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Mike Tomlin acknowledges the Steelers may be making roster moves this week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 6:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With several players possibly missing time, promotions or free-agent signings will be forthcoming

Injuries are a part of the game, and when they occur teams have to be ready to adjust accordingly. With the number of players ailing after the Steelers 26-23 loss in overtime to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, there may have to be a few roster moves in order to make sure the Steelers have enough depth at key positions.

Before getting into speculations, the Steelers did make one roster move with their practice squad on Tuesday as they released quarterback Taryn Christion and signed linebacker Robert Spillane who was released last week.

We have signed LB Robert Spillane to the practice squad and released QB Taryn Christion.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 8, 2019

In today’s press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged the Steelers may be forced into making some roster adjustments before they travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers on Sunday night football. After outlining the various injuries to players such as Mason Rudolph, Jaylen Samuels, James Washington, Mark Barron, Steven Nelson, Vance McDonald, and so on, coach Tomlin knows roster moves will be on the horizon.

“Those things being said,” Tomlin stated, “there may be some subsequent moves from a personnel standpoint to fill out the ranks, but I don’t have any imminent details there. We got some time and ways to do that, and a lot of the candidates are practice squad like guys, so they’re here working and available to us anyway. So I won’t have any expanded dialogue along how we fill in the ranks or who’s who in that regard.”

With quarterback Paxton Lynch and running back Trey Edmunds likely candidates to face a necessary promotion from the practice squad, Coach Tomlin acknowledges their availability already has them in the building and ready to go for preparation without making a move until later in the week. Edmonds may be a foregone conclusion with Jalen Samuels already being ruled out, but if Roosevelt Nix could return to the Steelers lineup he could act as an emergency running back option if the Steelers do not feel like they have the roster space available.

As for Paxton Lynch, his promotion will be completely dependent on Mason Rudolph‘s progress through the NFL concussion protocol. Although the hit looked vicious and Rudolph was unconscious on the field, not all concussions act the same. So while it could be weeks in the protocol, days are also not out of the question.

The other issue with Lynch at quarterback would be if the Steelers feel he is the best option. Coach Tomlin was asked about his comfort with the quarterbacks they currently have in the building.

“I am comfortable.”

As for the running back position, Coach Tomlin was asked about dealing with Samuel’s missing an extended period of time.

“Like we said in here the other week, when we are dealing with circumstances, we had red paint, so we painted our barn red. Okay, now maybe yellow. We will continue to lean on the strengths of our collective group and work to minimize their weakness. Obviously, when Jaylen was a part of us, he was a guy we could lean on and a guy that had some in game experience and some play making ability, and some versatility. Now that he is not, we will continue to spin the dial and lean on the collective strengths of the group.”

With Samuels being out, the most likely candidate to receive more carries in his place would be rookie Benny Snell Jr. Coach Tomlin was asked if he felt it Snell was ready to be more of a contributor in the running game moving forward.

“I believe that he is,” Tomlin answered. “I know that he is chomping at the bit to be a contributor. He is a high-energy young guy. He has been highly productive in special teams and usually production in special teams is an indication of offense and defensive readiness. This guy has been making tackles on coverage units and stuff. It has been really impressive, but obviously we drafted him to play running back. He will probably get an opportunity to get some more exposure there because of the injury to Jaylen and I am sure he will be excited about it.”

As for the new reported injury of Steven Nelson, it is unclear if the Steelers will need to make a move as they already have six cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Although it would be speculated that Artie Burns could fill-in for Nelson if he is unable to play on Sunday, Coach Tomlin was not ready to make the assumption.

“Again, we will see. I am not ready to count Nelson out at this juncture, so I don’t want to get into speculation.”

When it comes to making roster moves and promoting players from the practice squad, the other big question is which players will be released. While it would be of greater benefit to release a veteran player who could would choose to sign (or not sign) anywhere they like , there is still always the possibility the Steelers may be forced to expose one of their young players to the waiver wire.

So who are the most likely candidates? Here are a few players who could possibly face the chopping block if the Steelers call up practice squad players for Sunday:

Donte Moncrief- only active one out of the last three games where he only saw three snaps with no targets, Moncrief has not been an asset to the receiving corps in 2019. With James Washington questionable to play, Moncrief could be used in his place on Sunday. But if the Steelers do not find him necessary, Moncrief could be the one to go as his release would also give the Steelers back their third-round compensatory pick for the 2020 draft.

Ryan Switzer- used only as a return over the last several weeks, Switzer has not even been the only player back on kickoffs and punts as Johnny Holton and Diontae Johnson have been sharing time respectively. If Switzer is not contributing otherwise, his roster spot could be one that is deemed expendable.

Fred Johnson or Chukwuma Okorafor- carrying an extra lineman has been a luxury as neither player has dressed in 2019. But with young talent waiting in the wings, along with the number of NFL teams hurting for quality offensive linemen, chances are neither one of these players could be available later on if exposed to the NFL waiver wire.

Isaiah Buggs- in essence, ditto everything for the offensive lineman when it comes to Buggs.

So who is most likely to lose their job if the Steelers have to promote players? Or will someone end up on Injured Reserve? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Podcast: How the Steelers are situationally failing in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:30am

In the latest BTSC podcast, our Steelers ‘Stat Geek’ breaks down the numbers surrounding the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is underway, and the news is just starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Stat Geek. On this show deputy editor Dave Schofield breaks down all things Steelers stats, and also answers questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Injury Update
  • How the Steelers are failing in 2019
  • Steelers Q&A

Dave walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Black and Gold Links: Will Devlin Hodges seize the opportunity he could have in Week 6?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:27am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 6 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Los Angeles Chargers we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether Devlin Hodges, the team’s third string quarterback, will be able to seize the opportunity he has facing him as the team prepares for the Chargers in Week 6.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers found Devlin Hodges after an offseason tryout. Can he actually make a name for himself on Sunday Night Football in Week 6?

Could Steelers’ Devlin Hodges become the next Gardner Minshew?

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

They were born five weeks and about a four-hour drive apart in the South. Each stands 6-foot-1, set records playing in an “Air Raid” offense and was far from a coveted prospect in last spring’s NFL Draft.

And now, it appears Devlin Hodges is about to join Gardner Minshew as an NFL starting quarterback.

The two are linked in many ways.

