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Antonio Brown speaks his truth: ‘I’m pissed off, we’re losing, we suck’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 1:16pm

The Steelers troubled wide receiver spoke to the media on Thursday and he did not hold back about his feelings

After a troubling 48 hours that saw Antonio Brown arguing with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on Sunday, followed by a no-show at practice on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver was reportedly disciplined for his actions by Mike Tomlin. While the Steelers’ coach would not say what transpired between him and his player, Tomlin did suggest Brown might be more forthcoming when he addressed the media on Thursday.

In front of an army of reporters waiting for him, No.84 did not disappoint.

I think there’s a Steelers player talking to the media today about something or something pic.twitter.com/B1pJtHSFsQ

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 20, 2018

Antonio Brown #Steelers @937theFan pic.twitter.com/r4oomR6NNr

— Josh Rowntree (@JRown32) September 20, 2018

Antonio Brown spoke today. pic.twitter.com/A7dLn1Y7XI

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 20, 2018

Clearly angered by the team’s poor start to the season, Brown’s unhappiness seemed to be as much about Pittsburgh’s performance on game day as it was about the way he believes the press have mischaracterized his actions.

Nine minutes of Antonio Brown speaking to the media and ooh boy, he had some things to say. He’s ‘pissed off’ the Steelers are losing, won’t fake his passion on the sideline, says media doesn’t know him and keeps taking the bait, much more

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 20, 2018

Antonio Brown on sideline behavior Sunday: "I'm not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements you guys make. I’m pissed off. We’re losing. We suck.”

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 20, 2018

Antonio Brown: "Everyone in this locker room knows what I stand for, what I’m about. I’m committed to this program and this org.. I go to work every day, about my business, and I don’t take it for granted. My business is winning...We ain’t winning, you damn right I’m pissed off"

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 20, 2018

Despite a turbulent few weeks with the media that saw him have a run in with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and threaten an ESPN writer on social media who wrote an unflattering piece about him, Brown was keen to point out that he hadn't run away from reporters after the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Asked why he wasn't in the locker room after the game, AB: "If you want to talk, let's talk. I'm right here. I'm not hiding from none of you. I don't hide from no one."
Reminded he wasn't in the locker room Sunday, Brown said. "I was available."
Uh, AB, no you weren't.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 20, 2018

As to his absence on Monday, that was apparently for personal reason and something he had already told Tomlin about beforehand, even if the Steelers’ coach had not mention that himself. Likewise, the trade talk was equally a non-story, a flippant remark on Twitter that he did at least acknowledge was inappropriate.

Antonio Brown says No, he doesn't want to be traded; Yes, he made "a stupid remark" on Twitter; No, he can't respond to people on-line; Yes, he accepts Mike Tomlin disciplining him even tho he says he missed Monday for personal reasons - and did tell Tomlin he'd be absent.

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 20, 2018

#Steelers WR Antonio Brown in the locker room: “It was a guy that used to work here, a PR guy … take a personal shot at me. But obviously I don’t want to be traded and I’m still grateful to put on my uniform. ... I just got to stay away from online with the distractions…"

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 20, 2018

Steelers Antonio Brown: "Obviously I don’t want to be traded. I’m still grateful to put on my uniform, grateful to be part of this organization. I don’t take it for granted. Obviously it was a stupid remark online. I just got to stay away from online and the distractions."

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) September 20, 2018

If there was any real discipline from Tomlin, it does not appear that it will involve playing time either.

Antonio Brown's discipline apparently won't extend to playing time. I asked him if he expects to be on the field from the first snap Monday night. His response: "Why wouldn't I be? You don't want to see me in my jersey?"

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 20, 2018

And if he is still carrying an injury, he doesn't think anyone cares enough to hear about it.

"I'm not upset about anything. I'm upset that we not winning. We're getting our ass kicked. `I can't throw the ball to myself. I don't count stats. You guys do that. that's not my job. My job is to help the team win."

— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) September 20, 2018

A win on Monday could draw a line under this latest drama, but should Pittsburgh fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3, it is anyone’s guess as to how Brown will react. While no one can question his passion and desire to win, as a team leader, he needs to be setting a better example.

Brown is not the only one on the roster unhappy about the way the season has begun or their role on game day, but no one else is acting out like him either. With Le’Veon Bell creating more than enough headlines of his own, the last thing this franchise needs is another distraction.

To his credit, this does not seem to be entirely lost on Brown, even if the realization was somewhat delayed in coming. However, it remains to be seen if he really has learned anything from all this.

Antonio Brown expressed regret for any teammate stress he created this week, saying, "Obviously it's a distraction when you're writing guys on Twitter and your teammates have to answer for it."

But really, he's been a good teammate. No one's had to answer Le'Veon questions!

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 20, 2018

I've covered Antonio Brown for six years. The things he's saying about winning, about the work he puts in outside of this building and about not just being here to "cash a check" are ALL things he's said for six years. As for not hiding the way he feels... I'm lousy at that too.

— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 20, 2018

Snap totals reveal the Steelers threw the kitchen sink at the Chiefs, and it didn’t matter

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 11:27am

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense was man-handled in Week 2, and the snap totals show Keith Butler tried a ton of variations in the lineup to try and slow down Patrick Mahomes and company.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were shellacked at home when the Kansas City Chiefs put up 42-points on the defense, and while no one wants to continue to re-hash that game, sometimes looking back can help you understand some of the decisions made, and what might be coming in the future.

Obviously, with the way the game played out in Week 2, I focused on the snap totals for the defense. I wanted to see who dominated the playing time on the defensive side of the ball, and what it all might mean.

When I looked up the snap totals, I was shocked to see there were very few players who played the vast majority of the game. Sure, Sean Davis, Artie Burns and Vince Williams all played 100-percent of the snaps (58 total), but other than this trio, it was a mixed bag of goods.

In the secondary, the Steelers deployed Morgan Burnett for 52 snaps, while rookie Terrell Edmunds played 32 snaps. At cornerback, filling in for Joe Haden, the Steelers used Coty Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton the exact amount — 29 snaps a piece.

What was truly unique to me were the numbers for Mike Hilton and Jon Bostic. Bostic has been the linebacker who comes off the field during sub packages, and Hilton is the first defensive back on the field in these situations.

Hilton logged 42 snaps, with Bostic just 31. In other words, the Steelers deployed a lot of sub packages, as usual, against the Chiefs in Week 2. This is a direct correlation to the number of snaps seen by Edmunds, who didn’t start in Week 2 as he did in Week 1. The increase in sub packages also resulted in just 17 snaps for nose tackle Javon Hargrave.

While fans don’t want to hear it, defensive coordinator Keith Butler tried almost every combination at his disposal to see if there was something which would work in slowing down the Kansas City offense. If you watch the film he used a lot of nickel, dime and even the ‘dollar’ package on a few occasions. He tried both zone and man coverage, and it all ended with the same result — failure.

The Steelers threw the kitchen sink at the Chiefs, and it didn’t matter. Here is to hoping the team can find an equation which works, and they stick to it in Week 3 when they play the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

Check out the full list of snap totals, which are brought to you by Pro-Football Reference, below, or by clicking HERE.

