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The biggest criticism of Mike Tomlin should derive from the incessant drama surrounding the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:20am

The criticism of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is often misdirected, except for when talking about the drama constantly surrounding the team.

I’m a big Mike Tomlin fan — have been since he was hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach in 2007. But despite enjoying what Tomlin brings to the Steelers on a weekly basis, I realize there’s some criticism which is on-point. To be honest, all NFL coaches get criticism for one thing or another. Even the evil genius in New England, Bill Belichick, has been criticized and chastised for decisions made — Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl anyone?

As for Tomlin, the majority of criticism he faces typically is based on this thought of the team being unprepared. On our weekly podcast last night (which you can listen to by clicking HERE), I spoke about this and asked listeners to give concrete football evidence of how Tomlin should be blamed for something like Ben Roethlisberger’s five turnovers vs. Cleveland in Week 1 — or how they can point to a team that isn’t performing and pin this on the head coach in terms of “preparedness”.

I don’t know what goes on inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on a daily basis, but I highly doubt the Steelers had fewer meetings leading up to Week 1, than they will prior to their Week-2 game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. I doubt Mike Tomlin told Keith Butler, “Hey man, we’re playing Tyrod Taylor and the Browns this week, tell the guys to skip all defensive meetings today — we’re good.”

If the coaches coach similarly regardless of opponent, then how can they be blamed for unpreparedness?

I digress, but this all leads to my main point. While I don’t believe being unprepared is somehow a legitimate criticism of Mike Tomlin, I do believe the constant and incessant drama surrounding the Steelers is a very just criticism of the man calling the shots in Pittsburgh.

The one constant throughout Tomlin’s tenure has been drama. He’s had immense amounts of talent wearing the black-and-gold, but the drama has never gone away. In fact, it seems to have intensified during the past few seasons.

Off-field drama and other nonsense might seem a far cry from something that impacts the product on the field, but let’s take a look at the lead-up to last year’s AFC Divisional game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Not only did Tomlin tell Tony Dungy of NBC he had already plotted the plan where the Steelers and Patriots would meet again in the AFC Championship game, but the way his players responded and reacted to the game certainly made an impact — for the Jaguars. Just look up the team’s quotes about Mike Mitchell after their playoff win.

I know Mike Tomlin can’t be sitting next to every player as they stare at their Twitter app and are close to hitting the ‘TWEET’ button, but he can also make policies which curtail this type of behavior. He can also tell his team how to respond to situations and questions to help avoid the media nightmare which might ensue.

When Le’Veon Bell didn’t report to the Steelers as everyone, including his teammates, thought he would, Tomlin could have said to the team, “Listen, we’re all disappointed, but let’s not make this about Le’Veon. Let’s not give the media anything when it comes how we are handling this situation. We’re focused on the players here, and won’t comment on anyone who isn’t.”

That message clearly didn’t get sent, or was blatantly ignored, when Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Ramon Foster (the Steelers’ NFLPA Player Rep) spouted off about Bell’s absence, which caused the entire football world to stand in awe of what just took place.

The questions surrounding Bell aren’t going away, but Tomlin could have forced those questions to be answered strictly by himself if he had stopped this train before it ever got started.

Now the latest situation which was forced to be addressed, not only by the team, but by team President Art Rooney II, was the social media threat Antonio Brown made towards a reporter at The Undefeated for doing a report on the man Brown is away from cameras, and away from social media. When Tomlin was asked about this at his most recent press conference, he shrugged it off, but maybe tightening the ship a bit might be the better response.

Again, Tomlin can’t hold his players’ hands every second of the day, but if he took a more consistent stance with this type of behavior, it might go a long way towards stopping the drama with the team.

Martavis Bryant was suspended by the team for a game in 2017 when he criticized JuJu Smith-Schuster in the comment section of an Instagram post. Antonio Brown says the following to a reporter, “wait to I see u bro, we gone see what your jaw like.” and Tomlin seemingly looks the other way.

Consistency is key, and right now the Steelers look like a team running amok — distracting from what could be a Super Bowl season.

For Tomlin, and any coach for that matter, I criticize the things they’re able to control. This likely comes from my years as a coach myself, albeit at the High School level, but similar nonetheless. You can’t go onto the field and tackle for your players, nor can you throw perfect passes. All you can do is prepare your team to the best of your ability, and hope the results pay dividends on game day.

I have no gripe about Tomlin in this area, but when it comes to things you can control — like how the team is constantly engulfed in drama — there’s some room for criticism in my opinion.

The Steelers’ quick, forceful response to the Browns’ first score was one positive from Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 8:48am

There were some positives from the Steelers’ 21-21 Week-1 tie with the Browns. One positive was Pittsburgh’s quick and forceful third-quarter response to Cleveland’s first touchdown.

While it’s true the Steelers didn’t lose to the Browns on Sunday — in case you didn’t hear, it was a 21-21 tie — it sure feels that way, doesn’t it?

But since a tie actually isn’t a loss (as others have pointed out, it’s half of a win), in the interest of fairness and equal time, I’d like to highlight some positive moments from the Steelers’ first regular season game of 2018.

Two such moments were back-to-back touchdown drives by Pittsburgh right after the Browns tied the score at 7-7 early in the third quarter.

After Cleveland opened the second half and marched 86 yards on a 10-play touchdown drive that was aided greatly by ill-timed and ill-advised penalties by Pittsburgh defenders, one might have wondered if the game would end in a 7-7 tie (Freudian slip), given the offensive struggles by the Steelers in a first half in which they turned the football over three times, including two TOs on potential scoring drives.

But despite the passing game looking disjointed during the first 30 minutes, just one play after the 20-yard touchdown run by Browns’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a score that had FirstEnergy Stadium rocking and rolling, Ben Roethlisberger found JuJu Smith-Schuster on a short slant-pass, and the second-year receiver raced 67 yards down to Cleveland’s 7-yard line.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article or two, I spent the latter portion of the summer watching a lot of classic Steelers’ games from the 1970s on streaming TV, so seeing Smith-Schuster race down the sideline was reminiscent of John Stallworth doing the same to an inferior Browns’ defense at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

A few plays after back-to-back penalties on Steelers’ offensive linemen, not only wiping out back-to-back touchdowns but making it 2nd-and-goal from the 22, Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown, who looked very Lynn Swann-like as he displayed great body control while corralling a 22-yard touchdown in the right side of the end zone.

