which he’s making decisions, the prudent use of mobility, whether it’s by schematics or by ad lib, but just generally in all areas.”

T.J. Watt

The Steelers defense has been without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for two games and will still miss him for at least two more. Coach Tomlin was asked in what ways they are feeling the absence of Watt the most.

“I hadn’t focused on feeling his absence. I really focused my energies on the utilization of guys that are available to us in the best ways to highlight their talent. Sometimes, you can spend a lot of time or waste a lot of time worrying about people that aren’t at your disposal. So, I think that’s my mindset and our mindset as we’re here today, how to utilize the make up of guys that are available to us right now in an effort to play better. Although T.J.’s absence is a component of what’s going on with us, I just think that’s the proper approach in terms of how to look at it and that’s where our energies are.”

Jaylen Warren

Despite having a fumble in the game, the Steelers continue to get quality snaps from rookie running back Jaylen Warren. Coach Tomlin was asked how much Warren can help as a change-of-pace back.

“I think you saw some of that on Thursday night. It’s continuing to shape itself and improve and I like the general trajectory of it.”

In a follow-up question, Coach Tomlin was asked if he’s encouraged by the run game and how it’s evolved since Week 1.

“I’m continually encouraged. I think whether it’s components of it, whether it’s individuals like Jaylen Warren carving out a role for himself or whether it’s about groups within the group, like the emergence of the offensive line has been continually better with each and every performance, I just think all areas are pointing to improvement. That’s why we’ve got to keep our head down and keep working and ultimately get results in stadium.”

Minkah Fitzpatrick

The big announcement from the press conference on Tuesday was that safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is in the concussion protocol. Coach Tomlin was asked how they will make up for the loss of Fitzpatrick if he is unable to go.

“I’m not ready to suggest that at this point. I’m just acknowledging that he’s in the protocol.”

Pressley Harvin III

Another surprise injury on the Steelers is punter Pressley Harvin dealing with a sore hip. Coach Tomlin was asked if they will need to bring in someone else as an emergency situation.

“That is a potential, but we’ll see what today holds, certainly.”

Note: The Steelers signed punter Jordan Berry to the practice squad later on Tuesday.

Alex Highsmith

The Steelers have the current NFL leader in sacks for the season on their defense in linebacker Alex Highsmith. Coach Tomlin was asked what Highsmith has done that made him a better asset on defense and if he’s noticed a difference in his day-to-day operations.

“It’s just the natural maturation process of a solid young player. He showed signs as a rookie and carved out a role for himself and participated. He ascended in year two when Bud [Dupree] left in free agency. Now, he’s in year three, he’s had a lap around the track as a starter. I think it’s reasonable for him to take that experience and that knowledge and continue to grow. I know his day-to-day work habits kind of display that. So, I don’t think any of us are surprised by what we’re seeing from him in stadium. I really think that’s just the attitude that all of us have largely. We keep our head down, we keep working and we understand there’s a such thing as football justice on the other end of it; you get better.

Chuks Okorafor

One player who has been called out by some from Cleveland is offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor who jumped back on a player to finish his block when the player was injured. Coach Tomlin was asked if he saw anything wrong that transpired on the play.

“I didn’t see the component of the play that you mentioned that upset people, no.”

For more information on Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out the podcast below:

If you want to watch Mike Tomlin’s press conference, you can do so below:

LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of our Week 4 game against the Jets. @PNCBank

#NYJvsPIT Sunday at 1 PM ET on CBS https://t.co/RUar6XKf84

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2022

We can all agree that the NFL Pro Bowl had to go

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The NFL finally fixed the Pro Bowl. How? By deciding to no longer play it.

One of the first things I do when debating the career of an NFL player—past or present—is Google the amount of Pro Bowls on his resume.

If it’s a huge number, I’m impressed.

Of course, I couldn’t tell you a thing about any of that player’s Pro Bowl appearances. I can’t recall if his team won any of the games, if he played well in any of them, if he was ever named MVP, etc.

The last time I sat down to watch the NFL Pro Bowl was back in 2018. It was the same day the NHL held its All-Star Game, or tournament, or whatever that league was/is doing with that “event” these days. I do know it was gimmicky.

As for that day’s Pro Bowl, it was a joke. Nobody tackled, as the name of the game was “Hold ‘em Up Until They Blow The Whistle.” That was in stark contrast to the old days of football when most defenders— whether it was in the preseason, regular season or postseason—loved to employ the “Hold’em Up So I Can Get A Kill Shot” method.

Clearly, times had evolved. Players were more concerned with putting their health in danger for a meaningless exhibition game than they were with claiming AFC/NFC superiority.

I wasn’t disgusted as I watched that game. In fact, I hadn't even planned on viewing it. I was with my cousin and uncle and we had just watched “Major League,” a movie about a sad-sack Cleveland baseball franchise that was hellbent on “Winning the Whole “freakin” thing.”

We just happened to tune into this game for kicks and giggles and could not believe how far it had devolved from actual football. However, we all understood what we were witnessing: Millionaire football players making business decisions and not sacrificing their bodies for a sport that wasn’t going to be very sympathetic if they got injured in a game that had no championship implications.

That was actually the first Pro Bowl I had witnessed in probably a decade. Years before the NFL began its movement to make the sport of football safer, I realized that a professional football game that didn’t count—especially one that was played a week before or a week after the Super Bowl—no longer got me excited.

