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NFL Betting Preview: Steelers open as 14.5-point favorites against the Dolphins

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 8:31am
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Steelers have lost a lot of ground according to the odds makers, Miami has lost even more

The Pittsburgh Steelers are returning to Heinz Field following a West Coast win and a week off to get healthy. On top of that, the Steelers are wearing their 4-0 color rush uniforms as they take on the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. After losing another key starter to the Reserve/Injured List following their Week 6 game, the Steelers are looking as to how exactly they will fill the shoes of Stephon Tuitt.

Regardless of the Steelers injury situation, the Miami Dolphins seem to be the perfect opponent for the Steelers to make a statement that they are far from done when it comes to contending in the AFC North. Even though the Ravens did get an impressive win in Seattle in Week 7, there is still a lot of football to be played and the Steelers need to kick off the remainder of their season in a big way.

When it comes to the betting lines for Monday’s game, the following information is the current consensus spread and over/under for the Steelers this week as reported by oddsshark.com.

Game Info: Week 8 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins Monday, October 28, 2019 at 8:15 PM

Betting line: -14.5

Over/under: 42.5

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 15-30 vs Dolphins

Win streak: 1 games PIT (playoffs)

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 2 - 1 MIA

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 7 - 3 MIA

The opening line on the game was -10 when the schedule was released in April. With the Dolphins starting off 0-6, the line moved in the direction of the Steelers regardless of their injury situation.

Being the overwhelming favorite on Monday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of -900 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 1/9 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Dolphins would have a payout of $22.22 ($2.22 plus the original $20 bet). The Dolphins have a current moneyline of +600, or 6/1 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on Miami to win straight up would have a payout of $140.00 ($120.00 pus the original $20 bet).

According to Oddsshark.com, the Steelers are 7-1 straight up in their last seven games in October and are 4-1 straight up in their last 5 home games against Miami. The Steelers have had their total go UNDER in five of their last seven games.

If looking at the futures bets, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl vary from 40/1 to 100/1. They also have varying odds to win the AFC Championship from 25/1 odds to 35/1. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are at 5/1 odds and they are projected to place third the AFC North. Both Baltimore (1/3) and Cleveland (4/1) have better odds to win the division while Cincinnati is still the biggest long shot to win the AFC North at 120/1.

Point/Counterpoint: Devlin Hodges should be the starting quarterback against the Dolphins

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 7:31am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC writers Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis offer differing opinions on whether or not the Steelers should stay with Devlin Hodges over Mason Rudolph.

Since Ben Roethlisberger went down in Week 2 against Seattle, the Steelers have had solid play from two quality backups. But since Devlin “Duck” Hodges won his first start last week subbing for a concussed Mason Rudolph, some have felt that the UDFA from Samford should be the QB1, while others support Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Rudolph when he returns. BTSC’s resident heels, The Steeler Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.

The Duck should be the Steelers starting QB going forward.

Tony Defeo’s Point:

What happened on Sunday night was a thing of beauty. I’m talking, of course, about the Steelers’ very cathartic and soothing to the soul 24-17 victory over the Chargers at Rokit Field at Dignity Health Stadium.

It’s rare for the Steelers to earn victories these days, so rare that, when they happen, you pay extra attention to the special ingredients that were stirred together to make it a reality. You pay attention to player attitude, player will, player enthusiasm, player hustle. All were on display against the Chargers last Sunday. It was almost as if they were answering a call. Maybe that’s because the man who won the National Duck Calling Champion a decade earlier was summoning his teammates to go hunting for victory.

I’m referring to rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges, who was getting his first-career start just months after setting national passing records at Samford University.

In completing 15 of 20 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown and one interception, Hodges didn’t set the world on fire, but it was apparent that, to quote head coach Mike Tomlin, the moment wasn’t too big for him. He wasn’t afraid of the spotlight. He wasn’t afraid to be a leader.

He showed confidence, poise and moxie. And maybe it was just my overactive imagination, but I think I detected the kind of “it” factor only certain quarterbacks, the ones that are truly special, possess.

