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Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

The Steelers Fix: Fantasy Football All-Potential Team

As we start thinking about our fantasy teams for the 2022 campaign, it’s good to consider potential when drafting your players. As we start thinking about our fantasy teams for the 2022 campaign, it’s good to consider potential when drafting your players.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The All Potential Team
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Scho Bro Show: Are the Steelers defensive line concerns now a thing of the past?

The Steelers signed Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal to replace the retired Stephon Tuitt. Have they fixed their problems? This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the black-and-gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Has the Ogunjobi signing fixed the defense of the Steelers?
  • Who was the first Steelers quarterback you remember as a fan?

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

Let’s Ride: Steelers should have confidence in their abilities

Chase Claypool thinks he has the ability to be a Top 3 receiver in the NFL. Some people scoff at that, but shouldn’t players be confident in their abilities? This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Fans should want confident Steelers
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Steelers sign defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 5:04pm
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have added some depth to their defensive line, and it is much needed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed help along their defensive line since the retirement of Stephon Tuitt. Some thought the team might sit back and let the answer along the defensive line come from within their organization, but newly minted General Manager (GM) Omar Khan had different plans.

After bringing in former Cincinnati Bengals Larry Ogunjobi for a workout Tuesday, the team announced they have made the move official by way of a one-year contract.

This per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

Former Bengals’ DT Larry Ogunjobi has signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source.

Ogunjobi now will have played for the Browns, Bengals and Steelers, leaving the Ravens as the lone Ogunjobi-less AFC North team.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 21, 2022

Drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi spent four years in Cleveland before spending 2021 with the Bengals. With 21.5 sacks and over 200 tackles in 79 games, Ogunjobi had 7.0 sacks and 49 tackles last season.

For those wondering if this is just a rumor, or official, the Steelers have made the move official.

We have signed DT Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year contract. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 21, 2022

The Steelers now have a plethora of players on the defensive line, and it will be one of the camp battles to watch when the players report to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

If you are wondering how the team was able to make this move without releasing a player, the answer is the team only had 89 players on their 90-man offseason roster. The signing of Ogunjobi rounds out the offseason roster.

There was a concern about Ogunjobi’s overall health, and the likely reason why he was still on the open market as teams prepare for training camps, but the Steelers must have been comfortable enough with his health status to draw up the one year contract.

Ogunjobi being added to the roster should help a sluggish rush defense which ranked dead-last in the NFL last season without Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu available. Alualu is back for another season, and the hope is adding Ogunjobi will help make the group formidable once again.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and the 2022 regular season.

Going For Two: Pat Freiermuth & Zach Gentry

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 2:30pm
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 11 of Going For Two, featuring Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry

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

Pat Freiermuth Photo by Michael Longo/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tight End
Age: 23
Year: 2
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 258
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 55, 2021
College: Penn State
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

After a rookie season where Pat Freiermuth saw 497 receiving yards on 60 receptions with 7 touchdowns, the sky appears to be the limit in 2022. Proving to be a go-to weapon for Ben Roethlisberger last year, Freiermuth simply needs to build a similar relationship with this year’s Steelers quarterback. As long as he can stay healthy, and the concussion issue doesn’t come up again this season, Freiermuth is poised for an even bigger bust-out year.

Zach Gentry Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Tight End
Age: 25
Year: 4
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 265
Drafted: Round 5, Pick 141, 2019
College: Michigan
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

The fact Zach Gentry was labeled to be a roster bubble player going into the 2021 season, it goes to show how much of a marked improvement he made leading up to last season. Coming through as a great blocking tight end, Gentry was also wisely and creatively used in the passing game when needed. Obviously not the same player as Pat Freiermuth, Gentry brings a much-needed role to the tight end room as someone who is an adequate blocker and teams must account for in the passing game. Not only a great example of the work needed to become an NFL caliber player, Gentry will also forever be the answer of the trivia question when asked ‘Who caught Ben Roethlisberger’s final NFL pass?’

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

Steelers rookies get a glimpse of the Pirates rookies putting on a show

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a youth movement on their roster, and the Steelers’ rookies were in attendance Monday night.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates don’t have many similarities. Of course they share a city, but other than that simple fact the two organizations are very different.

The Steelers are competitive every season, whereas the Pirates haven’t had continued success in a very long time.

A new similarity has popped up this year, and it is a youth movement happening with both teams. For the Pirates, their Major League Baseball record 12 rookies who have been called up to play is almost uncalled for, and it’s only June. As for the Steelers, they too will be looking at a young core of players, especially on offense, to help them get over the proverbial hump.

There is no better way to visualize the youth movement within the Steelers than with the 2022 NFL Draft class. Almost all of the class, and several Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFAs) were at PNC Park Monday night to get a glimpse of Oneil Cruz make his 2022 debut, and rookie Bligh Madris make his first appearance in the bigs.

Check out the photo from the game:

Rookies repping at the @Pirates game. #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/ho1j7aP6xx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 21, 2022

If you follow the Pirates, it was a pretty special night. Not only did they dominate the Chicago Cubs, but the way both Madris and Cruz played gave the Pirate faithful something to believe in...for now.

Check out some of what the Steelers’ rookies got to see at PNC Park:

Our guy Bligh with his first Major League hit! pic.twitter.com/LoHcefsmwL

— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 20, 2022

Woah pic.twitter.com/ngYuf4nNJf

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) June 21, 2022

These kids are fun…why’s they wait so long to bring them all up?! pic.twitter.com/AS1RlSwsjA

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) June 21, 2022

The Bligh Slide pic.twitter.com/cByZpYM4eS

— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 21, 2022

The rookies can take in the sights and sounds of Pittsburgh for the next few weeks, but the real work will begin on July 26th when the team reports to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA for the first time since 2019. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the remainder of the offseason.

Mike Tomlin ranked 3rd best head coach by Pro Football Network

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In the latest head coaching rankings from Pro Football Network, Mike Tomlin is ranked #3 in the NFL.

“Mike Tomlin is an elite head coach!” says Poindexter.

Cletus interrupts Poindexter’s spiel within 30 seconds and proclaims, “You must be out of your mind! Mike Tomlin is trash!”

As the two begin to bicker, Throckmorton steps in to break up this disturbing argument he is watching take place on the street corner of downtown Pittsburgh. Being the peacemaker Throckmorton always strives to be, he attempts to take the middle road by stating, “Mike Tomlin is a solid coach who, while far from perfect, is better than anybody the Steelers could get to replace him.”

After going back and forth and weighing evidence for each argument, the three parties went their separate ways, departing without reaching a conclusion to the matter. Can the BTSC faithful help determine whose stance is the best among Poindexter, Cletus, and Throckmorton? I doubt it, but the comments should be entertaining nonetheless!

Each and every offseason, Steelers fans debate the lively conversation that is Mike Tomlin. Despite the fact that many media outlets tend to underestimate the Steelers each year, those same outlets tend to think highly of Mike Tomlin. This may seem like an oxymoron, but we are continuing to see the same trend as we head into 2022.