Minshew has become something of a league phenomenon after starting four of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ five games; Hodges could be in line to start the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I’ve known him for a while. We met at the Manning passing academy,” Hodges said last week, before he came on to replace an injured Mason Rudolph to make his NFL debut during the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

“We had a good time together there, and we’ve talk a couple times since.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mike Tomlin to the Redskins? Good luck getting a straight answer on that...

Mike Tomlin brushes off question about potential Washington interest

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin already has been linked to the vacancy in Washington. As expected, Tomlin was asked about it during his weekly press conference. As expected, he said nothing.

“I’m not worried about that, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin told reporters. “I’m the head coach of a 1-4 football team going on the road to face a Hall of Fame quarterback with my third-string quarterback. Do you think I’m worried about anything but that?”

No one expected Tomlin to say anything that would suggest that he’s interested in leaving Pittsburgh for Washington. But on a question so central to his loyalty to the team he has coached since 2007, Tomlin arguably should have been more forceful and unequivocal, adding something like, “This is the job I have. This is the job I want. Have I ever said or done anything to create the impression I don’t want to be here?”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers showed some new defensive packages in Week 5. This is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Steelers defense debuts new hybrid packages against Ravens

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Among many previously unseen wrinkles the Pittsburgh Steelers showed during their loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday were a pair of defensive subpackages: one with three inside linebackers and another that featured three safeties.

Before, it was just (nickel and ‘base’ defenses),” inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich said, referring to the Steelers’ scheme of just a couple of years ago. “Now, it’s all different. We have (different, new) packages.”

Against the Ravens, one of those new looks was one in which a special “position” was created for Vince Williams, who normally plays inside linebacker. But with the offseason additions of Devin Bush and Mark Barron, finding ways of keeping three on the field became more of a priority.

Perhaps the package was Baltimore-specific, although Williams’ return from a hamstring injury after missing 2 ½ games might have triggered its usage. That it was still deployed after Barron suffered a hamstring injury Sunday – Matakevich played seven snaps – proves the Steelers were committed to it.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mike Tomlin Press Conference

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media ahead of our game against the Chargers. https://t.co/a59WPYHciE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 8, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@MikeHilton_28's ball.@number1cochran pic.twitter.com/sWRG51476i

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 8, 2019

.@missi_matthews & @merrilhoge break down our run defense in Sunday’s game vs. Baltimore. #SteelersLive pic.twitter.com/dhn8enYEcg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

All of the best photos from Sunday.

: https://t.co/WEumvDyWVh pic.twitter.com/a6RwK7XNgI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

BTSC Survivor Pool Update: Avoiding the big upset

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 3:45pm
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Exactly half of those remaining picked against the New York Jets in Week 5, but three upsets brought the number of remaining contestants down to 130

The Behind The Steel Curtain survivor pool finished up its fifth week with an overwhelming number of contestants once again all correctly choosing the same team. While technically we started with 592 entries, I have one entry in each league as the commissioner so there were 587 different contestants. Hundreds have entered, but only one can go home with the autographed David DeCastro football. Entering Week 5, there were 180 contestants still alive.

The most common selection for Week 5 was the Philadelphia Eagles taking down the New York Jets which dominated all six leagues as the choice for exactly half of all the remaining entries. The Eagles jumped out to an early lead with two first-quarter touchdowns on their way to a 31-6 victory. The second most popular choice was the New England Patriots traveling to Washington DC to take on the Redskins. One reason there were only 26 entries who chose New England was due to the large number of those remaining alive in the contest had previously used the Patriots. Although they fell behind 7-0 early, New England scored the next 33 points to secure the win 33-7.

The biggest reason for teams to be eliminated came from the Indianapolis Colts 19-13 upset of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Another upset which knocked out several teams was the Chicago Bears falling in London to the Oakland Raiders. On a positive note, only four contestants failed to make picks in time this week.

After five weeks, 22.0% of the total entries still remain mainly since 27.7% of those who entered Week 5 were eliminated. If you are still in the contest, make sure you enter your pick early so you don’t get knocked out due to a lack of selection. In fact, go do it right now if you are still alive!

As the season moves forward, it does become slightly easier to know what a team is supposedly capable of based on their body of work, but the choices become fewer as many contestants have already used the NFL’s top teams. With the Dolphins taking on the Redskins this week, the much-used Cowboys facing the Jets, and four teams being on bye, who will be the go-to team of choice?

Weekly Update: Upcoming Week 6 Games of Note:
  • Most heavily favored: New England (-16.5) at home vs the New York Giants
  • Closest match up: Jacksonville (-1) at home vs New Orleans
  • The Steelers match up: Pittsburgh (+6.5) on the road at the Los Angeles Chargers
  • On Bye Week: Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Oakland

(all lines are courtesy of oddshark.com as of 10/8)

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

AFC North Recap: Another golden opportunity slips through the Steelers’ hands in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 2:30pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

A win could have put them in first place, instead they are now staring at a very daunting task in Week 6.

The fifth 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...

Arizona Cardinals - 26
Cincinnati Bengals - 23

You thought it was bad in Pittsburgh? Try being a Bengals fan. New coach, worse result. Now there are even rumors swirling of the team looking to trade AJ Green if the price is right. Wow, talk about selling the farm if they do that. In the meantime, the Bengals are still searching for their first win of the year heading into Baltimore next week.

Baltimore Ravens - 26
Pittsburgh Steelers - 23 (OT)

This game was intriguing, and sloppy all at the same time. Both teams accounted for 5 turnovers, and a costly JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble thwarted the Steelers’ shot of beating the Ravens at home with their third string quarterback at the helm. Lamar Jackson looked average, but they found a way to win.

San Francisco 49ers - 31
Cleveland Browns - 3

Things are bad right now in Pittsburgh, but in Cleveland who knows which team will show up? They beat the Ravens in Week 4, then go to San Francisco and get their doors blown off right out of the gate. Literally. Who knows what this team will do, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they beat Seattle at home next week. Why? Because they are that up-and-down this year.

AFC North Standings

Baltimore Ravens - 3-2
Cleveland Browns - 2-3
Pittsburgh Steelers - 1-4
Cincinnati Bengals - 0-5

Week 5 AFC North Schedule:

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals — 1 p.m. ET
Seattle Seahawks at Cleveland Browns — 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers — Sunday Night Football

Power Rankings: Steelers nearing the bottom of the barrel after 1-4 start

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 1:38pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have plenty of work to do before they are even considered a Top 15 team in 2019.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now 1-4 after Week 5 of the 2019 regular season, but how they got to this record has been a roller coaster ride. After a 33-3 drubbing by the defending champion New England Patriots, the Steelers followed it up with a close 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 at Heinz Field. The loss was more than just another loss on the record, but the team lost Ben Roethlisberger in the process. With Mason Rudolph under center in Week 3, he was unable to lead the Steelers to victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, but did claim his first career win after beating the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football in Week 4.