Certain quarterbacks throughout history just knew how to win, their physical attributes and skill-set, be damned. When you think of players like Bobby Layne, Joe Kapp and even Tim Tebow, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? They were winners. They just won. It didn’t matter if they passed for 316 yards or 60 yards, they found a way to get the job done. It didn’t matter if they threw a perfect spiral or a duck, the pass got to where it needed to go.

Layne willed the Detroit Lions to multiple NFL Championships in the 1950s before coming to Pittsburgh and nearly leading that sad-sack franchise to one in the 1960s.

Kapp never met a spiral that he wanted to throw, but he did well enough in leading the Minnesota Vikings to the NFL Championship in 1969 that he was voted team MVP. And in a display of leadership often unseen in the sports world, Kapp refused to accept the trophy at a team function because, in his opinion, there were 40 Most Valuable Vikings.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of quarterback I’d run through a brick wall for.

As for Tebow, his career was short, but his effect on his Broncos teammates was long-lasting, starting in 2011, when he was thrust into the lineup mid-season and led Denver to an 8-8 record and AFC West crown. Of course, you know what Tebow did when he reached the postseason, right? He defeated the Steelers in overtime in the wildcard round. Tebow taught the Broncos how to win, which probably explains why, even in his absence, they were able to reach two of the next four Super Bowls and capture their third Lombardi Trophy following the 2015 season.

Back to that wildcard victory over the Steelers. Many asked how could someone like Tebow beat the Steelers? Simple. He willed the Broncos to victory. Same held true for Layne, this despite his notorious heavy drinking habits the night before games.

Same for Kapp.

Same for any quarterback with true leadership skills.

I believe Hodges possesses those leadership qualities. That is why I think it’s an error in judgment for Tomlin to quickly reinstate Mason Rudolph as his starting quarterback against the Dolphins, less than three weeks after he was knocked out of the Ravens game by a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit.

Tomlin said that if Rudolph clears the concussion protocol, something he indicated was all but a formality, he will get his old job back.

Excuse me, Coach, but did you see how your team responded to Duck Dynasty? Did you see how your players circled the wagons and refused to let their young starting quarterback down?

Only truly great leaders can inspire that kind of commitment and dedication in their teammates.

I think it’s a mistake to go back to Rudolph. I think it’s unfair to his team for Tomlin to pull the rug out from under his players just when they were beginning to believe in something and, more importantly, someone.

That someone is Devlin Hodges, and he should be the Steelers starting quarterback against the Dolphins and everyone else over the final 10 games of the 2019 regular season.

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counterpoint

Tony, you are 0-5 (sure out of nearly 1,200 votes, I only beat you by two last week) and I even let you pick the point this week. I can’t believe that this is what you came up with. This decision was almost as inconceivable as Alex P. Keaton choosing to matriculate at Leland College in Ohio rather than his dream school of Princeton in a 1984 episode of “Family Ties” or the Browns drafting Baker Mayfield as the first overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

I get it you are drinking the duck-flavored Kool-Aid. I love the guy and his story too. And yes, he does have poise, moxie and an “it” factor. But saying, after just one start, that he has earned the keys to the castle is just ducked—up. Also, you’re dipping into the Joe Kapp well? What are you 90? Kapp, Layne and Tebow all had a certain je ne sais quoi, but you are making the last two seem bigger than they were. Layne, 27-20-2 as a Steeler, never led the Steelers to the playoffs. Kordell Stewart, Cliff Stoudt, Tommy Maddox, Neil O’Donnell, Mark Malone, Bubby Brister and Mike Tomczak did...but Layne did not. And I don’t recall anybody wearing navy blue and orange and covered in confetti saying, “We would have never done it without the influence of Tim, two freaking years ago”.

Look, I am and will be forever grateful for Mr. Hodges leading the Steelers to victory in a must-win situation in Lost Angeles last Sunday, but we are forgetting a couple of things in our giddiness. Lets outline them, shall we?