After a quick and unsuccessful drive by Cleveland, Ryan Switzer hauled in a punt by Britton Colquitt (to continue the 1970s theme) and raced 20 yards to the Browns’ 39.

Two plays later, running back James Conner did his finest Franco Harris impression, galloping 22 yards for a touchdown that put the Steelers up 21-7 before three quarters were in the books.

What those two touchdowns showed me is that, despite struggling mightily up to that point, the offense was still capable of imposing its will at any time, in all facets, and from anywhere on the field.

At that point, it was a reminder to everyone in the AFC North that the Steelers may have their problems and their struggles, but they’re still the class of the division.

Had the Steelers been able to hold their water down the stretch, that quick and forceful third-quarter response would have been something to build on moving forward.

I suppose it’s still something to build on, but just a little harder to do after that same offense committed six turnovers.

That’s probably why most players and fans are feeling more like the “half-a-loss” portion of Sunday’s tie.

Steelers Injury Report: Five players sit out Wednesday practice as the team prepares for the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 7:35am

The Steelers saw four starters and a key defensive-line backup miss practice on Wednesday with injuries suffered in Week 1

Though it seemed the Pittsburgh Steelers escaped their game against the Cleveland Browns relatively unscathed, their first official injury report of the week released on Wednesday painted a different picture. But while five players were forced to miss practice due to injury, another returned as a full participant for the first time since July 29th.

Steelers injury report: Cameron Heyward (knee) is among the players who did not practice. Also DNP were Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), Joe Haden (hamstring), David DeCastro (hand) and Tyson Alualu (shoulder). Vance McDonald (foot) was full participant

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 12, 2018

While it wasn’t surprising to see Ben Roethlisberger, David DeCastro and Joe Haden sitting out, the inclusion of Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu on the injury report was somewhat unexpected. With the exception of Haden, all of the players’ held out of practice on Wednesday were able to play the entire game in Cleveland.

After telling reporters his fractured hand might be more significant than first thought, DeCastro revealed the swelling hadn’t yet reduced enough to be able to fit a brace and characterized himself as day-to-day. If he’s unable to suit up on Sunday, B.J. Finney will play in his place.

David DeCastro on his injured hand, and how he plans to approach the injury. pic.twitter.com/JPt50Msp8G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 12, 2018

Roethlisberger appeared more optimistic about his elbow injury, calling it just a bruise. While it seems he has had an MRI, he was unwilling to discuss it with the media.

Ben Roethlisberger talks about his elbow, the evolution of RPOs and preparing for the Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/pfrwvH82tp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 12, 2018

Haden could well be another player in danger of missing the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, and his progress will be one to keep an eye on as the week develops. Cam Sutton would start at cornerback if Haden is unable to go. With Alualu the primary backup to Heyward, the Steelers will need to have at least one of them available in Week 2.

Perhaps the most shocking news from the report was the return to full practice for Vance McDonald. Sidelined by a foot injury just a few days into camp, the presumed starter at tight end might start on Sunday if he can string a whole week of practice together.

Safety Eric Berry and linebacker Ben Niemann were the only to players held out for the Chiefs on Wednesday.

Chiefs injury report

The DNP list for the Steelers is pretty significant pic.twitter.com/kuJ9FzzC03

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 12, 2018

Black and Gold Links: Antonio Brown apologizes after threatening reporter on Twitter

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 6:30am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are slowly turning their attention away from the embarrassing tie with the Cleveland Browns and starting to focus on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. 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 the news of Antonio Brown threatening an ESPN journalist on his verified Twitter account, but not only that. Mike Tomlin shrugged it off at his weekly press conference, but the organization ended up making a statement to try to slow the press, and control the media’s image of Antonio Brown.

Let’s get to the news:

Joe Starkey: Antonio Brown, Steelers better late than never in answering for threatening tweet

By: Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The forecast called for rain here, too, but Tomlin had nothing substantial to say. Washington had profiled Brown for “The Undefeated” in a story published Friday, and Brown clearly was not pleased with some of the personal details divulged. Washington — operating as any good feature writer would — contacted people close to Brown, or who used to be close to him, to gain insight.

After the story appeared Friday, Brown sent Washington a public tweet that read, “wait to I see u bro, we gone see what your jaw like.” Washington retweeted it.

All of that in mind, I went to Steelers practice Wednesday with a question: Was Tomlin’s quote going to be the team’s official response to Brown’s threat?

To my surprise, it wasn’t. A few hours later, team president Art Rooney II and Brown issued statements to the Post-Gazette.

Rooney’s went like this: “It is never OK for any employee of the Steelers organization – player, coach or front office staff – to threaten a member of the media or anyone else for that matter. I appreciate that Antonio is apologizing for his inappropriate comments.”

Indeed, Brown was apologizing, via this statement: “I made a mistake in judgment with my tweet last week, and I apologize for that. It is not OK to threaten anyone and I need to be better spiritually and professionally. Though I do not agree with the negative parts of the story about my personal life, I need to have better control over my actions to use social media as a way to engage with my fans, rather than use it improperly.”

The Steelers are still searching for that No. 3 receiver

By: Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Rookie receiver James Washington made his NFL debut against the Browns. He was barely noticeable and did not catch a pass. That gave Washington something in common with JuJu Smith-Schuster, last year’s second-round pick who also was shut out in his NFL debut but by season’s end led all rookie receivers in yardage.

The Steelers are hoping for a similar uptick in production from Washington, whom they drafted in the second round with hopes that he’d develop into a viable No. 3 receiver behind Smith-Schuster and All-Pro Antonio Brown.

