You are here

Links

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will have a kick return for a touchdown in 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/16/2022 - 10:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers will have a kick return for a touchdown in 2022

Why it will happen: First, I wanted to clarify by a kick return for a touchdown I mean either a return from a punt or a kickoff. Additionally, this does not include a blocked kick return for a touchdown like the Steelers had in 2021. The Steelers haven’t returned a kickoff since Week 17 of the 2017 season by JuJu Smith-Schuster and their last punt return, not on a block, came in Week 14 of the 2019 season by Diontae Johnson. The Steelers went out and invested in the return position for 2022 and brought in former All-Pro returner Gunner Olszewski. If it so happens that Gunner O. doesn’t win the job, then the Steelers have an even better option to have a chance of breaking a kick this season.

Why it won’t happen: Yes, the Steelers invested in Gunner Olszewski to come in as a kick returner. Even though he was an All-Pro in 2020, he only had one punt return for a touchdown that year. Not only that, that is his only kick return for a touchdown in his three-year career. So to think Olszewki is magically going to be breaking every kick for the Steelers is a bit naive as it is more about a better average return to help in field position that is the bigger draw.

Prediction: For this one, I’m going to agree with the scenario. If looking strictly at kickoff punt returns for touchdowns, the Steelers went two-straight seasons without one. The last time they did that was in 1998 and 1999. To go back to when the Steelers last went three seasons without a kick return for a touchdown, that would be from 1993 through 1995. Dating back to the Bill Cowher and Three River Stadium era for when the Steelers last had this kind of drought, the Steelers statistically should be due for a kick return in 2022. With 10 teams having a return touchdown in 2021 and 11 in 2020, it’s not all that rare of an occurrence since about one-third of the NFL has done it each of the last two years. But the history and numbers don’t matter as ultimately it just takes the right scenario in order for the team to get it done. But if they do, it is noteworthy that the Steelers are 10-0 in games where they returned a kickoff, punt, or blocked punt for a touchdown in the Mike Tomlin era. So get it!

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

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

Steelers sport a pair of players who are near the best at breaking tackles

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/16/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have two players who know how to elude tacklers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team dealing with a great deal of turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Gone is Ben Roethlisberger after a storied 18-year career, and with Roethlisberger’s departure ushers in a new era of Steelers football.

Regardless of who is at the quarterback position in 2022, the Steelers would be wise to build around some of the core pieces they have who are known commodities in the league. Some of those pieces would be:

  • TE Pat Freiermuth
  • RB Najee Harris
  • WR Diontae Johnson
  • OL James Daniels

Two of those aforementioned players are not just in the top tier at their position, but also at another key offensive metric — breaking tackles.

According to Football Outsiders, Pittsburgh led all offenses with 162 broken tackles last season. This simple statistic is astounding on many levels, but when you look at the individuals who broke the most tackles, the Steelers had two who were either at the top, or near it, at their respective positions.

Football Outsiders points out Najee Harris led the league with 87 broken tackles in 2022, while Diontae Johnson finished second among wide receivers with 28.

Looking at Najee Harris’ numbers, Steelers fans know exactly why his broken tackle number is so high, and it is because the Steelers’ offensive line in 2021 was less than stellar, and that’s being nice. Harris often had to elude multiple would-be tacklers just to get back to the line of scrimmage for no gain, or minimal yardage on the run.

For Johnson, the Steelers loved to get him the football in space, and he proved time and time again he is dangerous in that setting. Fans love to bring up the drops, which decreased in 2021, but often don’t bring up how elusive he is when given the chance to make a play with the football in his hands.

Either way, the Steelers have a pair of playmakers on their hands for the 2022 season, and would be wise to utilize these players, and their attributes, to their advantage. The hope for Harris is he is breaking tackles beyond the line of scrimmage, and not behind it. For Johnson, finding creative ways to scheme him open and get him in those settings where he can do dangerous things in the open field.

If Matt Canada can get the offense to this point, the Steelers might be on their way to having some serious offensive success in 2022, and likely beyond.

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

Fantasy Football TE Rankings: Is Pat Freiermuth poised for a breakout season?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/16/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With Fantasy Football draft season right around the corner, let’s rank the TEs worth drafting, which includes one Steeler.

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

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

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

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

Let’s dive in!

Fantasy Tight End Rankings

1. Mark Andrews | Baltimore Ravens
2. Travis Kelce | Kansas City Chiefs
3. Kyle Pitts | Atlanta Falcons
4. Darren Waller | Las Vegas Raiders
5. Dalton Schultz | San Francisco 49ers
6. George Kittle | San Francisco 49ers
7. T.J. Hockenson | Detroit Lions

8. Pat Freiermuth | Pittsburgh Steelers

From an athletic standpoint, there are only a select few that are more gifted than Freiermuth at the tight end position. His ability as a blocker, his catch radius, his sure hands, and his explosiveness with the ball in his hands are all traits that make up an elite tight end. After a strong rookie season, Freiermuth will now look to take the next step toward becoming one of the NFL’s elite, but he will be working with a new quarterback.

The biggest key for Pat will be making more things happen after the catch. Despite having nearly 500 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 2021, he only averaged 8.3 yards per reception. Now, it is entirely possible that number was shrunk due to being primarily used as a red zone weapon and not as much on the beginning of drives, but it will be interesting to see how quickly Mitch Trubisky can develop a rapport with him.

Freiermuth could quickly become the best tight end Trubisky has ever worked with, as all the tight ends Chicago brought in during his tenure failed to live up to expectations. With Eric Ebron out of the picture, Freiermuth is the clear-cut number one option at the position for the Steelers, and he will likely see a slight uptick in targets with the changes at quarterback. It does not take much to be a TE1 in fantasy football, but regardless, I think Freiermuth’s value is tough to pass up once we reach the 9th and 10th rounds.

9. Cole Kmet | Chicago Bears
10. Dallas Goedert | Philadelphia Eagles
11. Cameron Brate | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
12. David Njoku | Cleveland Browns
13. Dawson Knox | Buffalo Bills
14. Zach Ertz | Arizona Cardinals
15. Logan Thomas | Washington Commanders
16. Irv Smith, Jr. | Minnesota Vikings
17. Austin Hooper | Tennessee Titans
18. Gerald Everett | Los Angeles Chargers
19. Noah Fant | Seattle Seahawks
20. Adam Trautman | New Orleans Saints
21. Albert Okwuegbunam | Denver Broncos
22. Tyler Higbee | Los Angeles Rams
23. Daniel Bellinger | New York Giants
24. Evan Engram | Jacksonville Jaguars
25. Taysom Hill | New Orleans Saints

What are your thoughts of these tight end rankings? Do you think Pat Freiermuth will be a top-10 tight end in fantasy football? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this topic and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!

The “It will always be Heinz Field” fans better be nice when we call it that by mistake

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/16/2022 - 6:30am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

If you want to continued to refer to Acrisure Stadium as “Heinz Field,” that’s certainly your right. However, you better be nice to writers and broadcasters who call it the latter by mistake.

Heinz Field is no more, except in the hearts, minds, souls and mouths of Steelers fans.

That’s right, despite the fact that the name of the football venue formerly known as Heinz Field was officially changed to Acrisure Stadium on Monday, there are many fans who have vowed to never call it anything else but its original name.

There are even t-shirts.

I get it. I respect it. OK, I at least get it, but the respect part? I mean, it’s a name of a place. It’s not like you’re going on a hunger strike to prove some sort of point. It’s not like people are going to call you crazy for calling Acrisure Stadium Heinz Field (unless you are kind of bizarre about it while watching a Steelers game in person this summer and fall).