Yes, the Samford kid was 15/20 with 132 yards and threw both a touchdown and an interception with the most important stat being the one in the win column. But those completions were so short, I can spit at a further distance. He also showed great composure in the pocket and was elusive as well when needed. But I can’t help but thinking that had Devin Bush not picked up a backwards pass and hustled it in and had he not intercepted a ball deep in Chargers territory, there would have been a lot more pressure on the young quarterback. Thus a 14-point lead made it much easier for him to just play. Also, because the scheme was filled with high percentage plays and due to the fact that James Conner was fighting for yards like a bulldog stuck in a pair of blue jeans, Devlin was never in a situation where he had to force things or come from behind.

  • He hasn’t established a deep ball or a medium one, for that matter.

Now before we wax poetically about Mason Rudolph being a dink-and-dunker as well, let’s remember that Rudolph has had four of his seven TD passes go for more than 30 yards. When Hodges threw deep, he underthrew JuJu on what would have been a long score and the other Duck deep-one was a just that, a duck that got picked off. I’m sure he can throw deep, but just like Mason, you need to ease a young quarterback into going longer.

  • Mason hasn’t failed anything yet.

Rudolph has only played three-and-a-half NFL games. He is learning the NFL game as well. But despite a 1-3 record, all three losses were marred by a costly turnover at the absolute worst time (one that Donte Moncrief caused against Seattle, a Conner cough-up in San Francisco and JuJu’s gaffe at the end of the Ravens game, MR2 has very good numbers and was making great strides as well.

The bottom line to this whole situation is that, despite Ben Roethlisberger being out, the Steelers are rich with backups at this juncture and I would ride with both. But Mason is the best bet at this moment based on his progression and skill level. But I would still be comfortable with Duck having his back if necessary again.

So...what are your thoughts? Which one of us gets to bask in the glory of being right this week? State your case in the comments section and be sure to vote in the poll. BAD is 5-0 on the season, while TonDef is looking like he’s tanking for Tua.

Like season’s past, the 2019 Steelers need to stack wins coming out of the bye

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 6:30am
Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are 8-4 coming off the bye week under Mike Tomlin

It’s a time for teams to regroup and reload. The NFL gives each team a bye at some point during the season with some coming earlier or later then others. The Steelers we’re given a Week 6 bye in 2019, somewhat consistent to where their off-week has fallen over the last several years. While the timing of the bye has been very nice for 2019, it’s what the Steelers do following it which will truly tell if they were able to take advantage of said timing.

Since Mike Tomlin took over as head coach in 2007, the Steelers are 8-4 coming out of the bye week. As important as it is to get a win, what may be more important is the Steelers stacking wins along the way. In order to see if the Steelers are prepared to get on a decent win streak, let’s take a look back at how the Steelers have fared in their next chunk of games coming out of the bye week over the past eight seasons.

2018: 4 straight wins

Following their Week 7 bye in 2018, the Steelers rattled off a home winn against the Cleveland Browns, a win in Baltimore, a Thursday night shellacking of the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field, and a tough-fought last-second win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although the Steelers did find themselves in a bit of a losing streak after that, they did get on a roll after their week off.

2017: 5 straight wins

With a bye in Week 9, the Steelers traveled to the Indianapolis Colts for a three-point victory in 2017. Following up with a win on a short week on a Thursday night game against the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers notched victories at home against the Green Bay Packers, in Cincinnati, and at home against the Baltimore Ravens. And if the New York replay officials hadn’t completely screwed Jesse James out of his touchdown, the Steelers would have possibly finished with an eight-game win streak.

2016: 2 losses followed by 7 straight wins

While the Steelers struggled coming out of their Week 8 bye in 2016 by falling in Baltimore and at home against the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers won their final seven games of the 2016 regular season.

2015: 1 loss followed by 3 wins

The Steelers bye week came late in 2015 as it was in Week 11. The Steelers traveled to the Seattle Seahawks where they fell 39–30 before they won their next three games against the Colts, Bengals, and Broncos.