The Steelers didn’t hire Mike Tomlin because of the Rooney Rule

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 9:48am

Mike Tomlin may have benefited from the Rooney Rule when he was interviewed to be the Steelers’ head coach in 2007, but it certainly wasn’t why he was hired.

The Rooney Rule was named after Dan Rooney, the late and legendary owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The rule was enacted in 2003 and designed to bring awareness to qualified minority candidates for NFL head coaching vacancies by requiring that all teams interview at least one minority during its search.

However, the rule does not state that a team must hire a minority to be its head coach. I feel it important to make that distinction in this article because ever since the Steelers, the team with the owner that helped pioneer head coaching opportunities for minority candidates, hired Mike Tomlin to be their head coach in January of 2007, it has been assumed that race was the only reason the former Vikings’ defensive coordinator got such a prestigious job.

When the Steelers went searching for qualified candidates following Bill Cowher’s resignation, Ron Rivera, the Chargers’ linebackers coach, and Tomlin were two minority candidates that were brought to the Rooneys’ attention because of the aforementioned rule.

However, after interviewing Rivera, that pretty much satisfied the obligation for the new rule. Yet, the Steelers went ahead and interviewed Tomlin, anyway, a man who, as Mr. Rooney put it in his book, Dan Rooney: My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL, “blew our doors off.”

Here was a young man that came out of nowhere and was suddenly one of the top candidates to be the Steelers’ third head coach since 1969.

You might say Tomlin benefited from the rule by having his talents brought to light, but that was the whole point.

What the Rooney Rule did for minority coaching candidates was similar to what the late and legendary Bill Nunn did by scouting the mostly neglected small, black colleges in the late-60’s and early-70’s: it expanded the talent pool.

Would Tomlin have been a serious candidate for the Steelers’ head coaching position without the Rooney Rule? It’s impossible to say, but the rule certainly put Tomlin on the Rooneys’ radar, and in that regard, it worked perfectly.

In addition to Tomlin, Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers’ offensive coordinator at the time, was also a candidate for Pittsburgh’s coaching vacancy, as was Russ Grimm, the team’s offensive line coach.

After Whisenhunt decided to take the Cardinals’ offer to be their new head coach rather than wait for the Steelers to complete their search, it came down to Grimm and Tomlin.

Grimm erroneously thought he would officially be offered the position, before the Steelers finally decided on Tomlin.

Would Grimm have been a better choice? Given the fact that he’s bounced around the NFL as an offensive line coach since ‘07 and has never again been a serious head coaching candidate, the odds aren’t great.

As for Whisenhunt, he coached six seasons in Arizona and faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII, where he came up just short of beating his former employer. In-between stints as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator (2013; 2016-present), Whisenhunt was the Titans’ head coach in 2014 and 2015.

You can say what you want about Tomlin’s current performance as the Steelers’ head coach (and it certainly does warrant great criticism). You can also come up with a few good reasons why Tomlin could and should be relieved of his duties.

But based on Tomlin’s overall record, it’s safe to say Pittsburgh made the right choice 11 years ago.

The late Mr. Rooney, the man largely responsible for the Steelers’ rise from football irrelevance to football royalty, knew what he was doing when he hired Chuck Noll in 1969.

Mr. Rooney also got it right when he found Noll’s replacement in 1992.

To continue to say Mike Tomlin only has a head coaching job because he’s black is not only an insult to him and minorities in general, it’s an insult to Dan Rooney, a man who spent his entire life making intelligent and sound decisions for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers Injury Update: Joe Haden returns to practice while Ramon Foster is given a day off

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 8:05am

Able to take part in some individual drills, Joe Haden practiced on Wednesday for the first time since Week 1.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers not due to play until Monday night, the team wasn’t required to release an official practice report on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean there were no injury updates available. While reporters lurked around the locker room in hopes of hearing from Antonio Brown, some real news emerged about the health of several key players.

As per Chris Adamski of TribLive, Joe Haden was able to take part in some individual drills — the first time he’s been back on the practice field since injuring his hamstring in Week 1. David DeCastro also returned to training, even if he is still struggling with a fracture hand.

Guard David DeCastro could be in danger of missing his second straight game with a fractured hand, but tackle Al Villanueva said DeCastro will be fine after leaving the practice field in pain Wednesday. Corner Joe Haden (hamstring) should be available for Bucs. Progressing well.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 20, 2018

Tyson Alualu confirmed with Adamski that he had participated in practice in what typically would be characterized as a limited capacity. Noting how strange it had been to miss a game due to injury in Week 2 for the first time in his career, there’s some optimism it will not be repeated when Pittsburgh faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.

“But for injury, this was the first, so that was kind of weird for me watching. (The shoulder) is getting better, though. Happy with the progress.”

After Mike Tomlin revealed Ramon Foster was dealing with a knee injury on Tuesday, it will be no surprise to learn that the veteran guard sat out practice on Wednesday. However, Foster revealed to Adamski that he had been officially been given the day off, a midweek break that will become the norm for him for the rest of the season, just as it is for Ben Roethlisberger.

“Just right now that’s where we are; ‘Coach’ just told me got a day off, and that’s all it is, I get one weekly now.”

Foster also suggested he had no lingering problems with his knee.

“absolutely feels like it’s good.”

With no updates to share about the status of Marcus Gilbert, we will have to wait until Thursday for the first official injury report of the week to learn more.

AFC North Roundup: Steelers face must-win game in Week 3 vs. Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 6:43am

Taking a look around the AFC North heading into Week 3.

With Week 3 of the NFL schedule officially in the books, it’s time to take a look back at those teams who call the AFC North home to see how they fared, and what the standings look like after this week’s action.

The first goal for every team in the NFL is to win its division. Doing so guarantees both a playoff spot and a home playoff game, so even these early-season games are important when it comes to the divisional rankings.

Let’s take a spin around the AFC North to check on the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Week 2 Results

Cincinnati Bengals - 34
Baltimore Ravens - 23

On Thursday Night Football the Bengals jumped out to a 21-0 lead, and the Ravens were forced to play catch-up the rest of the night. This isn’t Joe Flacco’s specialty. It was too little, too late, for the boys from Baltimore.

New Orleans Saints - 21
Cleveland Browns - 18

The Browns could be 2-0 if they had a kicker. The Browns missed three field goals, including a kick to send the game to overtime. Rather than 2-0, they are 0-1-1 and things are looking bad by the lake.

Kansas City Chiefs - 42
Pittsburgh Steelers - 37

This game was a nightmare. No need to rehash it.

Week 3 Schedules:

Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets - Thursday Night Football
Cincinnati Bengals at Carolina Panthers - Sunday 1 p.m. ET
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos - Sunday 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Monday Night Football

AFC North Standings

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

Let us know what you think about the divisions after Week 2 in the comment section below. Do you see this being a powerhouse division? Which teams are contenders and which ones are nothing more than pretenders?