Anyway, I don’t care what you call the Steelers football home, but as an honorable writer for Behind the Steel Curtain, I have taken an oath to always refer to it by its legal name.

Unless I mess up and forget, which I’m sure I will at some point.

And if I do mess up and forget—whether it be in written or verbal form—please don’t come at me with your sarcasm.

I don’t need to see your usual comment that starts with “Gee” and then ends with one of those “hysterical laughter” emojis that always make the person who posts one seem insane.

But if you are going to make fun of me for calling Acrisure Stadium “Heinz Field” by mistake, please don’t try to soften the blow by posting the comment in sarcasm font. I despise sarcasm font. I believe sarcasm font was invented for a world that now takes itself far-too seriously, but I’ll bet the person who came up with it was/is extremely bright.

That’s enough of that rant. I guess my point is this: If you can call Acrisure Stadium “Heinz Field” on purpose, writers and broadcasters can do it by mistake and get a pass.

This elderly lady in the neighborhood where I grew up used to yell at us for playing ball in the street and screamed things like, “This isn’t Forbes Field!” Mind you, this was like 1985, which was 15 years after Forbes Field was torn down and replaced by Three Rivers Stadium.

That’s correct, an entire stadium was torn down and replaced by a brand-new one, and this woman was still calling the new stadium by the old stadium’s name.

You can imagine how hard it’s going to be for normal, honest folks to call the same venue a different name.

I’m guessing it’s going to take years to get used to, but it won’t be as bad as you think. I already have the spelling down fairly well, and I believe I’m pronouncing it right. Before the month is over, I may even know what Acrisure does.

Thankfully, the outrage currently expressed over the name change will be short-lived in today’s culture where controversies have the life cycle of a fly.

In a world of Commanders and Guardians, I’m pretty sure we will all get used to a football venue named Acrisure Stadium.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/16/2022 - 5:30am

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

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

Nonetheless, we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the 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.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: The Anatomy of a Breakout Season

Time to put up or be put down is on the horizon for certain Steelers. Which members of the Men of Steel are in line for a breakout season. Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go. The BTSC duo break down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers poised for a breakout
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Six Pack with Tony: Moving forward after the trauma of the name change

Heinz Field is now Acrisure Stadium. Mad? Why? Also, the Steelers next starting quarterback should get plenty of reps this preseason. All of that and more on this episode of Steelers Six Pack w/ Tony. Join veteran BTSC writer and podcaster for Steelers galore.

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • The trauma of the stadium name change
  • Q&A
  • 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

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 21

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. The Steelers will be reporting to Saint Vincent on July 26th. If you were to guess one player who will have a “big” entrance, who would it be?

2. A follow up to question No. 1, what would that grand entrance be? Would it be a James Harrison on a fire truck type entrance? Brett Keisel on a tractor? Antonio Brown in a helicopter?

3. T.J. Watt got hitched this past weekend. The teammates, both current and former, who were in attendance made me think it had to be a tough call as to who got the invite, and who didn’t. How would you go about making that tough call on who got invited, and who didn’t?

4. What were your overall thoughts of the new name of the Steelers stadium? Acrisure Stadium?

5. If there was one thing you would want to add to BTSC, what would it be? Try to keep these suggestions reasonable...for instance, the Steelers rarely even open our emails asking for credentials lol

6. To follow that up, what is your favorite part about BTSC? I’m always trying to make the site better any way possible.

BONUS: Would you rather have your feet in the sand by an ocean, or to be sitting lakeside on a dock? What is your perfect warm weather vacation?

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Going For Two: Trent Scott & Steven Sims

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 34 of Going For Two, featuring Trent Scott and Steven Sims

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

Trent Scott Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Position: Offensive line
Age: 28
Year: 5
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 320
Drafted: UDFA, 2018 (Los Angeles Chargers)
College: Grambling State
Roster Outlook: Better than what most realize
Analysis:

For Steelers’ fans who are crying for them to add another offensive tackle before the beginning of the 2022 NFL season, they may have not realized the importance of the signing of Trent Scott in the middle of May. In four NFL seasons, Scott has appeared in 53 games with 19 starts. With plenty of experience at left tackle, Scott is a player who could step in if needs be. In 2019, Scott started the first seven games of the season for the Los Angeles Chargers when former Pro Bowl tackle Russell Okung was unable to play due to blood clots. Add in the fact Scott was getting glowing reviews from his coaches during mini amp and Steelers may already have another option at offensive tackle.

Steven Sims Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Wide Receiver
Age: 25
Year: 3
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 176
Drafted: UDFA, 2019 (Washington Commanders)
College: Kansas
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

There are so many questions and options and wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers going into 2022 training camp and it’s hard to sort them out. With two players returning who played significant snaps last season along with another in Cody White who was called the active roster after JuJu Smith-Schuster went down due to injury, the Steelers also double-dipped at wide receiver in the 2022 NFL draft. Additionally, the Steelers had a number of intriguing players on their practice squad as wide receivers last season, including Steven Sims who appeared in 28 games in two seasons in Washington. Having five regular season touchdowns in two years, along with a postseason touchdown in 2020, Sims was only brought up to the active roster for one game with the Steelers in 2021. Playing only five offensive snaps, Sims did not have a target in the game against the Detroit Lions. The bigger question is if Sims can get his name into the mix with the Steelers active roster this year. But with the Steelers also bringing in gunner Olszewski and Miles Boykin this offseason, as well as fellow practice squad teammate Anthony Miller, there are a lot of players fighting for the last spot or two on the depth chart. Sims likely starts outside the cutoff point, but a strong preseason would change things dramatically.

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

Fantasy Football Profile: Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 12:45pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Everything you need to know about the Steelers stud RB as a Fantasy Football prospect.

Najee Harris is ready to cement himself as one of the best Running Backs (RB) in the NFL in 2022, and in the process has the chance to also lock in his status as a top tier asset in the game we all love: Fantasy Football.

As a Steelers fan, you’re probably looking for any excuse to draft Harris with your First Round pick. The purpose of this article is to help determine Najee’s true value, but you’ll have to make the determination for yourself as to “how high is too high” for selecting him.

Player Profile

Age: 24 Experience: 2 yrs

Height: 6’1” Weight: 244

2021 Fantasy Stats:

Rushing: 307 CAR/1,200 YDS/7 TD

Receiving: 74 REC/467 YDS/3 TD

Points/Rank: 300.7 PPR/RB3

2021 Review

Harris broke out quickly as a fantasy asset in 2021. In Fantasy sports, volume is king, and Najee Harris certainly had volume, handling the league’s largest workload. His 381 touches are the most by a Rookie RB since LaDainian Tomlinson’s 398 touches 20 years prior in 2001.

Despite the incredible volume, Harris struggled with efficiency operating behind one of the worst run-blocking Offensive Lines (OL) in the league. Just looking at the raw numbers, his 3.9 yds per carry looks rough, but if you watched Steelers games, you realize that number is actually impressive when you factor in the OL’s consistently poor play.

Harris also hauled in 74 receptions on 94 targets in Big Ben’s dink and dunk 2021 offense. In Point Per Reception (PPR) Leagues, this was a huge boost for his production, propelling him to an RB3 finish and big expectations for 2022.

2022 Outlook

Of RBs with 200+ attempts in 2021, the average yards per carry was 4.3. I would expect Najee Harris to be a lot closer to this number in ‘22 than his pedestrian 3.9 from last year. A lot of that will depend on the OL’s improvement and a passing game that actually moves the needle. Expect a decrease in overall workload, but that should be balanced out with greater efficiency and more goal-line work.