How did they follow up that prime time win? With a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in Week 5.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it is that time of week where we check in on what other outlets are saying about the black-and-gold in those weekly Power Ranking articles. We all realize these rankings are completely meaningless, but they are great for discussion. Not just where the Steelers are ranked, but who made the Top 5 who should have, or shouldn’t have?

Check out the Power Rankings below, and be sure to let us know your thoughts on the rankings in the comment section below!

ESPN

1. New England Patriots
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Seattle Seahawks
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Buffalo Bills
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
Surprise fantasy player: Diontae Johnson, WR

While JuJu Smith-Schuster has been mostly quiet as the primary focus of opposing defenses, Johnson -- a rookie -- is slowly breaking out. In Mason Rudolph’s first two starts, Johnson was targeted six times in each game and had a touchdown in both contests. When Devlin Hodges came in Sunday, he hit Johnson for a monster third-down conversion, but Johnson’s downfall will be his trouble holding on to the ball. He fumbled the third-down pass out of bounds, though it still was ruled a completion, and fumbled his first catch a week ago. -- Brooke Pryor”

CBS Sports

1. New England Patriots
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Buffalo Bills
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Los Angeles Rams
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
“They are down to a third-team quarterback and at 1-4 things sure don’t look good for this group. Is the season over? It might be soon.”

Sporting News

1. New England Patriots
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Green Bay Packers
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Dallas Cowboys
10. Minnesota Vikings
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Ben Roethlisberger to Mason Rudolph to ... Devlin Hodges? The Steelers’ offense can’t catch a break even when it’s looking good and balanced again. Mike Tomlin seems safe job-wise unless he keeps making illogical decisions about overtime and “things of that nature.””

NFL.com

1. New England Patriots
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. San Francisco 49ers
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Seattle Seahawks
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Los Angeles Rams
10. Buffalo Bills
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Another lost quarterback, another lost game in what’s fast becoming a lost season for the Steelers. A violent hit by Earl Thomas knocked Mason Rudolph out cold against the Ravens, forcing Mike Tomlin to turn to a person named Devlin Hodges. Nothing good happens when you get to your third quarterback by early October. The shame for Pittsburgh is how close it came to a win over Baltimore that would have reframed the AFC North. Had Juju Smith-Schuster not lost that fumble in overtime, the Steelers might be sitting in a three-way tie for first in the disappointing AFC North. Instead, they are two games out with an un drafted rookie free agent with the nickname “Duck” in line for a potential Week 6 start. Life’s tough, guys.”

Mason Rudolph still in concussion protocol, Jaylen Samuels out a month

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 11:43am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Multiple players are dealing with injuries who were not previously reported after Sunday’s game

While the biggest anticipation for Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Tuesday was a status report on Mason Rudolph, one of several other injuries which ended up being reported may have longer-lasting implications. Previously unreported, Jaylen Samuels suffered a knee injury Sunday which required a medical procedure on Monday that will keep him out of the lineup for approximately a month.

Coach Tomlin said Jaylen Samuels had his knee scoped yesterday and will be out for about a month.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) October 8, 2019

Samuels had been more involved in the offense the last two weeks after not getting a touch in Week 3. Over the last two games, Samuels has 28 rushing yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. Additionally, Samuels had 68 receiving yards on 11 catches over the same two-game period. It should also be noted Samuels did throw a costly interception against the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. In his absence, James Conner will have a heavier workload along with rookie Benny Snell Jr.

As for Mason Rudolph, he is not obviously suffering any major concerning effects following his concussion on Sunday. Coach Tomlin did not want to speculate as to Rudolph’s availability for this Sunday, but he did finish the press conference by saying he was traveling west to go against a Hall-of-Fame-caliber quarterback with the teams third option at the same position. Although that is not a statement of who is starting Sunday, it does go to show the Steelers preparation needs to be focused on Devlin Hodges until more is clarified with Mason Rudolph.

Coach Tomlin said Mason Rudolph is in the concussion protocol and "appears to be doing fine." Not a lot of details on a timetable for his return.

— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) October 8, 2019

There were several of their injuries which Coach Tomlin brought up, including Mark Barron and James Washington who each left Sunday’s game and we’re not able to return. Both players are considered questionable at this stage of the week with their practice participation being the largest factor in their status.

Other injuries: CB Steve Nelson (groin), WR James Washington (shoulder), Mark Barron (hamstring). Tomlin said Washington and Barron can be listed as questionable for Chargers.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) October 8, 2019

Another new player to the injury report is cornerback Steven Nelson who is apparently suffering from a groin injury. It is unclear as to the level of his availability, so ending up on the injury report early in the week would not be a surprise.

Once again, player such as Roosevelt Nix and Anthony Chickillo who have missed multiple games will all come down to the practice participation. Surprisingly, Nix has not been ruled out early on for this week as he was in the previous four games.

Rosevelt Nix could return for the Steelers this week. Would be a welcome addition against a Chargers team that allowed 200 rushing yards to the Broncos last week. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) October 8, 2019

As what usually occurs when it comes to injured players, practice participation will be the key. Players who are unable to go all week will most likely not play on Sunday as the Steelers will be heading into their bye week following their Sunday night match up with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, injury reports, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL Betting Preview: Steelers open as 6.5-point underdogs at the Chargers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 10:37am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The unknown quarterback situation in Pittsburgh may cause a lot of uncertainty in the betting lines throughout the week

After a heartbreaking overtime loss on Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers are looking to bounce back and steal a win in Los Angeles against the Chargers on Sunday Night Football before heading into the bye week. With quarterback Mason Rudolph being knocked out in the third quarter of the Ravens’ game, Devlin Hodges came on and put the Steelers in a position to win the game. It’s unsure who will be the starting quarterback for the Steelers on Sunday as many assume Rudolph will not be back. Regardless, the Steelers defense will need to continue in coming up with big plays in order to give Pittsburgh the best chance on Sunday night.

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 oddsshark.com.