2014: 1 loss followed by 4 wins

The Steelers had an even later bye week in 2014 as they were off in Week 12. This was also the only season under Mike Tomlin where the Steelers lost at home coming out of the bye when they fell 35-32 to the New Orleans Saints. After the loss, the Steelers won the final four games of the season in order to win the AFC North in Week 17 by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, this was also the season where the Steelers lost Le’Veon Bell in that final game and had to pick up Ben Tate off the street in order to play in the playoffs.

2013: 2 wins

While only winning two games in a row coming off of the Steelers Week 5 bye in 2013, they were important wins as the Steelers had started 0-4 before getting there first wins of the season.

2012: 5 wins in 6 games

The Steelers had a very early bye in 2012 as they were off for Week 4. They defeated the Philadelphia Eagles the week after the bye but fell in Tennessee to the Titans on a short week playing on Thursday night. The Steelers then won the next four games, winning five of their first games six after the bye week.

2011: 3 straight wins, 5 of their last 6

The Steelers won their next three games after their Week 11 bye in 2011 defeating the Chiefs, Bengals, and Browns. The Steelers then fell in San Francisco on Monday Night Football before finishing their season taking down the Rams and the Browns a second time.

Does the past eight seasons of stacking wins after the bye necessarily mean anything for 2019? It does not. But with the Steelers playing their next three games at home and the need to make up some ground in the AFC North, perhaps this team can pull things together after a much-needed week off.

Podcast: Can the Steelers catch the Ravens in the division?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 5:30am

Join Bryan and Tony for the fallout after a week off for the Steelers in the latest episode of the ‘Steelers Hangover’.

The Steelers had a much-needed week off yesterday, but the Baltimore Ravens didn’t and made the most of it on the road in Seattle. That begs the question, even if the Steelers go on a run...do they have a chance to capture the high-flying birds? Join Bryan Davis, and Anthony Defeo from BTSC as they share their thoughts on the overall landscape of the Steelers 2019 season after the bye and a big Baltimore win. It’s the extravaganza known as “Steelers Hangover”.

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

  • Rehashing the Bye Week that was for the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Do the Steelers have the slightest chance of catching the Ravens in 2019 or has too much damage been done?
  • Live chat Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Randy Fichtner not concerned about JuJu Smith-Schuster at all

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 10/22/2019 - 4:33am
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 8 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Miami Dolphins this week we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how despite a slow start, and not much production, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner isn’t worried about JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Let’s get to the news:

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster’s production has been down in 2019, but it isn’t necessarily all on him. After all, playing with two young quarterbacks after Ben Roethlisberger’s injury isn’t necessarily ideal.

Worried about JuJu? Fichtner sure isn’t

By: Hunter Homistek, DKPittsburghSports

JuJu Smith-Schuster isn’t having his best year. At all.

Through six games, Smith-Schuster’s caught 25 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers. That’s just 56.7 yards per game, the lowest of his career, and it pairs with a 65.8 percent catch rate, also the worst in his three seasons as a pro.

Couple that with the fact he fumbled after a late catch in overtime against the Ravens, a mistake that ultimately cost the Steelers the game, and to say it’s been a rough go for Smith-Schuster early in 2019 is an understatement.

Fans and fantasy football owners alike are worried about him.

But Randy Fichtner, his offensive coordinator, has no doubt a bounce-back is coming.

“He’s been great. He’s been tough,” Fichtner said of Smith-Schuster at the Rooney Complex. “I challenged him a week ago, I told him, I said, ‘Look.’ — he was very disappointed when he put the ball on the ground against Baltimore — and I said, ‘I wouldn’t change that call one time. We want to go to you. We’re going to go to you.’”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Is Devin Bush’s tackling going to be an ongoing problem?

Carter’s Classroom: Tackling Bush’s tackling

By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports

Devin Bush has made waves with his rookie season, leading the Steelers with 52 tackles -- 10th-most in the NFL -- in their first six games, in addition to two interceptions and six recovered fumbles.