The Ceiling? Imagine if Harris duplicates his workload from 2021 with just average efficiency. Then imagine that the Steelers actually use their sledge-hammer of a RB more inside the 5 yard line. Double-digit Touchdowns are a real possibility, as is the offense’s reliance on him to be the top catalyst of success. In such a scenario, Najee Harris could easily push for RB1 numbers and be a league-winner as a mid-late 1st Round pick.

Najee’s floor is pretty high due to the expected workload and talent. Where we could see the most regression is in the passing game. With the team’s impressive lineup of receiving talent and the additions of intriguing role players like Calvin Austin III and Connor Heyward to the passing game, a decrease in workload as a receiver is likely. However, Harris’s rushing volume should remain high as the team’s clear-cut bell-cow. At worst, he’s likely a high-end RB2 in PPR leagues, and you’d give him a boost in non-PPR formats.

I am of the opinion that the only draft slot that is too high for Najee Harris is 1st Overall, where Jonathan Taylor is the clear-cut top option. After that, Harris has the talent, volume, and upside of everyone else, including Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Derrick Henry, and is worthy of a high 1st Round selection.

Projected Fantasy Stats

Rushing: 290 CAR/1,350 YDS/12 TD

Receiving: 55 REC/375 YDS/ 3 TD

Points/Rank: 317.5 PPR/RB2

Will the Steelers have a player make their first Pro Bowl in 2022?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 11:30am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have a number of players who have made the Pro Bowl in the past, but will someone new be added to the list in 2022?

T.J. Watt. Cam Heyward. Najee Harris. Diontae Johnson.

There are still others to add to the list…

Minkah Fitzpatrick. Chris Boswell. Gunner Olszewski. Mitch Trubisky.

These are all players who are on the Steelers 2022 roster who have previously been selected to the Pro Bowl. Two of these players, Gunner Olszewski and Mitch Trubisky, were selected with other teams before arriving in Pittsburgh. As for the others, they have represented the Pittsburgh Steelers as a selection to the team.

Will there be any new players to add to this list after the 2022 season?

This was a topic which was discussed on the most recent episode of The Scho Bro Show podcast. Will the Steelers have a first-time Pro Bowl player in 2022? If so, who is the most likely candidate?

Both myself and Big Bro Scho laid out our top five candidates from the Steelers to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2022. Here were our top five lists:

Dave

5. Devin Bush
4. Kenny Pickett
3. James Daniels
2. Myles Jack
1. Pat Freiermuth

Rich (Big Bro Scho)

5. Devin Bush
4. James Daniels
3. Ahkello Witherspoon
2. Chase Claypool
1. Pat Freiermuth

*Note: Last season we each had a selection from out top five make the Pro Bowl for the first time in Najee Harris (Dave’s choice) and Diontae Johnson (Rich’s choice).

There are a variety of reasons to select certain players in various positions. For a player like Chase Claypool, being selected as a wide receiver may be more difficult because his own teammate, Diontae Johnson, is also a candidate. For this reason, players such as Alex Highsmith, Tyson Alualu, and Larry Ogunjobi didn’t even make the list as they would likely have to beat out their teammates in T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward who each have multiple Pro Bowl selections.

Other players on the list face a challenge of being selected for various reasons. James Daniels could have an outstanding year for the Steelers and still not get selected to the Pro Bowl as name recognition is key with the offensive line. In many cases, offensive linemen make the Pro Bowl one year after they should for this reason. The choice of Kenny Pickett on the list has everything to do if he plays so well he wins the job for the Steelers in camp. If that is the case, he will have a realistic shot at the Pro Bowl if he is playing to that level. But on the other side of things, Pickett may see very limited action his rookie year. As for Ahkello Witherspoon, he put up great interception numbers in 2021 in his limited action, but will his struggles in run defense keep him from being a full-time player? Myles Jack could give a boost to the Steelers inside linebackers, but do Steelers’ fans even know what to expect as he makes the move from Jacksonville?

Some positions are more difficult to make the Pro Bowl simply based on other players within the conference. With Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce both being in the AFC, it will be difficult for a player like Pat Freiermuth to get the nod as there are only two tight end selections per conference.

Regardless, the Steelers players have just as much chance to earn Pro Bowl honors in 2022 as other players throughout the league. Although ultimately it is not the most desirable outcome to play in the game as it has been moved to before the Super Bowl rather than after, a player being selected still counts. And for the 2022 season, it is not even certain if they will play the game as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at coming up with another way to have the players participate in an activity since the game itself has been so far removed from looking like actual football.

So will the Steelers have a player make the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2022? If so, who do you think it will be? Make sure you vote in the pole and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

If you wish to check of the episode of The Sch Bro Show where the topic was discussed, it can be heard below.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers will return to being a Top 10 team in takeaways

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 10:00am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers will return to being a Top 10 team in takeaways

Why it will happen: As most NFL fans know, takeaways, or turnovers, come in bunches. The 2021 Steelers experienced this in a big way. For the vast majority of the season, mainly without Joe Haden available, the team couldn’t buy a turnover. Not a fumble recovery or interception. However, the defense started to find their way towards the end of the season with the emergence of Ahkello Witherspoon.

It is ridiculously difficult to predict turnovers/takeaways, but last season the team finished T-14 in takeaways with 22 (13 INTs / 9 FR) and it seemed they may have found something with their defensive secondary. Throw in the fact the 2022 Steelers defense shouldn’t have to rely on Minkah Fitzpatrick as a primary run-stopper and the Steelers defense should be able to do some new, and beneficial, things in the secondary to put their defenders in position to take the football away at a higher clip than in 2021.

Why it won’t happen: The 2021 Steelers were anchored by Joe Haden, and with Haden not likely to return in 2022 you have to wonder if the Steelers’ secondary will be able to find a combination of defensive backs who are capable of getting the job done.

  • Will Ahkello Witherspoon pick up where he left off?
  • How will Cam Sutton impact the secondary?
  • Levi Wallace being added to the defense will improve the group, but will it increase their takeaway production?

All of these questions, and more, make it very possible the 2022 defense stays where they are, middle of the pack, or even takes a step backwards due to the fact you can’t predict these types of plays.

Prediction: The Steelers’ defense should be improved in 2022, mainly in the rush defense category. When you add how it is likely the pass rush will have another 50+ sacks and the pressure will be put on the opposition to make plays in less-than-ideal situations. It then comes down to whether or not the Steelers have the playmakers to take the ball away. Witherspoon has proven he can, Fitzpatrick has more than proven he can and Sutton also can take the ball away when it is presented to him. For all of this, and more, I think the Steelers will not only improve their takeaway statistics in 2022, but will find themselves in the Top 10 in the defensive category this year.

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

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

Time of possession is the key statistic for the Steelers in 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers ability to improve their time of possession could make or break the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need to improve their time of possession ranking in 2022, as it could make or break the season.

Having a strong time of possession ranking doesn't ensure a successful season, but it comes pretty close. Only three of the Top 10 teams in time of possession (TOP) during the 2021 season failed to make the playoffs. The unlikely trio was the Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, and the Arizona Cardinals. Each had extenuating circumstances contribute to their lack of playoff participation.