Game Info: Week 6 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 8:20 PM

Betting line: +6.5

Over/under: 41

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 30-33 vs Chargers

Win streak: 1 games LAC

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 1 - 2 LAC

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 7 - 3 LAC

The opening line on the game was +4.5 when the schedule was released in April. With the Chargers starting off with a win against the Colts, they have since dropped three out of four games with their other win coming against the Miami Dolphins. With the Steelers slow start of 0-3 until they got their first win against the Bengals, the line moved slightly in the direction of the Chargers. Of course the uncertainty at quarterback for the Steelers could have the line move throughout the week as things become more clear in regards to Mason Rudolph‘s concussion.

Being the underdog on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of +250 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of about 5/2 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Chargers would have a payout of $70 ($50 plus the original $20 bet). The Chargers have a current moneyline of -295, or 20/59 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on Los Angeles to win straight up would have a payout of $26.78 ($6.78 pus the original $20 bet) .

According to Oddsshark.com, the Steelers are 6-1 straight up in their last seven games in October and are 9-3 straight up in their last 12 games against the Chargers. The Steelers also are also 0-5 straight up in their last five road games and the total has gone UNDER in eight of Pittsburgh’s last twelve games.

If looking at the futures bets, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl vary from 60/1 to 250/1. They also have varying odds to win the AFC Championship from 50/1 odds to 100/1. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are at 12/1 odds and they are projected to place third the AFC North. Both Baltimore and Cleveland have better odds to win the division while Cincinnati is still the biggest long shot to win the AFC North at 100/1.

Ben Roethlisberger’s absence isn’t the sole reason for the Steelers’ 1-4 record

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 9:35am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers may be 1-4 after five games, and it may be perfectly reasonable to chalk that record up to the season-ending injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But if you’ve been watching the Steelers over the past few weeks, you know that’s not really true.

The Steelers will officially be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for all but six quarters of the 2019 regular season.

And that, right there, fully explains their 1-4 record, right?

On paper, it makes perfect sense. In fact, if the Steelers would have issued a press release at halftime of their Week 2 game against the Seahawks that echoed the opening line of this article, it would have been perfectly reasonable to expect a long, long season.

After all, isn’t that how it usually goes when a team loses its franchise quarterback— in this case, to season-ending elbow surgery? There aren’t many squads that rebound from such a blow to even finish respectable, let alone with a postseason berth.

In truth, there was still hope that Mason Rudolph would ride in on a white horse and make a little NFL history. But while there was hope, everyone had to temper their expectations just in-case a minor miracle didn’t take place before our very eyes.

Sadly, the worst fears have been realized, and here the Steelers sit with just one win so far on the season.

No Ben really does equal no chance. Maybe, but only if you haven’t been paying attention to the 2019 season.

You might say I’m being totally unreasonable for expecting a much better record after five weeks. And you would be right if we were still sitting around at halftime of that Week 2 game, and I didn’t witness all that I have over the past 15 quarters sans Roethlisberger.

While some teams around the NFL—the Dolphins, Bengals and Jets come to mind—clearly don’t have the talent and/or will to put up much of a fight in 2019, the Steelers apparently have had enough of something to not only remain competitive in their three-plus games without their star player, it could be argued that they should have won every single one of them.

Why do I say that? Because they actually had chances to defeat the Seahawks, 49ers and Ravens—they lost those three games by a combined nine points. And when it comes to San Francisco and Baltimore, the Steelers held late leads before royally screwing the pooch.

Obviously, it would be silly for me to sit here and write that Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury hasn’t greatly hindered Pittsburgh’s chances at success. I think it’s safe to say, had he been the beneficiary of those five takeaways in San Francisco, for example, the Steelers win that game going away. As for those two turnovers the Steelers defense came up with deep in Baltimore territory in what became a 26-23 overtime loss at Heinz Field on Sunday? With Roethlisberger at quarterback, the game probably doesn’t even make it to an extra period.

So, yes, Roethlisberger is the ultimate X-factor, but he’s not the sole reason for Pittsburgh’s failures in 2019. If we’re just going to approach the rest of the season with a “Golly gee, they don’t have their best player” attitude, why even play the rest of the games? Why write articles? Why do podcasts? Why even show up at Heinz Field to support the team?

If you’re a fan of the Steelers, you have every right to be angry at how they’ve let three close games get away this year. No, Roethlisberger wasn’t around to make a difference, but the games were still there for the taking.

You have every right to expect a receiver as talented as JuJu Smith-Schuster to come through with the football and the game in his hands. Same for James Conner, a Pro Bowl running back a season ago. You have every right to expect the defense to hold onto a lead in the fourth quarter—last I checked, Roethlisberger hasn’t played defense since that divisional round playoff game against the Colts many years ago.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next Sunday night, when Devlin Hodges will likely start in place of a concussed Rudolph (that’s right, the Steelers are probably going to have to rely on an undrafted free agent quarterback for at least a week), but if the Steelers lose a close game against the Chargers for reasons other than the play of Duck Dynasty, you have every reason to be upset.

Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the only Steelers player with a hand in the pile.

Steelers fans pinning the Week 5 loss on JuJu Smith-Schuster, but let’s not forget football is a team sport

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 8:33am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fumble was disastrous, but hardly the sole reason why the Steelers lost to the Ravens on Sunday.

I read a post yesterday about the devastating loss to the hated Baltimore Ravens where a fan basically said, he would not lose any sleep if JuJu Smith-Schuster was not on this team next year. The comment was GREEN! It stunned me. A comment today talked about how Smith-Schuster may have cost the team another division title this year. It was GREEN too! I kept reading on and then there were more comments berating the 22-year-old wideout. Fans were questioning whether he even can be a true No. 1 wideout for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some scathing comments because of one play this season. One lost fumble that happened on a perfect punch out by Marlon Humphries. The same move that Humphries tried earlier in the game and JuJu made him pay dearly for with a 35-yard touchdown.

All 46 players played on Sunday but you all want to focus on one play by one player and ignore the other 60 plays on offense, the over 80 plays on defense and 30 plays on special teams?

Too many of you have pulled Jerome Bettis out of the garage to have the Bus run over Smith-Schuster because of the timing of the play.

What about the timing of Jaylen Samuels tossing an inexcusable interception that put the Ravens inside the 20? If we will excuse the interception, then his later drop is even more meaningless, correct?

What about our continued soft coverage defense over the middle that kept drives alive?

Where is the blame for going 3-9 on third downs?

Where is the blame for the unacceptable disparity in time of possession? Ravens had the ball 39:00 minutes to the Steelers 25:34.

