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Giants vs. Cowboys: Monday Night Football picks, odds and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 7:00pm
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Monday Night Football is here! Check out the latest odds, picks and more.

The 2022 NFL regular season is in full swing, and it’s an NFC East battle in Week 3. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants go head-to-head. When it comes to storylines, there are plenty surrounding this game.

As for the game itself, below you’ll see some vital information for you to enjoy the contest. You’ll get odds for the game, check out our staff picks for the game and to use this comment section as an open thread for the game.

Let’s take a closer look...

How to Watch:

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Date: Monday, Sept. 26
Venue: MetLife Stadium
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Streaming: ESPN App, ESPN+

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

NYG: -1
O/U: 39
Moneyline:
NYG: -115
DAL: -105

Staff Picks:

While the game doesn’t feature Daniel Jones vs. Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush and the Cowboys are hoping to get a very necessary Monday night win over their division rivals in New Jersey. It will hopefully be a highly contested games and fun to watch. Let us know your picks in the comment section below. On top of that, follow along with other Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the comment section below as the open thread.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold. And continue counting down the days until the Steelers play the New York Jets in Week 4 of the regular season.

AFC North Recap: Steelers two-game skid doesn’t have them in last place

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The AFC North had a bounce back week, except for the team from Pittsburgh.

The second week of NFL football is behind us, and it was quite the week in the AFC North division. With that said, it is time to see how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns all did in the week that was.

Time to take a look...

Cleveland Browns - 29
Pittsburgh Steelers - 17

Not to dig up old bones, but the one thing which should be noted is how the final score was certainly not a real indication of the outcome. In reality, not withstanding the lateral play which resulted in a Browns touchdown as time expired, the final score would have been 23-17. A one score game. Come to think of it, I find it hard to believe the Steelers were within a score with how slanted the play was in Cleveland’s direction in the second half. Not much else needs to be said about this game...on to Week 4.

Cincinnati Bengals - 27
New York Jets - 12

Joe Flacco couldn’t provide another AFC North magic victory when the Jets visited Cincinnati. The game was close early, but eventually the Bengals were able to manage their mistakes and make enough plays to win. Nonetheless, the offensive line for Cincinnati was under duress, again, and you have to wonder their plan to keep Joe Burrow upright for the rest of the season.

Baltimore Ravens - 37
New England Patriots - 26

This game was a fun game to watch, with many twists and turns throughout the contest, but the Ravens offense was too much for the Patriots. Mac Jones showed some big play ability, but nothing near what Lamar Jackson provided for the Ravens. Once again, Jackson is the one-man-show in Baltimore, and is a force to be reckoned with. Can the Steelers match up with the Ravens? Fans won’t have to discuss that until their first regular season meeting in Week 14.

AFC North Standings

Cleveland Browns - 2-1
Baltimore Ravens - 2-1
Pittsburgh Steelers - 1-2
Cincinnati Bengals - 1-2

Week 4 AFC North Schedule:

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins — 8:15pm ET, Thursday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets — 1:00pm ET, Sunday
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns — 1:00pm ET, Sunday
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills — 1:00pm ET, Sunday

A look ahead...

The next four opponents for all AFC North teams:

Baltimore Ravens: vs. Bills, vs. Bengals, at NY Giants, vs. Browns
Cleveland Browns: at Falcons, vs. Chargers, vs. Patriots, at Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers: vs. Jets, at Bills, vs. Buccaneers, at Dolphins
Cincinnati Bengals: vs. Dolphins, at Ravens, at Saints, vs. Falcons

The NFL announces changes to the Pro Bowl beginning this season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The game, as well as the days heading up to it, will look much different this February.

Since the 1950 NFL season, the league has held the Pro Bowl each year with the exception of 2020 when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Over the years, there have been a number of tweaks to how the game has been played. From occurring before the Super Bowl versus after the game, years where the teams were chosen by captains, or the location in which the game was played has changed during recent years years.

On Monday, the NFL announced what looks to be the biggest change in the game, outside of canceling it altogether, in it’s more than 70 year history. With constantly evolving rules in order to reduce player injury, and the effort given by the players becoming more in question, the NFL has decided to replace the game with a multi-day skills competition culminating in a flag football game. This per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

NFL is replacing the Pro Bowl with a multi-day skills competition and flag football game that will be played in Las Vegas the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2022

With the NFL still wanting to showcase the skills of their elite players, various competitions have been involved as part of Pro Bowl week which was televised beginning in 2017. Under the new format, these skills challenges will likely take a much more increased role in the event.

Additionally, the NFL is tapping into one of its most marketable former players as Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions will help out with the various events of this year‘s Pro Bowl.

Peyton Manning and Omaha Productions will help shape the skills competition programming throughout Pro Bowl week in Las Vegas. Manning also will be a key part of the coaching staff for the AFC vs NFC flag football game.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2022

So how will these changes effect the Pro Bowl rosters? According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the selection process for players will be the same when it comes to how many are chosen as well as the decision coming from both fan and player voting.

The Pro Bowl game has been replaced by "The Pro Bowl Games," but I'm told full rosters (44 per conference) will still be selected through fan and player voting. So, no impact on incentives, etc.

Details still to come on format of the flag football game, which won't be 11-on-11.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 26, 2022

With players having incentives built into their contract when it comes to Pro Bowl appearances, the NFL changing how they make the selection would likely get more pushback from the NFLPA had they not kept with the same standards which players have negotiated their contracts.

One thing that has not been addressed at this time will be how the NFL handles replacement players. Since the NFL moved the game to before the Super Bowl in the 2014 season, players selected from teams represented by each conference in the championship game obviously could not be a part of the Pro Bowl festivities. Additionally, players who were injured and unable to participate, or declined the invitation, needed to be replaced in order for teams to have full squads to play the game. Whether or not this will be necessary to the same degree is unknown at this time.

For anyone who has tuned in to the Pro Bowl in recent years, the product on the field only somewhat resembles the game they see throughout the regular season. Since putting the players in pads but having the game be so far removed from actual football has gone to such a magnified level, the NFL likely deemed it was better to embrace the fact that it wasn’t an actual football game than to try to continue to pawn it off as such.

The Pro Bowl Games following the 2022 NFL season are scheduled to take place the week following Conference Championship Weekend on January 27, 2023. The exact dates for the competitions have yet to be officially announced, but the final game, now a flag football game, is scheduled for February 5, 2023 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

So what are your thoughts on that NFL changing the format for the Pro Bowl following the 2022 NFL season? Is it a good idea for the NFL to make a change, should they have kept the game the same, or should they do away with any activities altogether? Will this change reflect your viewership in any way? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Don’t look now, but the Steelers offensive line is headed in the right direction

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 11:30am

It may be hard for some to believe, but the 2022 Steelers offensive line is starting to show signs of improvement.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone through plenty of changes since the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There have been multiple offensive coordinators, offensive line coaches, position coaches, quarterbacks, running backs, and skill position players. There have been substantial changes to the offensive line as well, both in personnel and scheme.