The Ravens finished #2 in the NFL in time of possession with their run-heavy offense, but were absolutely decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. The Colts finished #4 behind the explosive talents of Jonathan Taylor and their offensive line, but a late season collapse by Carson Wentz destroyed their playoff aspirations. The Arizona Cardinals finished #7 on the season behind the all-around talents of Kyler Murray and company, but some late season injuries proved to be too much to overcome for the young team.

There were a couple of glaring exceptions that seemingly defied all the rules, the biggest being the defending World Champion Los Angeles Rams, who incredibly finished #26 in time of possession on the season. There are always exceptions to any rule, but that is a shocker.

The other trend-bucking team was the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers anemic offense; which somehow, someway, managed to sneak into the playoffs, finished the season #22 in time of possession. That's actually higher than I expected when I started researching this article. That ranking is a testimony to the relentless determination of Najee Harris, and the clutch-till-the-end ability of Ben Roethlisberger.

The lasting memories from the 2021 offense for the majority of Steelers fans would be a seemingly endless series of three and outs. The Steelers struggled mightily to successfully possess and move the football. I can't remember the last time the Steelers were successful enough on offense to dominate the time of possession.

Steelers HOF legend Troy Polamalu reportedly wasn't too happy when the Steelers started to venture away from their run-heavy ways by leaning more towards the elite arm talent of Ben Roethlisberger. Not because he didn't recognize the talent and potential of Roethlisberger and company to put points on the scoreboard, but because of the inevitable impact the shift in philosophy would have on the defense. Long, sustained drives by the offense gives the defense invaluable time to rest and regroup. This is a underappreciated and often overlooked aspect of playing winning football.

I actually watched a couple of occasions in recent seasons where the explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense scored so easily and quickly in the first half that their defense appeared to be winded by halftime. As Steelers fans know, that sure would be a wonderful problem to have to deal with.

The 2022 Steelers offense appears to have all the necessary components to markedly improve their time of possession this season, at least on paper. It will all come down to their ability to execute, and turn potential into production.

It all starts with the improved interior offensive line. If the additions of James Daniels and Mason Cole, plus the continued improvement of Kevin Dotson, strengthens the interior of the line as expected, then the Steelers should be able to utilize the powerful running style of Najee Harris to it's full potential.

The added mobility at the quarterback position, regardless of who ends up starting, will open up the full Matt Canada playbook, and make the offense far more versatile, thus less predictable. Taking snaps from center, roll-outs, moving the pocket, and the long absent play action game should return with a vengeance.

Lest we forget, quarterback sneaks and running for positive yardage are now possible even to covert first downs. Those off schedule scrambles to convert third downs sustain drives. I always hate when the opposing quarterback does that to the Steelers. Now the Steelers should be able to return the favor on occasion. Last year, Roethlisberger's mind was willing, but the body wasn't able.

Finally, with the additions of George Pickens and Calvin Austin lll, the Steelers have the speed and big play potential to back off defenses and make them pay the price if defensive coordinators fail to respect their abilities. Those aforementioned abilities, plus the added creativity, should open up the middle of the field and all the possibilities that it entails, for the likes of Pat Freiermuth, Diontae Johnson, and possible slot monster Chase Claypool.

All of these probable improvements at each level of the offense should positively impact the Steelers time of possession big time. If that happens, you can expect a well-rested and highly motivated Steelers defense to reap the benefits.

It really is exciting to think about, even if the new stadium name is disappointing.

After release from Ravens, Miles Boykin ready for second chance with Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In an exclusive interview with BTSC, the fourth-year receiver discusses the similarities between the two rivals, reuniting with Chase Claypool, special teams play and much more.

On April 18, the Ravens did what few would have considered a reality just three years earlier: cutting Miles Boykin.

Boykin, a third-round pick out of Notre Dame, was viewed as a tremendous complement to first-rounder Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Though he suited up for all 16 games his first two years, Boykin missed nine games in 2021 due to a bevy of injuries, including to his hamstring and finger. The 6-foot-4 wideout posted just 470 receiving yards on 33 receptions in the Charm City; little sustained production sparked the Ravens to release Boykin.

“Every time I stepped onto the field, I was doing something to help our team win,” Boykin said. “We were successful there my first three years, so I have no regrets about being in Baltimore.”

While Boykin’s NFL future hung in the balance, he did not have to wait long to determine his new home. The Tinley Park, Illinois native was claimed by the Pittsburgh Steelers on April 19, swiftly crossing enemy lines to join his new team.

With OTAs and minicamp in the books, Boykin has quickly grown acclimated to his new organization and has enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh thus far, saying his body “feels great.”

“Being able to get in the building and meeting all the guys on the team and getting around the culture, getting around the coaches, it’s been great for me,” Boykin said. “I felt like a rookie again, at least for the first two, three weeks, just because of the whole process. You get used to doing a certain thing for three years in a row, and then it all changes up, but it’s definitely a blessing to be able to be in the building and be around those guys.”

Having played against Pittsburgh’s squad two times a season, Boykin already held baseline familiarity with some Steelers players. One he had especially connected with was former college teammate Chase Claypool. Though Boykin said he and Claypool never necessarily spoke about joining forces in the pros, the two have remained close — even working out in Florida with Mitch Trubisky in late June.

Howard Simmons/AP Claypool and Boykin played together at Notre Dame from 2016-18 before Boykin was drafted in April 2019. The two are still good friends and will now line up alongside one another once again.

“Me and Chase have always had a relationship,” Boykin said. “We’ve been like brothers ever since Notre Dame. He’s someone who I consider a lifelong friend, and he’s just a great teammate to have.”

Boykin spent one year with defensive lineman Chris Wormley before Wormley was sent to Pittsburgh in a rare swap between the foes. Now, Boykin is reunited with the former Raven, who has helped usher him into his new home.

“I talk to Worm consistently,” Boykin noted. “Even in Baltimore, he was a great teammate. I was just excited to [have] one guy that I knew before that I get to play with.”

Although he had pre-existing connections with several current Steelers, Boykin has relished getting to bond with new teammates.

“I gravitate towards a lot of the guys in there. It’s been great,” Boykin said. “They’ve really accepted me, and it’s great just talking ball with a bunch of guys.”

While a typical offseason addition may never have stepped foot in Heinz Field — now Acrisure Stadium — Boykin is distinct in having opposed the Steelers six times in his career. Consequently, the wideout feels he and teammates have discussed his keen insight, reaching more profound discourse.

“When you have three years of experience, you get to go in and just get to talk about different ball and what you’ve seen, or things that I’ve seen when I played against the Steelers, or what they saw then they [were] playing against us,” he said. “It’s just cool to be able to connect on that type of level.”

Since Boykin’s debut in 2019, the Ravens have collected 33 wins, while the Steelers have amassed 29. Moreover, the two made the playoffs in two of the three seasons; year in and year out, each is viewed as a first-rank franchise with rich legacies of success, ownership and city roots. As such, it may not be surprising to learn that Boykin feels the organizations have tremendous overlap.

“I’ve seen more similarities than I’ve seen differences,” Boykin said. “You have two of the best organizations to play for in the NFL. I couldn’t ask for anything more than to be with these two teams in my career.

“It’s one thing to say [you have a chance at winning a Super Bowl] and another thing to say it and mean it. When you play for those two organizations, you say it and you mean it.”

Early on, Boykin has cherished his time with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, with whom he got acquainted during the 2019 scouting process. As you may have expected, Boykin sees shades of John Harbaugh in Tomlin.

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Tomlin and Harbaugh are widely regarded as two of the premier coaches in the NFL. Boykin sees traits mirrored in each that enable them to be exceptional.