No outrage over 11 penalties? How many of them extended drives for the Ravens, or killed Steelers drives?

Are nine missed tackles acceptable or did they just not bear on the outcome?

What about the passes Mason Rudolph threw towards the end zone before the half? Manute Bol standing on the shoulders of Shaquille O’Neil, standing on the shoulders of Andre the Giant, would have not have stood a chance of catching them.

What about the defensive scheme late in the fourth quarter, and the second drive in overtime? Slow-footed Vince Williams in there with a fleet of foot Jackson and then we stick him in coverage?

How about the conservative play-calling on offense with Rudolph in? Why not open up the throttle?

I rarely berate referees, but WOW, they were bad. How many poor calls changed the outcome of the game?

But for too many, they do not care about the above. They only remember one play. They lay the loss at the feet of the man who has been the continuous beacon of hope week in and week out on the offense. Jamming their fingers into his chest for his performance during one play in a game that had 170 plays. Smith-Schuster did everything the team asked of him. Caught all seven passes, led the team in receiving and had one of the two touchdowns. But not good enough. One play erased all the good he has done this season and his 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns from last season. Yup, the same season that these same folks blame the young man from USC, for destroying. Again over one play in a season with nearly 2,500 plays.

I for one understand that a game is made up of more than one play and one play will not win a game just like one player will not win a game. The NFL is not like golf or tennis; it is a team sport. It takes linemen to block for running backs and keep a quarterback clean in the pocket. It takes wideouts and tight ends to catch those passes. The defense is the same way as the unit has to work as one otherwise it is porous and inept. We saw what happened with special teams breakdowns last year. Boswell was the worst kicker in the league but did he cost the Steelers games all by himself? No!

Most in Steelers Nation know that the team wins and loses as a team and no loss should be pinned on one player, nor should it. Especially when that player is the most talented offensive skill player the team has. So let Bettis continue his Geico commercial career and let JuJu continue what the young man has done for three years, produce and rely on his teammates to cohesively win football games.

Mason Rudolph at the Steelers facility Monday is a very good sign for the young QB

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 7:29am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was walking around and joking with teammates on Monday after being knocked unconscious Sunday during the team’s Week 5 game vs. the Ravens.

There likely won’t be an official report on the status of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph until Mike Tomlin’s press conference Tuesday at noon. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good news coming from the team’s headquarters on Monday when players gathered to have meetings, watch film, etc.

To the shock to many, Rudolph arrived at the team’s facility and was in the locker room with teammates, and by all accounts he seemed to be his usual self.

Just see what was spread over Twitter when player availability started on Monday:

Steelers QB Mason Rudolph walked through the Steelers lockerroom a few times just now and looked good. He remains in concussion protocol and off limits to media

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) October 7, 2019

Mason Rudolph just walked in and out of the locker room, looks the same as he ever was. Can’t talk to him while in the protocol. Teammates say he feels good.

— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) October 7, 2019

Mason Rudolph greets reporters as he strolls through the locker room. He seemed to be in good spirits after taking the helmet to helmet hit from Earl Thomas yesterday. He did not do interviews.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) October 7, 2019

Mason Rudolph just walked through the locker room with a little hop in his step. Good news for sure.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) October 7, 2019

As you see above, media are not permitted to speak with any players in the NFL concussion protocol, but the fact Rudolph was in the facility is a huge positive for the young quarterback.

Whether he attended meetings and watched film is unknown, but him being at the facility, and not told to stay home, shows he isn’t dealing with some of the common symptoms associated with a concussion. Some of those would include sensitivity to light, debilitating headaches and loud noises triggering headaches.

No one knows if Rudolph will even be able to play in Week 6 vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, but as of now the news surrounding Rudolph is positive. The fact he was released from the hospital Sunday and told to go home, and then reporting to work on Monday shows Rudolph seems to be on the track back to the lineup at some point. When that will be is anyone’s guess.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for Week 6 this Sunday on Sunday Night Football.

Report: Mike Tomlin on the short list for head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2020

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 6:37am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Tomlin is under contract with the Steelers through the 2020 season

Obviously, he’s not going to talk about it. Obviously, nothing can be done at this moment. Obviously, it’s just a report about something an owner wants. But why not paint with a broad brush?

After the Washington Redskins fired their head coach on Monday morning, speculation as to what they’re going to do for the future was one of the main sports stories when it comes to national coverage. So when ESPN’s Ed Werder listed Mike Tomlin as one of the three coaches owner Daniel Snyder has targeted for the vacant head-coaching position, it got a lot of attention on various media outlets.

In a recent conversation with someone who knows Dan Snyder well and is aware of his thoughts on potential next #Redskins head coaches that any list of candidates would include: #Steelers HC Mike Tomlin, #Bucs DC Todd Bowles, #Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy.

— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) October 7, 2019

Since we’re obviously not going to get any answers from Coach Tomlin (although I can’t wait to see who asks him about it first), maybe we should speculate as to the pros and cons Tomlin would have to consider in going to Washington…

Pros

It would be a move closer to home for Mike Tomlin as he is from Hampton, Virginia. He attended college at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, has been known to show interest in players from the state of Virginia. Additionally, his son is currently playing football for the University of Maryland.

It also would go without saying that Tomlin would be in line for a very large payday. The Washington Redskins have been known to throw a lot of money at coaches and I’m sure Tomlin would be no exception.

Cons

He would be coaching the Washington Redskins.

And working for Daniel Snyder.

As someone who currently lives in Maryland, I understand the woes that go with this once great football franchise before changing ownership. Even if money and family were a factor, to go from working for the Rooney family to Mr. Snyder would be career suicide.

Mike Tomlin has possibly the premier coaching job in the NFL. The Steelers rarely move on from head coaches, so job security and franchise stability are better than just about anywhere else he could be. Why would anyone want to move on from this job?

Now the only question would be is if the Steelers were ready to move on from Tomlin. If they were even considering the notion of a change at head coach, being a situation where they could possibly get some compensation for him would be ideal.

Anybody else hearing that the #Redskins may try to trade for Mike Tomlin to be their next HC? #HTTR

— Bryant McFadden (@BMac_SportsTalk) October 7, 2019

Do I think the Steelers should trade Mike Tomlin? No, I do not. Do I think the Steelers would possibly do it? Nope. I don’t see any reason why Mike Tomlin would be on the trading block...

But neither was Martavis Bryant until the Steelers were given the right offer.