Even through all those changes, one thing remains the same — the Steelers offense is subpar. It's ineffective, both in sustaining drives needed for optimal time of possession, and putting points on the scoreboard. The Steelers struggle to consistently run or pass the football. A huge culprit in these struggles is the offensive line, the foundation of any offense.

As you can imagine, I believe that the Steelers offensive line deserves the majority of the blame for the Steelers ineffective and lackluster offensive performance in recent years. Simply put, the Steelers offensive success moving forward will mirror the growth and improvement of their offensive line. They go hand in hand.

The reasoning behind the Steelers offensive line struggles are plentiful, as are the suggested solutions. One common belief is how the Steelers haven't invested enough financial and draft capital on improving the unit. There is evidence that would seem to support that theory, when you consider the Steelers have the least expensive starting offensive line in the league, and the fact they don't have a single first round selection in the starting unit or on the depth chart.

That sounds like a sound theory, especially when you consider the fact that the last standout Steelers offensive line was constructed on the All Pro talents of Maurkice Pouncey and David Decastro; two first rounds draft picks, but I don't believe that is the answer.

The Steelers have always constructed their offensive lines from the inside out. The Hall of Fame is full of Steelers legends, including some of the greatest interior linemen in NFL history. That being said, the Steelers don't have an offensive tackle in the Hall of Fame, nobody even close actually. The Steelers actually have been more successful converting tight ends into tackles than drafting and developing first round picks at the position.

The Steelers went the free agency route in trying to rebuild their offensive line for 2022. The Steelers signed former third rounder Mason Cole to solidify their center position, and they signed former second round selection James Daniels to strengthen the right guard spot. Finally, they re-signed their own free agent right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. All three have proven NFL experience, but are still young enough for one to assume they haven't reached their full potential. Left guard Kevin Dotson and left tackle Dan Moore Jr. round out the starting five.

The Steelers new-look offensive line started out the preseason looking too much like last year's version. Missed assignments, subpar communication, and a lack of chemistry invoked unpleasant memories of recent past. With that being said, the offensive line has shown slight improvement over the first few games of this season. You know what they say, beggars can't be choosers.

Okorafor has enjoyed the best start to a season in his young career. He is playing like he suddenly experienced an epiphany when he signed his new-three year contract to stay in the Steel City. I have honestly been intrigued by Okorafor's potential ever since the Steelers utilized a third round pick on him. He had the length and mobility of a left tackle on film, but his lack of intensity and physicality thus far in his four year career has been infuriating. Suddenly, he looks like a new man, a talent who finally feels comfortable in his own skin. He has been adequate run blocking, but exceptional in pass protection. He has been the Steelers best, and most consistent, lineman.

Daniels was arguably the Steelers’ biggest free agent target. Daniels is young, talented, and loaded with potential. His versatility had been both a blessing and a curse during his tenure with the Chicago Bears. He was moved around the interior early and often, willing to be utilized wherever he was needed. The lack of positional stability stunted his development. The Steelers immediately named him their starting right guard, and are hoping the familiarity gained at a single position will accelerate his professional growth. Daniels appears to be getting more comfortable and confident by the week.

Cole has been everything the Steelers were hoping for when they signed him in free agency: a stabilizing veteran presence in the interior offensive line. Cole is a fundamentally sound tactician, who looks spectacularly solid in comparison to last year's starters at the position. I have been impressed by Cole's leadership and communication skills, coupled with his underrated functional strength and mobility.

The left side of the Steelers offensive line consists of Kevin Dotson at left guard, and Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle. The left side of the line is slightly behind the right in terms of execution and development, but that is completely understandable considering the circumstances. The Steelers staged an ill-advised position battle between Dotson and Kendrick Green during training camp. The competition, coupled with a nagging injury, hindered Dotson gaining chemistry with his new linemates and blocking scheme.

Dotson has looked lost on multiple occasions thus far this season, especially during his limited preseason action. He appears to be finding his footing finally, slowly but surely. Dotson is not an ideal fit for the Steelers new outside zone concepts, as he is more of a power dependent people mover, but he appears willing and able. He remains more effective against power than speed. His pass protection is a work in progress.

Dan Moore Jr. has been a mixed bag of good and not so good plays thus far this season. He worked hard during the offseason focusing on his functional strength and hand placement. There has been noticeable improvement in both areas. He is handling bull rush attempts in pass protection much better, which was an issue in 2021. He has struggled at times with his balance and footwork, mainly due to the Steelers new blocking requirements stressing aggressiveness and first contact, even in pass protection. He seems to be improving by the week.

The Steelers offensive line improvement in the early stages of the season appears to have went unnoticed by the national sports media, and with many in the fan base. This offensive line was constructed in typical Steelers fashion with all five members being young, experienced, and talented. Each player is 26 or younger, and under contract with the Steelers for the foreseeable future. If the Steelers can turn all that potential into production, they may find themselves in a very financially favorable situation. Low risk with potentially high reward.

The Steelers have numerous issues on offense presently. Surprisingly, the line isn't the biggest one.

Betting Preview: Steelers currently 3.5-point favorites vs. the Jets

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 10:00am
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers are favored for the first time in the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some extra time to prepare for the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets after playing on Thursday night last week. When it comes to the betting lines for Sunday’s game, the following information is the current consensus spread and over/under for the Steelers this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Game Info: Week 4 Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Jets Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Betting line: -3.5

Over/under: 41.5

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 16-10 vs Jets

Win streak: 1 game NYJ

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 1 - 2 NYJ

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 6 - 4 NYJ

The opening line on the game was at -3.5 after the schedule was announced in May. Throughout the preseason games and the first three weeks of the NFL season the line has held steady.

Being the favorites on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of -170 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 10/17 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Jets would have a payout of $31.76 ($11.76 plus the original $20 bet). The Jets have a current moneyline of +145, or 29/20 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on New York to win straight up would have a payout of $49 ($29 plus the original $20 bet).

The Steelers are 12-3-1 against the spread in their last 16 games played in October and are 10-1 straight up in their last 11 games at home against the Jets. The Steelers also have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 home games and have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 games against the Jets.

If looking at the futures bets at DraftKings.com, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl are at 100/1 after Week 3. The Steelers odds to win the AFC Championship are 75/1 odds. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are currently at 16/1 odds behind the Bengals at 7/2 odds, the Browns at 3/1, and the Ravens as the favorite at 4/5 odds.