In the eyes of the media, the Steelers are almost universally considered a poor to mediocre team that is unlikely to make a playoff push. However, Mike Tomlin is still receiving love in annual head coaching rankings. The latest ranking comes from Mike Kaye at Pro Football Network, who ranked Tomlin as the third-best head coach in the NFL. Here is what he had to say about Pittsburgh’s leader.

While Mike Tomlin’s Steelers are seemingly going through a rebuilding process with Ben Roethlisberger retired, there’s plenty of reason for optimism entering the summer. Tomlin has never had a losing season during his 15-year tenure in Pittsburgh. Coming off an early playoff exit last year, the Steelers have done a nice job in supplementing the roster for Tomlin’s continued track.

Here is the full top ten in Kaye’s rankings.

1. Andy Reid — Kansas City Chiefs
2. Bill Belichick — New England Patriots
3. Mike Tomlin — Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Sean McVay — Los Angeles Rams
5. John Harbaugh — Baltimore Ravens
6. Kyle Shanahan — San Francisco 49ers
7. Sean McDermott — Buffalo Bills
8. Mike Vrabel — Tennessee Titans
9. Matt LeFleur — Green Bay Packers
10. Pete Carroll — Seattle Seahawks

The majority of Steelers fans seem to be behind Tomlin, considering him to be in the upper echelon of head coaches currently in the NFL. While those on the flip side of the coin may be considered the minority, it is not a small minority by any means. The third group falls anywhere in between, generally saying Tomlin a good coach while also expressing frustration from the lack of playoff success.

Regardless of which argument you stand by, it will be interesting to see how far Tomlin can take a team that is not led by Ben Roethlisberger, who he inherited from Bill Cowher’s team.

With that in mind, what are your thoughts on Mike Tomlin? Are you a Poindexter that sees him as a top-notch coach, or do agree with Cletus when he states that Tomlin is undeserving of the praise he receives? Perhaps you like Throckmorton’s middle-of-the-road approach and consider Tomlin a good, but not great, head coach. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, be sure to state your opinion on this topic in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC as we get you ready for the 2022 Steelers season!

Steelers hosting free agent Larry Ogunjobi for workout

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 9:33am
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking at all options to help bolster their defensive front.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are from a finished product as it pertains to the 2022 team. With only 89 players on the 90-man offseason roster, the Steelers are looking to possibly add the 90th player in former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers hosted the free agent for a workout Tuesday.

Former Bengals’ DT Larry Ogunjobi, who had seven sacks last season, is visiting today with the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source. He recently visited with the New York Jets.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 21, 2022

Drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi spent four years in Cleveland before spending 2021 with the Bengals. With 21.5 sacks and over 200 tackles in 79 games, Ogunjobi had 7.0 sacks and 49 tackles last season.

There is a reason the defensive lineman is still on the open market, and that would be health issues. With Ogunjobi visiting the team, this after meeting with the New York Jets, a clean bill of health will be paramount before a deal gets done.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

GAME PLAN: What is Matt Canada doing with all these shifts and motions?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense will have plenty of shifts and movement, and none of it will be wasted.

This is the latest installment of the “Game Plan” series I’m working on through the reasonably quiet part of the calendar between the draft and training camp. To read the previous article in the series, see the link below.

My grandfather, Joseph Thatcher, from whom I take my middle name, was born in 1911 and passed away in 2003. He lived in North Jersey, about twenty miles outside New York City, and was a huge Giants fan. He spoke fondly of the Giants of the 1950s, who wore single-bar face masks and shook hands with fingers as crooked as question marks. Guys like Sam Huff, Jim Katcavage and Andy Robustelli. They played in an era where yards were earned by plunging the ball into a mass of bodies and where the forward pass was treated like a communist plot against the republic. My grandfather loved that sort of football. It made sense to him. He’d lived through the Great Depression, World War II and Vietnam.

Life was difficult. Buckle up, buttercup.

By the time football became the most popular sport in America in the 1970s, he was in his sixties. He was a hard man by then, molded by his life experiences and set in his ways. It was with great disdain, then, that he received the offensive revolution that changed the game around that time. The increasing importance teams placed on passing the ball was bad enough, but with it came two things he could not stomach: the shotgun formation, deployed most notably by the Dallas Cowboys, of whom he and I shared a mutual loathing; and the use of pre-snap motion, the purpose of which he could not fathom.

I remember watching a Cowboys-Giants game with him in which Dallas receiver Drew Pearson motioned about the formation like a yo-yo. At one point, Pearson went one way, then came right back and lined up where he’d started. “What the hell is he doing?” my grandfather shouted. “Just snap the damn ball!” He described the Dallas offense as “fancy pants football.” He swore it was ruining the game.

As I write this article, I can’t help but think of my grandfather. Specifically, of how much he would have disliked Matt Canada. That statement may find traction with some current Steelers’ fans. For many, Canada’s use of pre-snap movement, and his reputation as a guru in that area, seems like a whole bunch of nothing. On the other hand, football nerds like myself swear there’s a brilliance within. The pro vs. anti-Canada crowds aren’t quite the Hatfields and McCoys. But they have their differences.

Whichever side of that debate you’re on, it’s worth trying to understand the method to Canada’s madness. I won’t argue he’s the second coming of Bill Walsh, but there is value to all that movement he incorporates. Now that the Steelers have acquired players who better fit his vision, it could be the key to unlocking the potential of their 2022 offense.

Here it is, then — a deep dive into Matt Canada’s shifts and motions, and what he’s actually doing with them.

There are several reasons why an offensive coordinator moves players around before the snap. To gain leverage on a defense, for example. Or to keep receivers from being jammed at the line of scrimmage. To create deception. Sometimes they do it just to put pressure on a defense to make sound adjustments and rotations. Mostly, though, pre-snap movements are used to gain information. Think of them as fact-finding missions. A coordinator will ask himself, When I motion here, how does the defense react? There is a follow-up question, too, based on the information he receives. When they react this way, how can I counter back?

This is the reason for much of Canada’s motion. We saw some good examples in Pittsburgh’s win at Cleveland last season in Week 8. Cleveland had some injuries up front, and Canada thought the Steelers could have success running the ball. He knew, though, they weren’t good enough to simply line up and pound away, so he needed information that would help him find the best way forward.

On Pittsburgh’s first drive of the game, Canada brought Chase Claypool in motion from the right slot. He used jet motion, which calls for the snap just before the motion-man reaches the quarterback. This gave Ben Roethlisberger an option to hand the ball to Claypool on the sweep or give it to running back Najee Harris. As Claypool moved, Roethlisberger saw Cleveland’s linebackers and safeties move with him. That flow prompted him to hand the ball to Harris heading the other way:

From this angle, you can see the scheme. It’s an unbalanced formation to the side of the motion, with two tight ends outside the left tackle. Everyone from the left tackle on over blocked inside zone to their right, while the tight ends reached left to block the sweep. It was only a 3-yard gain for Harris, but it provided Canada with valuable information he would use throughout the contest.