The defense desperately needed an inside linebacker to step up in this regard after Jon Bostic and L.J. Fort struggled across from Vince Williams. But Bush isn’t just playing like a rookie trying to make every play. He’s displaying veteran-like tendencies that are a much higher floor to work with than anyone could’ve expected.

Let’s take a closer look at his tackling:

To read the full article, click HERE ($$)

  • Former Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers is getting a look around the NFL.

Buccaneers working out Eli Rogers in search for new returner

By: Curtis Crabtree, ProFootballTalk

After Bobo Wilson dropped a pair of punts in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for a new punt returner.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, that search will include former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers.

Rogers was released by the Steelers as a part of their roster cuts at the end of training camp. Rogers appeared in 30 games for Pittsburgh over the last three seasons. While not handling return duties last season, Rogers returned 26 punts for 191 yards during his time with the Steelers. However, he also had three fumbles in the role as well.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Rudolph: “It was frustrating to have to sit out when I felt pretty close to normal, pretty fine. It was the best thing for my long-term health.” pic.twitter.com/WSo4HhblFE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 21, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

Back to work.

MORE: https://t.co/IyyF2hJGBs pic.twitter.com/1HoRI2vLBL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 21, 2019

The Bus cannot be stopped. @JeromeBettis36 | #OTD pic.twitter.com/Lqp6mcMUk8

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 21, 2019

Ready to be back at @heinzfield! pic.twitter.com/OR5k6dY9Fo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 21, 2019

Together. pic.twitter.com/Eu4ct9cXaY

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 20, 2019

Report: At least 4 Steelers return to practice Monday after missing Week 6

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 2:08pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With an extra practice due to the bye and not playing until Monday, there is no official participation designation until Thursday

The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the practice field at the UPMC Sports Complex on Monday after several days off due the bye week. Although there will be no official report on practice participation until Thursday, several players were reported to be practicing on Monday.

Mason Rudolph

This was not a very big surprise as route Rudolph practiced the week leading up to the Chargers game. It was also announced last week Rudolph had cleared concussion protocol and will be the starting quarterback moving forward. Regardless of the fact he didn’t miss a practice while dealing with his concussion, it was nice to see him back practicing with the team.

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph goes through drills during afternoon practice Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, Pittsburgh. @PittsburghPG @PGVisuals @PGSportsNow pic.twitter.com/3zmzXhdNnF

— Peter Diana (@peterdianapghpg) October 21, 2019 Steven Nelson

I was surprised when Nelson was downgraded to out and did not make the trip with the Steelers to Los Angeles last week, but apparently his groin injury needed some time to heal. Hopefully the bye week fell at the perfect time for him to get back out on the field as one of the most pleasant surprises of the Steelers 2019 secondary.

First day back feeling good in the Neighborhood.

— Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) October 21, 2019 James Washington

It was unclear if Washington would still need a few weeks for his injured shoulder which occurred three plays after Rudolph was knocked out against the Baltimore Ravens. It is also unclear how much he was able to participate in practice or how his progression will go throughout the week. But getting on the field at all for Washington is a welcome sight which means he has a chance to be ready for Monday night.

Bye week came at a good time for the Steelers. WR James Washington (shoulder) and CB Steve Nelson (groin) we’re back at practice today. Both said they were glad for the bye to heal up and rehab.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 21, 2019 Roosevelt Nix

This one has been something Steelers’ fans had been looking for weeks ago. The return of Roosevelt Nix to the practice field is a very good sign in his recovery from his knee injury. Nix exited the Steelers first game of the season and has not been able to practice in any form since Week 1.

Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix said he was glad to be back at practice today. "Being around the guys now, I’m just hopeful to help and put my hand in the pile to turn this thing around."

Nix has been out with a knee injury since the season opener.

— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) October 21, 2019

The other two players who missed the Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Chargers were running back Jaylen Samuels and inside linebacker Mark Barron. While Samuels is expected to miss another week or so due to his surgery, it is unclear the status of Barron for this week. There was no report available yet as to whether or not Barron participated and any activities on Monday.