Betting Preview: Steelers currently 3.5-point favorites vs. the Jets

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 10:00am
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers are favored for the first time in the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some extra time to prepare for the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets after playing on Thursday night last week. When it comes to the betting lines for Sunday’s game, the following information is the current consensus spread and over/under for the Steelers this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Game Info: Week 4 Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Jets Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Betting line: -3.5

Over/under: 41.5

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 16-10 vs Jets

Win streak: 1 game NYJ

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 1 - 2 NYJ

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 6 - 4 NYJ

The opening line on the game was at -3.5 after the schedule was announced in May. Throughout the preseason games and the first three weeks of the NFL season the line has held steady.

Being the favorites on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of -170 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 10/17 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Jets would have a payout of $31.76 ($11.76 plus the original $20 bet). The Jets have a current moneyline of +145, or 29/20 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on New York to win straight up would have a payout of $49 ($29 plus the original $20 bet).

The Steelers are 12-3-1 against the spread in their last 16 games played in October and are 10-1 straight up in their last 11 games at home against the Jets. The Steelers also have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 home games and have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 games against the Jets.

If looking at the futures bets at DraftKings.com, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl are at 100/1 after Week 3. The Steelers odds to win the AFC Championship are 75/1 odds. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are currently at 16/1 odds behind the Bengals at 7/2 odds, the Browns at 3/1, and the Ravens as the favorite at 4/5 odds.

TURNING POINT: Steelers’ can’t overcome 2nd half mistakes in loss to Browns

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled in the second half against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, and it was the turning point in the game.

Following each game this season, I’m writing an article that takes one play, or a small sequence of plays, and examines how it became the “turning point” in each Steelers contest. This week, the focus is on a pair of mistakes the Steelers made in the 3rd quarter that killed drives on offense and swung momentum towards Cleveland in a 29-17 Browns victory.

Heading into Thursday night’s contest at Cleveland in Week 3, the Steelers had two major concerns. The first was they needed to improve their anemic offense and score some points. The second was they had to find a way to slow down Cleveland’s league-leading rushing attack, which would be no small feat given the absence of T.J. Watt and the struggles the Steelers were experiencing in that department that had carried over from 2021. These two issues were intertwined, as one of the best ways for Pittsburgh to limit the Cleveland run game was to possess the ball on offense, score points and keep the defense, which had played more snaps than any unit in the NFL so far in 2022, off the field as much as possible.

For one half on Thursday, the Steelers did just that. Over the first 30 minutes, their offense looked like the one many fans had envisioned when Matt Canada became its coordinator. Canada came to Pittsburgh with a reputation as an architect of creative play designs, deceptive shifts and motions, quarterback runs and pocket movement. Through his first 20 games as play-caller, however, little of those features, other than some bells and whistles in the shifts-and-motions department, had been on display.

Then, suddenly, on a short week, all that seemed to change. Pittsburgh gained 209 yards on 30 plays in the 1st half against Cleveland. They scored two touchdowns, or as many as they’d amassed in the previous two games combined, and had moved into field goal range on another drive that ended in a missed attempt by Chris Boswell. They used deception well, running a series of bootlegs off of jet motion that fooled the Cleveland defense. They blocked well up front in both the run and pass game. And they pushed the football down the field, showing a willingness to throw deep that they’d avoided the first two weeks. On one such deep ball, rookie receiver George Pickens made one of the great catches in recent memory, doing his best Odell Beckham Jr. impersonation by reaching behind him with one hand to make this near-impossible snare:

The Steelers finished that drive by pounding the ball into the end zone on three straight runs, the first two from Jaylen Warren and the finisher by Najee Harris. Both backs ran angry, looked for contact and punished Cleveland defenders when it came. Pittsburgh led 14-13 at the half, had zero three-and-outs, and was protecting the defense with their offense. Their performance inspired hope.

Then came the second half. The Steelers could not match their early success, as a series of mistakes doomed their possessions in the 3rd and early-4th quarters. An opening drive that started well was derailed by a huge penalty and ended with a punt. Then, on three straight series, they went three-and-out, amassing a total of 6 yards on 9 plays. Those possessions used a combined 3:35 of game clock. By giving the ball back to Cleveland so quickly, the Browns were able to get their run game going, wear down Pittsburgh’s defensive front and take control of the contest. They asserted their will on consecutive drives, running 25 plays for 150 yards and holding the ball for 13:37 of game clock. Their 14-13 deficit became a 23-14 advantage, and the Steelers were toast.

How did Pittsburgh’s promising 1st half on offense fall apart after the break? The answer is simple: self-inflicted wounds. For the second week in a row, the contest turned in favor of an opponent as the Steelers shot themselves in the foot. Last week, against New England, it was a dropped interception followed by a mental error on special teams that resulted in having ten men on the field for a Patriots’ punt that ended in a turnover and a quick New England touchdown. Against Cleveland, the mistakes were on the offensive side of the ball. In both games, they allowed the opponent to seize momentum and then salt the game away by pounding the football at Pittsburgh’s shaky run defense. The Steelers aren’t good enough to overcome their own errors. The last two weeks have proven that in the cruelest of ways.

Pittsburgh’s first self-inflicted wound against the Browns came on its opening drive of the 2nd half. Initially, it looked like they would pick up where they’d left off. They mixed the run and the pass, moved Trubisky about the pocket and varied their tempo to advance the ball from their own 16-yard line into Cleveland territory. On 1st and 10 from the Browns’ 46-yard line, a screen pass to Harris lost four yards. Facing 2nd and 14 from the 50, the Steelers ran a nicely executed shovel pass to Warren that hit big. The rookie back caught the inside toss from Trubisky and did what he’s been doing since the early stages of training camp: he ran hard, broke tackles and finished aggressively:

Warren’s run was aided by the play of the offensive line, who executed their assignments well. Right guard James Daniels, who played physically all game, wiped out the defensive tackle to his side of the ball. Center Mason Cole sealed the backside tackle, and left guard Kevin Dotson pulled and wrapped around to run interference. With Cleveland’s left defensive end so far upfield in pursuit of Trubisky, Warren had ample room to run once he caught the pitch.

But right tackle Chuks Okorafor drew a penalty for being illegally downfield before the ball was released. At the point Trubisky pitched it, Okorafor was two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. You can see him circled in the photo below, working up to the linebacker level as Trubisky let the ball go:

The league rule on an illegal downfield pass states that a player is ineligible if he is covered by an outside player and is more than one yard down the field before the pass is released. Technically, the officials made the right call here. In most instances, however, this is not enforced. Informally, and especially given the leniency the league allows on RPO-type passes, penalties of this nature are only called if an ineligible player is at least three yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The “three yard zone” is the bane of the existence of many defensive coordinators, who see it as another protection for the offense by a league that bends the rules in their favor to appease fans who prefer high-scoring games (that’s a direct quote from a former NFL defensive coordinator I spoke with who, to put it mildly, hates the way the game is officiated these days).

Unfortunately for the Steelers, Thursday night’s crew enforced the rule to the letter of its law. Okorafor got flagged, and a 35-yard gain that would have set the Steelers up in the red zone was wiped out. Two plays later, Pittsburgh punted. Cleveland proceeded to drive 70 yards and kick a field goal to give them a lead they would not relinquish.