Why? I guess I was growing up. I also no longer cared about the MLB All-Star Game, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and boxing matches involving celebrities.

That brings me to the now and the NFL’s announcement on Monday that it will finally eliminate the Pro Bowl—starting in 2023—and replace it with a week of skill competitions followed by a flag football game. I don’t know much more than that because I haven’t looked that deeply into it.

Why should I? It’s football that doesn’t count. Actually, it’s not even football. These are events that will promote the sport of football and the National Football League. That’s what the Pro Bowl game was actually all about, anyway, right? That was especially the case when it was held in Hawaii each and every season. No, the state has never had an NFL team, but it does love football and certainly embraced the game when it was played there annually.

It had recently been held in Orlando, Florida, a city and a state that loves football but already has plenty of it.

Did the people of Orlando care about the Pro Bowl when it was still kind of real football?

I’m not sure, but, again, I stopped caring about that game a long time ago. The NFL tried to gimmick up the event in recent years with the help of legends like Deion Sanders, but even he couldn’t make it a primetime game again.

The NFL has named an annual All-Pro Team for as long as I can remember, a distinction that seems to carry more weight than the Pro Bowl, anyway.

Yes, players get bonuses based on Pro Bowl appearances, but why can’t those incentives be transferred over to All-Pro selections?

In conclusion, there was only one way the NFL could fix the Pro Bowl, and that was to stop having it.

Looks like the league finally got it right.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/28/2022 - 4:30am

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

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest 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: Debating Kenny or Mitch moving forward in 2022

There’s a quarterback conversation in the Steel City that’s inching towards controversy. Should Mitch get more time or should the Steelers go to Kenny right now. There were heroes in the big win in Cincy, but whose positive exploits remain unsung. This week on “The Steelers Fix”, Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar debate Mitch vs, Kenny.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Pickett vs. Trubisky
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Mike Tomlin Weekly Press Conference Recap: Week 4 vs. the New York Jets

After a frustrating Week 3 on Thursday night as they lost on the road to the New England Patriots, the Steelers had a few extra days to evaluate their performance and focus of their next opponent in the New York Jets. Mike Tomlin took to the podium Tuesday, and Dave Schofield, editor of BTSC, gives you all the details on what Coach T had to say leading up to the game in the latest Mike Tomlin Recap podcast.

The Scho Bro Show: The Steelers can’t blink in Week 4

The Steelers need a redemption game and need to be the best possible version of themselves. In Tomlin terms, they cannot blink and may need to merely smile in the face of adversity against the New York Jets. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed on the Scho Bro Show. the brotherly love entry of the BTSC family of podcasts. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed on the Scho Bro Show. the brotherly love entry of the BTSC family of podcasts.

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!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers need to be close to perfect in Week 4

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

Let’s Ride, Wednesday: The as-advertised 2022 Steelers could use a shot of confidence in Week 4

What happened to the 2002 Steelers as advertised? A shot of confidence for this team could make a big difference in Week 4 and the remainder of this current campaign. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the Wednesday edition of BTSC’s morning flagship show, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers aren’t as advertised
  • What a shot of confidence would mean going in against the Jets
  • 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

BTSC Survivor Pool Update: Week 3 results

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 5:00pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Very few contestants have made it through three games.

The Behind The Steel Curtain survivor pool is rolling along as each week those who make it through are one step closer to the prize. With four leagues completely filled with 100 entries, the fifth league finished with 35 participants. While technically there are 435 total entries, I have one entry in each league as the commissioner so there were 431 different contestants. Hundreds have entered, but only one can go home with the autographed Cam Heyward Football.

The most common selection for Week 3 was the Kansas City Chiefs in Indianapolis against the Colts which was the most selected game in four of the five leagues. This game saw Colts take advantage of an early turnover on special teams to stay close enough in the game to grab the lead with only seconds remaining. The Chiefs missing a 34-yard field goal just prior to the Colts scoring drive could not be overcome as Patrick Mahomes threw an interception with 0:08 remaining to seal the deal and send 35 of the 69 remaining constants home.

The second most popular pick was the selection of the Cincinnati Bengals to not fall to 0-3 and get a win against the New York Jets. Keeping the Jets out of the end zone on the day, the Bengals were victorious and sent 10 entries into Week 4.

The next most commonly picked game was the Los Angeles Chargers hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars put up 16 points in the second quarter and never looked back as they took down the Chargers and eliminated 8 contestants.

This week, there were only four contestants who were eliminated by not making a selection. With so few contestants remaining, hopefully this number will drop to zero for the rest of the contest.

So after three weeks, only 5.3% of the entries still remain. If you are still alive, make sure you enter your pick early so you don’t get knocked out due to a lack of selection. This is your reminder, so go make your pick now!

Weekly Update: Upcoming Week 4 Games of Note:
  • Most heavily favored: Green Bay (-10) at home over New England
  • Closest match up: Cleveland (-1.5) at Atlanta
  • The Steelers match up: Pittsburgh (-3.5) at home over N.Y. Jets

(all lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

So there you have it! Make sure you check back at Behind The Steel Curtain to stay updated on the contest. Even if you did not enter or have already been eliminated, feel free to check in and see how you would have fared each week.