The biggest takeaway from this play was that Cleveland planned to stop the jet sweep, or the strong-side run to the side of the sweep, by adjusting with their linebackers and safeties. This allowed Canada to use motion to get these players moving, then to exploit them on the back-side. He did so by using a steady diet of split and weak-side zone runs, and Harris finished with 91 yards rushing.

When Canada wasn’t handing off to Harris, he used motion to get the ball to his receivers in the run game. The jet sweep was not an option due to Cleveland’s rotations, so Canada ran weak-side reverses instead. Cleveland continued to bump their backers to the jet action, and Canada repeatedly found ways to exploit that tendency.

Another tactic Canada has used to gain information on a defense is a pre-snap shift. This is a tactic Roethlisberger favored, too, because it tipped the hand of a defense but also allowed everyone to get set before the snap (unlike motion, which Roethlisberger did not like because it was fluid).

Here, in Week 5, the Steelers shifted to get Denver into a coverage they could exploit. First, they aligned in a 2x2 set with Diontae Johnson split wide to the right and Claypool wide to the left. This drew a two-high look from the Broncos:

Canada then shifted Claypool across the formation, where he lined up as a third receiver to the right. Denver bumped their weak corner over to cover the tight end, and moved their nickel with Claypool. The safeties, however, stayed in a two-high structure:

Canada wasn’t buying this. Both he and Roethlisberger knew Broncos’ coach Vic Fangio was too smart to stay two-high in this situation. Cover-2 is not especially sound against a 3x1 set because it’s vulnerable to flood routes that outnumber the defenders to the trips. These routes are common on 3rd and 8, the situation Pittsburgh was facing. So, by motioning Claypool across, Canada was betting he’d get some sort of rotation by the Broncos out of their two-high shell.

He was right. As the route developed, the safety to the trips dropped down as a robber to defend the first down marker. This meant Denver was one-on-one outside against Johnson, a match-up Roethlisberger favored:

The safety (circled) is squatting on the low route while Johnson (top left of the frame) is 1-on-1 against the corner

Roethlisberger had a good pocket in which to set, and his throw was perfect:

A fair question to ask here is this: Couldn’t the Steelers have lined up in trips and gotten the same coverage? Did they need to shift to it? That’s hard to know. But the shift did one thing for certain: it took Cover-3, Denver’s best deep coverage, off the table. With nine defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage, they could not rotate into a three-deep zone, which made them vulnerable to a shot play. Roethlisberger recognized this and took it. So, while it’s hard to say what coverage the Steelers would have gotten had they aligned in trips, by shifting they discovered what coverage they were not getting, which was just as valuable.

Not all of these pre-snap movements yield positive results, of course. Take this example from Week 15 against Tennessee. Canada began this drive by flipping right tackle Chuks Okorafor to the other side of the formation. This gave him a tackles-over look with Okorafor matched up against Bud Dupree on the left edge:

Conceptually, Canada had the right idea by shifting to gain a favorable match-up. Tennessee was prepared, however. They moved Dupree to a head-up alignment on Okorafor, then pinched him into the C-gap while bringing their safety down to set the edge. The Steelers ran a power concept at Dupree, but his penetration hampered the path of right guard Trai Turner, who was pulling on the play. That problem was compounded when no one up front could get a push. The result was a pile of bodies at the line of scrimmage, leaving Harris nowhere to run:

On the ensuing play, Canada threw this at the Titans:

It’s an elaborate-looking shift, with all four receivers changing positions and Roethlisberger moving from under center into Pistol alignment. All the Steelers really did, however, was to change the strength of the formation. They went from a 2x2 set, with tight end Zach Gentry on the right, to 2x2 with Gentry on the left. Against balanced sets like this, most defenses declare strength to the tight end. So, from an alignment and responsibility standpoint, Tennessee simply accounted for the change in strength by flipping their backers and their nickel defender. Everything else remained the same.

From there, it was just football, and on the play that followed, Tennessee won. Pittsburgh ran an RPO with double hitches to the top of the formation. Roethlisberger anticipated the blitz from the slot corner but not the rotation from the safety over top of him. So, when he pulled the ball from Harris to throw the inside hitch, it was covered, and he had to take a sack.

What was Canada trying to accomplish with this shift? Likely, he wanted some clarity on whether this was man or zone coverage to help Roethlisberger with the pass read on the RPO. Whatever the case, the information Canada gathered convinced him this was not a good look for the Steelers. He never used this shift again, nor did he return to the RPO game. This play was useful, then, because it showed Canada something to stay away from rather than something to pursue.

All of these shifts and motions paid limited dividends in 2021. That’s because the Steelers were hamstrung by a poor offensive line and a quarterback who preferred to operate from static structures so he could get a good picture of the defense. Much effort was made this offseason to improve the line and adapt the quarterback position to fit Canada’s scheme. Inevitably, if the Steelers can’t run inside zone or protect long enough to throw the ball down the field, the shifts and motions will be worth little. But, if Pittsburgh is good enough up front to execute the basics, and if the quarterback can accommodate Canada by allowing him to move the pocket and run play-action and RPOs, Canada’s pre-snap voodoo could create the edge this offense needs to make significant improvement.

Hopefully Chase Claypool is teaching his teammates the power of self-confidence

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 7:15am
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The 3rd year wide receiver is brimming with confidence, as he should be.

The Pittsburgh Steelers Twitter space was set ablaze Monday when quotes were released from third year wide receiver Chase Claypool on the I Am Athlete podcast. During his time, Claypool was asked about where he put himself in the NFL rankings of receivers, and he said Top 3.

Places like Pro Football Focus (PFF), see below, ran with the quote and used it to rile up the Steelers faithful.

And it worked.

Chase Claypool says he’s a Top-3️⃣ WR in the league pic.twitter.com/W9WjFWIrRa

— PFF (@PFF) June 20, 2022

Steelers fans from every corner of the global fan base had a reaction to this quote. Some were in full support of Claypool, while others dismissed this as the former Notre Dame product being delusional.

Either way, no fan of the Steelers should view Claypool’s self-confidence as a negative. After all, what was he supposed to say?

Host: Chase, where do you rank yourself among the NFL’s receivers?

Claypool: I don’t know, probably bottom third.

Want to know what would ruffle more feathers? If Claypool had said something like that on the podcast.

Claypool, for all the negatives which came from his sophomore season, is brimming with potential. Everyone who watched the Steelers in 2020 saw how dominant Claypool can be when he is given the opportunity and stays focused.

So far this offseason all the reports out of offseason workouts have been about Claypool stepping up into a leadership role with the Steelers offense, and more specifically, the receivers. Let’s hope Claypool doesn’t just step up and lead, but is teaching his teammates about the power of self-confidence.