On the Steelers’ next possession, a more egregious unforced error doomed them. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32, Trubisky read press cover-1 from Cleveland with a five-man pressure and a “rat” sitting in the high hole to disrupt slants and crossing routes. The Steelers aligned in an 11 personnel empty set with Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth on the wings, but kept both in to chip Cleveland’s edge rushers before they released into the pattern. Meanwhile, slot receiver Chase Claypool ran a slant, which was bracketed by the alley defender and the rat, and Pickens and Diontae Johnson went vertical outside the numbers.

Trubisky made the smart play by choosing one of the verticals. While he essentially threw up a 50/50 ball, it was the right decision given the coverage Cleveland presented. It was also a good choice considering Myles Garrett, who was coming off the edge to Trubisky’s left, beat both the chip by Harris and the block of left tackle Dan Moore to apply near-immediate pressure. Trubisky stood his ground and absorbed the hit, but not before lofting a perfect ball 30 yards down field to Johnson, who promptly dropped it:

At first glance it looked like cornerback Denzel Ward had gotten a piece of the throw to break it up. But from the angle below, you can see it was a clear drop. Trubisky could not have walked the ball down the field and handed it to Johnson in a better spot. Johnson was just late in tracking it, and got his elbows too far away from his body, allowing the throw to escape him. Pittsburgh was forced to punt, and Cleveland again drove the field, this time scoring a touchdown to extend their lead and essentially put the game away.

Trubisky has received a fair amount of criticism for his play so far this season, and much of it is justified. But it is hard to pinpoint him as the culprit for Pittsburgh’s failures in the second half against Cleveland. Blame him if you want, but it’s an act of confirmation bias. The truth is this: had the Steelers avoided their unforced errors on either of their first two drives, they would have been set up nicely with 1st downs inside Cleveland’s 20 and 30-yard lines, respectively. Who knows what would have happened from there, but points on one or both possessions would have changed the game in their favor. That, and the fact they couldn’t get a stop on defense, were the true culprits, not Trubisky.

One more note about Johnson’s drop, which bothers me for reasons beyond the obvious. Earlier in the game, Johnson displayed his frustration with a throw Trubisky made just before halftime that sailed over the heads of both Johnson and Claypool along the sideline. Johnson was open, and Trubisky, who was fleeing pressure, appeared to heave the ball out of bounds to take an incompletion. Johnson threw up his hands, which, while it may not be an overt way to show up a quarterback, has that effect.

A player who is willing to call out what he perceives are the shortcomings of his teammates needs to pick those teammates up when they do make plays, like Trubisky did with his throw on the vertical route. That drop by Johnson, and a lazy illegal shift penalty he took near the end of the game when he failed to get set quickly as the Steelers ran their hurry-up tempo, were both costly. The former squandered a big-play opportunity and the latter wiped out a pass interference call in the end zone against Cleveland that would have given the Steelers possession at the 1-yard line. They were down 23-14 at the time, so a touchdown there, instead of the field goal for which they ultimately settled, would not have changed the outcome. Still, by not displaying the proper sense of urgency in getting lined up, Johnson made a mental error that could have been costly. The criticism of Trubisky he showed by throwing up his hands in front of the cameras was not warranted considering his own shortcomings.

For the second week in a row, the Steelers coughed up a winnable football game by making crucial mistakes in the second half that handed their opponents opportunities on which they capitalized. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a theme for the 2022 Steelers. If it does, it will be a long season for the black-and-gold.

The Steelers defense is merely average without T.J. Watt

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers defense, despite being the highest paid in the NFL in 2022, is merely average (at best) without T.J. Watt.

If you’re scoring at home, the Steelers are now 0-6-1 in their last seven games where T.J. Watt has either been inactive or compromised because of injury.

Thursday night’s 29-17 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium added to the tally, as Teryl Austin’s Watt-less charges allowed Cleveland’s offensive crew, led by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, to effectively control the tempo of the game from beginning to end.

Speaking of Brissett, he wasn’t necessarily as free from the wrath of Pittsburgh’s normally potent pass rush as Mac Jones was just a few days earlier, but he did mostly find comfort in the pocket and was hit just four times and sacked twice on the night.

In case you’re counting at home, that’s seven quarterback hits and two sacks in the two games that Watt has been out of action after injuring his pectoral muscle in a Week 1 overtime win over the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Speaking of action, the Browns had their share of fun times on the ground on Thursday night, rushing for 171 yards—including 113 yards and a score on 23 carries by the mostly always awesome Nick Chubb.

If you’re still at home and counting stats, that’s a combined 295 rushing yards by the Patriots and Browns, respectively, in the two games that Watt has been out of action due to a pectoral injury.

The Steelers defense didn’t register a takeaway on Thursday—it may have been too preoccupied with chasing down Chubb, along with receiver Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku.

If you’re sitting at home and only know how to count to one, you’re in luck. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted a Mac Jones pass early in Week 2’s loss to the Patriots at Acrisure Stadium, marking the only takeaway the Steelers defense has generated in the two games that Watt has been on the shelf with a pectoral injury.

If the Steelers continue at the current sack and takeaway pace they’ve been on in Watt’s absence, they won’t finish with many sacks or takeaways.

That's rather unfortunate, considering the defense was on pace for 119 sacks and 85 takeaways after that exciting and crazy Week 1 victory at Paycor Stadium.

Watt dominated that game until he left late in regulation with the aforementioned pec injury.

He’ll likely dominate again once he returns to the lineup and is at full strength.

Watt will also probably make the Steelers' defense effective again and not just average—or “mid,” as the kids say.

What’s it say about the Steelers’ defense, the highest paid in the NFL in 2022, that it is merely average—mid—without Watt’s services? I realize he’s arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, but while I knew the unit would be hugely impacted by Watt’s absence, I didn’t expect it to be so benign.

I didn’t expect it to totally lose its ability to bite and tear. I didn’t expect it to be declawed by opposing offenses. I didn’t anticipate it having to be “helped” by a Steelers offense that’s clearly not able to do that at the moment.

“The defense played well enough to win!” is a common refrain from Steelers fans who love to treat that side of the ball as if it’s the gifted but unfocused son who just needs some direction. (Btw, the offense is the red-headed stepchild who can never seem to chop an adequate amount of firewood—even back in the days when it would chop 42 points worth.)

While the offense is certainly a liability for the Steelers in 2022, didn’t we kind of know that going in? I don’t think anyone anticipated that Matt Canada, with a resume that included many college OC jobs and the title of “Steelers Secret 2020 Offensive Coordinator and Motion Wizard,” would be able to mold this outfit into a well-oiled machine right out of the gate.

The defense would have to carry the weaker unit.

It hasn’t, and that’s with Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Alex Highsmith and Fitzpatrick all perfectly fine and healthy.