Smith-Schuster started his rookie season on the fringe of the offense, with Brown and Martavis Bryant getting most of the targets. But by midseason, Smith-Schuster had passed Bryant on the depth chart and was well on his way to a stellar season with 58 receptions, 917 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Steelers don’t need Washington to become a starter, but they do need him to become that productive third receiving threat that made this offense so dangerous in previous seasons.

Kevin Gorman: Steelers’ Chris Boswell gives missed FG the boot

By: Kevin Gorman: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Chris Boswell couldn’t shake the thought of missing the winning field goal that would have saved the Pittsburgh Steelers from their 21-21 overtime tie in Sunday’s opener at the Cleveland Browns.

So he kicked it out.

Boswell lined up the field goal in the dark Monday at UPMC Rooney Center indoor complex, placing a tee at the right hash mark and repeatedly kicking a 42-yard field goal through the uprights.

Same spot. Same distance. Different result.

“I wanted to get that taste out of my mouth,” Boswell told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday afternoon. “I want to kick it. I want to see myself kick it over and over and over again. It’s like some basketball players do if they miss a shot or they have a bad game: They go straight to the gym and work on it. I’ve done it a little bit in the past. It’s obviously not something I want to get into the habit of doing.”

That’s why jaws dropped when Boswell missed with 1 minute, 48 seconds remaining in overtime. The Steelers kicker was money with the game on the line last season, converting four winners and becoming the first kicker since Ryan Longwell in 2004 to kick three game-winning field goals in three consecutive games as time expired.

The hidden costs of NFL Free Agency

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 5:32am

Free agency is here to stay but, besides the obvious advantages for players, there are some significant drawbacks for fans and their sense of loyalty to the home team.

It’s a tough sell when your business is loyalty. Sooner or later, business and loyalty will begin to conflict, and it’s not good for either. Consider how and why you became loyal to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps it’s because you were born in the Pittsburgh area. Maybe it’s something you inherited from your family. In my case, it’s both. But while my loyalty hasn’t wavered over the years, what has kept it strong has been the players. That is, as much as I admired and respected the Rooney family as a boy, it was Franco and Swann and Jack Ham that held me hostage.

The eighties included their share of disappointing seasons for two related reasons. First, we weren’t winning as much. Second, the players weren’t as compelling. I follow on Twitter @SteelCityStar who has been providing a great service, posting clips from various games in Steelers’ history. In the space of 20 minutes, I was able to “rewatch” Super Bowl IX. But he also recently took his followers through the ‘87 season. It was great to see Rod Woodson as a rookie, and Stallworth in his final season. But Rodney Carter? Greg Carr? At least I have some memory of those two, but starting TE Danzell Lee? Who are these guys? Age caught up with my childhood heroes. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, money is as likely to move a player on as age is. Whether it’s salary cap structures or free agency, we can no longer count on a player spending his entire career with the same team. On the rare occasions when it happens, we give thanks. Truth be told, we also give thanks when some other team’s money issues bring us an upgrade. Who didn’t love seeing Kevin Greene in the opponent’s backfield wearing black-and-gold? For every Kevin Greene we’ve received, however, we’ve also lost a Hardy Nickerson and a Chad Brown.

There are benefits to the cap and to free agency. I like the idea of players charting their own courses. I like the benefits to parity that the cap brings. What I don’t want to see, however, is the game devolve to a matter of which team has the shrewdest GM, where rosters become such revolving doors that we end up rooting for just the uniforms. I get that role-players have always come and gone, and that every new season brings another crop of rookies. Time stands still for no man. But forgive me for tiptoeing close to heresy — I’d rather see the Steelers be the Steelers and merely be competitive, than be the Yankees, or the superteam du jour in the NBA.

We’ve heard the common refrain from players who have moved on in search of greener pastures that none is greener than Heinz Field. We’ve seen a virtual parade of players come back home for one last round. That’s a good thing, but a tough sell when some other team is waving greenbacks in your face. My hope, like any other fan, is that our guys will give us enough of a hometown discount that they can stay as our guys and we can root for the players rather than the uniforms.

Podcast: Will a Steelers loss Sunday mean it is time to panic?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/13/2018 - 4:29am

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 Browns tie
  • Week 2 True or False!
  • Breaking down the Steelers vs. Chiefs Week 2 game
  • Week 2 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!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on our BlogTalkRadio page. If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below. Be sure to follow us on iTunes by searching The Standard is the Standard.

The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation’s top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089. You should also check out his website frankwalkerlaw.com to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.

T.J. Watt’s sack total decreases as NFL makes statistical change

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 2:40pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ electrifying outside linebacker

On the same day T.J. Watt won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award, he was docked a half a sack by the NFL.

One year after taking the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan base by storm with his one sack and one interception performance, Watt lit up the Cleveland Browns for what fans thought was a 4-sack game.

After review, the NFL announced Wednesday they have given Javon Hargrave .5 of a sack, and took .5 away from Watt.

This from the Pittsburgh Steelers PR Department:

Scoring change (per @EliasSports) in Week 1 #Steelers at #Browns game: pic.twitter.com/sbFBILSWaU

— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) September 12, 2018

The team still was able to harass Tyrod Taylor with 7 total sacks, but Watt’s total goes down just a tick.

The play which the ruling changed was when Taylor was met by Hargrave in the backfield, and as he spun away to scramble he stumbled and was met by Watt. This was the play where Watt was flagged for unnecessary roughness, extending the Browns’ drive.

I doubt you hear much complaining from Watt regarding his sack total, but I bet you hear him talk about getting that half sack back, and then some, when he meets Patrick Mahomes this Sunday at Heinz Field when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for Week 2 action.

Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry remains sidelined by heel injury leading up to Steelers game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:56pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers could be facing a Chiefs team without one of their best defensive weapons on Sunday at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team brimming with potential on offense. With talent at nearly every position, Pittsburgh looks to exploit their opponent’s weaknesses and make them pay. It might be with Antonio Brown, or now James Conner who is running the football, but the regardless of who is doing the damage, the opposition would be best suited to have all of their weapons at their disposal before playing the Steelers.