As for the players who were unable to finish the game in Los Angeles, James Conner was available at practice on Monday. As for Joe Haden and T.J. Watt, there were no reports on their participation as of Monday afternoon.

When it comes to the overall status of these players, there may be an update given in head coach Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Tuesday. If not, we will just have to wait until Thursday for the first injury report.

Rookie Report: Checking in on the Steelers 2019 NFL Draft class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 12:18pm
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers rookies are contributing, but how has the group as a whole been doing?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-4 heading into their Week 8 game vs. the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football, but the bye week is a great time to take a look at the team’s 2019 NFL Draft class and see how the players are doing thus far.

Granted, this is a tiny sample size, six games, but still large enough where you can get a feel for what kind of player the team has, in terms of potential.

Let’s take a look going by the round and order in which they were drafted:

Round 1: Devin Bush

The Steelers made an aggressive play in the first round to trade up and select Bush with the 10th overall pick. I’d say the trade has panned out for the black-and-gold as Bush is certainly in the discussion for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors at season’s end. Every week you see Bush getting more comfortable, and this equates to more plays being made. His athleticism is showing up in a big way, and at big times for this opportunistic Steelers defense. Of their 15 takeaways, Bush has been involved in six of those.

Round 3: Diontae Johnson

In my opinion, Johnson has been the surprise of the draft class so far. Everyone expected Johnson to take some time, like James Washington before him, but the reality is Johnson has looked comfortable very early in his rookie campaign. He has already caught two touchdown passes, and is developing a very good rapport with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. I expect Johnson to be a more integral part of the offense moving forward.

Round 3: Justin Layne

The Michigan State cornerback has been nothing more than a special teams player, but this was expected. Layne is a project, but fans haven’t gotten to see him as a defender to date.

Round 4: Benny Snell Jr.

Benny Snell Football...before the season everyone wondered what that even meant. We are starting to at least get a glimpse of what Snell can bring to the team. While he has plenty of room to improve, since Jaylen Samuels’ injury Snell has shown he isn’t a liability in the backfield. I get the feeling he will only get better in Year 2 when he learns the NFL isn’t about size, but speed and agility.

Round 5: Zach Gentry

Like Layne, most viewed Gentry as a project. He is a giant of a man, but definitely has work to do to improve his game both blocking and receiving. Gentry did see time early in the season, and didn’t do horribly when called into action. Gentry will get valuable experience this year, but his impact won’t come likely until earliest Year 2.

Round 6: Sutton Smith

Did not make the roster.

Round 6: Isaiah Buggs

Buggs has been a player who has bounced between being a game day inactive, to seeing the field sparingly on special teams. However, the fact Buggs made the team, and is getting a helmet sometimes, shows some promise. He could get an opportunity to showcase his skills with Stephon Tuitt lost for the year with a torn pectoral muscle.

Round 6: Ulysees Gilbert III

Gilbert flashed in a big way this preseason, and made the team because of it. With Tyler Matakevich’s contract set to expire after this season, Gilbert might be the insurance policy at inside linebacker if/when Matakevich leaves via free agency. In the meantime, Gilbert has been a very good special teams player and gaining valuable experience throughout his rookie year. His athleticism combined with Devin Bush makes for a tantalizing duo at ILB in the future.

Round 7: Derwin Gray

Did not make the roster.

Steelers’ snap count leaders through their first 6 games

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 10:52am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

While some positions constantly rotate players, other positions are poised to have players on the field for every snap

With some positions it matters a lot, but others it may not be as important. Looking at the snap counts on offense, defense, and special teams can tell a lot about the state of the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers. Case in point, Ben Roethlisberger is usually one of the top leaders in offensive snaps for the Steelers. But with Ben’s season over as of half time of Week 2, the snaps by any quarterback have not reached the 50% mark.