That doesn’t speak well for the defense.

I know what you’re going to say next, “The defense needs help from the offense. JUST STOP!”

It’s not my job to stop anyone, but I’ll bet I can do as well as the Steelers' defense has been doing without T.J. Watt in the lineup.

Jets expecting to have Zach Wilson in the lineup vs. the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 6:00am
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers is expected to face former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson in Week 4.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have their own quarterback issues, the team they play in Week 4 at Acrisure Stadium is hopeful to have their starter back in the lineup. When the New York Jets come to Pittsburgh this Sunday for a 1pm ET kickoff they are hoping to have second year quarterback Zach Wilson under center.

Wilson, who injured his knee during the preseason, has been working his way back, and was expected to be ready near the Week 4 mark of the regular season. While he hasn’t been medically cleared yet, Jets head coach Robert Salah said after the team’s Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals they are expecting to have Wilson back in the lineup vs. the Steelers.

However, Salah also said he has to be cleared before he can return to the lineup, but the Jets are expecting to have Wilson cleared prior to the team’s departure for Pittsburgh.

The #Jets have gone from wanting Zach Wilson back … to desperately needing him to return vs the #Steelers.

For @SNYtv: pic.twitter.com/bKtPzTnk2J

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) September 25, 2022

Meanwhile, the Steelers have a young quarterback themselves who is waiting for his chance to enter a regular season game. Mitchell Trubisky has been far from excellent in his first three starts with the Steelers, and many fans are hoping for Kenny Pickett to get his shot at the starting job in the near future.

With that said, the Steelers are hoping their mini-bye week will give them the rest needed to snap their two-game losing streak and get them back to their winning ways. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets in Week 4.

Get the latest BTSC gear for the Steelers’ rookie WR, George Pickens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 5:30am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a stud wide receiver in George Pickens. Get the latest BTSC shirt featuring “The Catch”

The 2022 regular season is in full swing, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have found a stud wide receiver in George Pickens.

Pickens slid to the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft, and has already proven he is worthy of that pick. Either way, fans are excited, and rightfully so, about what Pickens brings to the team, so why not get some new gear to show off your Steelers pride?! Of course, this could be the perfect gift for the Steelers fan in your life!

The new design is simple, and is officially licensed by the NFLPA.

It doesn’t say anything, but just shows off Pickens’ incredible one-handed sideline catch vs. the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 3.

The image shows Pickens snagging the ball out of the air...

Check out the design below:

By now, you might be wondering how to order yours? Just click the link below, and get yours today!!

Did you know we have a BTSC Apparel store? You can get this design, and many others including the classing BTSC design shirt, in the link below!

BTSC Apparel Store

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

The BTSC Sunday Night Q&A: What’s It Gonna Take?

The Steelers are a disappointing 1-2, and Steeler Nation has a lot of questions. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Geoffrey Benedict and Big Bro Scho as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Let’s Ride, Monday: The change Steelers fans want can only come from one place

The Steelers fanbase wants change and it only one party has the say and power to do so. BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman gives his thoughts on the topic and more on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • 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

NFL Week 3: Late games news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 2:55pm
Mark Hoffman via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Steelers have already played this week, so time to talk about all the NFL action going on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have already played in Week 3, and we don’t want to talk about it, but it means this Sunday can be spent perusing the rest of the NFL action going on. What games will you see today? Check the distribution map in the article below to find out what you’ll see in your area, if you don’t have the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket package.

If you are like me, and you want to know what’s going on with the Steelers every day, then be sure to check out our podcasts. All of our shows can be found in the player below:

As always, use the comment section below for an open thread for all the NFL action during Week 3. As they always say, misery loves company!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

NFL Week 3: Early games news, updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 11:55am
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have already played this week, so time to talk about all the NFL action going on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have already played in Week 3, and we don’t want to talk about it, but it means this Sunday can be spent perusing the rest of the NFL action going on. What games will you see today? Check the distribution map in the article below to find out what you’ll see in your area, if you don’t have the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket package.

If you are like me, and you want to know what’s going on with the Steelers every day, then be sure to check out our podcasts. All of our shows can be found in the player below:

As always, use the comment section below for an open thread for all the NFL action during Week 3. As they always say, misery loves company!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 11:30am
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Steelers’ season ended over seven months ago and a new one is about to begin with the Steelers prepping for their final preseason game. Of course, there’s plenty of news coming out of Latrobe. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Sunday 9/18

Final Score: #Steelers offensive ineptitude equate to a 17-14 loss to Patriots https://t.co/oHvVdzVaUx

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) September 18, 2022

The Heinz Corporation is now owned by Kraft, in a way the Steelers are too.

Monday 9/19

One of the more unusual parts of a key play Sunday in which Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt and the Patriots’ Brenden Schooler recovered … was that the Steelers didn’t line up anyone opposite Schooler.

Free release … unimpeded run down the field … in position for big recovery pic.twitter.com/lPfozVOJfw

— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 19, 2022

Unusual? I’d like to add some un-ions of my own. Uncovered! Unimaginable! Unacceptable! Uninspired! Uncle!

Eight quarters into the new season, and frustration has already set in for a Steelers’ offense that has put up only two touchdowns in two games.

According to Trubisky, there were arguments in huddle about the play calling.@MarkKaboly has more⤵️https://t.co/3ULJL8krKh pic.twitter.com/Ng9CUPuOL9

— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) September 19, 2022

Millennials are quick with a mutiny these days.

Whoa. ⁦@HamptonBeerPGH⁩ not playing around. They got opinions on the offensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/HHEutqSkqM

— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) September 19, 2022

Are scapegoats a good marketing tool to sell beer?

Browns’ HC Kevin Stefanski already has ruled out DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle), DE Chase Winovich (hamstring) and TE Jesse James for Thursday night’s game vs. the Steelers.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 19, 2022

I’ve seen this movie before. The Browns beat the Steelers in the playoffs with major players, including Stefanski on the Covid list.

Tuesday 9/20

James Daniels this season:

⚫️ 78 pass-blocking snaps
0 pressures allowed
⚫️ 84.1 pass-blocking grade

One of just five OL with 50+ snaps yet to allow a pressure this season

( @steelers) pic.twitter.com/a9HZBBsjms

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) September 20, 2022

Hmmmm. Giving new players time to adjust is an interesting concept.

We have signed WR Jaquarii Roberson to the practice squad and released CB Mark Gilbert from the practice squad. @BordasLaw https://t.co/gLL7ethoLz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 20, 2022

Welcome back, Mr. Roberson. But can the Steelers quit exposing Mark Gilbert to other teams? This guy is my Redmen.

Six former #Steelers are Modern-Era Nominees for the @ProFootballHOF Class of 2023.https://t.co/7RNlcFa181

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 20, 2022

I still think that Hines Ward is the most legit Hall of Famer on this list, but will still have to wait a while. James Harrison has a shot. Maybe he should visit voters’ houses like he did in that FanDuel “Closer to the Game” commercial.