For any athlete, confidence in one’s abilities is a prerequisite to success. Have it, and you stand a chance. Don’t have it, and you might as well not show up. Steelers fans have seen any number of players who either didn’t have it, or lost their edge/confidence during their career. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for them.

If I’m a teammate of Claypool, I love him saying he is a Top 3 receiver in the league. Why? Because he is stating his goals publicly. Not everyone does this, mainly because they don’t want the attention. They don’t want the masses to point and say, “Told you!” if you don’t reach your goals.

Claypool didn’t care, and he put it all out there. I can respect that.

And at least one of his teammates took notice:

bro now y’all don’t want your players to have confidence in themselves?? ‍♂️ https://t.co/6UsegEGH7D

— 6’4 Nightskin (@kdd7696) June 20, 2022

Claypool has been very quiet this offseason. Last year at this time Claypool was going down the JuJu Smith-Schuster path of marketing and branding. I don’t mind a player trying to create an image for himself, but there are times when fans can view it as a distraction and being selfish.

Just taking a look at Claypool’s official YouTube channel, his last video was posted five months ago. On top of not posting anything on his YouTube channel, his last tweet was a very vulnerable video of him reacting to the news of Dwayne Haskins’ passing on April 9th.

Say what you want about Claypool, but the guy has stayed out of the limelight this offseason. The hope is he is focused not only on his skill set, but also his leadership and being the mentor these young receivers need in the receiver room.

Some fans will view him saying he is a Top 3 receiver in the league as a distraction and selfish, others will say he is beaming with self-confidence. Let’s hope it is the latter, and he puts his proverbial money where his mouth is in 2022 and dominates with the black and gold.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason before reporting to training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

How a contract holdout ruined my first Steelers jersey

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Wow! Thanks for nothing, Mean Mike Merriweather.

Growing up as a poor kid in Pittsburgh in the early-'80s, the thought of owning an authentic Steelers jersey was merely a pipe-dream.

I never even considered asking for a Steelers jersey of one of the heroes of the Super ‘70s, and even if I had, I’m sure the answer would have had something to do with going out and getting a job. I didn’t go to my first game until late in the depressing and forgettable 1988 season; therefore, the chance of having one of those “Wow! Thanks, Mean Joe!” moments was also out of the question.

Speaking of Joe Greene, I did own my own jersey at one point during the summer and fall of 1984; only, it wasn’t a Steelers jersey. No, it was a Sheraden Vikings jersey. That's right, I was a defensive lineman/offensive lineman/running back/tight end/linebacker/safety for the Sheraden Vikings when I was 12 years old. And what digit did I pick out when “Pick Your Number” day arrived late in training camp? No. 75.

You talk about a lot of nerve. As you can guess by my “versatility,” I didn’t play all that much during that ‘84 season, and even when I did, I didn’t produce all that much. I did, however, get to wear the most famous football number in the history of Pittsburgh sports—professional, collegiate or whatever level 12-year-olds play.

Fast forward to Christmas of 1987. I had finally decided I had to have a Steelers jersey, but I didn’t even consider any number made famous by a player from the previous decade. No, by that point, I wanted one from the current roster of players...for some reason.

There wasn’t much to choose from in terms of superstar talent in the mid-‘80s. Sure, Rod Woodson had arrived by 1987, but I couldn’t have predicted at the time that he’d go on to have a First-ballot Hall of Fame career. Louis Lipps just had back-to-back forgettable seasons and, despite my love for him, I was unsure of his immediate future with the franchise. Gary Anderson was arguably the best kicker in the NFL back then, but I just didn’t think a kicker’s number was cool enough, even if I, as a chubby 15-year old with a bad haircut and bad fashion sense, was the total opposite of cool.

With all of that in mind, I decided on the No. 57 worn proudly by Mike Merriweather, a decorated outside linebacker who the Steelers selected from Pacific college in the third round of the 1983 NFL Draft.

Merriweather had been voted to three Pro Bowls through the 1987 season (1984-1986) and was also named a Second-Team All-Pro three times (1984, 1985 and 1987).

Merriweather had tallied 31 sacks in five seasons—including a whopping 15 in 1984—and an impressive 11 interceptions.

Merriweather was well on his way to continuing the great success the team previously had at outside linebacker with both Jack Ham and Andy Russell.

A number 57 Merriweather jersey seemed to be the perfect choice as my first, and I couldn’t have been happier when I opened my presents on Christmas morning.

It wasn’t long before I began to wear my number 57 jersey to school every Friday, which I did all throughout the remainder of ninth grade.

Unfortunately, everything began to change in the summer of 1988 when Merriweather held out in order to force the Steelers to give him a new contract. Sadly, this was before free agency and the salary cap, which meant even stars had little choice but to either play for what teams were willing to pay them or force a trade.

I was hoping Merriweather would come to his senses, but he never did. Merriweather’s holdout continued all throughout the 1988 regular season, as Pittsburgh posted its worst record—5-11—since going 1-13 in 1969. Maybe Merriweather would have made a difference for this downtrodden Steelers team. Perhaps the Steelers were so downtrodden that the organization was convinced that even a superstar outside linebacker wouldn’t have been able to help.

I continued my Friday tradition of wearing my Merriweather jersey during the Steelers 1988 disaster of a season, but the kids in 10th grade were cruel and would say things like, “Where’s Merriweather?” No, they weren’t the most creative bullies, but they still ultimately forced me to stop wearing my No. 57 jersey to class.

Merriweather and the Steelers never did come to an understanding, and he was eventually traded to the Vikings in exchange for their first-round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft (24th, overall). Pittsburgh used the pick to select Tom Ricketts, offensive tackle, University of Pittsburgh. No, Ricketts didn’t wear number 57, but he also didn’t give anyone a reason to wear whatever his number happened to be during his brief career with the Steelers.

My grandmother eventually took the name Merriweather off of the back of my Steelers jersey, but I still didn’t wear it all that much after 1988.

As for Merriweather, he didn’t produce at the same level with the Vikings, tallying just 10 sacks over four seasons before quietly finishing out his career with the Packers and Jets.

For as much as I wanted a Steelers jersey as a kid, that passion didn’t stay with me as an adult. Someone did buy me an authentic Hines Ward jersey which I proudly wore for years, but the tradition didn’t carry on after No. 86 retired.

I wonder if my fondness for Steelers jerseys would have continued to grow if my initial infatuation was nurtured a bit by Mike Merriweather going on to have a storied career with the Steelers?

I guess I’ll never know the answer to that question, which begs this one: Should I try for jersey love again at this point of my life, or is it simply too late for me?

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 06/21/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

BAD Language: 2022 could end better than 2017 for the Steelers

So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language. This week, it’s all about

  • News and Notes
  • The potential of 2022 compared to the highs and lows of 2017
  • A visit from Britsburgh Owen, Voice from Across the Pond
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: Is it possible to get off of the Steeler Nation Naughty List?