“Oh my God, the similarities are ridiculous,” Boykin said. “Every day, they have a focus that they want to talk about, or a quote that they’ve seen, or something that they saw in the news that they want to talk about. And that just makes us all better as players. It’s just like things that you remember for the rest of your life. It helps you be a better man, not just a football player.”

Ahead of the Steelers’ player report date to Latrobe, Pennsylvania on July 26, Boykin emphasized his goal is to learn the playbook. In his preliminary studies of offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system, Boykin has gleaned the intent to distribute the ball and the importance of versatility.

“He doesn’t want to have a weak point in the offense,” Boykin said. “I just think we have so many weapons this year especially that he’s been spreading the ball around. Just find ways to get playmakers the ball.”

The Steelers will flash terrific depth and skill at receiver in the form of fellow 2019 draftee Diontae Johnson, Claypool and rookies George Pickens and Calvin Austin III. Boykin believes that even in a star-studded room, the wideouts bring unique assets.

“You look at our receiver room, and I don’t think you could look at any receiver and say, ‘Okay, these guys are the same’ or ‘Ok, these can guys do the same things.’ We all do different things. We all have different skillsets,” Boykin said.

In terms of his own talents among Pittsburgh’s receivers, Boykin believes his frame and tenacity will stand out — something which dates back to his and Claypool’s time in South Bend.

“I think my size, first and foremost,” Boykin said about what he offers. “I think me and Chase bring a toughness to the receiver corps that, in the NFL, I don’t think you really see a lot. We’re gonna block. We play nasty. We kind of do the things that people don’t really want to do as receivers.”

Fundamentally, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are distinct offensive teams. The Ravens ran the ball on 43.6% of snaps last year, while the Steelers were at 36.9% — third-lowest in the league. A lack of receiver involvement does not frustrate Boykin, though.

“As long as we’re winning, I don’t care if we run the ball 100 times,” he said.

Another deviation between the two offenses is at quarterback. Boykin played all three of his seasons with Lamar Jackson as the starter, flashing elite scrambling and playmaking ability. Boykin underscored how much “fun” his time was in Baltimore with Jackson and wholeheartedly endorsed an extension for the fifth-year QB.

“Lamar just makes things happen. Absolutely, I think Lamar should get paid,” Boykin stressed. “I don’t think you could monetize the things that he does for that organization or that team.”

In minicamp and OTAs, Boykin had a change of scenery under center, working with Trubisky, Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph. While one could envision a cutthroat competition for who earns the lion’s share of snaps, Boykin mentioned a collaborative effort striving for perfection.

“I just see the chemistry. Everywhere they go, they go together,” Boykin said. “They talk about plays they mess up. They do something right, they’ll harp on that. I think that there’s a clear transparency between quarterbacks and receivers and what they expect as a group.”

Boykin’s responsibilities are widely viewed to transcend just the offensive side of the ball. The 25-year-old provides value as a gunner on special teams; in his three years in Baltimore, Boykin suited up for 417 special teams snaps, which he calls a “release.”

“You get to not be a receiver for a play,” he said. “You get to do whatever the hell you want to do for one play. That’s why I love playing gunner because, just in my eyes, no one’s gonna be able to stop me from releasing 50 yards down the field and making a play.

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Boykin prides himself on being more than just a receiver. The 6-foot-4 wideout also finds joy in being a gunner on special teams.

“As receivers, our skillsets, a lot of times, don’t necessarily align with special teams. But when you’re a receiver and you can play special teams, I just think it makes you that much more valuable.”

Moreover, Boykin has liked working with Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith.

“He’s definitely been able to show me things that he thinks I can do here and just ways that I can affect the game in the special teams. He’s been a great coach for me so far,” Boykin said.

In 2021, Pittsburgh granted its return duties to receiver Ray-Ray McCloud. With McCloud departing in free agency, general manager Kevin Colbert brought in former All-Pro Patriot specialist Gunner Olszewski. Boykin said he frequently chats with the fellow newcomer, who is eager to showcase his return abilities.

“We were talking about, ‘Oh, do you fair-catch the ball a lot?’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not fair-catching anything,’” Boykin said.

With the Steelers heading to St. Vincent College in under two weeks, Boykin feels like he’s back at Notre Dame, where the Irish used to practice at nearby Culver Academy. His first go-around in Latrobe will be with Claypool as his roommate.

“We’re talking about how there’s gonna be nothing to do there,” Boykin said. “Just talk ball. It’ll be fun. Play cards, relax and just bond as a team.”

As is customary for him, Boykin does not have any personal goals for 2022, eschewing them for team goals: winning the AFC North and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. While he hopes to line up against former Irish teammate Troy Pride Jr., Boykin said if he had to pick a highlight, it would be going back to Baltimore to face former teammates, with some of whom he still keeps in touch.

“I’m ecstatic to be able to play them twice a year,” Boykin said. “There’s a little, I don’t want to say resentment, but it’s definitely a little chip on my shoulder every time I go play Baltimore.”

Boykin will get his opportunity to prove the Ravens wrong as early as Week 14 if he can solidify a spot on Pittsburgh’s roster in the coming months. Overall, the receiver has his eyes set on making positive contributions to the Steelers in every facet.

“I’m just excited to get on with the new season on a new team and get out there and go compete,” he said.

For the full interview with Boykin, check out the one-on-one podcast in the player below.

Steelers fans won’t have to worry about the next QB getting enough reps in the preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 6:00am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Every quarterback on the Steelers roster should get playing time in all three preseason games this summer. You can’t worry about injury when you’re trying to find your next starting quarterback.

The Steelers will play their first preseason matchup in approximately one month—August 13 vs. the Seattle Seahawks at iconic Acrisure Stadium—and this much is true: There are few players who won’t be getting significant reps during that game and probably the other two.

Who would you put on the “limited or not playing at all” list? Cam Heyward? Team-approved regular person apparel while standing on the sidelines cheering on the youngins. T.J. Watt? Same. Minkah Fitzpatrick? He probably takes mental reps better than most safeties perform real ones. Najee Harris? He might be a second-year player, but he’s the starting running back, and well...Mike Tomlin.

Everyone else is fair game, and that includes every single quarterback on the roster. Why? Because the Steelers need to figure out who the starter is and whether or not he’s any good, and they need to do that asap.

It simply didn’t matter when Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback. Oh, you may have protested Roethlisberger’s lack of preseason action. You may have been concerned about the big guy knocking off the rust or developing chemistry with new offensive coordinator (pick one of several examples and insert it right here), but it was always wasted energy.

The Steelers weren’t going to put their most precious resource in harm’s way any longer than they had to during August football.

Besides, Roethlisberger didn’t need the preseason reps; that was quite apparent starting in 2015, when his lack of August action became more pronounced, through 2018, when he would go on to lead the NFL in passing yards with 5,129.

The NFL didn’t even have preseason games in 2020, and the Steelers started off 11-0 (the offense was actually quite good during most of that time).

Roethlisberger barely played during last summer’s slate of preseason games, and it didn’t matter, mostly because he only had enough juice left in his right arm to be effective at the tail-end of most games.

It’s different this summer. It’s a new world. It’s a new era. It’s a cold, heartless one, too—at least until a new quarterback establishes himself.

Sorry, Mitch Trubisky. I realize you’re a veteran, but that’s all you are at this point. Your reputation doesn’t speak for itself, and even if it could, it might only be able to say, “Meh.” The Steelers need to see more of you. Get out there on August 13. Lay it all on the line. Stay out there for a whole quarter or even a half, and do it again the next two weeks.