For those people who would love to get rid of Mike Tomlin for whatever reason that I’ve been screaming from the rooftops for years, this just gives them something to salivate over in regards of getting something in return for something they’re ready to throw out with the trash. Some fans are so concerned with a 2020 first-round draft pick they would do almost anything to get one back. But right now, it’s a whole lot of talk and speculation with next to no validity behind it.

Look on the bright side- if Mike Tomlin did end up with the Washington Redskins, it would be a lot easier to paint his barn red.

Podcast: Lost season? How can the Steelers salvage 2019?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 5:32am

Bryan and Tony for the fallout after a disheartening loss against the Ravens on the latest episode of the ‘Steelers Hangover’.

Join Bryan Davis, and Anthony Defeo from BTSC as they share their thoughts on the overall landscape of the Steelers 2019 season after a painful loss to visiting Baltimore on MNF. It’s the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

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

  • Rehashing the Week 5 that was for the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Shining moments and dim points.
  • Valrdictorian and Doomed to Detention.
  • Do the Steelers have any hope of salvaging the 2019 season?
  • Live chat Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Mike Tomlin’s overtime decision to not take the ball worked, but was it smart?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/08/2019 - 4:26am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 6 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Los Angeles Chargers we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether the decision by Mike Tomlin to defer the football in overtime may have worked, by theory, but was it smart?

Let’s get to the news:

  • It almost looked as if Cameron Heyward said the Steelers wanted the football in overtime, but after the official turned off his mic he made it clear that Heyward said the wanted to kick the ball away. But was it a smart move by Mike Tomlin?

Tim Benz: Mike Tomlin’s OT call in Steelers loss was logical but lacked common sense

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Mike Tomlin’s decision to kick off to begin overtime against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday made perfect sense.

If you are willing to ignore common sense.

Which I am not.

In case you missed what happened, the Steelers won the coin flip to start overtime, tied with their AFC North rivals at 23-23.

Tomlin shunned the usual practice of receiving the ball. Under NFL overtime rules, if the receiving team scores a touchdown, the game is over. If the receiving team kicks a field goal, punts or commits a turnover, the other team gets a possession. If the score remains tied after that possession, then play continues until a score of any kind takes place.

If no score takes place, it’s a tie.

So, logic would dictate, receive the ball. Give yourself a chance to score a touchdown without allowing the other team a possession. Don’t risk losing without getting a touch.

It’s the right decision. Every time.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Earl Thomas will likely be facing a fine, but no suspension, for his high hit on Mason Rudolph in Week 5.

Earl Thomas faces fine, but likely no suspension, for hit on Steelers QB Mason Rudolph

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The flag was thrown late — about four minutes after the fact — following Earl Thomas’ hit that knocked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph from the game Sunday at Heinz Field.

Thomas was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer after the Baltimore Ravens safety’s helmet connected with Rudolph’s chin midway through the third quarter of the Steelers’ 26-23 overtime loss.

Will NFL justice also be slow in forthcoming?

Thomas undoubtedly will be fined for the shot that sent Rudolph to the hospital for observation. The NFL typically releases fines on Saturday, but some higher-profile punishments become public much sooner.

Thomas also could be suspended for the hit, although he doesn’t have the track record of a serial violator such as Vontaze Burfict. An NFL Network report Monday indicated that Thomas will not be suspended.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • If Mason Rudolph can’t play on Sunday in Los Angeles, expect Paxton Lynch to be promoted from the practice squad to back up Devlin Hodges.

Paxton Lynch likely to serve as Devlin Hodges’ backup in Pittsburgh

By: Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers are down to their third-string quarterback, and their fourth-string quarterback will soon get a promotion.

After Mason Rudolph‘s concussion on Sunday, and with Ben Roethlisberger already out for the season, Devlin Hodges is likely to start this week and Paxton Lynch is likely to be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster as Hodges’ backup, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

Hodges played well under the circumstances after Rudolph went down: He completed seven of nine passes for 68 yards and didn’t have a turnover or take a sack. He’s an undrafted rookie, so the Steelers obviously weren’t planning on having him start this year, but when you’d down to your third-string quarterback, beggars can’t be choosers.

Lynch is a former first-round pick of the Broncos who started four games in Denver and didn’t play well. He hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game since 2017. The Steelers actually have two quarterbacks on their practice squad, Lynch and Taryn Christion, but Lynch’s experience makes him the likely pick to get called up to the active roster.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

.@missi_matthews & @merrilhoge break down our run defense in Sunday’s game vs. Baltimore. #SteelersLive pic.twitter.com/dhn8enYEcg

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

.@Missi_Matthews, @BobLabriola, @merrilhoge, & @CharlieBatch16 discuss Mason Rudolph's injury, Devlin Hodges taking over, our defense's performance vs. the Ravens, & more. #SteelersLive pic.twitter.com/3eVpazrHSf

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster addresses the media following our game against the Ravens. pic.twitter.com/5ct3Sm16Ne

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

Devlin Hodges addresses the media about feeling comfortable coming into the game, Ben Roethlisberger helping him on the sidelines and more. pic.twitter.com/Kw4BoZyaNh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

Hear from Jaylen Samuels, Cameron Heyward, Alejandro Villanueva, Bud Dupree, and David DeCastro following our game vs. Baltimore. @HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/NkjENRuFJS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 6, 2019

Post-Game Sound: Hear from Steelers coaches and players after the disappointing loss to the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 2:33pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 5 of the NFL regular season. Take a look and listen to what was said after the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in the fifth game of the 2019 regular season after a 26-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5.

After the game, there was plenty of video/audio to take in from inside the locker room and down at field level. Here at BTSC we try to gather as much information as possible for those fans who might not be on social media and see this on a weekly basis.

Therefore, in the post-game sound article you will hear from head coach Mike Tomlin, and a myriad of other players as the Steelers official Twitter account goes around the room to hear from all who participated on Friday night.