There are some former Steelers that will always be Public Enemy No. 1, while others found their way off of the list. How bad does the transgression need to be to not come off of the list of unforgiven? Bryan Anthony Davis, Shannon White and Tony Defeo discuss this and more on the latest edition of BTSC’s The Steelers Hangover.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Is it possible to get off of the Steeler Nation Naughty List?
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Turning the corner at cornerback

Geoffrey Benedict examines cornerbacks and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The Steelers 2022 Cornerback Room
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Trey Edmunds & Minkah Fitzpatrick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It’s Day 10 of Going For Two, featuring Trey Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick

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

Trey Edmunds Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Running Back
Age: 27
Year: 4-6
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 223
Drafted: UDFA 2017 (New Orleans Saints)
College: Maryland
Roster Outlook: Doubtful
Analysis:

Despite logging games in five different seasons in the NFL, Trey Edmunds does not have that many accrued seasons by NFL rules. With a lot of time spent on practice squads, Edmunds has only played in six of his 37 career games over the last two seasons. A player that can give depth at the running back or fullback position as well as provide special teams play, Edmunds has proved to be a good practice squad player who is elevated as needed. Unfortunately, that’s really about all the offers once again in 2022.

Minkah Fitzpatrick Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 25
Year: 5
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 207
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 11, 2018 (Miami Dolphins)
College: Alabama
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

It is so refreshing to be able to talk about Minkah Fitzpatrick during the summer and not have to worry about an upcoming contract. Signed to the Steelers for the next five seasons, Fitzpatrick’s focus now is on being the best safety he can be for the Steelers. And for those who only can judge a players season based on the rankings by Pro Football Focus, they would talk about a down year and how Fitzpatrick was at the bottom of the league in 2021. But using the eye tests, and anyone with adequate knowledge of what the Steelers were trying to do in the secondary, tells a different story. Maybe that’s why former Steelers safety and NFL analyst Ryan Clark called 2021 Fitzpatrick‘s best season as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers despite not having as many ‘flashy’ statistics.

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

Be a part of the BTSC Fan Post weekly contest/question

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The “dog days” of Steeler Football are here but this may help pass that time until the Black and Gold retake the field

I still find myself sneaking into the Fan Post section of BTSC. Even with such great content on the front page, there are occasionally some solid articles still being written there. In the past, I have made a point to pass on some of those articles to our Senior Editor, and in return he has posted many of those articles on the front page. Not only does it provide exposure for someone interested in writing, but it can provide BTSC with potential future writers.

This particular idea is not my own, but one from Pin Stripe Alley, where the Editor poses a writing subject/question and the members that are interested write about that subject or question in a Fan Post. The winner gets their respective article posted on the front page.

Every Monday for the next six weeks I will provide a subject or question. The article must be submitted by Friday of the same week with plans for it to be published on Sunday. In the heading of the article make sure to add that it is for the Front Page Submission. also attach your own article heading.

Example: Front Page Submission - Pickett not Marino, Steelers refused to let another Pitt Panther QB slip by them

I shouldn’t have to remind everyone, but I will. Make sure all articles submitted follows the SB Nation/Vox/CORAL Guidelines. Those that don’t will not be considered.

This Weeks Subject/Question:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long lineage of super star players and there is mention that the Steelers have their own wing in Canton. If the latter isn’t true, it should be! With that said, this week’s subject is simply — who is your all time favorite player?

While there is really no wrong answers, the why and how well you wax poetic about your favorite player will get your submission placed on the front page.

Side Note : Thanks to the members that submitted articles for last weeks subject/question and as always stay safe and Go Steelers!

Rashard Mendenhall brings up a bad Steelers memory on his birthday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The former 1st round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers felt it necessary to drudge up a really bad memory Sunday.

Most Pittsburgh Steelers fans would be more than happy to never go down this road again, but here we are. On Sunday, June 19th, former 1st Round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall took to Twitter to give his thoughts and opinions about a play he most remembered for during his relatively brief stint in the NFL.

The play would be his fumble in Super Bowl 45 with the Steelers driving while trailing the Green Bay Packers 21-17.

Everyone remembers the play. Mendenhall gets blown up in the backfield by Clay Matthews and loses the ball. It was the Steelers’ third turnover in the game, and it ended a surge by the team to potentially come from behind and win what would have been their 7th Super Bowl.

Sunday, which was also Mendnhall’s 35th birthday, he took to Twitter to tell anyone who cares that he didn’t fumble the ball.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Check out his actual tweet below:

I never fumbled that ball… #SBXLV

My coaches would feel like assholes to say that I did, I never did.

I was SEPARATED from the ball, 4 yards into the backfield.

That’s the RB equivalent of a strip-sack.

There’s NOTHING I could’ve done about it.

Respect my career.#Free34

— Rashard Mendenhall (@R_Mendenhall) June 19, 2022

Want to re-live the play? Check it out in the player below:

(Note: If you can’t see the below video, click HERE)

To be honest, I can understand with what Mendenhall is saying about the play, although his delivery/explanation leaves something to be desired. Both Doug Legursky, but mainly David Johnson’s whiff of his block, equate to the Steelers’ running back being hit in the backfield.

But does that excuse a player for not securing the football?

Mendenhall gives a comparison to a quarterback strip-sack, this being when the quarterback isn’t aware of a pass rusher coming from his blind side and strips the ball out. It counts as a fumble, but the blame usually falls on the offensive line who failed to do their job.

However, even in that scenario, there are times when a quarterback doesn’t lose the football, and only surrenders a sack. In Mendenhall’s case, even though the offensive line didn’t do their jobs, he still could have held onto the football and only given up a negative rushing play, not a game-changing turnover.

This is the time we all re-live the play again, and you can let us know what you think in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason before reporting to Saint Vincent College for training camp on July 26th.

What position group is the greatest concern for the Steelers 2022 defense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are reasons to be optimistic, or concerned, about several positions on the Steelers defense.

Every offseason, almost every position group on the Steelers roster gets a little bit of a makeover. Sometimes there are additions which can give fans more hope going into the next season, while other times there are losses which can cause doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes there aren’t any changes in the position group, which could be viewed as either a positive or a negative.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for 2022, there are not nearly as many changes as there was with the offense. If you are looking to answer the same question with the Steelers offense for 2022, check out the following article that was posted over the weekend:

With many changes coming in personnel, there are some position groups which appear to be improved while others have a lot to prove for the upcoming season. Whether it be a group with a lot of changes or none at all, what position are fans most concerned about going into the 2022 season?

Here is a breakdown, including key losses and gains, for each position group on the Steelers defense:

(NOTE: Only players signed with previous years of service in the NFL or players selected in the 2022 NFL draft will be considered additions, and players who were on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 will be considered losses.)