As for you, Kenny Pickett? You’re a rookie. Yes, you’re a first-round rookie, but you’re still a rookie. You need to be out there for at least a quarter of each preseason game. Even if your offensive line consists of guys who will be (say it with me) producing podcasts in September, you need to get your work in and do so inside stadiums. Just like Trubisky, if you get hurt, you get hurt, but, just like him, you’re not yet a precious commodity.

And that brings me to Mason Rudolph. I don’t have to tell you how little the fans care about your physical well-being. After all, you took illegal and vicious shots to the head from players from two different AFC North rivals—and in the same season—and the fans mock you for it today. You’ve been quite active in the preseason all throughout your NFL career. You’ve played in the fourth quarter with those future social media influencers and tech guys. You’re probably the most equipped to stand in there and take the punishment without fear. That said, we need to see a lot more from you than we have up to this point.

As for you, Chris Oladukun? You’re a seventh-round rookie, which means you could enter a preseason game without pads, and nobody would care.

The bottom line is this: The Steelers will not have a quarterback on the roster that they need to shield from injury during the preseason...until they do—until someone proves he’s worthy of such treatment.

I don’t currently see such a quarterback on the Steelers roster.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/15/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: Love to Acrisure Ratio

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the week’s hottest and most toxic takes on the internet. This week Steelers Nation was melting down over Billionaire Name Games, while trying to figure out exactly what an Acrisure is. Plus, we play IG detective at TJ’s wedding. And why Steelers Nation has a horrible Love to Angry Ratio.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • Acrisure is a Joke
  • Baffling Brand Loyalty
  • TJ Wedding Watching
  • Happy Fan Index
  • Much, Much More

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

Steelers Preview: 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Superlatives

With the NFL’s off-season winding down, the Steelers have 90 pieces of the puzzle that they need to whittle down to 53. For fun, the Preview gang will spotlight personnel and their personalities with superlatives. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • Steelers Preview: 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers Superlatives
  • Trivia
The BTSC Interview Series: Miles Boykin

BTSC’s Bradley Locker speaks to new Steelers wide receiver Miles Boykin in an exclusive interview.

Let’s Ride Friday: Don’t let 2020 and 2021 tarnish Ben Roethlisberger’s legacy

It is safe to say the 2020 and 2021 season didn’t go as planned for the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, but don’t let those two years tarnish Big Ben’s legacy. Jeff Hartman, Senior Editor at BTSC, outlines this, and more, on the Friday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Big Ben’s legacy is so much more than his final two seasons
  • All Betz Are Off w/ Jeremy Betz
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Nick Sciba & Delontae Scott

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 2:30pm
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

It’s Day 33 of Going For Two, featuring Nick Sciba and Delontae Scott

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

Nick Sciba Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Kicker
Age: 22
Year: 1
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 191
Drafted: UDFA, 2022
College: Wake Forest
Roster Outlook: Very Unlikely
Analysis:

Signed to the Steelers after a tryout at rookie minicamp, Nick Sciba finished his four-year career at Wake Forest being successful on every extra point and having an 89.9% field goal accuracy. With a long field goal 46 yards in each of his final two seasons, Sciba did have a 49-yard field goal his rookie season of 2018. Although he found his way onto the 90-man roster after rookie minicamp, Sciba has a huge uphill battle when it comes to catching on with the Steelers as Chris Boswell is securely locked into the position. But to keep Boswell fresh, Sciba will have his opportunity to showcase his talents with the Steelers during training camp and the preseason in order to catch on somewhere in the NFL.

Delontae Scott Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Linebacker
Age: 25
Year: 1
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 246
Drafted: UDFA, 2020 (Green Bay Packers)
College: SMU
Roster Outlook: Outside looking in
Analysis:

If the name Delonte Scott sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because he appeared in a game for the Steelers in 2021 at outside linebacker. Called up from the practice squad where he saw seven defensive snaps and two special team snaps, Scott appeared in Week 11 in Los Angeles against the Chargers when T.J. Watt was inactive due to injury. Undrafted in 2020, Scott spent his first season on the Green Bay Packers practice squad but was picked up by the Steelers in 2021 after he did not make the roster once again in Green Bay. Spending all season on the Steelers practice squad, it’s possible Delonte Scott could be a player the Steelers see getting into the mix for roster spot more than what fans realize. But it is also just as likely that Scott filled the void and added depth to the position on the practice squad last season and may be looking to do the same thing again for 2022. Either way, Delonte Scott will get his first training camp with the Steelers in 2022 in order to prove himself.

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

Najee Harris enters the ESPN’s Top 10 running backs after one season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

In the latest ESPN rankings, the Pittsburgh Steelers second year running back is making a splash.

The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time selecting Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and his play last season was more than enough to prove himself worthy of that selection. He didn’t just set franchise records at the position, but also led the NFL in touches as he grinded out a full 17-game schedule along with a playoff game.

Throughout it all, Harris turned heads and has been receiving recognition for his play as a rookie. Most recently, ESPN ranked their Top 10 players at every position, and Jeremy Fowler released the Top 10 running backs. On that list was Harris, but first let’s go over what went into this list.

Here’s how our process worked: Voters gave us their best 10 players at a position, then we compiled the results and ranked candidates based on number of top-10 votes, composite average, hundreds of interviews, research and film-study help from ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen. In total, more than 50 voters submitted a ballot on at least one position, and in many cases all positions. We had several ties, so we broke them with the help of additional voting and follow-up calls with our rankers. Each section is packed with quotes and nuggets from the voters on every guy — even the honorable mentions.

So, where did Harris rank among the best running backs in the league? Let’s take a look...

The Top 10 Running Backs

1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
3. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
6. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
7. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

8. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

Highest ranking: 3 | Lowest ranking: Out of top 10

Age: 24 | Last year’s ranking: Unranked (rookie)

The Steelers wasted little time getting Harris acclimated to the NFL, handing him the ball nearly 400 times (307 rushes, 74 catches) despite a suspect offensive line and an aging Ben Roethlisberger under center. Harris responded with a Pro Bowl performance, rushing for 1,200 yards and scoring 10 total touchdowns with zero rushing fumbles.

Some voters knocked Harris’ lack of speed or explosion. One NFL defensive coach said, “Not for me. He had 1,200 yards when everyone knew he was going to run it. They knew the Steelers weren’t throwing deep and their offensive line was terrible.”

But one front-office executive said Harris is great in space because he’s a “big person” at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds with broad shoulders and is a “handful in the open field.” Harris’ 62 rushes for a first down ranked third in the NFL. The exec explained the problem lies when a play isn’t blocked up well at the line because defenders get good shots on Harris’ big frame, and he is not sudden or fast enough to evade those hits.

“He doesn’t have quite the juice as some of the other backs, but he’s a really good all-around player, really good in space ... and has great hands,” the exec said.

9. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
10. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

So, after looking at the above list, what do you think of where Harris is ranked? Do you think he should be ranked higher? Is he ranked too high? Let us know your thoughts on the list in the comment section below.

On top of that, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for rest of the offseason and the players report to training camp on July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.

Split Zone: One of the bright spots of the Steelers 2021 run game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 11:30am
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

One part of Matt Canada’s offense already worked well in 2021, it could be even better in 2022.

I wanted to take some time this offseason to show some plays the Steelers ran last season, and are likely to use in 2022, and dig a little deeper into what they are and why they work.

I covered the inside zone run game in my first article, largely because I wanted to contrast that run blocking scheme with one of the more common, and one of the most effective run plays the Steelers used in 2021, the split zone run.