Black and Gold Links: Young players waiting for their chance to shine

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 5:42am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with disappointment for the second week in a row after the Kansas City Chiefs came into Heinz Field and dismantled the home team. Heading into Week 3, the team must slowly turn its attention away from the embarrassing loss and solely focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week-3, prime-time matchup. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we focus on some of the younger Steelers who haven’t got a chance to shine yet. Players like Jaylen Samuels, Chukwuma Okorafor and Marcus Allen who are biding their time waiting for an opportunity to prove their worth.

Let’s get to the news:

Rookie Jaylen Samuels stays patient, waits for his chance in Steelers offense

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Updated 11 minutes ago

Jaylen Samuels is living the dream after making the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 53-man roster as a rookie. The running back has been part of the 46-player active gameday squad for each of the season’s first two games, too.

But getting on the field? Not quite yet.

That’s not going to bring Samuels down.

“I am just taking it a day at a time, coming to work every day improving every day on what I’ve got to do and focused on what I got to do,” he said. “And when my number gets called just be ready to go.”

Samuels said he’s been a part of the gameplan during the games against Cleveland and Kansas City – and he even was on the field for a snap in the loss to the Chiefs. Officially, though, it didn’t count because the play was nullified because of a penalty.

The No. 3 running back on the depth chart, Samuels was a tight end at North Carolina State and also has a background as a wide receiver. A fifth-round pick in April, he’s an intriguing chess piece for first-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner to play with.

Antonio Brown hasn’t lost respect in the Steelers locker room

By: Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Antonio Brown doesn’t appear to have lost any friends in the Steelers locker room after skipping work Monday, one day after he was involved in a couple of sideline confrontations with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and receivers coach Darryl Drake.

Team captain Maurkice Pouncey did not have a problem with Brown getting into an argument with Fichtner during the game.

“One hundred percent,” Pouncey said. “Tom Brady does it. I’ve seen him do it plenty of times. No one ever says anything. The ultimate competitor Tom Brady does it. Peyton Manning used to do it all the time. The guy wants to win a football game. He wants to go out there and make plays. I love A.B. to death. I’ll never say anything bad about him. He’s a great player. He’s the ultimate competitor. He cares about this team, and he cares about winning. That’s what you want on a football team.”

As for Brown not showing up to work Monday, Pouncey said Brown communicated with the proper people about having to deal with a personal matter.

Steelers punter Jordan Berry well aware of his early-season struggles

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jordan Berry has heard from his coaches. Not that he needed to get their opinion to assess his own punting this season.

“We (as punters and kickers) know we kick the ball (poorly),” the Pittsburgh Steelers punter said Wednesday. “But you know, (coaches) are going to come up and be up front with us as well.”

So while Berry didn’t hear what coach Mike Tomlin had to say during his weekly news conference Tuesday ( “It’s got to be better,” Tomlin said of the punting ), Berry had already been give the message by the special-teams braintrust of Tomlin and special-teams coach Danny Smith.

“‘Hey, you haven’t hit the ball well. We need you to improve. If you don’t improve it, you know, you have to start looking over your shoulder’ kind of thing,” Berry said.

“The coaches here are fantastic and they are very upfront with everybody. They are not going to hide anything. You hear stories from other teams; head games with people… There’s nothing that (Steelers coaches) are hiding from me.”

Berry acknowledged he mis-hit several balls during Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. He was trying to kick directionally to avoid Tykeek Hill and the Chiefs’ stellar return game – but not as directional as some of his punts went.

“I was really trying to make sure I was getting it toward the sideline with that punt return team; I just didn’t hit a couple of them clean,” Berry said. “So then when you are taking that sharp angle and then you don’t hit it clean, it just exaggerates how bad the ball is.

“I am just not hitting the ball well. That’s about it.”

Antonio Brown rejoins Steelers 2 days after being a no-show

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown returned to work Wednesday, rejoining his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates after not showing up Monday for scheduled film review and team meetings.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he spoke to Brown “a little bit,” but he said the All-Pro wide receiver did not address teammates about his absence.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Tuesday that Brown did not report Monday because of a “personal matter.” Coach Mike Tomlin, who typically reveals when players have excused absences, did not do that at his Tuesday press conference. Tuesday is a day off for Steelers players.

Rosenhaus said Brown did not mean it when he tweeted “trade me let’s find out,” in reference to a former team employee’s social media comments that Brown owes his success to playing with Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger also said he doesn’t believe Brown was being serious about his “trade me” message.

“If I spoke to him and personally he reiterated those things to me or if I felt they were personally coming from him and not just a reaction to someone else, maybe I’d have a little more worry,” Roethlisberger said. “But as of now I don’t feel that way.”

Roethlisberger said frustration over not being a bigger part of the offense is the genesis of Brown’s behavior. He confronted offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sidelines in the second half of the Steelers’ 42-37 loss Sunday to Kansas City. He also walked off the field by himself while teammates were celebrating Roethlisberger’s touchdown run that cut the deficit to five points with 1:59 left in the game.

Steelers Podcast: Week 3 a must-win game for Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/20/2018 - 4:31am

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally playing games that actually count! 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 flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Recapping the Chiefs debacle
  • Week 3 True or False!
  • Breaking down the Steelers vs. Buccaneers Week 3 prime time game
  • Week 3 game predictions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk 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!

...

Mike Tomlin meets with, and disciplines, Antonio Brown for missed meeting

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 3:55pm

The Steelers didn’t say what discipline was handed down, but did say Antonio Brown was reprimanded for his missed meetings on Monday.

The NFL world has been obsessed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and why not. The team is a hot-bed for news and drama, the most recent being Antonio Brown’s missed meeting on Monday.

The last fans heard of this situation was when Mike Tomlin addressed the media at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. There he stated he hadn’t spoken with Brown, but said it was on his to-do list.

After the team’s first official practice leading up to the Monday Night Football game vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3, Tomlin spoke to media briefly and said he didn’t just meet with Brown, but disciplined him.

Check out what Tomlin said below:

.@steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks about Antonio Brown and being disciplined. @TribSports @TribLIVE @tribjoerutter @KGorman_Trib @C_AdamskiTrib @TimBenzPGH pic.twitter.com/B56yRZ4kN6

— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) September 19, 2018

The Steelers’ head coach didn’t say what the punishment was, or if it would impact Brown’s playing time Monday, but deferred those questions to Brown who will meet with media Thursday, a day before his normally scheduled media session.

For those thinking Brown might be suspended for a game, his teammates didn’t see it that way since he was at practice and was being injected into the game plan. There is a chance he sits to start the game, but the Steelers will need all hands on deck to try and win their first game of the season against the red-hot Buccaneers and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this story as it develops.

10 Things I think I thought after the Steelers’ horrible Week 2 loss to the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 2:26pm

Enjoy this after the debacle at Heinz Field.

Still no local broadcast of the game where I live, so I was back at a wings joint. I won’t mention which one, but it rhymes with Ruffalo Child Sings.

Let’s get to it.