Steelers sign Jordan Berry to the practice squad, release Delontae Scott

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 3:49pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The former Steelers punter, and free agent, was signed to the team’s practice squad Tuesday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with some injuries heading into their Week 4 game vs. the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium, and one of those injuries is supposedly to punter Pressley Harvin III.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harvin is dealing with an injury which is going to force the team to make a move. If nothing more, at last to their 16-man practice squad.

As Dulac said on Twitter, the team is hosting former punter Jordan Berry and is expected to sign him to the practice squad in light of Harvin’s injury.

Clarify: Jordan Berry will be signed to practice squad for now. https://t.co/VlB4T60Jd5

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 27, 2022

Through three games of the 2022 season, Pressley Harvin is tied for leading the NFL in his number of punts with 17. With a long of 69 yards, Harvin currently has a yard per punt average of 47.4 which is almost 5 yards better than his 2021 average of 42.6 yards per punt. When compared to the rest of the NFL, Harvin is ranked 15th in his punting average.

As for Berry, he last played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings after losing to Harvin prior to the 2021 season in the punter position battle. In 17 games in 2021, Berry had a 46.5 yards per punt average. Berry lost out this preseason in the competition to win the punting job in Minnesota to undrafted rookie Ryan Wright.

Nothing has been made official with the signing of Berry, but it does seem imminent at this point. So, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 regular season action.

UPDATE: The Steelers have officially announced signing Berry to the practice squad. In the corresponding move, they released linebacker Delontae Scott from the practice squad.

We have signed P Jordan Berry to the practice squad and released LB Delontae Scott from the practice squad. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/lPUoNIXDc4

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2022

With the news coming out earlier that Berry was going to be signed, it was of little surprise when he lands on the practice squad. What is surprising is that the player who was released from the practice squad in order to make room for Berry to join the team. Delontae Scott was elevated to the Steelers 53man roster each of the last two games. Scott played 16 defensive snaps and one special team snap combined in the Steelers previous two contests.

With outside linebacker David Anenih joining the Steelers in the middle of the preparation for Week 2, Scott replaced him on the roster as Anenih was inactive. With only one real practice on a short week leading up to last Thursday’s game, Scott once again was the player elevated for the game as Anenih was inactive once again. Unless Scott is brought back to the team before this Saturday, look for David Anenih to make his Steelers debut unless they make an additional roster move this week.

POWER RANKINGS: Steelers continue to tumble down the rankings

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Time to check the weekly NFL Power Rankings to see where the Steelers fall this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 3 of the 2022 regular season, and the loss was not pretty. In fact, through three weeks it has made it extremely difficult to gauge where the Steelers rank among their NFL peers.

How far did the team fall after the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns? Based on this week’s NFL Power Rankings, pretty far. Was the defensive performance enough to keep the team out of the bottom third of the league? Not after Thursday night...

All in all, the Steelers’ rankings this week were all over the map. The truth might be somewhere in the middle, but it’s that time of the week where we take a look at other outlets’ rankings after Week 3 of regular season action.

Let’s get to the rankings...

ESPN

1. Miami Dolphins
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Los Angeles Rams
6. Baltimore Ravens
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Cincinnati Bengals
...
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

“The honeymoon period — if there ever was one — for Mitch Trubisky is over. Trubisky is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, the worst of any quarterback who has played three full games this season. He hasn’t been aggressive enough in his downfield throws and the offense lacks rhythm. But it falls on more than just Trubisky, and many of the offensive issues are also rooted in the playcalling and the work-in-progress offensive line. There was at least one sign of life for an otherwise disappointing offensive start: Trubisky completed 9-of-13 for 109 yards, including a 36-yard toss to rookie George Pickens, in the first half of the Thursday loss to the Browns.”

CBS Sports

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
10. Los Angeles Chargers
...
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s almost Kenny Pickett time, even if the Steelers aren’t ready to admit it. The offense isn’t good right now, but the defense let them down against Cleveland as well.”

Yahoo! Sports

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Miami Dolphins
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
...
25. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Maybe the Steelers know that Kenny Pickett isn’t ready and starting him now would set him back. But it didn’t look that way in preseason. Other than that, I can’t think of a single reason to not start Pickett right now. Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the answer. What’s the point in waiting?”

NFL.com

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Cincinnati Bengals
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s not that Mitch Trubisky was bad on Thursday Night Football against the Browns. He really wasn’t. It’s just that the veteran’s ceiling is so low that it turns the Steelers’ offense into a sports car trying to win a race with a restrictor plate affixed to the engine. That’s a problem, because the Pittsburgh defense isn’t a difference-maker without T.J. Watt’s enormous presence. Trubisky’s ceiling and the torn pectoral that will keep Watt out for several more weeks is a bad combo that leaves a razor-thin margin for error every week for Mike Tomlin’s team.”

The Sporting News

1. Miami Dolphins
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Denver Broncos
10. Minnesota Vikings
...
21. Pittsburgh Steelers

“The Steelers don’t have enough offensive juice with Mitchell Trubisky to compensate for their considerable defensive deficiencies without T.J. Watt. Matt Canada and Mike Tomlin will need to be creative and maybe make a big change to rookie Kenny Pickett.”

What do you think of these rankings? Should the Steelers be higher? Are they ranked too high? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the New York Jets in Week 4.