Heading into Week 2, the Kansas City Chiefs might be without their All-Pro safety Eric Berry for the second straight week. Berry has been dealing with a heel injury, and as the Chiefs hit the practice field on Wednesday, his availability is anything but certain as he missed the first workout of the week.

Andy Reid says Eric Berry won't practice today but he's "still making progress"

Ben Neimann also isn't practicing with a hamstring strain.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 12, 2018

According to Brooke Pryor, Chiefs beat writer for the Kansas City Star, Andy Reid said the star safety is improving, but doesn’t want to rush him back.

Andy Reid asked what it would take to have Eric Berry practicing:

"everything calms down around his Achilles area. Just being cautious, it's a long season."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 12, 2018

Can the Chiefs win without Berry? They proved they can on Sunday when they beat Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers 38-28 in Week 1, but they did surrender 418 passing yards, and this with some big-time drops by the Charger receiving corps.

While the Chiefs’ offense is as electric as they come, it is the defense which Steelers fans should be focusing on. Can Ben Roethlisberger get right and find ways to attack the Kansas City secondary which won’t have Marcus Peters there, as they did last year, and possibly Berry at safety?

That will be the challenge, but you get the feeling the Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown connection is just waiting to explode. Will it be this Sunday at Heinz Field? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time Roethlisberger has shredded the Chiefs’ secondary in front of the home crowd.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming matchup vs. the Chiefs.

After Week 1, Sean Davis looks like the Free Safety the Steelers have needed

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 11:29am

The Steelers have been looking for an athletic, and physical, free safety for years now, and they might have found it in Sean Davis.

Let’s be honest, as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepared for the 2018 regular season, the thought of Sean Davis moving from the Strong Safety position, to Free Safety, was a bit frightening.

Compounded with the reality whoever started alongside of Davis would be new to the Steelers’ system made the safety position a stressor leading into the season.

However, throughout the Steelers’ Week 1 game vs. the Browns, Davis was one of the bright spots on the Pittsburgh defense. When looking at the box score, you might not think Davis played much of a role in the defense’s performance, but you have to realize his new position doesn’t lend itself to the line of scrimmage play which had him lead the team in tackles last season.

He registered 5 tackles, 4 solo, and 2 pass defenses in the Week 1 contest, but had an overall presence in the back end of the defense which hasn’t been seen since Ryan Clark played alongside Troy Polamalu.

Even the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Davis played well. So well, he had the highest grade of his young career.

#Steelers S Sean Davis played 79 snaps at FS on Sunday, easily the most of any game in his career.

Davis also had the highest game grade this week of any game in his career (83.1). #HereWeGo

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) September 11, 2018

When fans talk about the safety position, it is almost a certainty Mike Mitchell’s name gets brought up. In my opinion, Mitchell was never as bad as fans made him out to be, but he certainly wasn’t worth the salary he was making while in Pittsburgh.

Mitchell was a hard hitter who had his limitations in both athleticism and in coverage. These are two areas where Davis seems to excel. Davis’ time as a cornerback in college, combined with the physical nature of the Strong Safety position, which he called home his first two seasons, gives him the look of a natural at Free Safety.

It should be noted the Week 1 game was against the Browns, so any huge results and/or accolades should be taken with a Tyrod Taylor-size grain of salt, but you still have to go out and make the plays. More importantly, make the plays which weren’t being made in prior seasons.

Davis, and the Steelers’ defense, will have their work cut out for them in Week 2 when Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill come to town. Perform well again, against this offense, and Davis might be well on his way to finding a very nice home as a Free Safety in Pittsburgh for a long time.

T.J. Watt wins NFL Defensive Player of the Week honors after Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:00am

Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt earned a special honor after his 4 sack performance vs. the Browns in Week 1.

After missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury, expectations were low for T.J. Watt in his first game action of the year for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 and few fans can have anticipated the performance he gave on Sunday.

A total of 11 tackles and 4 sacks, to go along with a blocked field goal that prevented the Cleveland Browns winning the match up in the final seconds of overtime, led the team on defense in both categories for Pittsburgh and it should come as no surprise to learn that Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts by the NFL on Wednesday.

T.J. Watt has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

MORE: https://t.co/NbZVFmmIxq pic.twitter.com/FcyymZ0fbT

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 12, 2018

As per the Steelers PR/Media Manager, Dom Rinelli, Watt is the first Pittsburgh linebacker to win defensive player of the week honor since Lawrence Timmons won the award in Week 6 of the 2010 season. He is also the first NFL player to record at least 10 total tackles & 4 sacks in a game since Connor Barwin achieved that milestone while with the Houston Texans in November of 2011, according to Rinelli.

Watt’s incredible Opening Day stat line was not lost on brother J.J. either, and it is perhaps worth nothing that the former Defensive Player of Year has never recorded more than 3 sacks in a game himself during an eight year career and has only made double digit combined tackles (10) once in a game. Certainly something worth T.J. mentioning the next time he speaks to his eldest sibling.

Removal of Le’Veon Bell’s name the only change to Steelers’ depth chart in Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:35am

While the Steelers made just one change to their depth chart this week, it was a rather notable one.

If you were hoping that Le’Veon Bell might be back with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, an update to the team’s official depth chart seems to indicate the coaching staff doesn’t expect that happen anytime soon. Although Mike Tomlin has often suggested fans shouldn’t read too much into how players are positioned on the depth chart, it’s hard to interpret the removal of Bell’s name from the team sheet on Tuesday as anything but a bad sign.

When the Steelers published their first depth chart of the season, Bell sat atop the list of running backs as the starter. But although there has been no change in his contractual status since then, Bell suddenly is nowhere to be found in the latest version published on the team’s official website, and his name has also been removed from the team’s roster list.

As logical as it might be to exclude him, given he’s not yet signed his franchise tag, the same could have been said last week when he was included in the first draft. Without him, the rest of the running backs move up one place, with James Conner now the listed starter.