  1. Watching this game would have been painful and unpleasant had I not had my beloved wife with me. Before their fourth touchdown was taken off the board, it looked like we would be down 28-0 in the first quarter, which must be a first in Steeler history, if not NFL history. Extrapolated out that would have been a 112-0 game.
  2. Keith Butler must be the Bob Dole of defensive coordinators. Dole was made the Republican presidential nominee in 1996 because of his charisma. No, that’s not it. Because of his economic genius. No, that’s not it. Because “it was his turn.” Yeah, that was it. Maybe cutting a Hall of Fame coordinator for a guy in the wings was a bad idea.
  3. It’s one thing to believe your press clippings after a 13-3 season. Altogether another to do so for your first two games. The Steelers, to riff on Dennis Green, are not who they think they are. Waving press clippings and Vegas odds at your opponent is not a path to victory.
  4. I had half a mind to stop my piece right here. Three and out, just like our offense in the first quarter.
  5. “Miscommunication” cannot be the problem with the defense because the whole world is reading this message loud and clear- “We stink.”
  6. It is not a sin to order a burger at a wings place, especially if the burger is as good as the one I had.
  7. The notion that Bell was crying in his soup after week one and dancing in the streets after week two is just silly. The sad truth is he cares as much about James Conner’s performance as he does the other 52 guys on the roster. If he cared one way or the other he would be on the field.
  8. You can’t say that Bud Dupree didn’t make his presence known in this game. I noticed him early on, ten yards behind Mahomes as he threw his second, no his third, no, his fourth TD pass- who can remember?- giving him a neighborly wave as he went by.
  9. Coaching cliches will not fix what ails us. Coaching, on the other hand, could conceivably do the trick. Time may tell, but Tomlin is not real good with time. Seriously, how do you give the Browns their first half-victory in a year and a half, and then not be prepared for your next game? I get the danger of panic, but I also get the danger of lacking urgency. When the Titanic first hit the iceberg, calm was needed. When its tallest smokestack went under, it was too late.
  10. This week, Monday night on national TV, is a “home” game for me. And I’m grateful my hope will have an extra day to heal. It got banged up pretty bad.

Bonus Thought- It takes three things for Ben to throw 60 passes for over 450 yards, none of them good. 1. Weak run game. 2. Being behind, way behind. 3. Having your opponent not only score often, but score quickly. I suspect KC lost time of possession, which is easy to do when you find it so easy to score.

The Pittsburgh Steelers need to be held accountable for their actions

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 1:11pm

Prior to the start of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to be an impressive collection of individual talents that simply needed to avoid the distractions plaguing them last season to finally become a focused, cohesive unit. It turns out that’s easier said than done.

This year's version of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a hot mess — from the highest level of the franchise on down. Yes I’m holding the Rooneys accountable for their part in this circus we’ve had the displeasure to witness through two weeks of the season. Notice I didn't use the word “team” because this group of individuals doesn't resemble a team in any way, form or function. An organization which prides itself for cultivating a family atmosphere around the facilities and locker room can only be described as a dysfunctional family at the moment. This current dilemma falls squarely at the feet of the owners, specifically Art Rooney Jr.

Leadership has to start at the top, as per the old saying “the buck stops here.” Somebody has to be held accountable when the franchise is struggling with the same issues it did the previous season. Everybody has to answer to somebody, but who does the commander and chief answer to? I believe it must be to the fans, because without the fans, you have no business.

Make no mistake about it, I’m not suggesting the Rooney family should start jumping through hoops every time a small segment of the fan base starts whining about something. But when the majority of your fan base screams in unison concerning troubling issues playing out right in front of their faces — both on and off of the field, on what seems like a daily basis — then it might be time to take notice.

When the actions of certain players, and the inaction of the coaching staff, have turned the most successful franchise in league history into a running joke, it’s beyond time to get involved.

I’ve proudly been a member of Steelers Nation for as long as I can remember. My loyalty came from the belief that the Steelers’ organization represented the core values of the community, devoted fans, and the Rooney family itself. They valued their integrity and acted accordingly.

The legendary instances of this integrity are multiple — like the Rocky Bleier story, to mention only one — but I believe one instance that occurred not too long ago really stands out.

The Steelers went decades searching for a franchise QB and finally found one in Ben Roethlisberger. He enjoyed instant success and quickly led them to three Super Bowls, winning two. But somewhere along the way, the young man lost his way and diverged from the Steelers’ core values. And guess what? The Steelers were fully prepared to move forward without Ben, even though he was never convicted of a crime. They were openly shopping him on draft night. I was both worried and somehow proud at the same time to be a Steelers fan. Proud not only because they wanted to win, but they also wanted to win the right way. Character matters, and they were going to demand it from their players. Ben has certainly turned his life around since those dark days, becoming a family man of faith. I’m convinced the tough love displayed by the Rooneys played a large role in that turnaround.

Now the Steelers find themselves at another crossroads, and it might be time for more tough love. The Rooneys need to step up to the plate and make a plethora of difficult decisions necessary to rectify the present situation.

For starters, this team (if you want to call it that) is totally undisciplined and chronically unprepared. That would seem to fall under the responsibilities of the head coach, and if he’s unwilling, or incapable, of dispensing the discipline and leadership required to steady the proverbial ship, then ownership needs to step in.

Honestly, the team may not be as talented, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as many thought prior to the season, myself included. They sure didn't look like it on Sunday. The defense appeared over-matched by any skill-position player the Chiefs ran out there. The only good news in this situation is you can sometimes overcome talent deficiencies on defense with teamwork, communication, and effective schemes. But as presently constituted, that definitely isn't an option for this group. This might call for drastic action to be taken at the defensive coordinator position.

The Bell situation, a quagmire of their own creation, is a constant distraction which negatively affects team chemistry, but their hands appear tied at the moment. There’s no way to know if Bell would work with the team on a sign-and-trade deal, or if another team would even be interested, but it doesn't sound like the Steelers are interested in that anyway.

It’s one thing when your best players get out of hand and need a reality check, but now even career-underachievers like Bud Dupree are creating negative attention while offering next to nothing on the field.

This team's performance on and off of the field is unacceptable. Steelers Nation deserves better, the coaching staff knows better, and the owners must demand better.

Steelers remove Le’Veon Bell from the official roster list

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 11:35am

The Steelers have finally removed any trace of Le’Veon Bell from the team’s media after another purge of his name from the roster list on Tuesday

When the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2018 season, Le’Veon Bell sat atop the depth chart at running back, even though he had not signed his franchise tag or been seen at team facilities all offseason. Come Week 2, Bell had been removed from the depth chart, but remained on the roster list and other associated team media. As the Steelers head into Week 3, his name has now been removed from all team sheets entirely.

A week after #Steelers removed Le'Veon Bell from their depth chart, they now removed him from their rosters -- alphabetical, numerical, positional, experience -- on their official game release leading up to Monday's game. Bell has yet to sign his franchise tag. @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 19, 2018

While Mike Tomlin is often prone to downplaying the significance of the depth chart, the symbolic purging of Bell’s name from the roster list is still notable. Clearly done at the direction of someone senior in the organization, it is hard not to view this move as some sort of commentary about the team’s faith in when he might return to Pittsburgh.