Steelers vs. Bills, third quarter, 15:00

To people unfamiliar with these run schemes, that probably looks like a hot mess of blockers running all over the place. To better understand the idea behind a split zone run, take a look at this play pre-snap, and how the blocks would line up if the Steelers were blocking this play exactly like the two plays we showcased in the inside zone article.

That makes sense, the blockers take the guy right across from them, with double teams working to the linebackers. Now compare that to how they block this play with a split zone scheme.

Yeah. . . that’s a bit different. Let’s start looking at the offensive lineman, starting with Chukwuma Okorafor (second from the left in the picture). Okorafor is going to start by blocking the defensive tackle in front of him, but only for a split second until Kendrick Green gets to him, then Okorafor will switch off and block the defensive end. That end is the farthest from the run lane, and Okorafor only has to get in his way.

Kendrick Green will come from center to hit that defensive tackle, and in the clip you can see the nastiness Green brings as he not only blocks his man, he tries to fold him in half and bury him in the grass. Green hitting the tackle in the side is a great angle to win first contact, and that’s the entire point of this play design.

One of the hardest blocks is on Kevin Dotson (to the right of the center on screen). He needs to move that defensive tackle out of the way, and he doesn’t have any help. That just happens to be Dotson’s forte, and he does a great job. You can see the difference in Dotson and Green well here, one has nastiness, the other has the power to move people. Dotson moves his man, then lets him go while Green is smashing his man into the grass.

Dan Moore Jr. (farthest to right) is going to go hunting for the middle linebacker. He has to find him and block him however he can. The running back can adjust to how that block turns out, as long as that linebacker is blocked. Moore Jr. does a fine job as Edmunds reacts to the pull from Trai Turner and gets sealed outside of the run lane for his effort.

Not to those pullers. Trai Turner (left of center) is coming to find the edge defender on the opposite side of the play. All he has to do is keep that guy from getting to the middle of the line and Harris’s run lane. He does his job well.

That leaves the linebacker to the right side of the screen, and Pat Freiermuth (farthest to left on screen) to deal with him. Freiermuth does in week 1 what he would be most known for in the early part of the season, find his target and block him into the dirt.

You may have noticed that if you draw a line from Najee Harris straight up field, every defender is blocked at an angle that puts their blocker between the defender and the run lane. This whole scheme is based on that idea. If you can execute the movement well every blocker gets a favorable blocking angle and leverage advantage. While the offensive line struggled in a lot of their technique, this scheme was one of the bright spots of the run game, and a high percentage of the Steelers better runs were from split zone, especially before Kevin Dotson was injured. This scheme worked in line with Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green’s strengths and the Steelers used it really well when those two were in the game.

If Dotson wins the left guard battle you can expect a lot of split zone runs this season as James Daniels and Mason Cole are also good fits for this run scheme, and the Steelers returning lineman have showed they can execute this play at a higher level than many others.

The last thing I want to point out is how the defenders react to the movement on this play. #49 Tremaine Edmunds reads Trai Turner pulling and follows him, #91 Ed Oliver sees Kendrick Green heading to screen left and takes a step that way and #94 Vernon Butler engages Okorafor normally and is not prepared to get hit by Green. One of the problems defending this split zone is a lot of the action is what you would expect from plays that are going in a different direction. If the opponent is looking for a split zone run, they are going to be vulnerable to other run plays.

Split Zone is a great complimentary run scheme to power, gap, and zone runs because it is hard to read all of the runs correctly when you can run the full gambit of them. Split zone in particular paid off in 2021, even when the Steelers struggled to run outside zone and weren’t great on several other run schemes. If Pat Meyer, the upgrades on the offensive line and Matt Canada can get the other run schemes working, split zone will be even harder to defend.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: Devin Bush will lead the Steelers in tackles in 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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

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

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

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: Devin Bush will lead the Steelers in tackles in 2022

Why it will happen: In his first NFL season, the only one in which Bush played every game, he led the Steelers in tackles with 109. On pace to come up just shy of that when he was injured in 2020, Bush still wasn’t himself to have the same explosion in 2021. Add in the fact that he played only one game with Tyson Alualu on the defensive line and none with Stephon Tuitt, offensive linemen were constantly getting to Bush in 2021. If the Steelers defensive line can get back closer to its 2020 form, it could free up Bush to make more plays.

Why it won’t happen: In his grand return from injury in 2021, Devin Bush came back to the Steelers and finished… seventh in tackles. Behind both starting safeties, both outside linebackers, the other inside linebacker, and defensive captain Cam Heyward on the line in front of him, Bush only managed 70 tackles last season. While he struggled to trust his newly constructed knee, for that many players to be in front of Devin Bush in tackles says a lot. The fact that he was 54 tackles behind Minkah Fitzpatrick, someone who the Steelers hope does not lead them in tackles again in 2022, and there is a lot of ground for Bush to make up.

Prediction: This time, I’m going to disagree with the scenario. Although I am hopeful that Devin Bush can bounce back somewhat in 2022, I’m not betting the farm on it. Add in the fact Myles Jack has had over 100 tackles each of the last two seasons, and he is just as likely, if not more, to lead the inside linebackers in tackles. But when it comes down to it, I don’t care as much about the number of tackles by Devin Bush as the location of those tackles. If he’s making tackles 5–10 yards down the field, especially on rushing plays, is it really all that impressive? I would much rather have Devin Bush with a lesser number of tackles but making them around the line of scrimmage.

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

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

Steelers Vertex: Can Anthony Miller find the previous magic he had with Mitch Trubisky?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When playing primarily in the slot in 2020, Miller had a connection with Trubisky in Chicago which could be utilized in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are chugging on through the 2022 offseason. Looking at a number of players and positions as the roster has fluctuated, sometimes it’s players the Steelers have on their roster taking a step that can really add to the coming season. With Mitch Trubisky joining the Steelers in 2022 as a free agent, he joined former teammate Anthony Miller who spent last season on the Steelers practice squad. Can these two players find the magic they had previously? 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:

After being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, Anthony Miller had a seven touchdown rookie season where he had 423 receiving yards on 33 receptions. In 2019, Miller saw an increase in receptions and yardage to 52 and 656 respectively, but dropped down to two touchdowns that year. In three seasons in Chicago, Miller appeared in 47 games with 17 starts with 134 receptions for 1,564 yards and 11 touchdowns.

It should also be noted that after being traded to the Houston Texans, Anthony Miller appeared in two games in 2021 where he had five receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown. After being released by the Texans and signed to the Steelers practice squad, Miller was elevated for one game where he had one catch for 2 yards.

For the purpose of this breakdown, Geoffrey wants to focus on the 2020 season in Chicago when Anthony Miller was used primarily in the slot, a position he stated he would like to play in Pittsburgh. In 16 games in 2020, Miller only had 485 receiving yards on 49 receptions and two touchdowns. After having his yards per reception of over 12 his first two seasons, Miller only had 9.9 yards per reception in 2020.

Although there was a decrease in production with Anthony Miller in his last year in Chicago, what did it look like with him playing in the slot? This is the question that Geoffrey is ready to answer.

The Film Line:

The 2020 season wasn’t a great year for Anthony Miller or Mitchell Trubisky, but early in the season the two were making plays, even as other parts of the Bears offense struggled.

2020 Bears vs. Lions

Anthony Miller is second from the top, just outside the tight end.