With it looking increasingly likely that Bell will holdout well into the season, it should be expected that Conner will remain in the number slot for the foreseeable future. When speaking to the media on Tuesday, Tomlin gave no indication that there had been any communication between the team and their absentee running back. Asked if he had any idea when Bell might arrive, Tomlin had no words of encouragement to offer.

“No I have not and from that perspective, nothing has changed regarding us. We’re preparing to play this week with the guys that are here and working, James [Conner] being central to that. … If and when any of that changes, I’ll let you know. If it does not, my answer will remain the same.”

#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps our Week 1 matchup vs. the Browns, and previews our Week 2 home opener vs. the Chiefs. https://t.co/5O7knVIQ0u

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 11, 2018

Perhaps unsettled by Conner’s impressive performance against the Cleveland Browns, it appears Bell tried to cheer himself up with another night out at the club on Monday. A dejected looking “Juice” seemingly finding it impossible to enjoy himself away from football.

#LeVeonBell #FantasyFootball https://t.co/4ZSx2ZrEkS pic.twitter.com/pOj5gbfpB0

— Terez Owens (@TerezOwens) September 11, 2018

With Bell losing more than $855,000 each week that he holds out, it can only be hoped he’s getting a discount from the clubs in Miami for his loyalty as a regular customer these days.

Analyzing the Steelers vs. Browns Week-1 game, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 7:56am

Wins and losses are the only numbers that matter, but somehow the Steelers managed to achieve neither.

Six turnovers.

It doesn’t take much number-crunching to figure out why the Steelers weren’t victorious on Sunday. It was the six turnovers.

There were five “Numbers For Victory” coming into the game which the Steelers needed in order to leave with the “W.” They managed to accomplish four of them. But the six giveaways out-weighed the rest.

  • Start fast and hold a significant halftime lead (7+ points).

I wouldn’t call it a super-fast start, but the Steelers did hold a 7-0 lead at halftime. They even expanded that lead to 21-7 going into the fourth quarter.

  • Run the ball 30 or more times for over 100 yards.

Mission accomplished here. The Steelers rushed for 159 yards on 35 rushing attempts. That’s both the most yards and attempts in a Week-1 game for the Steelers since 2008. It’s also important to point out that the Browns out-rushed the Steelers with 177 yards on 38 attempts.

  • Out-gain the Browns in total yards.

Check. The 472 total yards is the second most Week-1 total in the Mike Tomlin era. The 503 yards gained in the 2014 victory over the Browns (30-27) is only time the Steelers had more yards. Granted, they did gain 45 more yards of offense during the 10-minute overtime.

  • Limit turnovers (no more than 1) while forcing takeaways.

Total fail in this department. This game is the third most turnovers in a game under coach Tomlin. The Steelers had eight giveaways in Week 12 of the 2012 season when they lost 20-14 in Cleveland. In Week 1 of 2011, the Steelers had seven turnovers in Baltimore on their way to 35-7 loss. Given the fact that the Steelers had six giveaways on the day, it’s surprising that they aren’t currently 0-1.

  • Get after the Browns QB and keep the pressure off Ben.

The Steelers definitely got after the Tyrod Taylor. They had seven sacks on the day, four of which belonged to T.J. Watt. The Steelers did okay protecting Ben Roethlisberger by only giving up four sacks. Unfortunately, two of those sacks were also fumbles that the Steelers lost.

  • Numbers That Stand Out

It’s really hard to get past the six turnovers. But the other numbers that really added to the outcome were the penalties. Looking at the Browns and their 11 penalties for 87 yards, it’s hard to imagine that they would hold an advantage in this category. But the Steelers had 12 penalties for 116 yards.

The other interesting number from the game is 0-0-1. This is the first time since the NFL implemented an overtime period for the 1974 season that two teams started the season with this record. It’s also only the third time the Steelers finished in a tie in an overtime game. The Steelers played in the first overtime game in NFL history on September 22, 1974, in Denver. Ironically, that game ended in a 35-35 tie. More recently, the Steelers played to a tie at Heinz Field in 2002 against the Falcons. That game finished 34-34 when Plaxico Burress caught a Hail Mary pass at the 1-yard line as the game ended.

There were a lot of “positives” in this game: +3 in first downs, +138 in passing yards, +145 in total yards, +3 in sacks, and even +0:24 in time of possession. But these are only positive stat lines, not a positive outcome.

It would be really easy to look at the numbers and try to find a silver lining from this game. I just can’t bring myself do it. Like coach Tomlin said in his post game press conference, “we play and play to win. We didn’t win today.”

5 things the Steelers must change before their Week 2 game vs. the Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 6:52am

The Steelers tied with the Browns, but it never should have happened that way.

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened up the 2018 season with a game that encapsulated every stereotype of the Steelers bottled into one. They played down to inferior competition, “Road Ben” showed up in great fashion, and the coaching staff made some mind-boggling decisions. If this team is to be what it ought to be, some things have to change. Thus, here are five things that need to change for the Steelers between this week and when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in Pittsburgh.

Coaching Passivity

The Steelers looked like they would win this game heading into the third quarter when they were up by two touchdowns with just about nineteen minutes left to play. All they had to do was not take their foot off the gas pedal.

Unfortunately, they did just that.

The Steelers became passive, and Randy Fichtner’s play-calling shifted from a game plan designed to attack the Browns to one playing not to lose. Instead, the Steelers ran James Conner on a 3rd-and-10 and then proceeded to punt the ball. That type of passivity is what will kill you in the NFL. It’s what lost the Steelers the game against New England and it’s why they tied Sunday. Hopefully, this will be a lesson for new Offensive Coordinator Randy Fichtner, and he’ll learn never to take his foot off the gas. Simply put, Fichtner was extremely conservative in his play-calling on many third-down plays, and that included a few screens sprinkled in.