Steelers dealing with several key injuries heading into Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 11:45am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several key injuries, none larger than Minkah Fitzpatrick, heading into Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets both enter Week 4 with a 1-2 record, but it’s Pittsburgh who is riding a two-game losing streak into the game at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers are coming off an extended break after their 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, and are hoping to right their ship, at least back to .500, for their first home win of the season.

Tuesday, Mike Tomlin addressed the media for the first time since his post-game press conference Thursday, and plenty of information was disseminated. While after the game Thursday Tomlin only listed one injury, that list has grown over the weekend.

Tomlin said there were several key injuries, none larger than an injury to Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Tomlin on injuries: Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) Minkah Fitzpatrick (concussion), Kevin Dotson (ankle) and Pressley Harvin (hip). Harvin and Fitzpatrick issues presented themselves post-game.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 27, 2022

As stated earlier, the biggest injury is to Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Fitzpatrick will now have to clear the proper steps to return to the field, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility he is available in Week 4, especially with the extended break following Thursday night.

Other injuries were to left guard Kevin Dotson, who suffered an ankle injury which Tomlin said might limit him early in the week during preparation. A hip injury to punter Pressley Harvin III leaves his availability in question, and is a reason why the Steelers hosted former punter Jordan Berry Tuesday and are prepared to sign him to the team’s practice squad.

Speaking of the hamstring injury to Ahkello Witherspoon, Tomlin said his availability will be dictated on how much he practices, but he could be limited early in the week.

Outside of those listed injuries, the Steelers enter Week 4 vs. the New York Jets with it not just being the next game on the schedule, but also the final game for some players to potentially return to the lineup off Injured Reserve (IR). Damontae Kazee (wrist) and Calvin Austin III (foot) would both be eligible to return following the game Sunday, but doesn’t mean their return is imminent.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4.

Steelers expected to sign Jordan Berry to the practice squad

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 10:57am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The former Steelers punter, and free agent, is expected to be signed to the team’s practice squad this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with some injuries heading into their Week 4 game vs. the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium, and one of those injuries is supposedly to punter Pressley Harvin III.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harvin is dealing with an injury which is going to force the team to make a move. If nothing more, at last to their 16-man practice squad.

As Dulac said on Twitter, the team is hosting former punter Jordan Berry and is expected to sign him to the practice squad in light of Harvin’s injury.

Clarify: Jordan Berry will be signed to practice squad for now. https://t.co/VlB4T60Jd5

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 27, 2022

Through three games of the 2022 season, Pressley Harvin is tied for leading the NFL in his number of punts with 17. With a long of 69 yards, Harvin currently has a yard per punt average of 47.4 which is almost 5 yards better than his 2021 average of 42.6 yards per punt. When compared to the rest of the NFL, Harvin is ranked 15th in his punting average.

As for Berry, he last played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings after losing to Harvin prior to the 2021 season in the punter position battle. In 17 games in 2021, Berry had a 46.5 yards per punt average. Berry lost out this preseason in the competition to win the punting job in Minnesota to undrafted rookie Ryan Wright.

Nothing has been made official with the signing of Berry, but it does seem imminent at this point. So, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 regular season action.

Updated depth chart shows a change of starter on the defensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 10:45am
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Montravius Adams is now listed as the Steelers starting nose tackle.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have put out their weekly press release as they head into their Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium. With a number of items available to Pittsburgh media such as the series history, player bios, statistics for both teams, and team rankings, another item of note is the Steelers’ depth chart. Going into Week 4, there has been a change to the listed starters on the Steelers defense.

According to the Steelers press release on September 27, Montravius Adams is now listed as the Steelers starting nose tackle with Tyson Alualu being second on the depth chart.

When it comes to Alualu, the 35-year-old defensive tackle, who was the 10th overall selection of the 2010 NFL draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is coming off a season in which only appeared in two games and was lost with an ankle injury. In 2022, Alualu has played 104 defensive snaps and 12 on special teams where he has amassed six tackles and one quarterback hit.

As for Montravius Adams, he has only seen 31 snaps on the Steelers defense so far in 2022. In those snaps, Adams has two tackles and a pass defensed.

Exactly how this plays out with the Steelers on the field is yet to be determined. The Steelers do not employ their base defense for a huge number of players, and Alualu is also used at times as a defensive tackle when the Steelers only have two defensive lineman on the field.

The significance of this move may gain some more understanding from head coach Mike Tomlin’s press upcoming conference on Tuesday at noon. Additionally, the rotation on the defensive line as well as the snap counts will ultimately show if there’s anything significant to this move. Coach Tomlin ultimately does not put a lot of stock into depth charts. While some could wonder if this was merely another “clerical error” like what we seen heading into Week 1, the fact that it was a change from what the depth chart was before makes it much more unlikely.

It appears this was the only change on the depth chart over the last several games for the Pittsburgh Steelers outside of roster moves. If looking at the depth chart on Steelers.com, another item of note is that rookie defensive tackle DeMarvin Lieal is listed as the third string behind Isaiahh Loudermilk. If seeing this for the first time, it might be alarming to Steeler fans as Leal has been active for every game in 2022 while Loudermilk has been on the inactive list. It should also be noted that since Week 2, Loudermilk and Leal have appeared in these same positions even though it was Leal who was active for the games.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue their preparation to face the New York Jets this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

Stock Report: See whose stock is falling after the loss to the Browns

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 10:00am
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at whose stock is falling after the Steelers road loss to the Browns on Thursday Night Football.