"If you're the OC for the Steelers you're gonna get run through the mud even when you break every offensive record there was" ~@thetoddhaley

#PMSLive pic.twitter.com/1vCkeuCf4y

— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 21, 2022

Todd Haley may be a bit crazy, and a whole lot bitter. But I don’t think that he’s wrong.

Wednesday 9/21

Former Pittsburgh and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden is retiring and will sign a one-day contract to retire as a Brown, per sources. His agent, @DrewJRosenhaus , confirmed his client’s decision. pic.twitter.com/kq9xwv7Ohb

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 21, 2022

I wonder if Haden feels jilted by the Steelers. The Browns never gave Joe Walter Haden a $22 Million extension like the Steelers did, unless this 1-day contract is worth that much. Cleveland has been known to spend foolishly. Hmmmmmmm.

#Titans are signing safety Andrew Adams off the #Steelers’ practice squad and onto their active 53, per source.

Adams has amassed 35 career starts with the #Giants and #Bucs — totaling 7 INTs, 23 passes defensed and 2 FF. pic.twitter.com/bemu5S1VlZ

— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) September 21, 2022

As always in these situations...Andrew Adams, we hardly knew ye.

We have signed DB Quincy Wilson to the practice squad. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/PgVooESS3j

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 21, 2022

When I was a kid, the show Quincy starring Jack Klugman as a crime-solving medical examiner was decent, but scary sometimes. I guess you can say that about any practice squad signing. I don’t think Mr. Wilson moonlights in morgues though.

Both Myles Garrett & Joel Bitonio expected to play Thursday.

— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) September 21, 2022

To misquote Sylvester Stallone in one of the Rocky movies, “I was hoping they wouldn’t show.”

#Steelers S Damontae Kazee was suspended for the next 3 games for violations of the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 21, 2022

Damn-ontae!!!!!

Thursday 9/22

FINAL: Inconsistent #Steelers fall to Browns 29-17 in prime time https://t.co/B6rJ2oqMMz

— BTSC Steelers (@btsteelcurtain) September 23, 2022

I remember when “Here We Go” was a war cry. Now it’s said with a drawn-out sigh.

Asked Mike Tomlin if he considers making a change a QB or playcallers in the minibye

Tomlin: “definitively no.”

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 23, 2022

Does Mike Tomlin need to sleep on this? Is it dedication or defiance?

Eleven days after his pec injury, #Steelers star T.J. Watt is out here running sprints and going through an extended pregame workout. pic.twitter.com/W2tTj3iIUm

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 22, 2022

This dude T.J.........

All I can say is “Wow!!!!”.

Friday 9/23

Say hello to your newest divisional foe.

@Ravens pic.twitter.com/9ecM058mM9

— BTSC Steelers (@btsteelcurtain) September 24, 2022

I don’t foresee this as being fun.

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

3 things about the 2022 Steelers that may not be as bad as they seem

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

With two-straight losses, many Steelers fans feel that the sky is falling. But some things may not be as bad as they seem and could be turned around faster than expected.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have started their 2022 NFL season with a 1–2 record. While being below .500 is never desirable, even early in the season, it’s the losing two-straight games which is more concerning. But is the overall situation really as bad as it seems?

If nothing else, hopefully I can offer some perspective for Steelers fans going forward which may actually give a little bit of hope. With the negativity brought on as the Steelers stack losses, hope may be a dangerous word to speak of at this time. Perhaps I’ll be labeled too optimistic or a “homer” by bringing these things up, but it’s honestly how I feel about the Steelers season so far.

First, I wanted to give some general overall thoughts before getting into three specific details which may not be as bad as we think. Remember the Steelers are only three games into their season. There is still a lot of football to be played and things could turn things around at any time. Understandably, things could also go completely in the wrong direction.

Not only has the season just begun, the Steelers are already over-performing expectations beyond their own fan base. The Steelers were not expected to win any of their first three games. While Steelers’ Nation had an expectation of being 3–0, others around the NFL fully expected the Steelers to be 0–3 as they were underdogs in each game including their home opener. In fact, the Steelers are only favored to win one game before their bye week in Week 9. That’s right, the expectation outside of the fan base is 1–7.

But we are Steelers fans and we have higher standards. But by having higher standards, I also want to hold Steelers fans to a higher standard of actually basing things off of what is really happening on the field and not simply just a talking point or narrative.

With all this in mind, here are three things that are likely not as bad as what many in Steelers’ Nation believe at this time.

The Offensive Line

For those who don’t even watch the games as they happen, or care to look at every play as things go on, the narratives behind the Steelers which get put out there sometimes continue to be believed despite what is going on. Not everyone is a football connoisseur. When most people watch the game, including myself, we have a tendency to watch the football. And when it comes to the offensive line, the only time any of them touch the ball is when the center snaps it. Many times their play gets overlooked.

I admit, even someone who has played and coached the offensive line and absolutely loves scheming up blocks to run plays, when the action is happening I’m watching the ball. This is a big reason why I like to watch games by myself as many times I will watch a play live, and then in between plays rewind it to watch the blocking once again. It’s what I like to do.

But if you were someone watching the Steelers offensive line in 2022, you’re going to be surprised by what is going on. Honestly, they’re not that bad. Actually, they’ve been pretty good. In fact, they’ve been the best thing on the offense the last two games despite being losses, in my opinion. The pass blocking is in the top portion of the NFL and the run blocking is middle of the road. Additionally, they’ve been improving and gelling each week.

When things aren’t going well with the offense, some people who don’t know any better just assume the line is not playing well. But it’s really not the case. They’ve done a pretty nice job and have protected the quarterback well. Believe it or not, Mitch Trubisky had more time to throw than what it seems like the quarterback and coaches were prepared for coming into the early part of the season. Right now, they are not a group that the offense has to be scheming around their inadequacies like in previous seasons.

Just how good have they been in pass protection? This good…

How many sacks have the #Steelers offensive line surrendered in 3 games? Zero. Of the 5 sacks surrendered, 3 are on Trubisky (not credited to a blocker) and 2 are on Najee Harris on blitz pickup (per @PFF).

— Dave Schofield (@STLRSuperFanDad) September 23, 2022 The Run Defense

After coming in last in the NFL in rushing yards surrendered in 2021, Steelers fans are already disappointed with the Steelers ability to stop the run this season. While I’m not saying the rush defense has been good, it’s not the NFL’s worst like last year.

Of course, part of being able to stop the run is getting those stops in the key moments of a game. At the end of the Steelers Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots, they couldn’t get the key stops in the final minutes in order to give their offense another chance. While it was not their fault they were put in the situation, you still want to expect the team to come through. So it’s not like the rush defense is all sunshine and rainbows either.