Fichtner overall didn’t have a bad game, but being that conservative after showing you could drive the ball up the field isn’t appropriate. Regardless, this was Fichtner’s first meaningful game calling plays, and let’s hope he learns from these mistakes. I’m sure it will haunt him during the coming week.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Play

I’m not going to pin the sole blame for this game on Ben, but it was one of the worst games of his career. If he has a decent game, the Steelers win easily. Having three interceptions and two fumbles is far from ideal for Ben, and his play as a whole was just sloppy.

He looked uncomfortable in the pocket, was inaccurate at times, and didn’t see the field as he usually does. This was on a par with the Jacksonville game (the first one in 2017) in terms of bad for Big Ben. I’m not sure which one was worse, but he has to be better if this team wants to go anywhere.

Luckily, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if this turns out to be the worst game of Roethlisberger’s season. As the season goes on, Ben will get better, and we’ll need him to be against the high-powered Chiefs’ offense. As long as Roethlisberger learns from his mistakes and tightens up his performances on the road, the Steelers should be fine. But another performance like this against a good team and the Steelers are losing by 30-points.

Offensive Line Play

The Steelers have a great offensive line — it’s one of the best in the NFL. However, this week, the offensive line didn’t live up to its reputation. Unfortunately, this mostly falls on Alejandro Villanueva. While he’s a good offensive tackle, he simply couldn’t handle the monster that is Myles Garrett. I can’t blame him for that, but he had some absolutely terrible pass sets that would have gotten him beat by a lot of average rushers too. Villanueva is easily the weak link on this line and he’ll need to play better against the likes of Justin Houston next week.

As for the rest of the line, there were too many penalties and the run-blocking lacked at times. David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert both played very well, but Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey still don’t finish some of their blocks against the run. They’re inconsistent in this regard, and since they don’t finish them, the result is often the two- or three-yard gains we saw this week.

This offensive line is a great unit, but when they face top-tier talent they just have to be that much more locked in.

Discipline

There were way too many penalties this week. In all three facets of the game, the Steelers were undisciplined.

I couldn’t tell you how many holding calls, illegal blocks in the back, and pass interference calls the Steelers drew. Were some of them bad calls? Sure, but that doesn’t excuse some of blatant ones called. Even if this were a leniently-called game, the Steelers likely still would have had more than 100 yards in penalties.

The peak of this undisciplined fiasco was Artie Burns getting into a scuffle with Jarvis Landry for little to no reason. That’s uncalled for and I hope Mike Tomlin had a good talk with Burns about his hot-headed display.

Going forward, if the Steelers can play a more-disciplined brand of football in all three phases, it will be a much better experience for all involved. They might have been more grabby on Sunday in Cleveland, but I’ve got no issue with that considering how aggressive they were.

James Washington

Washington was barely on the field and I have no clue why. What does Justin Hunter offer over Washington as a player?

The answer to that would be “nothing.” Washington is just as good of a deep threat as Hunter and he’s much better on contested catches. Washington has better hands, route running, and blocking than Hunter does. I just don’t understand why Hunter is playing instead of Washington when Washington can do so much more than he.

Washington also is not a strictly deep-ball receiver, so while they might wait until the weather is better for the deep balls Washington loves, he can be used in lots of other areas, especially on slants.

Simply put, James Washington offers so much more versatility and options as the Z-receiver compared to what Justin Hunter could, so the Steelers need to play the man.

Week 1 of 2018 set a new NFL record for penalties in a week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 5:39am

Penalty-ridden games can be nearly unbearable to watch. There were plenty of them to go around in Week 1.

The NFL managed to set a record for the number of accepted penalties during Week 1 of the season. To make matters worse, the record was already set before the Monday night games kicked off. When the Sunday games concluded, there were already 226 accepted penalties in Week 1. Add another 29 on Monday night, and the grand total of 255 accepted penalties set a new standard for penalties during Week 1 in the NFL. The previous record over the last 10 years was 222 in 2014.

Just to clarify, accepted penalties are deemed as any penalty that’s enforced. Offsetting or declined penalties are not included in this total.

Not only was there a new total for the first time in at least a decade, every Week-1 game had double-digit penalties — a first as well. There were almost 16 penalties on average per game for the week.

To put the number of penalties that fans had to endure this past week in more perspective, there has only been one week in the last 10 years where more penalties were enforced. In Week 2 of 2015, an outlandish 298 penalties were accepted/enforced league-wide (357 were called). Week 1 of 2018 now sits second.

There were five games in particular where the penalties really mounted up. Those games were:

Atlanta at Philadelphia: 26

Pittsburgh at Cleveland: 23

Buffalo at Baltimore: 19

Dallas at Carolina: 19

Oakland at LA Rams: 19

Of the penalties called, 76 of them (30%) were pre-snap penalties, such as false-start, illegal formation, encroachment, etc. The top penalties throughout the league were:

Offensive holding: 53

False start: 42

Defensive holding: 17

Defensive pass interference: 17

It’s hard to determine whether the increase in penalties was due to officiating or sloppy play. There are several new officials in the league this year which could be a factor. Additionally, starters are playing less and less in the preseason which leads to mental mistakes early on. Regardless, it becomes increasingly difficult to watch a game when the number of accepted penalties is approaching the twenties.

One thing to remember is that, since 2015, the average penalties-per-game for Week 1 was actually less than the season average. If that’s the case, we’re in for some rough watching this season.

Black and Gold Links: Ben Roethlisberger claims he wasn’t rusty heading into Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/12/2018 - 4:28am

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are slowly turning their attention away from the embarrassing tie with the Cleveland Browns and starting to focus on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. 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 Ben Roethlisberger going on his radio show to talk about how he doesn’t feel he was rusty heading into the Browns game, something which has been highly discussed and debated on this website and other formats.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says he wasn’t rusty heading into lackluster opener

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Roethlisberger’s ragged performance came after he played sparingly in the preseason – as has been the custom in recent years.

Roethlisberger started the third preseason game and logged 26 snaps. He completed 11 of 18 attempts for 114 yards and a touchdown. That was his only preseason activity.

But Roethlisberger said rust was not a factor against the Browns.