Enjoy the content and be sure to stay with BTSC for all things black-and-gold as they now turn their attention away from the disappointing loss, and to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6...but first, the post-game sound:

Around the Locker Room

Hear from Jaylen Samuels, Cameron Heyward, Alejandro Villanueva, Bud Dupree, and David DeCastro following our game vs. Baltimore. @HeinzKetchup_US pic.twitter.com/NkjENRuFJS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 6, 2019

JuJu Smith-Schuster Post-Game Availability

JuJu Smith-Schuster addresses the media following our game against the Ravens. pic.twitter.com/5ct3Sm16Ne

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

Devlin Hodges Post-Game Availability

Devlin Hodges addresses the media about feeling comfortable coming into the game, Ben Roethlisberger helping him on the sidelines and more. pic.twitter.com/Kw4BoZyaNh

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 7, 2019

James Conner Post-Game Press Conference

#LIVE: James Conner addresses the media following our game vs. the Ravens.@budlight https://t.co/u3NT2XXFpC

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 6, 2019

Mike Tomlin Post-Game Press Conference

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following our game vs. Baltimore.@budlight https://t.co/Zfuje85WlU

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 6, 2019

Pro Football Focus shows how not all was negative in the Steelers’ overtime loss to the Ravens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 1:17pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-4, and that is bad, but not everything is bad surrounding the black-and-gold.

Football is the ultimate team game, and you win and lose as a team every time you step foot on the gridiron. But while all this is true, it also should be noted that when the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are now 1-4 after losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5, are being discussed, not all is negative.

In fact, there are some very real positives surrounding this team, even though their start to the season has been dismal at best. The folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) broke won the overtime loss to the Ravens, and gave some good factors regarding the game, along with the bad.

See what they had to say:

Pittsburgh defensive interior Cameron Heyward disrupted the Ravens’ offense all game. He recorded multiple pressures and should finish reviews as one of the Steelers’ highest-graded players on the defensive side of the ball.

Mike Hilton had a strong outing against Baltimore. He had multiple defensive stops and came away with an interception in coverage.

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had a roller-coaster of a game Sunday. He started off strong, taking his second catch 35 yards for a touchdown against Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens cornerback got the last laugh, however, as he punched the ball out of Smith-Schuster’s grasp in overtime to set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal.

The Steelers’ offensive line did a solid job of keeping its quarterbacks clean. Despite facing a variety of stunts, the unit gave both Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges substantial time to throw throughout the game.

The Steelers are a work in progress, but a team that has several bright spots throughout 5 weeks of the season.

For instance, the team’s 19 sacks has them in 3rd among all NFL teams behind the Patriots and Panthers, and on top of that their 12 takeaways is tied with New England for most in the league through 5 games.

Say what you want, but that is a drastic improvement from 2018, especially in the takeaway department. But what say you? What areas of the 2019 Steelers have been positives so far this season? If you can think of anything, let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest and greatest surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6.

Gene Steratore says the roughing the passer call on Ola Adeniyi was clearly wrong

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 11:49am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The former NFL official says the flag thrown on Ola Adeniyi was ill-advised and wrong.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost an overtime game to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 at Heinz Field, and while many plays could be looked upon as “game changing” none might have been larger than the roughing the passer call on Ola Adeniyi on the Ravens’ final drive of the fourth quarter.

Facing a 2nd and 8, Lamar Jackson dropped back to pass and as he threw was hit by Adeniyi. The pass fell incomplete, and while everyone in the Heinz Field seats thought the Ravens would be facing a crucial 3rd and 8, they saw some yellow laundry on the ground as Adeniyi was given a personal foul penalty for hitting the quarterback below the knee.

Needless to say, Steelers fans were incensed as they watched the Ravens get 15 yards and a new set of downs. Fans of the black-and-gold weren’t the only ones who thought the call was bad, former NFL official, and Washington, PA native, Gene Steratore thought the call was flat out wrong.

See what he had to say from his verified Twitter account:

I am all for protecting the quarterback, but this is not roughing the passer in #BALvsPIT. From this angle that is clear, but remember the referee is behind the QB. I believe that these types of plays are much less subjective than pass interference and would be easier to review. pic.twitter.com/AaTmgEBXu8

— Gene Steratore (@GeneSteratore) October 6, 2019

When you watch the replay, you can see Adeniyi on the sideline visibly upset with himself for hurting his team’s chances of winning. It also prompted this tweet from the second year outside linebacker on Twitter after the game had ended.

Sorry Steeler Nation was just tryna make a play. https://t.co/QaTqogMLci

— Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (@Love_Ola_9) October 6, 2019

So what actually happened on the play? Adeniyi said he felt as if he was being pushed from behind, causing him to go lower than he wanted, but ultimately he took full responsibility for his own play and told Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review what he thought after the game.

Steelers OLB Ola Adeniyi on the roughing the passer penalty late in the fourth quarter on the Ravens’ game-tying drive to force OT: pic.twitter.com/acJk5KhZJa

— Kevin Gorman (@KGorman_Trib) October 7, 2019

The Steelers are now 1-4, and there are many plays which have occurred over the past 5 weeks which would lead directly to the team’s poor start to the season. Adeniyi’s penalty would be just one of the many.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6 of the 2019 regular season.

Injuries to three Steelers’ starters could have the team’s roster in flux in Week 6

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:35am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A loss hurts, but losing players to injury makes it sting even worse

The Steelers had three players who left their 26-23 loss Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens who were unable to return. In the first half, inside linebacker Mark Barron came out of the game with a hamstring injury and did not return to the field.

#Steelers LB Mark Barron sustained a hamstring injury and is questionable to return to today's game.

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) October 6, 2019

Barron left with four tackles on the day. More importantly, he had the radio in his helmet for the defense in order to make the defensive play calls. In Barron’s absence, Devin Bush and Vince Williams played a greater number of snaps while Tyler Matakevich also filled in for some situations. Bush finished the game with eight tackles and an interception while Williams had nine tackles, a sack, and a pass defensed. Matakevich added four tackles in his time filling in for Barron.

With 7:17 remaining in the third quarter, Mason Rudolph shed off a possible sack to roll out and hit James Washington on a 26 yard gain. In completing in the pass, Rudolph was struck with a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit by Ravens’ safety Earl Thomas. Rudolph appeared to lose consciousness before hitting the ground. Although the medical cart was brought onto the field, Rudolph was able to walk off and into the locker room with the assistance of his teammates.

#Steelers QB Mason Rudolph will not return to today’s game after being diagnosed with a concussion.

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) October 6, 2019

Rudolph had 13 of 20 passing for 131 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game. Devlin Hodges came in and relief in his first NFL game action and went seven of nine for 68 yards and added a 21 yard scramble.

Rudolph was taken to a local hospital for further observation and was released but remains in the NFL concussion protocol according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Steelers’ QB Mason Rudolph was allowed to go home from the hospital tonight after being concussed earlier in the day, per source. Rudolph now is resting at home and will be in the NFL’s concussion protocol, a best-case scenario after the hit he took from Ravens’ S Earl Thomas.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 6, 2019

On the same drive in which Rudolph was knocked out, wide receiver James Washington was seen wincing in pain after taking a hard shot in the back from a Raven’s defender. It was reported at the conclusion of the scoring drive that Washington was escorted to the locker room.