If the Steelers are trying to send Bell a subtle message with their gradual removal of his name from all the various team sheets, it is highly doubtful he noticed or cared. With Pittsburgh in turmoil having gone winless over the first two games of the season, the Steelers star running back has been enjoy the club scene in Miami.

To date, Bell has forfeited $1,711,058.83 in salary so far this year, a total that will climb to $2,566,588.24 by Saturday at 4 p.m. ET when he has failed to report once again.

Analyzing the Steelers Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 9:48am

It was a historically bad performance at Heinz Field for the defense.

42 points.

When a team gives up 42 points it’s extremely difficult to win the game (last year‘s playoff game excluded). That’s 42 points surrendered at home. It’s 42 points entirely surrendered by the defense. There were no special-teams scores or TDs off of turnovers.

42 points...

Sunday was the most points the Steelers have surrendered as a defense in the history of Heinz Field. It’s the second-most points given up all time, with their final outing of last season being the worst – a 45-42 playoff loss to Jacksonville last January. But even that game had a defensive touchdown. So Sunday was the worst Steelers’ defensive performance in the history of Heinz Field — period.

42 points!

Out of 12 KC possessions, six of them ended in touchdowns. The six non-scoring drives included two which ended the first half and the game. That only leaves two 2nd-quarter punts along with a safety and a fumble in the fourth quarter. That equates to the Chiefs having success on 6 out of 10 drives.

Leading to 42 points.

60 pass attempts

Ben Roethlisberger had the second-most pass attempts ever in a single game during his career. The only time he’s attempted more passes in a game was last December in the 39–38 win over the Ravens. In that game, Ben threw 66 times with 44 completions for 506 yards. He threw two touchdowns and no interceptions. That was in a victory.

The numbers show that the more Ben has had to throw the ball, the worse the results for the Steelers. In regular season games where Ben has thrown 40 or more pass attempts, the Steelers are 17-31. BecauseB Roethlisberger has an overall record of 136-65-1, this means 47.7% of his losses have come when he’s been forced to put the ball in the air 40 or more times. Only 12.5% of his victories have come when he’s thrown the ball that much. Additionally, the Steelers are 0-6 in playoff games when Ben has thrown 40-plus times.

There are nine regular season games in Roethlisberger’s career where he’s thrown the ball 50 or more times. In those games, the Steelers are 3-6. Until this past Sunday, every time Ben has thrown the ball 50 times or more, the Steelers have won provided that he had a positive TD-to-INT comparison (more touchdowns than interceptions). This past Sunday changed that because...

0 Turnovers

This is the number that really has me perplexed. After six turnovers last week, the Steelers didn’t turn the ball over once. Other than allowing a long punt-return on a short kick on the first possession, the defense wasn’t put in a bad spot. They just got beat straight-up.

This was only the ninth game since 2001 that the Steelers have lost when they didn’t turn the ball over, with the last game being November 13, 2016 at home against Dallas. Out of those nine games, this was only the fifth game in which the Steelers forced at least one turnover, didn’t lose a turnover, yet still lost the game.

42 Points, 60 Pass Attempts, and 0 Turnovers.

These three stats combined just go to show how historically awful the defense played on Sunday. I’m not ready to say they’re a historically bad defense, but this game was an embarrassing performance.

The number this defense needs to focus on is eight. Eight days will pass from this performance until they get to play again and show they can be better than the product they put on the field in Week 2.

We are responsible for the current Antonio Brown fiasco

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 8:44am

The fans, the media, and Antonio Brown himself have contributed to the chaos that’s currently imbuing the franchise

You’re a Bengals fan. Your team is 2-0. Your quarterback, since changing offensive coordinators midway through the 2017 season, is playing like an All-Pro. Your offense is young and dynamic; the defense is cohesive, formidable, and, critically, getting its second-best player back next week. Elsewhere, your foremost rivals are imploding, plagued by injuries, ineffectiveness, and external strife.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have become the NFL’s biggest spectacle, thanks in no small part to all the attention being paid to Antonio Brown’s “antics” (or insert whatever terminology you find most palatable). In a loss to Kansas City last Sunday, Brown was seen venting to offensive coordinator Larry Fichtner and receivers coach Darryl Drake over...who knows. Targets? Usage? Ben missing throws? It’s currently not clear. Either way, he skipped the following day’s walk-through, apparently so he could fire off zingers at former public relations stooges on Twitter and fuel rampant speculation about his future with the team. It sure worked!

What’s evident is that whatever version of Antonio Brown we’re seeing now is not the same amiable, fun-loving Antonio Brown from two or three years ago. He seems angry. Stressed out. Preoccupied. The intensity that imbued his workouts and game performances has reached the sidelines and his social media accounts. He disdains the traditional media. And he should—they’re what’s caused this mess. I realize that blaming the media for, uhh, everything is very 2018 (an the irony of complaining about the media is not lost on me given that, when I click the publish button, I technically become “media”), but, in this case, I think it’s a fair appraisal.

Though Pittsburgh is by definition a small market compared to, say, New York City, the rigor with which the local media covers the Steelers is tantamount to the coverage the New York media affords the Jets or Giants. In fact, I’d argue that athletes in Pittsburgh—especially ones who play for the Steelers—are under an even more discerning microscope than athletes in New York because:

A) there are fewer teams (duh)
B) there are fewer good teams (apologies to the Pirates, Pitt basketball, and Pitt football)
C) the fanbase, in general, is more fervent

Here is Antonio Brown, the face of what is by far the biggest draw in the city.

Here is Antonio Brown, an unheralded draft afterthought who the Steelers thought could be a decent kick returner down the line, emerging as one of the NFL’s topmost superstars by way of his merciless, chip-on-the-shoulder work ethic.

Here is Antonio Brown, a player with a spotless off-field track record, donating $100,000 to the local children’s hospital.

Here is Antonio Brown, posing for selfies with fans pregame, becoming an all-time fan-favorite.

Now, here is Antonio Brown showing up late to a scheduled appearance at that same hospital.

Here is Antonio Brown throwing a water cooler in disgust.

Here is Antonio Brown yucking it up on Facebook Live in advance of the AFC Championship Game, a game in which his Steelers were blown out by the Patriots.

Here is Antonio Brown getting testy with the media.

Here he is calling the most distinguished football writer in the city “a clown.”

You get the point; the guy can’t even let out a fart without some smarmy media type tsk-tsking him in a radio segment or newspaper article for not saying “excuse me.”