I love this play. After Miller falls down, he starts working outside to buy space in the middle of the field. Then right before his quarterback moves to look at him, he takes off into the space in the middle of the field. This shows two of Anthony Miller’s best traits from his time playing with Trubisky, his understanding of space, and his “Wi-Fi” with Trubisky where he almost always knew where to be and what to be doing to help his quarterback when things broke down.

Also, look at the score and time left, and look at Trubisky’s body language during the play. Trubisky is bouncing all over, he’s not smoothly going through options, he comes across almost panicked. That’s usually when things unravel for Trubisky. But not this game, and this play helped.

2020 Bears vs. Lions

Anthony Miller is second from the top, just outside the tight end.

The next play they run a timing route to Miller, and this ball is thrown too far and Miller is able to pull it in anyway, check out this shot of him getting first touch on the ball.

He’s able to make this catch, and it’s another first down. The Bears would score on this drive, and then the Bears defense forced a turnover to give them a chance to win the game.

2020 Bears vs. Lions

Anthony Miller is second from the bottom.

Look at Trubisky in this clip— he’s calm, he’s smooth, he’s making plays. Trubisky isn’t Ben Roethlisberger, who Mike Tomlin always lauded as being the same level of calm in any situation. Trubisky can get on the roller coaster, and Anthony Miller was one of the guys that made plays and helped him get settled down and back into rhythm when that happened.

2020 Bears vs. Falcons

Anthony Miller is second from the top, he’s running the jet sweep.

Anthony Miller isn’t the most dangerous player running a jet sweep, but he can do it and he’s not bad at all. That is important because on the Steelers offense under Matt Canada you need to be able to do a lot of things, having experience on jet sweeps is a benefit.

2020 Bears vs. Falcons, 4th quarter, 2:00.

Anthony Miller is second from the top.

This was the game winning touchdown. Trubisky was replaced mid-game by Nick Foles and Anthony Miller still made the play to win the game. Two game winning touchdowns in three games is not shabby.

The Bears offense would drop off as the season went on, and Anthony Miller’s production and efficiency dropped substantially with Nick Foles at quarterback. But later in the season when Mitchel Trubisky became the starter again, they picked up where they left off early in the season.

2020 Bears vs. Lions

Anthony Miller is second from the top.

That’s the type of catch we haven’t seen much of these past 18 seasons. But man, I remember Kordel Stewart throwing fastballs at receiver's knees and Hines Ward making it look effortless to make plays on them. Check out the replay angle of that catch.

That’s as smooth as you’ll see someone catch a ball below their knee and dodge a defender.

2020 Bears vs. Lions

Anthony Miller is third from the top.

Miller also has a knack for getting the last few yards you need. This isn’t easy yards at all, but Miller picks them up and the Bears would score a touchdown right before halftime.

The last thing I want to cover is Anthony Miller’s last play as a Chicago Bear.

This was the first drive of the second half in the Bears playoff game against the Saints, the Bears were down 7-3 at this point and they would lose 21-6. That offseason the Bears got rid of both Trubisky and Anthony Miller, trading Miller to the Houston Texans. Since their split, neither played much at all, and now they have been reunited on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Point:

Anthony Miller isn’t a great talent, and he isn’t going to be a 1,000 yard receiver on any team. But if he can re-kindle the chemistry he had with Mitchel Trubisky, he could be a valuable depth receiver. And if George Pickens gets off to a slow start, Miller could push for slot snaps due to his experience and success playing with Trubisky.

One big factor when it comes to Anthony Miller is if he can make the Steelers 53-man roster. There are a number of wide receivers fighting to land with the team for 2022. But even if the Steelers do what many expect and keep their drafted rookies, there is always a possibility that one of them may not be ready right away to start the season. If so, by having a player like Anthony Miller on the practice squad again to start in 2022 there could be the possibility of him being elevated early in the season until the Steelers are confident in their young wide receivers who they did not want to expose to waivers.

Exactly how Anthony Miller’s roster status plays out will be determined in training camp and the preseason. Due to his time and experience with Mitch Trubisky, Miller could have the inside track, more so than the other receivers on the Steelers, in order to prove himself throughout August.

Fantasy Football QB Rankings: Don’t Sleep on Mitch Trubisky

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/14/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Fantasy Football draft season right around the corner, let’s rank the QBs worth drafting, which includes one Steeler.

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

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

Over the next couple weeks, we will be ranking the top players at each of the four primary fantasy positions: quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end. These rankings will also include detailed breakdowns for all Steelers players who are considered draftable in standard 10 or 12-team leagues. Today, we will be looking at a position which causes much stir each and every fantasy draft season: quarterback.

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

Let’s dive in!

Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

1. Patrick Mahomes | Kansas City Chiefs
2. Josh Allen | Buffalo Bills
3. Justin Herbert | Los Angeles Chargers
4. Lamar Jackson | Baltimore Ravens
5. Kyler Murray | Arizona Cardinals
6. Joe Burrow | Cincinnati Bengals
7. Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles
8. Dak Prescott | Dallas Cowboys
9. Aaron Rodgers | Green Bay Packers
10. Matthew Stafford | Los Angeles Rams
11. Russell Wilson | Denver Broncos
12. Tom Brady | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
13. Derek Carr | Las Vegas Raiders
14. Trey Lance | San Francisco 49ers
15. Tua Tagovailoa | Miami Dolphins
16. Kirk Cousins | Minnesota Vikings

17. Mitchell Trubisky | Pittsburgh Steelers

Trubisky was the most underappreciated signing of the Steelers offseason, and I truly believe he will surprise some people if given a fair opportunity. His best season was most definitely 2018, finishing as QB14 in standard fantasy leagues despite only playing 13 of the 15 primary fantasy weeks. If Trubisky had been able to participate in each of the 15 weeks nearly all fantasy leagues, even the early-season enders, participate in, he could have easily finished as high as QB10. All he needed was 15 points in each of those games to edge out Cam Newton and sneak into the top 10.

We must also take note of the coaching and atmosphere in Pittsburgh compared to that in Chicago. While I do believe Matt Nagy is a better offensive mind than Matt Canada, Canada’s playbook, which simplifies outside-the-pocket passing and is under-center-heavy, fits Trubisky’s strengths to a tee. Bears fans were also toxic for Trubisky, as he was disliked from the moment of the selection and never given a fair shot. In Pittsburgh, the friendlier atmosphere, from the fan base to the city as a whole, will benefit Trubisky from a mental standpoint.

The final thing we must look at is the offensive firepower surrounding Trubisky compared to what he will have in Pittsburgh. When Trubisky finished as QB14 in 2018, the starting skill position players surrounding him were as follows: Jordan Howard, Tariq Cohen, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton. He is now heading to an offense that is bursting at the seems with talented young players, including Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, and Pat Freiermuth. Chicago’s offensive line was definitely better than the Steelers’ current line, as they boasted two Pro-Bowlers and a rather impressive rookie guard named James Daniels. Nonetheless, the overall package is much better in Pittsburgh. If the Steelers can bring the best out of Trubisky, nobody will want to face this team in January.

18. Zach Wilson | New York Jets
19. Ryan Tannehill | Tennessee Titans
20. Trevor Lawrence | Jacksonville Jaguars
21. Matt Ryan | Indianapolis Colts
22. Daniel Jones | New York Giants
23. Justin Fields | Chicago Bears
24. Davis Mills | Houston Texans
25. Baker Mayfield | Carolina Panthers

What do you think of Mitchell Trubisky in fantasy football this year? How high do you think his ceiling is in Matt Canada’s offense? Be sure to share your thoughts on this and all things fantasy football in the comment section below!

Pages

Subscribe to Steelers Fans of Minnesota aggregator