“I don’t think so,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday on his 93.7-FM weekly radio segment.

All three interceptions came in the first half when he had a 35.1 passer rating. On the first interception, Roethlisberger threw into double coverage for Antonio Brown, and a third defender, rookie corner Denzel Ward, jumped in front of Brown for the pick.

“I think the first interception was me getting a little anxious to get the ball to AB on a little rollout,” Roethlisberger said. “The guy made a great play. That one may be feel-of-the-game speed stuff compared to practice.”

Roethlisberger’s second interception was on a deep pass to Brown. Roethlisberger’s throw went one direction, Brown broke broke the other way.

“It was a play we hadn’t really practiced, but we wanted to take a shot,” Roethlisberger said. “It was one of those ones where AB was 40-50 yards downfield, so I have to anticipate his angle before he gets to the angle. … That’s an unfortunate thing, but it has nothing to do with preseason reps.”

Tim Benz: Where it all went wrong for Steelers in tie with Browns

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A lot needs to go wrong to lose to the Browns.

Sorry, tie the Browns. Dang, I keep screwing that up!

Not like there’s much of a difference.

The fruit hangs very low on this one. Six turnovers with five by the quarterback. Twelve penalties. Poor officiating. Thrown helmets. Dropped passes. And a missed game-winning kick in overtime.

Despite those ugly notes within the final box score, the Steelers still had a 21-7 lead after three quarters.

If I told you Sunday morning that the Steelers would have a two-touchdown lead in Cleveland during a rainstorm with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, you would’ve bet your house the Steelers would win.

Apparently so did the Steelers. Because that’s the way they approached the fourth quarter.

That is where it all started to go to wrong for the Black and Gold. Because despite everything else that stunk up until that point, Mike Tomlin’s players were able to overcome it.

Once the fourth quarter began, the die was cast for an epic collapse. And a lot of it was the result of their play-calling.

If Joe Haden is hurt, Cameron Sutton is ready to replace him

By: Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It didn’t take very long for Cleveland offensive coordinator Todd Haley to target Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton after he replaced Joe Haden in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Browns.

Haley, a former Steelers offensive coordinator, got a matchup with Sutton defending Josh Gordon and called the number of his top playmaking receiver. The result — a game-tying touchdown with 2:03 left.

Haley went right back at Sutton a few minutes later when the Browns had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Gordon ran the same pattern down the same sideline, but Sutton had tight coverage and made the first interception of his NFL career to help preserve a tie for the Steelers.

“They tested him,” safety Sean Davis said. “That’s what happens in the NFL. He lost his first battle but came back and won the second one. That’s what’s expected of him. I’m confident in Cam Sutton.”

AFC North Roundup: Steelers find themselves in tough spot after Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 2:55pm

Taking a look around the AFC North heading into Week 2.

With Week 1 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 1 Results

Baltimore Ravens — 47
Buffalo Bills — 3

The Ravens beat up the Nathan Peterman-led Bills, and looked good doing it. Was this more about the Bills being awful or the Ravens being better? Only time will tell...

Cincinnati Bengals — 34
Indianapolis Colts — 23

It looked like the Bengals would be handed an 0-1 record to start the season, but then a crazy change of events took place. Andrew Luck completed a pass to his tight end, only to see it fumbled and the Bengals return it for a score — all in the waning minutes of the game. Give them credit for being resilient, but the verdict is still out on the Bengals — just like every other NFL team at this juncture in the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers — 21
Cleveland Browns — 21

The two division rivals tied, and if you’re reading this, you already know how ugly this game was.

Week 2 Schedule

Baltimore at Cincinnati (TNF)
Kansas City at Pittsburgh (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Cleveland at New Orleans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)

AFC North Standings

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

Let us know what you think about the divisions after Week 1 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?

Mike Tomlin baffled with NFL not reversing fumble on Browns’ punt return

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 1:33pm

The call not being overturned certainly turned the tide in the Week 1 contest.

In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ weird tie with the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, many who know me personally, and some who don’t on social media, have asked my thoughts on the game.

It was disappointing, but one play stood out to me regarding a situation which turned the tide in the game.

After the Steelers’ scored their third touchdown to take a 21-7 lead, the defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive. The punt ‘appeared’ to glance off rookie running back Nick Chubb’s face mask and was recovered by safety Sean Davis.

It was a huge play, but the ruling on the field was Davis simply downed the football, not recovered a fumble. Mike Tomlin challenged the call, but it was not overturned, rather upheld.

During his weekly Tuesday press conference, Tomlin was asked about what happened on the play, and an explanation which might have followed by the league office.

He suggested he had no idea why the play was upheld, and not overturned.

Tomlin: All of us saw the ball hit that guy, their returner Peppers saw the ball hit that guy. Why else would he insert himself into that scrum. ... Why that play was not corrected? I have no idea. Ask New York. They had no problem talking about hit on Ben #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 11, 2018

To add onto this, Tomlin spoke about how the league office made it a point to say a Myles Garrett roughing the passer call should not have occurred, but hasn’t said a word regarding what looked to be a botched call.

Tomlin asks why NFL replay officials in New York came out and said the Myles Garrett roughing penalty was wrongly officiated but nothing ever was said about ball that touched Nick Chubb's helmet

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 11, 2018

Calls are missed every game, but the purpose of replay is to correct mistakes like that one. To make sure the call is correct.

Needless to say, if the Steelers would have been granted the football, there is a strong chance they are 1-0, and not 0-0-1, heading into Week 2. The Browns didn’t score on their next drive, but it was after this call when the Browns clawed their way back into the game via back-to-back turnovers by the Steelers.

An unfortunate turn of events, but also befuddling how the league hasn’t mentioned it since the game ended on Sunday.

Ben Roethlisberger and David DeCastro dealing with injuries heading into Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 11:56am

Mike Tomlin listed some big names at his weekly press conference regarding injuries heading into Week 2.

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t just stumble out of the gate in Week 1 while tying with the Cleveland Browns, but they are also dealing with some injuries heading into their Week 2 contest at Heinz Field vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.