In my estimation, though, the singular moment that precipitated the...let’s call it the degradation of Brown’s public persona...was his “holdout” before the 2016 season. If you recall, with two years remaining on what was at the time a ridiculously cheap contract, one that certainly was not befitting of Brown’s skillset or production, Brown “held out” of voluntary organized team activities (whether he actually did this over his contract is debatable), which is when some folks got a little comfortable throwing the word “diva” around. Brown eventually returned, the Steelers fronted him some additional cash, and things were just peachy from then on; but, in retrospect, that strikes me as a particularly momentous occurrence. Any “contentious” events that followed, ranging from the Facebook Live fiasco to the ongoing proceedings, drew the ire of the fanbase, who accused Brown of being spoiled. Here is a scathing expose that appeared in The Undefeated, seemingly out of nowhere, in which Jesse Washington rebukes Brown and accuses his “Call God” act as being a front. Imagine already harboring some kind of baseline disdain for Antonio Brown and reading that, or a story about Brown showing up late to visit a bunch of sick kids, or a story about him bringing a helicopter to training camp. It’s gonna reinforce any inherent negativity or, at the very least, rub you the wrong way.

Now, I want to make it clear I’m that not blaming the media for treating Brown “unfairly” and I’m certainly not condemning Steelers fans who are irked by whatever it is that’s going on with Brown (and, for that matter, the rest of the team). The media is responsible for reporting the facts and writing interesting things, and Antonio Brown is an overflowing font of evergreen content. On Tuesday, he was one of the most talked-about things on Twitter; there was controversy surrounding a Supreme Court nominee, there was an alleged former “associate” of the president discussing characters from Mario Bros., and there was Antonio Brown. Anything Brown does is going to be newsworthy, so it would actually be a disservice to their readerships for local publications to ignore exciting stories that drive conversations and generate clicks.

Steelers fans, particularly older Steelers fans, luxuriate in decorum. You score, you hand the ball to the official, and you head to the bench. I rip on the old-timers a lot, but it’s understandable to expect your favorite team to behave a certain way, a way that you’re used to seeing and in a way that reflects some of the, erm, traditional norms and values of the franchise: hard-working, selfless, classy, whatever. The thinking here is that individuals’ personalities are secondary to the success of the team, and if any individual is not all-in on promoting this success, they aren’t worth keeping around.

And Brown, despite his ubiquitous online presence, is usually very reserved when there’s a camera in his face, which is exactly why his mini-tirade back in July about the media caught everyone off-guard. (The exception here is the “What It Is” videos, wherein Brown is decidedly more in-his-element). He gets nervous during interviews, often repeating boilerplate football player lingo (“Trying to do what’s needed to win” “Gotta give credit to the guys up front” etc.) or stumbling on his words. Thus, while I do think that superstar athletes maybe should develop a thicker skin and learn to welcome the attention that comes along with being a professional athlete, perhaps Brown is just an innately sensitive person (which is absolutely fine, by the way) and the frequent media coverage (which include everything from critical blog posts to straight hit-pieces) and backlash from the fan base has started to take its toll on him.

Overall, I think this is a bad situation all around, and its one I think has been exacerbated by each party’s failure to empathize with the other. Brown needs to understand that the media have responsibilities to uphold, and that sometimes fans are going to have negative perceptions of his actions; the fans—you and me—need to understand that Antonio Brown is a human person, one with human emotions and human problems, and that his current indignation towards everything is most likely the result of compounding and overwhelming negative attention (attention that, in fairness, he may have invited, but maybe more attention than he intended). With any luck, we’ll all be on our way to moving forward soon enough.

Steelers add Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert to list of injury concerns

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 7:46am

After telling the media his team had no new injury concerns worth mentioning on Sunday, Mike Tomlin informed reporters that two key starters apparently suffered injuries after all.

While the initial reports in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs suggested the team had avoided any new injuries, Mike Tomlin painted a rather different picture in his press conference on Tuesday than the one he sketched on Sunday.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps Week 2, and previews our Week 3 matchup in Tampa. https://t.co/s07d4xskto

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 18, 2018

After telling the media there was “nothing significant from an injury standpoint to mention” only a few days ago, it turns out there actually were some rather notable injury concerns to worry about when he told reporters the following:

“On the injury front, we have a couple of things to manage and watch, a couple of existing injuries: David DeCastro has a chance as he works his way back from his hand injury. We’ll watch his participation this week. Tyson Alualu, same thing, as he works his way back from his shoulder injury. We have a couple of new injuries to manage and watch. Marcus Gilbert with a hamstring, and Ramon Foster is managing a knee injury. We’ll watch those guys through the week and see how they go. I didn’t mention Joe Haden. He had a good week of rehabilitation, and we anticipate him working, but again, we’ll let the result of that work and the quality of that work be our guide in terms of determining his availability.”

With David DeCastro already sidelined by a fractured hand, the prospect of being without Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster for any extended period of time would be potentially disastrous for the Steelers.

B.J. Finney has already been pressed into service in place of DeCastro, leaving Matt Feiler as the next man up at guard and Chukwuma Okorafor as the backup at tackle. Zach Banner would be the only remaining healthy reserve offensive lineman on the roster, and Pittsburgh will need to consider promoting either R.J. Prince or Patrick Morris from the practice squad before game day if any of the three starters cannot go.

Thankfully, playing on Monday night will give the injured names an extra day to recover. It can only be hoped that at least one or two of the familiar faces along the offensive line will be able to take part in Week 3.

Steelers looking at new punters after Mike Tomlin suggests “It’s reasonable to expect us to be better”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 6:25am

Jordan Berry is very much in Mike Tomlin’s doghouse after his efforts in Week 2, and the Steelers could very well have a new face manning the position in the coming days.

After a disappointing preseason and two more mediocre performances to start the year from Jordan Berry, it would appear the Pittsburgh Steelers’ patience is finally wearing thin. Despite issues with his star receiver failing to show at practice on Monday, the topic that seemed to inspire the most displeasure from Mike Tomlin in his weekly press conference on Tuesday was the performance of his punter.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps Week 2, and previews our Week 3 matchup in Tampa. https://t.co/s07d4xskto

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 18, 2018

When asked if he was comfortable with Berry as his punter, Tomlin’s response should give the Australian specialist cause for concern about his long-term future with the team.

“I’m not comfortable with the results I have seen thus far, its got to be better. I thought field position was significant in terms of how that game unfolded. Net punting, they did an awesome job and we’ve got to do better. . . . We were trying to minimize their return man’s impact on the game for sure. Even with some of that directional stuff, I thought we could have been better. It’s reasonable to expect us to be better.”

With his answer leading to the obvious question as to whether the Steelers would be looking at other options for the job in the coming days, Tomlin’s response suggested Berry could well have a bit of competition to worry about this week.

“We may.”

As it transpired, “we may” was code for we will, after it was reported later in the day that the team had hosted two punters for tryouts on Tuesday.

Steelers tried out punters Jeff Locke (UCLA) and Justin Vogel (Miami) as well as LS Nick Meadows (WVU). @TheAthleticPGH

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) September 18, 2018

Berry’s struggles have been well documented this year and it would be fair to say he has never been one of the league’s elite players at his position. With names including Shane Lechler currently available as free agents, it doesn’t seem like an impossible task to find someone else capable of doing a better job — and even if Pittsburgh doesn’t make a change this week, it can’t hurt to look.

NFL Power Rankings Week 3: Steelers plummet after Week-2 loss to Kansas City

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 5:32am

The Pittsburgh Steelers were a unanimous Top-5 team heading into the regular season, but not anymore. Those days are over, at least for the time being.