Defensive Line

Losses: Stephon Tuitt
Additions: DeMarvin Leal

While Stephon Tuitt only spent one day on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 before landing on the Reserve/Injured List, he is still considered a loss for the team when he announced his retirement on June 1. But Tuitt ultimately did not contribute to the 2021 Steelers. What seems more of a change would be considering Tyson Alualu as an addition as he played in less than two games in 2021 and looks to return to the Steelers at the age of 35. But with Tuitt out of the picture and the Steelers struggling to stop the run in 2021, questions about the unit returning to its 2020 greatness are warranted.

Outside Linebacker

Losses: Taco Charlton
Additions: Genard Avery

While the starting positions at this group are taken care of, especially with raining NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, it’s the reserve positions which enter into the rotation which can be concerning. With the Steelers shuffling various players to fill out the position group in 2021, considering Taco Charlton as a significant loss is up for debate. But exactly how the Steelers will implement Genard Avery remains to be seen, as well as if he can adequately fill in to be the needed depth at the position moving forward.

Inside Linebacker

Losses: Joe Schobert
Additions: Myles Jack, Mark Robinson

The million dollar question for 2022 when it comes to the inside linebacker position for the Steelers is if Myles Jack is a significant upgrade over Joe Schobert. Both linebackers struggled in their final season in Jacksonville, so whether or not there is an upgrade there depends on who you ask. Also, if Devin Bush cannot regain his speed he had prior to his knee injury in 2020, the plethora of players the Steelers have fighting for spots for the season could be more important than we realize at this time.

Cornerback

Losses: Joe Haden
Additions: Levi Wallace

With only a change of one player not returning (so far) and the addition of one other, it somehow feels more like it’s a completely different cornerback room. Joe Haden held down the top cornerback spot for the Steelers since 2017, so the uncertainty as to who is the top dog in the room has many fans worried the Steelers simply are not good enough. While having three quality cornerbacks is a good thing, not having any player deemed as the top guy at this point is why some feel the Steelers need to make another signing. More than anything else, this position group seems to have more of an ‘unknown’ factor heading into training camp.

Safety

Losses: None
Additions: Damontae Kazee

The Steelers locked in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for the next five years in a rare early signing which may be signs of things to come from the new Steelers front office. Regardless of what it means to players in the future, it means that the Steelers know who their star in the secondary is going in the next season, and have added another piece to the puzzle to fit things together on the backend.

So which position group on the Steelers defense are you most concerned about heading into the 2022 season? While there may be multiple groups for there to be concern, which one is on top of the list? Make sure to vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Comparing the Steelers pass rush under Keith Butler to all of NFL history

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Where does the Steelers 5-year run leading the league in sacks rank them in NFL history?

In my first article on this subject, I compared Steelers defenses throughout franchise history to rank them for how successful they were at sacking the quarterback.

In this article I want to compare the Steelers to other teams in NFL History to see where they rank. The methodology is pretty simple, if you don’t care about it, or read about it in the previous article, feel free to skip it this time:

In order to compare teams across different eras of the NFL, we are going to compare that team’s sack production to the rest of the league that season. So we compare the team’s sacks to the NFL average sacks for a team in that season. The equation:

team sacks/(total NFL sacks that season/# of teams in NFL that season) = team percentage of average NFL sacks for that season.

Example: the 1980 Steelers recorded 18 sacks. There were 1031 total sacks in the NFL in the 1980 season. There were 28 teams in the NFL in 1980. So:

18 / (1031 / 28) = 18 / 36.8 = 48.9%

The 1980 Steelers recorded only 48.9% as many sacks as the average 1980 NFL team. Roughly half of what you would expect them to record.

The top teams by single season sacks in NFL history

I didn’t compute the numbers for every team in NFL history, but I did run the numbers for every league leader, and then ones below them if there was a chance they could make the top ten.

Here are the top single season defenses by sacks.

The 1974 Steelers just miss the top ten, so I listed the top 11. You can see how the fluctuation of total sacks affects the rankings. It is interesting to me that 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 are all represented on this list. Those seasons saw small groups of teams collecting a lot of sacks while other teams collected very few. It was a time of change across the NFL in a lot of ways and that opened the door for teams to rank very highly compared to their peers. The strange thing is these teams would have great sack numbers in one season, and then it dropped back down. I can’t explain it. The 1970’s were a weird time.

One of the interesting things that showed up in making this was the 1987 Bears. The mid-1980s was a crazy time for sacks. Here’s the 1983-1987 total NFL sacks, along with the number of teams that recorded at least 55 sacks.

1983: 1215 Five 55+ sack teams.
1984: 1313 Ten 55+ sack teams.
1985: 1306 Seven 55+ sack teams.
1986: 1198 Five 55+ sack teams.
1987: 1106 Three 55+ sack teams.

In the years following the 1982 strike season, the NFL saw some of the highest sack totals in league history, and also saw the disparity in sack totals between teams widen. By 1987 it had dropped back down and only 3 teams reached 55 sacks, while the Bears were the only team with 60+ sacks, recording 70. Second place was 57. The Bears recorded 72 sacks in 1984, but second place was 66 sacks, and a staggering ten teams that season had 55 sacks.

At that point the Steelers franchise record was still 52 sacks, and it would stay at 52 sacks until the 1994 season. Meaning 10 teams in 1984 recorded more sacks than any Steeler team had ever recorded, and even today, the Steelers record 56 sacks would have ranked 7th in the 1984 season. The NFL was a crazy place after the strike.

As you can see the top 11 teams all recorded over 160% of the average sacks for that season. The best season for the recent Steelers is 157.9%, they rank substantially lower. From from just the work I did making that list I can rule them out of the top 15. But the Steelers didn’t set any single-season records, what is impressive is their five-year streak leading the NFL in sacks. So the question I want to answer next is, where do they rank historically against other teams best five-year stretches.

The Best Five year runs of team sacks in NFL history.

The methodology for finding the best 5 year stretch for teams was pretty easy, I looked for any team with seasons close to each other that were at or above 150% and ran numbers for the surrounding seasons to find their best five-year stretch. I just added the percentage of average NFL team sacks together, added them together in five-year stretches and found the highest number.

The Steelers of 2017-2021 do not take the top spot in this metric either, but they move up quite a bit.

Here’s the top three 5-year stretches for sacks in NFL history:

  1. 1983-1987 Chicago Bears. 319 sacks. Average of 146.1% of NFL average team sacks.
  2. 1968-1972 Los Angeles Rams. 233 sacks. Average of 143.8% of NFL average team sacks.
  3. 2017-2021 Pittsburgh Steelers. 273 sacks. Average of 142.9% of NFL average team sacks.