With the Steelers having played three games this season and 30 other teams yet to play in Week 3 at this time, I’ll be using per game numbers just to be fair. When it comes to the Steelers rush defense, they have surrendered 142.7 yards per game which has them ranked 24th in the NFL. As I said before, this is not the worst rushing defense in the league, but it’s not as if it’s great either.

Where things get interesting is looking at why the Steelers are giving up so many rushing yards. The reason for this is because they have seen the fourth most rushing attempts in the NFL (34.3 per game). Only the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, and Chicago Bears have faced more rushing attempts per game in 2022. Because of the high volume of rushing attempts the Steelers have seen, their yards per attempt given up is at 4.16 in 2022. This statistic actually has the Steelers ranked 13th in the NFL, so they are just above the middle of the league.

Yes, the numbers look bad when the Steelers have surrendered at least 124 yards each game. But even the most yardage they have surrendered, which was 170 yards against the Cleveland Browns, should be put into some perspective. In the game, the Browns ran the ball 38 times. Additionally, the 171 yards gained on the ground is the fewest that they have rushed for so far in 2022. In both of their previous games, the Browns rushed for more than 5.0 yards per carry. Against the Steelers, they averaged 4.5 yards per carry, which was less than what the Steelers averaged running the ball on the night with 4.7 yards per carry.

Obviously the rush defense can be better. But it isn’t the complete dumpster fire that some are making it out to be.

Mitch Trubisky

And this is where some people are going to get highly upset. Despite the Steelers being 1–2 and not scoring more than 17 offensive points in any game this season, Mitch Trubisky has not been that bad. Obviously he could be better. But the question I am often asking myself is if Steelers’ Nation would have the same attitude about him if Kenny Pickett was not waiting on the bench.

Here’s an even deeper thought: If Trubisky’s Thursday night performance of two touchdowns in the first half, where the Steelers never even reached a third down play on either drive but things just weren’t in sync for four-straight drives, would have been Pickett playing in the game, would there be outrage over his play? If every pass and every decision and every outcome of the Steelers offense for 2022 would have been done with #8 instead of #10, would the same judgment be given?

I want to see Kenny Pickett much like most Steelers fans. I want to know what the Steelers have going forward as well. But because he’s not on the field, there seems to be a belief that he would make every decision and every throw in every moment without ever taking a delay of game or making a bad read or throw. Right now, Kenny Pickett is benefiting from not playing because he’s not showing any weaknesses and is only what he is in the minds of the fans and not an actual product on the field.

I’m also not discounting the fact that Mitchell Trubisky is in his sixth NFL season and should have higher expectations. Perhaps fans would be completely fine with Pickett playing at the exact same level as Trubisky as he is learning the NFL system. But Trubisky went an entire season without being a starter and also was going to need time to grow in the system. But because he’s only under contract through next season and the Steelers have a first-round pick waiting in the wings, there is a large portion of the fan base that is not going to be satisfied with anything less than perfection.

There are three things that may not be the world-ending issues that some in Steelers’ Nation are making them out to be. While I’m sure some of you may share my optimism, I’m sure there will be a far-greater number who, with the Steelers at 1–2, are certain everything is wrong and nothing can be fixed.

A Letter From the Editor: If change is necessary, the Steelers’ options are extremely limited

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 9:00am
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers fans are clamoring for change, but their options are limited at every position.

The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves at a crossroads, and it’s only been three weeks.

We all hoped for more, but I believe deep down inside our black-and-gold brains, we knew this could also be an outcome.

We had all dreamt of Matt Canada’s offense being worked to perfection with new additions to the group. We had all had visions of Brian Flores’ imprint, along with Teryl Austin and Mike Tomlin, creating a freak-of-nature type defense who could slow down any offensive attack.

But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we also have to admit we knew there was a chance this wouldn’t start off well. Maybe we didn’t think it would be this bad, but the odds of the Steelers struggling out of the gate were very real.

Whatever you thought of the potential the Steelers possessed in 2022, here they are sitting at 1-2 after a Week 3 Thursday night loss to the Cleveland Browns. The most recent loss certainly did leave a sting with the fan base, and many clamoring for change.

Even for those who had the understanding this could take time, and patience, they want change. And they want it now.

The problem with this type of thought is simple — where is the change going to come from?

Going to fire Mike Tomlin?

Yeah, no chance.

Going to fire Matt Canada?

While they might alter some of the duties during the season, trying to start over fresh with a new coordinator would only make matters worse, not necessarily better.

Want to add players from the outside to bolster positions?

If a player is still a free agent heading into Week 4, there is a reason they are on the open mark. Take a hard pass.

You get the picture. So, what change does this leave? It leaves just one change — quarterback.

The Steelers could very well tell Mitch Trubisky ‘thank you’ for all you’ve done for the team this first month of the season, but they are now turning things over to rookie Kenny Pickett.

It’s what fans want, and it would be the change many are craving at this juncture in the season. But would it be enough? Would it fix all their woes? You know better than that. Things certainly could be better, offensively, but would it be the cure-all for all that ails this team?

Hardly.

At this point in time, you should expect Mike Tomlin to stick with Trubisky for at least the foreseeable future. Trubisky is a veteran, and he has also withstood the angst and vitriol of a fan base during his time with the Chicago Bears. He can take the heat, and in the process Pickett will get an up-close-and-personal view of what expectations at the NFL level look like on a weekly basis.

I’m not saying this is what I think Tomlin should do, but what I believe he will do.

Some might view this type of stubbornness as a negative, and damaging to both the fan base and the organization. But there is also a real chance Trubisky remains the guy until they feel Pickett is both physically, and mentally, ready to step in and take the reigns.

Just look at the upcoming schedule before the team’s bye week in Week 9:

Week 4: vs. New York Jets (1-1)
Week 5: at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Week 6: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
Week 7: at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Week 8: at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

That is a stretch which is playing out much tougher than we all thought when the regular season schedule was released this past spring. Does it make sense for Tomlin to stick with Trubisky, and if things spiral out of control, go to Pickett after the bye?

The schedule doesn’t look quite as daunting after the bye week.

Week 10: vs. New Orleans Saints
Week 11: vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 12: at Indianapolis Colts
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Week 14: vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 15: at Carolina Panthers
Week 16: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens
Week 18: vs. Cleveland Browns

If the Trubisky era doesn’t last the entire season, and Tomlin is devout in sticking with his pick at quarterback for as long as possible, the bye week might just be the time when a change is made.

But let’s bring this all back to the start. Is it change for what could be seen as an improvement, or change just for change? I suggest you beware of the latter, changing just to change is a slippery slope, but if you are changing because you feel the changes made will help you win more games? I’m all for it.

No one is demanding Kendrick Green take over for Kevin Dotson at left guard, nor are fans suggesting Chris Wormley should take starting reps over someone like Larry Ogunjobi or Cam Heyward. The change fans want has to be both realistic and impactful. It comes down to one position, the most important position in professional sports, and whether that change comes anytime soon is anyone’s guess...but I’ll say it will be later, rather than sooner.