The hamstring injury to Joe Haden which caused him to leave the game was already known, and the reports which circulated last Monday evening of it being a mild strain were verified by head coach Mike Tomlin during his weekly press conference.

Tomlin said he will evaluate CB Joe Haden (hamstring) during practice to see if he can play against the Chiefs. Haden was injured playing special teams and did not return against the Browns. He has a Grade 1 sprain, which is considered mild.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 11, 2018

The Steelers will likely rest Haden for the first few days of the week, or have him be a limited participant, before testing the injury. As anyone who has ever injured a hamstring knows, they can linger, so expect the team to always think about Haden’s long-term health compared to the short-term.

If Haden were unable to play, Cameron Sutton would fill in opposite Artie Burns.

With Haden’s injury known, Tomlin revealed two Pro Bowlers were also dealing with injuries. First listed was All-Pro guard David DeCastro. DeCastro left the game briefly during the Browns, and most assumed it was to have his hand taped/wrapped.

Turns out he fractured his hand.

Tomlin also said All-Pro G David DeCastro fractured his hand against the Browns. DeCastro returned to the game and said afterward his injury will not affect him or prohibit him from playing.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 11, 2018

The big question with DeCastro’s injury is how the medical staff will deal with the fracture. If they can put a soft cast on it, which would allow DeCastro to still use his fingers, it would be the best-case scenario. If they have to put a hard cast on the hand it could make life more difficult for the offensive guard.

The biggest injury news was when Tomlin talked about Ben Roethlisberger dealing with an injury to his elbow.

Coach Mike Tomlin revealed Ben Roethlisberger sustained some form of elbow injury against the Cleveland Browns that could limit his practice time this week but did not indicate it would affect his availability for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 11, 2018

Some fans might think this is a reason why Roethlisberger’s play was sub par, but Tomlin did not give his star quarterback a scapegoat for his 3 interception, 2 fumble day.

Tomlin said Ben's "elbow" issue did not affect him holding onto the ball (2 fumbles) or throwing it (3 interceptions) vs. Browns.

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) September 11, 2018

The first reported practice, regarding injuries, will be Wednesday, so stay tuned to BTSC for updates on these injuries, and any other additions, as the team prepares for the Chiefs to come to town.

NFL Power Rankings: Steelers stumble after Week 1 tie

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 10:53am

The Pittsburgh Steelers were a unanimous Top 5 team heading into the regular season, but not anymore.

Opening weekend of the 2018 regular season wasn’t pretty for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, it was downright putrid. With that said, it can be expected the team would drop in the weekly Power Rankings major media outlets love to produce.

These rankings mean nothing, but are great for conversation and debate. This week, the Steelers saw themselves plummet down the Top 10, and in some cases, out of the Top 10 altogether.

With a Week 2 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs looming, the Steelers, who will be back at the friendly confines of Heinz Field, will need to put up a good performance to help resurrect their status in these rankings.

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

ESPN

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. New England Patriots
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. Los Angeles Rams
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jon Bostic recorded 2½ tackles for loss, including a sack, in his debut with the Steelers. Last season, he had one sack in 14 starts with the Colts. As a team, the Steelers recorded seven sacks and the last time they did that and didn’t win the game was in 2000, also on the road against the Browns.”

9. New Orleans Saints
10. Atlanta Falcons

SB Nation

1. Minnesota Vikings
2. New England Patriots
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Carolina Panthers
10. Pittsburgh Steelers

Yahoo! Sports

1. Minnesota Vikings
2. Los Angeles Rams
3. New England Patriots
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Green Bay Packers
7. Kansas City Chiefs
8. Pittsburgh Steelers

“By now, I think everyone who follows the NFL with any degree of seriousness knows the multi-year trend that Ben Roethlisberger is great at home and much worse on the road. On the road Sunday, he wasn’t very good (though it was in a rainstorm). I have no idea how to explain his extreme home/road splits. It’s inexplicable.”

9. Carolina Panthers
10. Los Angeles Chargers

USA Today

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

“Plenty to unpack here. But shout-out to this defense, which produced seven sacks and held up well in light of offense’s six turnovers.”

Report: Joe Haden has a mild hamstring injury and could miss game against Chiefs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 9:45am

While there has been no official word yet from the team, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is reporting Joe Haden suffered a Grade-1 hamstring pull against the Browns on Sunday.

While cornerback Joe Haden was the only player forced from the field early due to injury on Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers, very little has been heard from the team or Haden about the severity of the problem since his hamstring injury was first reported.

Declining to speak to the press at any length after the game, Haden merely confirmed he was due to have an MRI on Monday, offering little else of substance to allay the fears of Steelers Nation. However, if a report from Jeremy Fowler on Monday is to be believed, the injury might not be as significant as first imagined.

Steelers CB Joe Haden has a mild (grade one) hamstring pull, per source. That’s a good sign for the Steelers, but they won’t push it. He’s not a lock for Week 2 matchup with Chiefs unless it heals correctly early in the week. Early signs are positive, though.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 10, 2018

As per Google, ever reliable when it comes to medical diagnosis, a Grade-1 hamstring pull can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to heal. With the Steelers set to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field in five days, that would seem to leave Haden questionable for Sunday but probable for Week 3.

Cameron Sutton was the next man up on the depth chart against the Browns and he would figure to be the starter versus the Chiefs if the veteran cornerback cannot play. Haden’s level of participation in practice this week will determine his availability in Week 2, as Mike Tomlin might say, and he’s likely to be characterized as day-to-day when Tomlin addresses the media on Tuesday.

For what it’s worth, members of the press who saw Haden at the team facilities on Monday reported no obvious signs of injury, nor any visible limp.

Joe Haden showed no sign of limp as he walked through locker room. Members of secondary are confident in Cam Sutton if he has to start against Chiefs

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 10, 2018

Joe Haden just breezes through Steelers LR. Still waiting on MRI results. No limp.

— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) September 10, 2018

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