Neither the Rams, nor the Steelers have a team in their top 5-year stretches in the top ten seasons, and neither would rank in the top 15. But both have consistently high percentages of NFL average team sacks. In fact, the Rams had a stretch of 10 straight seasons with at least 120% of NFL average team sacks from 1967-1976. They had a good number of different players reach 10+ sacks in those ten seasons. Deacon Jones led the team for most of the run, with Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer coming in to finish it, all with Merlin Olsen in the interior of the defensive line.

I think the Steelers have a chance to match or even beat that streak. Deacon Jones was 29 years old when the Rams streak started and was only there for half of it. T.J. Watt was 27 in 2021, and the Steelers are five years into their own streak and if the Steelers were to pull off a ten-year streak, he would be 32 at the end of it. In fact, if the Steelers keep up their production the next few seasons they will be in-line to be the top sack getting team over any 7 year stretch of NFL history.

Keith Butler is no longer the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he won’t be designing the Steelers pass rush schemes. It’s probable that we will see the Steelers make sacks less of a priority in 2022, and even if they don’t, no other defensive coordinator has done what Keith Butler has over the last five seasons. Both the Bears and Rams changed defensive coordinators during their runs, and it is worth questioning if the Steelers can continue the success like the Rams and Bears did, or if they, like most teams in NFL history, will not be the same team with a different coach.

No matter how the Steelers defense performs going forward, Keith Butler, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and the rest of the Steelers defense have pulled off one of the greatest stretches of pass rush success the NFL has ever seen.

Steelers fans need to hop on the Mason Rudolph bandwagon before it’s too late

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

It’s time to hop aboard the Mason Rudolph bandwagon before tickets sell out.

I was never one to pick a “team” when it came to things involving choosing sides. Oh, who am I kidding? I do that all the time.

But I’ve never been one to do that when it comes to individual players on the Pittsburgh Steelers. I tend to accept the player that wins the starting job, and then I begin the journey of supporting him through thick and thin.

However, I just can’t do that when it comes to the current three-horse race for the right to become the new starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why? It just feels so cool to be on Team Mason, as in Mason Rudolph, the fifth-year man out of Oklahoma State whose 17-career appearances have been more than enough for his detractors to already determine that he just doesn’t have the talent, charisma, leadership skills and even the good teammate genes necessary to do the job. As for those detractors? They are many, and they are mean. Why, just the other day, I saw someone on social media refer to Rudolph as toe fungus.

How can you not root for a guy like that? It’s like when George Costanza fell in love with Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend because she just detested George so much that...he found her irresistible!

Anyway, if we’re going to play this “team” game, that means I have to totally tear down the other two participants: Mitch Trubisky, the veteran quarterback who Pittsburgh inked to a deal in the spring; and Kenny Pickett, the rookie from Pitt who the Steelers selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

First of all, Mitch Trubisky? Does that name even remind one of a quarterback? It sounds like the name of some secondary character in a 1980s John Hughes movie about high school. As for Kenny Pickett? Don’t you mean, Kenny Pickoff? Can’t you see how quickly that name could go sideways?

Now, if I were to write a script about a fictional football team, how could I do any better than Mason Rudolph? That just sounds like a hero to me.

As for accomplishments up to this point, sure, Trubisky had a decent run with the Bears after they drafted him second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Trubisky had a 29-21 record as a starter in four seasons in Chicago; he completed 64.1 percent of his passes, totaled 10,652 yards through the air and threw 64 touchdowns to 38 interceptions. That’s not bad, especially for a Bears quarterback. But Trubisky was slated to be the Bears’ starter from the beginning. He knew his role from the get-go.

Also, as decent as Trubisky’s numbers were in Chicago, isn’t decent a little underwhelming for the number two pick in the draft, which Trubisky was in 2017? Yes, Trubisky’s numbers were better than the stats Rudolph put up during his four seasons as Ben Roethlisberger’s understudy—61.5 completion percentage, 2,366 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions—but Rudolph never had a whole offseason where he was given a legitimate chance to compete for the starting job. Rudolph was thrust into the starting role in Week 2 of the 2019 season after Roethlisberger was lost for the year with an elbow injury. Rudolph was again thrust into the role last November in a game against the Lions at Heinz Field mere hours after Roethlisberger was declared “out” with COVID. And as far as being Roethlisberger’s understudy, I’m not so sure studying under Passive-Aggressive Ben and maybe even Big Bully Ben was the best way for Rudolph to learn anything.

As for Pickett’s experience? What’s the point of even including that since, you know, he’s a rookie?

What about toughness?

Trubisky is just so darn nice. If you’re a dude who drives a Dodge Ram pickup truck and likes to aggressively tailgate the person in front of you, you might fancy yourself as a tough guy. Do you want some nice guy, some pushover, some beta male, leading the Steelers?

And don’t even get me started on Pickett’s baby hands. Who could ever take those tiny mittens seriously? He’s like the nameless henchman in Goldmember; he’s got no chance.

Mason Rudolph, on the other hand, was smacked in the head with his own helmet by Myles Garrett in 2019 but kept going after Garrett, kind of like the Terminator or Rocky. This was the same season that Rudolph was concussed by a vicious shot to the head by Earl Thomas and only missed a little time. And how could we forget the fact that Rudolph survived the year-long fetish the fans had for some guy named Duck?

Now, that’s toughness.

I believe I’ve made a strong enough case for Rudolph and why I will be firmly rooting for Team Mason during training camp this summer.

I’d advise you to get on board before it’s too late. Mason Rudolph will be the Steelers starting quarterback in 2022. If you want to root for the other two chumps, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Minkah Fitzpatrick “excited” to have Brian Flores on the staff

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Minkah Fitzpatrick knows plenty about Brian Flores, and he is excited to have his former coach on the Steelers’ staff.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made waves this winter when they decided to bring Brian Flores on staff as a linebackers/defensive assistant coach. At face value, it was a tremendous addition to the defensive coaching staff. His experience with the New England Patriots as everything from a scout to a defensive play caller, and the fact he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins shows the tremendous amount of input he can bring to the Steelers.

But there was a caveat to this move which some fans noticed right away. Some even saw this as a potential issue for the defense moving forward.

That would be none other than how the addition of Flores would impact Minkah Fitzpatrick. After all, it was reported there was a beef between the two former Miami employees, and it was this rift which equated in Fitzpatrick wanting a trade.

When the Steelers sent a 2020 first round pick to the Dolphins in 2019 for Fitzpatrick, no one ever thought the two would be reunited in Pittsburgh.

Yet here we are.

After Fitzpatrick signed his new 5-year contract last week, he was asked about his thoughts on the addition of Flores to the team’s defensive coaching staff. What Fitzpatrick said to the media makes it seem as if the issues the two might have had in Miami is water under the bridge.

“It’s been good.” Fitzpatrick said of Flores being added to the coaching staff. “Coach Flo, he’s a great coach. He’s a smart guy. He’s a guy that lives to a high standard. He’s a piece that I think we really needed. He’s a real detail-oriented guy, detail-oriented coach. He’s not a guy that’s gonna let things get brushed aside. He’s gonna address them.