You didn’t think the Pittsburgh Steelers could get much worse than an opening week tie vs. the Cleveland Browns?

Week 2 proved to have an even stronger odor, as the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes came into Heinz Field and treated the Pittsburgh defense as if it were a High School JV squad.

Needless to say, the Steelers are experiencing a precipitous drop in the weekly NFL Power Rankings because of their poor play which has resulted in a 0-1-1 record heading into Week 3.

In reality, these rankings mean nothing, but they’re great for conversation and debate. This week, the Steelers saw themselves plummet out of the Top 10, and they’re barely clinging to 10th in only one of the major, weekly rankings.

With a Week-3 matchup with the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers looming on Monday Night Football, the Steelers, who will be on the road in Florida, need to put up a good performance to help resurrect their rankings status.

Check out the rankings, and let us know what you think in the comment section below!

ESPN

1. Los Angeles Rams
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. New England Patrios
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. Minnesota Vikings
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. New Orleans Saints
10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger bounced back from a five-turnover game with 452 passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Jesse James had a career-high 138 receiving yards, and JuJu Smith-Schuster had a career-high 13 receptions.”

USA Today

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Minnesota Vikings
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. New England Patriots
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Los Angeles Chargers
...
16. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Le’Veon Bell still MIA, Antonio Brown inviting controversy by taking bait on social media, defense cratering. You could see this coming.”

NFL.com

1. Los Angeles Rams
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Green Bay Packers
6. New England Patriots
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Phildelphia Eagles
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Carolina Panthers
...
16. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Well, we know this: The defense stinks to high hell. Sure, the Chiefs’ attack is potent, but Pittsburgh certainly carries a few problems on D. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger and the offense ran about 1,000 plays Sunday and tallied up gobs of yards and points -- 37 points, to be precise. At home. And it still wasn’t sufficient. Patrick Mahomes riddled the secondary. And in case that weren’t enough, Kansas City rushed for 127 yards, at a clip of 5 yards per tote. Won’t be fun to be defensive coordinator Keith Butler this week. Especially with Ryan Fitz-Marino coming to town.”

SB Nation

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Minnesota Vikings
5. Green Bay Packers
6. New England Patriots
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. Cincinnati Bengals
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Atlanta Falcons
...
19. Pittsburgh Steelers

Black and Gold Links: How teammates are the ones to suffer from the team’s drama

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/19/2018 - 4:40am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with disappointment for the second week in a row after the Kansas City Chiefs came into Heinz Field and dismantled the home team. Heading into Week 3, the team must slowly turn its attention away from the embarrassing loss and solely focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week-3, prime-time matchup.

Today we focus on how, throughout all of the team’s drama, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell aren’t really the ones who receive the brunt of the attention. Sure, the team’s big fish are the ones who create the largest waves, but all of their teammates who have to constantly answer questions about them are the ones really suffering.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers teammates left to answer questions about Antonio Brown’s latest antics

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown’s frustration was on full display Sunday at Heinz Field when television cameras caught him confronting Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and wide receivers coach Darryl Drake in the second half of a 42-37 loss to Kansas City.

One day later, Brown’s exasperation reached new heights when he went on Twitter and, in response to a former team employee’s criticism, the All-Pro wide receiver suggested he would welcome a trade.

“Trade me let’s find out,” Brown replied to a tweet from former Steelers public relations staffer Ryan Scarpino, who wrote that Brown wouldn’t have such eye-popping statistics if he didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger throwing the passes.

Brown’s tweet, which was posted Monday morning, has represented his only public comment in the aftermath of the Steelers’ loss in the home opener, a defeat that dropped their record to 0-1-1.

After catching nine passes for 67 yards — a total that ranked third on the team — and engaging his offensive coaches on the sideline, Brown hurriedly dressed and left the locker room as the media was permitted to enter. He was the only Steelers player active for the game to exit so hastily.

Brown also wasn’t in the locker room Monday afternoon during a 45-minute media availability, leaving other veteran players to answer questions about the wide receiver’s latest social media antics. Already since the start of training camp, he has called a veteran reporter a “clown” on Twitter and alleged he would break the jaw of another reporter whose story delved into his personal life.

“AB is a hell of a player, and I’m glad he plays for our team. It’s as simple as that,” defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the world.”

Heyward said he doesn’t agree with the perception that Brown puts his accomplishments ahead of the team. Brown hasn’t topped 100 yards receiving in either game this season. He has 18 catches for 160 yards and one touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster also has 18 catches and a touchdowns, but he has totaled 240 yards.

“Antonio gives 110 percent every single time,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about that. The dude loves football, and for anyone to even question that is besides the point.”

Mark Madden: Steelers antics an embarrassment for fans, franchise

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

What a big-time sports franchise owes its supporters is debatable.

But, at the very least, it seems a team’s fans should seldom feel embarrassed. They deserve that, anyway.

Lately, the Steelers disappoint in that regard far too often. The players should all get out of the same car at the 50-yard line before games. A franchise founded on quiet dignity by a distinguished ownership family has become a clown act.

It’s the result of a small, toxic group of players. But the rest are guilty by association and because they won’t do anything about it.

That goes double for the so-called veteran leaders, who might be veterans but definitely do not lead.

That goes triple for coach Mike Tomlin, who long ago went past tolerating to enabling.

It applies to Art Rooney II. He’s a competent owner and good man, but he’s not his father. He doesn’t have the cachet or control.

It applies to a too-large percentage of the fans, those who seem beyond embarrassment and just want Antonio Brown to pile up fantasy football stats on their behalf even as he serves the Pizza Hut logo better than he does the Steelers.

Let’s look at the week that was:

• Brown blew up at offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sideline during Sunday’s home loss to Kansas City, likely because he wasn’t getting his stats while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Jesse James were.

There’s a theory Brown was upset because the play calls got in too slow. That would be ironic coming from somebody who was several hours late when he visited sick kids at Children’s Hospital.

On Monday, Brown had Twitter beef with an ex-Steelers employee and dared the team to trade him. He didn’t show up for meetings.

Brown sycophants say he’s just a fiery competitor. That’s nonsense. Brown is just a jerk. A “big baby,” as Ben Roethlisberger appeared to call Brown at one point Sunday. (Maybe. I’m no expert lip-reader.)

Tim Benz: Steelers fans forget things weren’t perfect with Bill Cowher, either

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you have read this space or listened to me on the radio over the years, you know this is a hot-button topic for me. No doubt, it’ll come up again in the not-to-distant future. So consider this a primer for similar arguments soon.

I say “no doubt” because this topic comes up whenever the Pittsburgh Steelers struggle, and they’re struggling right now. Based on what we’ve seen so far, 2018 is going to be a much tougher season than many of us expected, both on and off the field.

Since Mike Tomlin took over for Bill Cowher before the 2007 season, I have railed against the “this never would have happened if Cowher was here” refrain. The debate invariably crops up from bitter Steelers fans after Tomlin-era losses, particularly ones where on-field discipline is an issue.