Thursday night games are brutal on the road team.

However, that was only one of the numerous reasons why I had extremely low expectations for the possibility of a Pittsburgh Steelers road victory Thursday night in Cleveland.

Ben Roethlisberger owned the Browns during his 18-year career with the Steelers, but since he has retired. T.J. Watt has destroyed the Browns offensive game plans throughout his career, but he is currently on injured reserve with a pec injury. The Steelers have yet to show they can win a game without him.

The Steelers team that took the field Thursday night was just what the doctor ordered for a Browns team coming off one of the worst losses in recent team history. The Steelers offense has struggled to convert third downs and control time of possession. The Steelers defense has struggled to get off the field on third downs, especially in the second half of games.

On paper, this was a terrible matchup for the Steelers, considering the fact that the Browns have the best running attack in the NFL, led by the best running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, plus a powerful run blocking offensive line.

The Browns inexplicably did the Steelers a favor by basically abandoning their running game in the first half, choosing instead to focus on exploiting the middle of the field. Who could blame them, because the Steelers continue to struggle mightily trying to defend the middle of the field.

As effective as that strategy was for the Browns, the Steelers held a one-point lead at halftime. However, the Browns were holding there own in time of possession, and their defense wasn't gassed. The Steelers lead and first half offensive success hardly felt secure or sustainable. Steelers fans have seen this song and dance before.

Second half offensive struggles and defensive fatigue has been a reoccurring theme for the Steelers, and Thursday night was more of the same. The Browns coaches were finally smart enough to feed Nick Chubb the rock and get out of the way. The Steelers, without Watt, continue to struggle for answers.

Stock Up: Alex Highsmith

Highsmith is an excellent complimentary running mate for his edge partner T.J. Watt. With the aforementioned Watt out with injury, Highsmith is being asked to attempt to pick up some of the slack in light of Watt's absence. He has also become more of a focal point of opposing offenses since his three sack performance in Week 1 of the season. After struggling to make an impact against the Patriots in Week 2, he rebounded with a strong all-around performance against the Browns.

Steelers defenders struggled throughout the game to wrap up and bring down the Browns powerful running backs. Highsmith did an excellent job setting the edge, and bringing down the ball carriers at first contact. He also finished the game with 1.5 QB sacks. Nice bounce back performance from Highsmith.

Stock Down: Tyson Alualu

One of the biggest issues with Thursday night games is the extremely short recovery time for your older starters. That was the case for Alualu Thursday, and it showed. Alualu struggled more against the Browns than in any game in recent memory. He struggled to anchor, regularly given ground against double teams. On one memorable short yardage play late in the third quarter, Alualu was blown back immediately after the snap and ended up flat on his back, looking up at the stars. I honestly have never seen that happen to Alualu in his Steelers tenure. Was that the byproduct of the short week, or his advanced age catching up with him? For the Steelers sake, let's all hope it was the first option, and definitely not both.

Stock Fluctuating: Jaylen Warren

Warren looks like a spark plug on a Steelers offense in desperate need of a positive charge. He is a instant change of pace back to established starter Najee Harris. Warren continues to show explosive quickness and phenomenal contact balance. He is a solid receiver and a punishing blocker in pass protection. He appears on the verge of a big play every time he gets his hands on the football. Warren's biggest challenge is earning the opportunities to get his hands on the football, and then holding on to the ball once he does. Warren was a difference maker against the Browns, but hardly saw the field after he fumbled the football yet again, a reoccurring theme of his early professional career. Warren can form a dynamic one two punch with Harris if he can learn to better protect the football.

Stock Down: Diontae Johnson

Johnson got paid this offseason. He was compensated like the really good receiver he is. Good, but not elite. He has been extremely inconsistent to start this season, alternating plays somewhere between the spectacular and absolutely head-scratching varieties. Johnson had a huge, drive killing drop on a key third down deep ball in the second half. A second half that desperately needed a big play to regain momentum. Your best, and did I mention highest paid, receiver has to make that play.

Another one of the reasons I was totally against paying Johnson 20+ million a year has been on full display already this season. Johnson has never met a sidelines he didn't like. He loves to lose his coverage in an instant, turn and catch the ball, and flow straight out of bounds without ever being touched. It's his favorite route. Forget about Johnson trying to utilize his quickness to maybe make a defender miss and pickup desperately needed yards after the catch. It's apparently against his personal code of conduct to ever even attempt to break a tackle.

I vividly remember Franco Harris gliding out of bounds at the end of various outside runs, but he was a workhorse running back who was trying to limit unnecessary punishment. That description doesn't apply to Johnson, besides the fact he is avoiding contact for personal protection. Bigger compensation means greater expectations.