Cody Sabol & the story behind Mike Tomlin’s AF1 Steelers motivation project

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought somehow, in this weird way, I’m going to be responsible for this loss.”

In the moments before the Steelers left for their September 11th game against Cincinnati, the history books added a new chapter to the ongoing mythology of Mike Tomlin. Black Nike Air Force 1s for everyone. A gift from Mike Tomlin, and a motivating message that resonated across the locker room and the country. The plan was set in motion a week early when Pittsburgh cleat king Cody Sabol got a call from the Steelers head of equipment, Adam Regan.

“You can kind of hear it in his voice,” Sabol says. “He’s like ‘I don’t know if this is possible, but is there any way you can create some Air Force 1s that are all black?’”

The Steelers had 146 pairs of shoes, but they were white. It was Cody’s mission to paint every pair completely black. After the call with Regan ended, he knew he had to call in some back-up.

“I employed some of my closest friends, and I said ‘Why don’t you call off a week of work, and I’ll pay you. We got it done. We created a little bit of a of a workshop in my garage. We should probably go see a doctor.”

give Cody the game ball https://t.co/oFdxBG0sIo

— Steve Braband (@stevebraband) September 11, 2022

Cody has become the go-to artist for the team’s cleat needs. He says he’s become very familiar with just about everybody in the Steelers front office, especially the equipment guys like Regan, Pat Noone and Kyle Powers. Cody says they’re always in contact, because cleats constantly need to be changed or fixed to Steelers colors.

“For example, James Daniels is a new guy on the team,” Cody says. “This is his first year on the Steelers. He has a bunch of cleats from teams past, or he has a couple pairs of cleats that Nike doesn’t make anymore. So sometimes guys get really comfortable with a set of cleats and then Nike stops producing them. Last year, we had to turn Trai Turner’s cleats from 2013 into Steelers colors. We were shoveling off paint, because in every, city he would get a new custom artist. People wonder, ‘Can’t they just get new shoes?’ and the answer is sometimes, ‘No, they can’t.’”

Mike Tomlin has entire Steelers team pulling up with black air force 1 energy before Week 1

(via: Najee_Harris Instagram) pic.twitter.com/JsGk3Q2rvH

— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) September 10, 2022

Once news of the AF1s went viral, Cody had a new concern: social media. Some critics panned the gesture by saying Tomlin hadn’t given them ‘real’ Air Force Ones.

“If the team lost, I was going to get a lot of flak on Twitter, because they were fake black Air Force ones,” Cody says. “Boswell came out for the first attempt in overtime, and then he doinked it. Somehow in this weird way, I’m thinking that I’m going to be responsible for this loss. They ended up winning, which is great. Anytime you do something that gets a lot of traction on Twitter or social media in general, you seem to hear a lot of the negative side. So the fact that they won really helped out with that.”

Steelers Reddit New Steelers Logo?

While Cody doesn’t necessarily endorse the idea that Tomlin’s gesture compares to artists like Banksy or Warhol, he does acknowledge that he had a role in something special.

“I feel like it’s become a little part of the Steelers lore,” Cody says. “Tomlin wanted to send a message to the rest the NFL that we’re gonna be fighting. All season, we’re gonna be fighters. That’s a mentality that we have to have. The idea that I got to be a part of that was really cool, and to bring Coach Tomlin‘s vision to fruition was a really cool thing in and of itself.”

(Kyle Chrise is the host of “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” Listen to more of Cody’s interview on the episode dropping 9/29/22)

Distribution Map: What game Steelers fans will get to see in Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 6:30am

The Steelers have already played the Week 3. What game will you get to see?

If you were like me, before I decided to sign up for the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package every week I was wondering whether I’d be able to watch my beloved Steelers in the comfort of my own home, or if I’d have to go elsewhere to watch the game.

Before there were websites devoted to this, it meant a lengthy trip on the television guide screen to see which game was scheduled to air, but now it’s just a click away.

So, even though the Steelers have already played this week, check out which games you’ll see in your local viewing area.

For those who want to know which game they’ll see, check the map below, courtesy of 506 Sports:

CBS

RED: Chiefs at Colts
YELLOW: Jaguars at Chargers (LATE)
GREEN: Bills at Dolphins
BLUE: Bengals at Jets
ORANGE: Texans at Bears

FOX (Double Header) Early

GREEN: Raiders at Titans
RED: Ravens at Patriots
BLUE: Eagles at Commanders
ORANGE: Saints at Panthers
YELLOW: Lions at Vikings

Late

RED: Packers at Buccaneers
BLUE: Rams at Cardinals
GREEN: Falcons at Seahawks

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

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/25/2022 - 5:30am

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 two podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under: The team need to steel themselves for some home truths

Week 3 of the NFL season has passed for the Steelers, with a result that flushes them down against the Browns. The Steelers are 1-2 on the season and fans are already frustrated, perplexed, upset, and calling for change. What could or should happen from here? What responsibility does Canada, Trubisky, Tomlin, and specific position groups need to take? Can they turn it around or are we - Steelers fans - destined for a painful to watch season?

Join Matty Peverell & Mark Davison as they answer these questions and more, while providing a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in their chase for a seventh Lombardi, in this latest episode of ‘Touchdown Under’ - BTSC’s Australian sensation.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • Game Reactions

Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

We Run the North: Mitch? And the state of the AFC North

The biggest question in Steeler Nation right now consists of one syllable, Mitch? And at 1-2. what is the Steelers’ status in the division? Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate and his AFC North Crew featuring Brandon Herriott and Pay Saunders as they break down the division after Week 3 for the Browns and Steelers and before Week 3 for the Bengals and Ravens.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: PFF(tt)...

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/24/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

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

Well, that wasn’t fun on Thursday.

It’s Saturday afternoon here and I am still feeling a bit underwhelmed with the entire offense. Thursday nights are made for Steelers football and well...I mean it certainly is offensive, so at least we have that.

I mean how bad can it get?

Heck, we don’t even have a stat sheet that proves (yet again) that T.J. is superior to that PFF Darling, Myles. Can you honestly believe they ended the night with an equal number of sacks...

  1. Now that you have had some time to step off that ledge, what positives can you share with the group about our beloved Steelers so far?
  2. Coach T is saying ‘NO’ to major changes on the offensive side of the ball. Again, give us a positive perspective on this decision.
  3. With our obvious challenges regarding the offense which former Steeler would you love to have from his prime? And NO Big Ben or Terry B can’t be your choice!
  4. With this mini bye, the Steelers are getting the working man/woman equivalent of a 3-day weekend. What makes a great 3-day weekend for you?
  5. Fall is officially upon us. Tell us about one of your favorite fall foods or preferably recipes.

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