Nowadays, whenever a Steelers loss occurs, off-field discipline and behavior are often blamed for bleeding over into on-field performance or “locker-room chemistry.” Frequently, those emails, talk show phone calls or tweets are punctuated with the old stand-by of “this never would have happened if Cowher was here.”

That whole mentality is a fallacy, of course. Because Cowher stuck out his jaw, spat when he yelled and screamed at punters, rookies and refs, he was viewed as a disciplinarian. The reality was that low-leverage players got chewed out, and higher profile players did what they wanted.

You know, kind of like the guy in charge now.

Joey Porter got an unsportsmanlike penalty, Troy Polamalu got a late hit, Hines Ward got a taunting flag — big deal. Josh Miller would flub a punt and “Look ‘aht! Coach ‘Caher’ is gettin’ all fired up, n’at!”

You could say this is a case of distance making the heart grow fonder. I say it’s a matter of age making our brains softer.

There is no defense for the Steelers defensive effort against the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 2:54pm

The defenseless Steelers fell to 0-1-1 following a 42-37 loss to the Chiefs at Heinz Field on Sunday

For the second time in as many games at Heinz Field, the Steelers found themselves down, 21-0, before the end of the first quarter, as they took on the Chiefs in their regular season home opener on Sunday afternoon.

The last time Pittsburgh found itself in such a hole at home was eight months earlier, in a game that ended in a 45-42 loss to the Jaguars in the divisional round of the playoffs on January 14th.

Unlike the playoff game, the Steelers did manage to crawl their way back to tie the score at 21-21 before halftime. Unfortunately, just like the playoff game, Pittsburgh couldn’t count on its defense when it needed them to hold the Chiefs, as Kansas City marched right down the field on three successive touchdown drives to open the second half.

The Steelers’ offense, meanwhile, could only answer with a short James Conner touchdown run during that stretch.

Actually, if we’re being honest, the Steelers couldn’t count on their defense throughout the entire game, as Kansas City racked up 449 yards and hit pay-dirt on six of its 12 offensive series — second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes tossing six touchdown passes over and through a secondary that made him look like Dan Marino circa 1984.

No matter how you slice it, the Steelers’ defense didn’t look good on Sunday. In fact, if you want to erase the Week-1 performance in the slop of Cleveland, the defense really hasn’t looked good against offenses not run by the Browns during this entire calendar year.

Pittsburgh’s defense, a unit that sacked Tyrod Taylor seven times just a week earlier, only registered one sack against Mahomes. And, yes, the Chiefs were only two-of-five on third downs, but that’s because they didn’t need to convert very many.

Mahomes averaged a sickening 11.6 yards per pass attempt and no Chiefs’ scoring-drive even consumed four minutes on the clock.

If the Steelers have the best offense in the NFL based on reputation, Kansas City has the best one based on merit.

As for Pittsburgh’s defense, it did plenty on Sunday to earn a reputation as a unit that can’t stop any offense but one run by the Browns.

Not only did the Steelers allow 40-plus points in their second-straight home contest, they only registered one takeaway, giving them two in the past three games of consequence.

And perhaps the most disturbing statistic was Stephon Tuitt’s pass defensed on a play where he deflected a Mahomes toss at the line of scrimmage.

Why was this disturbing? It was the only pass broken up by the defense the entire afternoon.

When a team scores a combined 79 points in back-to-back home games and loses them both, that’s on the defense.

The Steelers’ defense only has one more game against the Browns’ offense before the 2018 season is complete. If Keith Butler can’t find the answers sooner rather than later, the 2018 season may turn out to be one of the most disappointing in recent memory.

Antonio Brown’s agent releases statement excusing his clients actions from the past few days

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 1:15pm

Drew Rosenhaus earned his money on Tuesday when he spoke out in defense of his client to explain his trade tweet and his absence from practice on Monday

The last 48 hours have been rather dramatic for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, even by his standards, and it was left to his agent to try and do some damage control on Tuesday to explain away some of his troubling actions of late. Speaking to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Drew Rosenhaus did his best to earn his three percent with a statement meant to shut down all the negativity surrounding his client.

This after Brown had tweeted about being traded and then failed to show up at practice on Monday.

1/2 Steelers' WR Antonio Brown's agent, Drew Rosenhaus: "The tweet yesterday was not in reference to anything other than Antonio responding to a person he knows. It was not directed towards a trade, or wanting to be trading. Any idea he was asking for a trade is not accurate.”

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2018

2/3 Rosenhaus: “Antonio had a personal matter. I talked to the team about it. His issue was unrelated to the tweet or his relationship with the team. Third, AB has an incredible drive to win. He just wants to win. That's all that that is.”

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2018

3/3 “That's not anything more than him encouraging his coaches and teammates to win. And that's what his entire focus is on. Any notion, any speculation otherwise, can be put to bed. This is a non-story that has been blown out of proportion. We can end this right here and now."

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2018

There cannot be too many observers who took Brown’s tweet about being traded seriously, but his no-show at practice just a day after he was seen arguing with Randy Fichtner on the sidelines during the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs is not a good look.

No one questions Brown’s desire to win or how hard he works, but equally, no one can deny he was out of sync with the offense for much of the game in Week 2 and his visible frustration was clear for all to see. Brown is far from the only diva in the league at his position, however, sometimes his action come across as being selfish, even if that is not his intention.

With Mike Tomlin suggesting he would be speaking to the Steelers star receiver about his recent behavior during his press conference on Tuesday, it can only be hoped this will draw a line under this topic. Sadly, I highly doubt it.

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps Week 2, and previews our Week 3 matchup in Tampa. https://t.co/s07d4xskto

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 18, 2018

Mike Tomlin confirms Antonio Brown’s absence on Monday, will address situation privately

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/18/2018 - 12:07pm

Coach Tomlin confirms Antonio Brown was not present at team meetings on Monday.

Pittsburgh Steelers head Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed in his press conference Tuesday that Antonio Brown was not at the Steelers’ facility on Monday for team meetings and film study. He followed up by saying he was looking forward meeting with Brown today.

Whether or not the absence was excused, or unexcused, Tomlin would not say. When asked about Brown and social media, he said he will be addressing it directly, but privately.

As for the meeting about Monday’s absence, Coach Tomlin said he may or may not provide details of that meeting which is yet to come. When asked if Brown has asked to be traded, he answered with a laugh, “No.”

When asked about player/coach confrontations on the sidelines, Tomlin chalked it up to where tempers will flare when both players and coaches are passionate about wanting to win. He said these issues first need to be dealt with between those players and coaches.

To finish up the press conference, Coach Tomlin was asked about the team’s performance and inner turmoil being a concern as it comes to the passionate fans that make up Steelers’ Nation.

“We are two weeks in. We don’t have a large body of work... I’m not ready to paint with a broad brush.”

Coach Tomlin continued, “I’m sensitive to our fans. Steeler Nation is our driving force in terms of how we approach and pursue victory.”

To see the entire press conference, check out the video below:

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps Week 2, and previews our Week 3 matchup in Tampa. https://t.co/s07d4xskto

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 18, 2018

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