Steelers Vertex: What happened on the three and out drives against the Browns?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 8:30am
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Steelers offense needed to answer the Browns as well as keep their own defense off the field, they failed to come through.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 regular season is underway. In their third game, the Steelers offense struggled to maintain drives in the second half particularly three-straight three and out’s through the third and fourth quarters. So what went wrong on these nine plays? 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:

To set up the three-straight drives where the Steelers went three and out in the third and fourth quarter, their first drive of the half lasted 5:27, was 10 plays, and moved the ball 43 yards. Ultimately, the drive was officially 38 yards as the Steelers intentionally took a delay of game to give their punter more room. On the drive the Steelers had both their only negative play on first down of -4 yards as well as a huge pass play to Jaylen Warren called back on a penalty.

On the Steelers next drive they possessed the ball for 1:27 where they gained 7 yards on three plays. All 7 yards were on rushing attempts as Najee Harris gained 1 yard on first down and Mitch Trubisky ran for 6 yards on second down. On the third down play, a deep pass to Diontae Johnson fell incomplete. The second drive the Steelers possessed the ball for 0:57 and had -5 yards on the drive as the Steelers had a rush for no gain, two incomplete passes, and a false start penalty on third down.

The third drive began at the Steelers 6-yard line as compared to the first two drivers which began at their 25. The Steelers possessed the ball for 1:11 and gained 4 yards. The Steelers gained 7 yards on first time on a pass to Chase Claypool followed by an incompletion. On third down Mitch Trubisky was sacked the only time of the game for -3 yards.

During those 3 drives in the third and fourth quarter, The Steelers ran 9 offensive plays and gained a total of 6 yards. The Steelers had 7 yards in rushing on 3 carries, 4 yards in passing on one completion on five passes as well as a sack, and 5 yards in penalties.

Let’s check out the film on these drives. Since this a little different this week, I’m going to throw a few notes on some of the clips.

The Film Line:

After the Steelers first drive of the second half stalled at midfield, the Browns answered with a field goal to take a two-point lead. The Steelers offense then had the chance to take the lead back.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 2:31, First and 10

Najee Harris is the running back.

On a day the Steelers offensive line was playing pretty well, this play struggles when defensive end Isaac Rochell (#98) crashes inside and disrupts what looks like an attempted combo block from Pat Freiermuith and Zach Gentry. Gentry can’t get over to help and Rochell is too much for Freiermuth to block one on one. The first play of the drive gains one yard.

Dave’s Notes: Look at Connor Heyward all the way to the left of the screen. I don’t know if he was supposed to take that block himself of if Gentry was to help, but he can’t slow down the crash down by #42 who makes the play.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 1:54, Second and 9

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the left side of the screen.

On second down the Steelers throw out an option run with multiple choices for Trubisky. His first read is Myles Garrett. If Garrett stays wide, he gives the ball to Najee Harris. He sees Myles Garrett crashing inside and pulls the ball to take it outside of Garrett.

After that it’s Trubisky and Pat Freiermuth. I love Freiermuth’s part of this play. He looks like he is coming to put a backside block on Myles Garrett, and fakes that he will block, but slips past and into the flat. #44 is far enough outside for Trubisky to turn up field, and the play gains 6 yards.

The Steelers have run this play a few times, but it has mostly been a handoff to Harris. Garrett bites on the run this time, so Matt Canada and Mitchell Trubisky make him pay for it.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 1:23, Third and 3

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

The important read for Trubisky here is the safeties. With the middle of the field so open, if the safeties both stay deep his throw is to Chase Claypool on his slant from the slot. The safeties don’t stay in 2-high, and Trubisky attacks the single-high coverage with this throw to Diontae Johnson.

Johnson can’t secure the catch, and with Najee Harris and Dan Moore Jr. failing to block Myles Garrett, Trubisky takes a shot to go with the drop, and it’s time to punt.

A long pass to Amari Cooper led to a Nick Chubb touchdown for the Browns and the Steelers offense came out needing to put points on the board to stay in the game in their first drive of the fourth quarter.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 9:29, First and 10

Najee Harris is the running back.

This slanted attack from the Browns defensive line gave the Steelers problems on both of these first downs. It is something the Steelers are going to have to figure out how to counter, because teams are going to see what the Browns are seeing. Whether it is a tell giving away the run play or a predictable formation, whatever it is, the Steelers need to deal with it. They don’t have it figured out yet here, and it leads to 2nd and 10.

Dave’s Notes: Who made the tackle on this play? It looks to me that Najee Harris stumbled on his cut and fell in front of the defender. Looking at it from a side view during the game, he likely gains a few yards if not for the stumble.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 8:52, Second and 10

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver.

Chase Claypool can’t haul in this pass in traffic. It’s tempting to say the other receivers were open, but the deep safety only commits after the throw is in the air. It is likely that Trubisky would have a shot at George Pickens deep, but Diontae Johnson is only open after the deep safety sees the throw to Claypool and reacts.

The problem on this play is Trubisky can’t hit Claypool in the small window he has available. Look at the play from a different angle.

The timing of Trubisky’s throw has two defenders on Claypool when the ball gets there. It’s also clear that Trubisky was reading Claypool’s route the entire time. He saw the defense, knew where his window was, and it still ended up in a tight spot.

This is where you want Claypool to be catching the ball. That’s how tight window’s are in the NFL. To be a really good quarterback you have to be able to hit that window, and that is why before the draft teams obsess about things like processing speed, throw mechanics and arm strength. Because every tenth of a second matters.

Trubisky can’t get it into that window. His processing is a hair too late, his release a bit too slow. That gives Chase Claypool a tough contested catch to make, and the ball gets knocked away from him.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 8:46, Third and 15

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end.