When it comes to Flores’ style, Fitzpatrick knows all about it. Flores doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to addressing issues. In fact, he is the total opposite. Some might not like it, but Fitzpatrick has grown to appreciate it.

“He’s direct. He might not tell you exactly how you want to hear it, but he’s gonna tell you and I think that’s important to have in the locker room.” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s gonna get on you. He’s a great coach. I’m excited to have him. He’s focused and locked in on winning and that’s what his goal is. And I’m happy to have him here.”

Coaches who don’t care about your feelings as a player is something Fitzpatrick knows all too well. Coming from Nick Saban at Alabama to Flores in Miami, he knows about coaches who are labeled as “in your face”. Mike Tomlin doesn’t necessarily fall into that category, but Fitzpatrick giving Flores his seal of approval is certainly worth noting.

The feedback of Flores from both coaches and players in the early stages of the offseason have been glowing. Players love his intensity and approach, and coaches recognize his value to the staff. It seems like a win-win, and it will be intriguing to see how this will continue to develop at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA when players report to training camp and the real football begins.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they continue to prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 4:30am

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

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

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

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

We Run the North: Here We Go Fathers Day in the North

It’s Father’s Day and we celebrate all fathers with a spotlight on NFL dads and sons. Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • Some Steelers NFL Father’s & Son’s
  • AFC North Updates
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: Steelers Q&A: As summer heats up, the Steelers questions just get hotter

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete. so is their minicamp for rookies, voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Tony Defeo and Jeremy Betz as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Let’s Ride: Can the 2022 Steelers be a better version of the 2019 team?

The Steelers have a new look for the 2022 season with the big change being at quarterback. Could they be a better version than the last time the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger. Join BTSC’s senior editor the morning flagship show in the Behind the Steel Curtain family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Can the 2022 Steelers be a better version of the 2019 team?
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

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

The Steelers’ season ended over four months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Monday 6/13

The term "dynasty" is often thrown around lightly. But there's no doubt that Chuck Noll's @steelers were a true dynasty.

On the eight-year anniversary of Noll's passing, we honor the indelible mark he left on football. #HOFForever pic.twitter.com/y0LUL965Xr

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) June 13, 2022

Bill Cowher was an incredible coach. Mike Tomlin is a tremendous coach as well. However, Chuck Noll took a moribund franchise and made it a champion and forged a culture that still stands today.

Tuesday 6/14

Wormley on replacing Ben: “Any time you lose a Hall of Fame quarterback, who has done so much in his career for the city, it is going to be hard to replace him. But I think Mitch is the guy for it. He has a lot of experience. He made the playoffs twice." #Steelers #NFL

— Blitzburgh✨ (@Blitz_Burgh) June 14, 2022

It’s understanding why veteran Steelers like Wormley are going to back Mitch Trubisky. The school of thought of the Steelers might be that No. 10 gives the black and gold the best shot to win in 2022.

Wednesday 6/15

Steelers and All-Pro S Minkah Fitzpatrick reached agreement on a massive four-year contract extension worth over $18.4 million per year, with $36M gtd at signing, per source. The deal, negotiated and confirmed by @WME_Sports, makes Fitzpatrick the highest paid S in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/Rnb0jJWGoM

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 15, 2022

Here we go!!!! The Steelers locked down a cornerstone of their defense for the next five years.

“George Pickens, to me, based purely on tape was overall the best receiving prospect in this draft class…”

High praise for the Steelers’ 2nd rounder from @GregCosell on latest @RossTuckerPod: pic.twitter.com/gnL2v1QpC9

— Ross Tucker Podcast (@RossTuckerPod) June 15, 2022

I’m getting worried about the hype surrounding the Steelers’ No. 2 selection in the Draft. Is it too much? But if he does live up to it, It’s going to be epic.

Thursday 6/16

Proud Momma https://t.co/YaKQac716b

— Momma Jones (@kieschaj) June 16, 2022

Former Steelers OL Jarron Jones made his mom proud. The USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandit may be the most decorated offensive lineman of any of the Steelers 2021 linemen. Oh, if anybody cares, Safety Bryce Torneden is the only Pittsburgh Mauler to make the All-USFL team.

Friday 6/17

Unfortunate, we couldn’t come to terms, but appreciate the @Saints for the opportunity! Journey to be continued …..#GodsHands

— David Johnson (@DavidJohnson31) June 17, 2022

In a reply from a Steelers fan, Johnson replied by saying, “That would be a great place to be at”. If the price is right, a healthy version of the former Cardinal and Texan would be a fantastic Plan B for the Steelers behind Najee Harris.

Saturday 6/18

There is more to this report than meets the eye. #Steelers

Report: NFL considering a full year suspension for Browns Deshaun Watson https://t.co/e6V2lX4aCn

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) June 18, 2022

Didn’t Cleveland see this coming? Everyone else did. This is just Browns being Browns.

On Saturday, the @steelers staff handed out Terrible Towels to fans at the 2022 #Juneteenth Grand Jubilee Parade in Downtown Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/1uaAKJY5ct

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) June 18, 2022

It’s nice to see the Steelers keeping in touch with the community.

Sunday 6/19

Happy Father's Day! pic.twitter.com/wW1Brgbkhy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 19, 2022

Happy Father’s Day to everybody in Steelers Nation from all of us at BTSC and Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads here at BTSC.

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

Going For Two: Mataeo Durant & Terrell Edmunds

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 9 of Going For Two, featuring Mataeo Durant and Terrell Edmunds

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

Mataeo Durant Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Running back
Age: 22
Year: 1
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195
Drafted: UDFA 2022
College: Duke
Roster Outlook: Better than the typical UDFA
Analysis:

After rushing for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns as well as another 250 yards and two touchdowns receiving his final year at Duke, Mataeo Durrant is an interesting UDFA for the Steelers this season. With one player at the position off the 53-man roster from 2021 not returning, and the Steelers not addressing the position in the draft or in free agency at this point, there is an opportunity for somebody else to grab a roster spot. Even if the Steelers keep one less running back than they did in 2021, it’s not like the depth at the position is so strong that someone like Durant couldn’t step in. As with most young players, how quickly he picks up the Steelers offense in training camp and how he performs in preseason games will determine a lot. But he’s got a good opportunity with the Steelers.

Terrell Edmunds Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 25
Year: 5
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 217
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 28, 2018
College: Virginia Tech
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

After the safety market dried up for his level of player this past offseason, Terrell Edmunds returned to the Steelers under a special provision in the CBA which allows him to make more than twice as much money as what he will count against the salary cap. Coming back to a familiar system and setup, Edmunds has the opportunity to expand on his 89 tackle, 1.0 sack, six passes defensed, and two interception season from last year. If Edmunds can show he is worthy of a contract on the level of a starting safety in the league, he could cash in even better in 2023, whether it be with the Steelers or another NFL franchise.

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

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