#Steelers WR James Washington has been ruled out of today’s game with a shoulder injury.

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) October 6, 2019

Before his exit, Washington caught three balls on six targets for 52 yards.

Following the game, head coach Mike Tomlin did not have any further updates on any players as it comes to their status for Week 6. Coach Tomlin will address the media again on Tuesday at noon where he could give updates on any injuries. Although for this season, Coach Tomlin has not offered too much as to statuses of players until the injury report comes out following Wednesday’s practice.

Winners and Losers after the Steelers overtime loss to the Ravens in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 9:23am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After every game there are players who play well, and those who don’t. This is where the ‘Winners and Losers’ column comes from.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they hosted the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 of the regular season. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had an horrible performance.

Improvement was evident in some ways, and hopefully will continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 5...

Winners

Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges
Stat Line: Combined stats were 20/29, 199 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

Kudos to Devlin Hodges for coming off the bench and giving the Steelers an opportunity to win the game. The team didn’t lose because of the third string quarterback, and that says something. While fans cling to Hodges and his quality play, let’s not forget how Rudolph had been playing up until his injury. In fact, the play he made on the play where he was concussed might have been his best as a professional. This speaks to the quality of depth the Steelers have at the QB position, but Rudolph is still the man once he is healthy.

Takeaways
Stat Line: 3 INTs moves season total to 12 takeaways

Heading into Week 6 the Steelers are tied for the NFL lead in takeaways with the New England Patriots. Go ahead and read that again...they have 12 takeaways in 5 games. This coming off a year where they barely bested that number in 16 games. The defense is doing their part to give the offense extra possessions, and they need all the possessions they can get.

Vince Williams
Stat Line: 9 total tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1 PD, 1 QB Hit

The Steelers got Vince Williams back in their lineup, and boy did he show up in a big way. Williams was playing fast and physical, and his stat line certainly showed how dominant he was when he was on the field. With Mark Barron leaving the game due to injury, Williams played a larger role, and he didn’t disappoint.

Pass Rush
Stat Line: 5 sacks makes 19 on the season

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass rush continues to tear up the opponent’s offensive line, and they were able to sack Lamar Jackson 5 times in Week 5. Their 19 sacks so far through 5 games has them 3rd in the NFL behind only the Patriots (24) and the Carolina Panthers (20) in this statistical category.

Chris Boswell
Stat Line: 3/3 field goals, 2/2 extra points

He has been perfect. Period. Slowly but surely he seems to have regained his 2017 form, and ditched his 2018 version of himself. He hasn’t hit a 50+ yard field goal yet, but there hasn’t been a need yet. His longest kick has been 49 yards, and clearly it was good.

Losers

JuJu Smith-Schuster/Jaylen Samuels
Stat Line: Samuels 0/1 1 INT, Smith-Schuster OT fumble

While the Steelers are taking the ball away at a ridiculous clip, they are also having some really bad turnovers at inopportune times. The Steelers have given the ball away 7 times this season (4 INTs 3 Fumbles), and the two turnovers in Week 5 were crucial. Samuels’ interception spotted the Ravens an early touchdown, and we all know Smith-Schuster’s fumble essentially sealed the win for Baltimore. It isn’t always the overall number of turnovers, but when they happen, and these were bad.

Mike Tomlin
Stat Line: End of the half time management

At the end of the first half, when Mike Hilton intercepted Jackson with just over 30 seconds left, the Steelers took over and had one timeout in their pocket. After a swing pass to Samuels, who was tackled in bounds, they ended up running just two more plays before Boswell came on to kick a field goal. They went into the half with that one timeout still on the scoreboard. Horrible clock management, and as Lance Williams said in our post-game show (you can hear it below) the small things matter, and this one was huge, in my opinion.

Red-Zone Offense
Stat Line: 1-for-4 on the day

In 2018, with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers had one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL. Through 5 games the Steelers are converting in the red-zone at a 41.6% clip. Where does that rank? 29th in the league. Say what you want, but this offense needs to improve where it matters the most.

Officiating
Stat Line: 22 overall accepted penalties

The roughing the passer call on Ola Adeniyi was bad, but the officiating was bad beyond the accepted penalties. The questionable calls on both sides puts a weird cloud over what was a very good football game. Maybe one of these days the officials won’t be an integral part of the outcome of a game, for once.

Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 26-23 loss to the Ravens in Week 5

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/07/2019 - 8:22am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after Week 4 of the 2019 season.

The Steelers were in a must-win situation and rough circumstances and bad luck hindered them in the 26-23 loss to Baltimore. This is a hard game to grade, because I thought they played valiantly for the most part.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of the squad. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I had certain expectations of this contest, Then the game happened and judgments abound.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. In this case, it’s my doofus opinion.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense: C+

Mason Rudolph was solid once again and promising to be a future face of the franchise. However, his severe concussion was devastating, but Devlin Hodges was a bright spot in relief. The running game was not great, the interception by Jaylen Samuels was pathetic and they started the game dull and conservative. The offensive game plan and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fumble negated a winning effort on defense.

Defense: A-

It’s hard to believe this defense is becoming the strength of the team. But they had five sacks of Lamar Jackson, forced three turnovers and limited Mark Ingram to only 44 yards. Late in the game, they were flying to the ball. Of the two TDs they gave up, one was off of a turnover. The defense did everything to win the contest, but a ridiculous roughing the passer penalty late in the game on Ola Adeniyi and a JuJu fumble in OT lost this game, not the defense.

Special Teams: B+

Chris Boswell looked good once again and is perfect so far in 2019. Jordan Berry looked good too with a 43.8 average on punts. But the kick/punt coverage was bad. But the return game was absent again, leading Mike Tomlin to be very critical of the unit in the post-game press conference.

Overall: B-

It was a pretty solid performance in a losing effort. This team got hosed on a call and lost their quarterback to an illegal hit. Just couldn’t get it done.

Valedictorian: Vince Williams

Honor Roll: Chris Boswell, Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, T.J. Watt, Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Devin Bush, Devlin Hodges, Mason Rudolph, Mike Hilton, Artie Burns, Devin Bush, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kam Kelly

Requires Improvement: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, Return game

Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.

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