After a false start it’s third and 15, and Trubisky overthrows Pat Freiermuth on a ten-yard curl.

The overthrow is a problem, but even if he hits Freiermuth in the chest this isn’t likely to be a conversion. The previous clip was an example of a route running through a window, on this play, the ball is late and instead of that causing the ball to be thrown toward defenders, it allows the defenders time to better defend the pass. This is a throw the quarterback needs to make before the receiver makes his break. You can see Freiermuth get his head around before his body, he does that so he can locate a ball already in the air.

Compare these two moments:

When Freiermuth breaks off his route to stop, the defense sees and immediately starts to collapse on him. That’s why you want the ball to arrive as soon as the receiver makes his break. If the ball arrives at this point Pat Freiermuth has a chance to split the defenders and pick up the first down. The Steelers have been victimized by several throws like this that were in rhythm and on target and the tight end turned and picked up the first. Freiermuth likely does that on this play if the ball in on time and accurate.

Even if this throw is accurate, Freiermuth is going to be hit as soon as he makes the catch and is highly unlikely to convert this. While the first three and out saw good play by Trubisky wasted, the second three and out saw Trubisky’s shortcomings stall the drive out.

This time the Steelers defense would hold, and get the ball back to the offense with five and a half minutes left needing two scores to take the lead.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:29, First and 10

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver to the bottom of the screen.

The Steelers go to one of Trubisky’s strengths to try and get something going here, rolling him out and attacking one side of the defense with multiple layers of receivers. The space the defense is giving Chase Claypool makes this an easy decision and throw to bring up Second and 3.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:10, Second and 3

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the top of the screen.

This throw to Diontae Johnson is underthrown and falls incomplete. You can see Myles Garrett throws Dan Moore Jr. to the ground to put pressure on Trubisky, and if you look closely, you can see he is leaning back when he makes this throw.

Mitchell Trubisky has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when he’s moving or under pressure. That lean back pulls the ball short and outside. It’s unfortunate, but third and 3 isn’t a terrible situation.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:04, Third and 3

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver to the top of the screen.

As this play breaks down you can see Chase Claypool move to get open and raise his arm. Mitchell Trubisky isn’t able to get him the ball and takes a sack to bring up fourth down and a third straight drive without a first down.

First watch the blocking to the right side of the line. The Steelers pick up rushers from the outside in under Pat Meyer, and the running back takes the middle. Here both Chukwuma Okorafor (#76) and James Daniels (#78) are expecting a normal rush. But #98 drops and the inside linebacker blitzes, and that gives the Browns a 4-man rush with Najee Harris blocking instead of James Daniels. It’s a good plan for the Browns as Harris continues to struggle in pass protection and they get a sack for their effort.

Beyond that watch Mitchell Trubisky’s eyes on this play. He’s trying to get the ball to George Pickens to his right on a deep route. Looking that way as he runs out of the pocket causes him to miss Chase Claypool open for what would have been a first down. By the time he sees Claypool it is too late to make a throw and the drive is over.

The Point:

The Steelers offense was in a rhythm and doing well in the second quarter and the first drive of the second half, but a few things going wrong in the second drive of the half brought out the bad parts of Mitchell Trubisky’s game. That and Myles Garrett stepping up to make a few plays in key spots helped doom the Steelers in the second half.

The Steelers defense isn’t going to be as dominant with T.J. Watt out, and the offense needs to score points and control the ball more if this team is going to win even a single game before T.J. Watt returns. The Steelers need better play across the board from the offense, but especially from their quarterback.

The Steelers need the spark that only a top quarterback can provide

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 7:15am
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

In this age of NFL parity, excellence at quarterback is a must.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowl championships — each and every one of them with an offense led by a stellar quarterback. Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger have plenty in common in the way they played the game. As young players, both No. 12 and No. 7 had the ability to make blitzing linebackers look silly, whether juking them to the turf or tossing them casually off of their backs. Not only were Terry and Ben tough dudes revered in the Steel City and throughout the NFL, but each possessed a rocket arm and the kind of accuracy that yielded some of the most spectacular plays in Steelers history.

In the wake of the black-and-gold’s second consecutive loss to middling teams unlikely to be found anywhere close to a Super Bowl this season, fans have been given unwelcome reminders of the overwhelming importance of the quarterback position. Quite simply, without a QB who consistently converts third downs and red zone opportunities, an NFL team cannot be a contender. In the job description, it’s not enough merely to be competent as a quarterback — you must be an extraordinary player.

So far in 2022, we haven’t seen anything extraordinary about the play of Mitch Trubisky. And even giving Mitch the benefit of some rising doubt, it should be obvious that Pittsburgh won’t beat anyone when converting only a single third down situation in nine attempts, as they did in losing to Cleveland.

If not for narrowly escaping defeat on opening day in Cincinnati, the Steelers easily might have been winless heading into Week 4. Because it’s a parity league, every NFL team today is loaded with talented players. What sets a team apart is whether they’ve got the trigger-man to consistently bring out the best in their offensive talent. And because Bradshaw and Big Ben each commanded this rare capability, six Super Bowl trophies are on display at Steelers headquarters.

Following the Steelers’ dismal defeat in Cleveland, Mike Tomlin mainly talked about the defense giving up big chunks of rushing yardage and allowing the Browns to possess the ball. While that’s true, it hardly absolves the offense from failing to move the sticks and giving the ball back to Cleveland throughout most of the second half. Disregarding the fluke Browns’ touchdown at the end of the game, they scored only 23 points. But all the Steelers offense could do with their opportunities during the final 30 minutes was a solitary field goal.

Some might prefer blaming the Steelers’ defense, the coaching staff or the absence of T.J. Watt, but what this team most lacks is a quarterback who can reliably put points on the scoreboard. If the Steelers don’t find that guy fairly soon, the other excuses for losing will be irrelevant.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Steelers have as much raw talent as any team in the league. But the one key player who hasn’t made an appearance on the field yet is the quarterback who looks like he can lead this team to a championship. In the few weeks ahead, we’ll need to see either far better performances by Trubisky or the much-awaited debut of Kenny Pickett. While we’ve already seen some substandard play in Weeks 1-3, the only truly unacceptable failure would be for the Steelers to go through the entire 2022 season without establishing any certainty at the quarterback position.

Is the Steelers offense really close to being complete?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense isn’t about to throw up the white flag of surrender, not when they believe they are close to being complete.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-2 through three weeks of the 2022 regular season, and the fan base doesn’t need reminded of this simple fact. Something else they don’t need reminded of is the team’s inability to put up points.

When you look at offensive points scored, this wouldn’t count plays like Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six in the Week 1 overtime win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, here is how they have done thus far:

Week 1: 17 points
Week 2: 14 points
Week 3: 17 points

In an era where NFL teams are scoring points at a ridiculous clip, the Steelers have been stuck in the slow lane for the past several years. Take this simple statistic as an example: In their first three games the Philadelphia Eagles have scored 24 points...in the first half.

The Steelers have yet to even break the 24-point plateau in a full 4 quarter game, and including the defense putting points on the board.

With all of that said, you’d understand if fans don’t want to hear players say they are “close” to being a very good, complete offense. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what Mason Cole said on Monday as the team prepares for Week 4.

“I think we’re really close. I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people think it is,” Cole said. “It’s still not good enough, but it really comes down to 11 guys doing their job. That’s football. If one guy is not doing his job, it’s not going to look the way it’s meant to be.”

You have to love, and appreciate Cole’s optimism, and there will be plenty of skeptics who absolutely annihilate his comments. But, in Cole’s defense, he continued to talk about how the team still has work to do — no excuses.

“This league is tough. There are no excuses. We have to be better to win these games, these tight games, we’re going to have to be better and play a complete game,” Cole added. “So that’s what we’re striving to do, play a complete game on offense.”

To be completely fair, in the first half of the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers offense looked great. They were moving the ball well, using tempo to keep the defense off balance and maximizing the strengths of their offensive line and their quarterback.

“I think our tempo helped us a little bit and kind of sticking to it in the first half kind of helped us,” Cole said of the running game. “We’ve just got to keep getting better there and moving forward there.”

Unfortunately, the second half vs. Cleveland didn’t have the same kind of positive outlook on it, as the team was only able to add three points to their total in the final half. Nonetheless, Kevin Dotson is using the ever-dangerous ‘P’ word when talking about the offense.

Potential.

This is what he told Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Kevin Dotson: "Potential is one of those things that, it's a good thing and it can drag you down. ... I feel like we just know how good we can be. And that's the thing that's frustrating us, that we are not clicking how we could be really -- that's about the only thing."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 26, 2022

Will the Steelers, both offensively and defensively, live up to their potential? Will they ever be the team many know they are capable of being? Well, if there is one player who can help get the team mentally back on track, it’s captain Cam Heyward. Heyward knows what needs to be done, and it’s turning the page. Getting ready for the next opponent.

“Get ready for Wednesday. We have practice. Focus on the little things. Control what you can control,” Heyward said when asked what the team needs to do. “Do your job. Get ready to play football again.

“The weekend was nice to get a quick reset. We have work to do. It was nice to get a couple extra hours of rest. Hopefully it benefits us. Now we get back to the task at hand.”

The Steelers host the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium Sunday for a 1pm ET kickoff, and it would be great to see them get their first home win of the season to even their record at 2-2. With the slate of games they have coming up, it could be viewed as a huge game for the home team. Lose this game, falling to 1-3, could be disastrous for the team’s psyche and overall development.

Let’s hope that latter scenario doesn’t play out.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 action.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/27/2022 - 4:30am

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

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

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

BAD Language: Could Mike Tomlin’s Stubbornness Work?

Mike Tomlin sticks to his ways and refuses to blink in the face of adversity. This policy of defiance has never produced a losing season. Could that trend continue and does that mean that the Steelers will be okay? So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language.

  • News and Notes
  • Mike Tomlin and his refusal to blink
  • Prediction Accountability
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: Shouldn’t Steeler Nation Be Used to Starting Slow?

The Steelers are starting off slow, but it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. Join BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White for another Steelers Hangover in the 2022 season.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The Steelers starting slow is not new
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Steelers that are and are not meeting expectations

The first three contests of the 2022 campaign for the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t gone great for the black and gold. Some players are meeting expectations while disappointment defines some of the others Geoffrey Benedict examines this and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Expectations, those met and those not
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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