Leading the way on offense as usual are the five offensive lineman. Tackles Matt Feiler and Alejandro Villanueva along with guard David DeCastro all have played 100% of the offensive snaps in 2019 according to profootballreference.com. Guard Ramon Foster missed one snap in Week 6, leaving him with 350 of the 351 possible snaps offense. Center Maurkice Pouncey missed 14 snaps in Week 1 against the Patriots and four snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals giving him 94.9% of snaps played on season.

Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has the most snaps on offense outside of the linemen playing 86.9% of the time. After JuJu, there is a large drop in the percentages of snaps played with the next three players being Diontae Johnson at 63.5%, James Conner at 60.1%, and James Washington at 54.7% despite missing Week 6. The only other player on the offensive side of the ball with more than 50% of the snaps played is tight end Vance McDonald with 53.6%.

As for the defensive side of the ball, Terrell Edmunds leads the way playing 422 of the 434 snaps for a percentage of 97.2% The only game in which Edmunds did not play 100% of the snaps was against the Baltimore Ravens when the Steelers used an extra linebacker in place of Edmunds in certain packages. Since joining the Steelers in Week 3, Minkah Fitzpatrick has played all but one snap on defense giving him 65.7% despite not being on the Steelers for two games.

Closely behind Edmunds is cornerback Joe Haden who has played 94.5% of the snaps on defense. Bud Dupree has also logged 400 defensive snaps for 92.2%. Although not always considered a starter, rookie Devin Bush has played 89.2% of the snaps on defense, even more than outside linebacker T.J. Watt who has played 86.2%. Despite missing Week 6, Steven Nelson still has played 85.5% of the total snaps on the season due to the fact he had played all but one snap in the first five weeks of the season.

Because of the rotation used on the defensive line, Cameron Heyward leads the way for the season at the position with 73.5% of the snaps played. While Stephon Tuitt was logging right around 70% of the defensive snaps through Week 5, his season-ending injury will most likely cause an increase in Javon Hargrave’s 49.1% and Tyson Alualu’s 32.3% of snaps played on defense.

When it comes to the Steelers’ special teams play, Ulysees Gilbert III is leading the way on the season with 133 snaps played. He has also led the Steelers in special team snaps in every game in 2019. Special team aces Tyler Matakevich and Jordan Dangerfield have each logged 108 snaps. The only other player with 100 special teams snaps on the season is Benny Snell Jr. with exactly the century mark.

As the season wears on, seeing more and more players with 90% or more of the snaps on their respective side of the ball would mean positive things for the Steelers overall health going forward. In general, the quarterback, offensive line, and the defensive secondary are players who rarely leave the field. So if players at these positions are not logging a high number of snaps, chances are it will be from time missed due to injury.

AFC North Recap: Ravens’ huge Week 7 win puts Steelers in deeper division hole

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 9:41am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers and Browns didn’t play in Week 7, but they found themselves both in a deeper hold after a huge Ravens road win over the Seahawks.

The seventh week of NFL football is behind us, and it was quite the week in the AFC North division. With that said, it is time to see how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns all did in the week that was.

Time to take a look...

Baltimore Ravens - 30
Seattle Seahawks - 16

Seattle you had one job. Just ONE JOB! And you couldn’t deliver the goods. While all Steelers and Browns fans were hoping the Seahawks could hold serve at home, a place which used to be incredibly difficult to win in, they were unable to contain Lamar Jackson. Jackson rushed for over 100 yards and looked every bit as dangerous as he has throughout the entire 2019 regular season. The win propels the Ravens to a 5-2 record, and puts Cleveland and Pittsburgh in a deeper division hole than most were hoping. The Ravens now enter their bye week with a huge amount of momentum.

Jacksonville Jaguars - 27
Cincinnati Bengals - 17

I didn’t see any of this football game, and I’m not sure if anyone in Cincinnati even attended the contest. With an 0-7 start to the season, there are already rumors swirling of AJ Green wanting out of town, and can you blame him? This are only going to get worse before they get better for the Bengals.

AFC North Standings

Baltimore Ravens - 5-2
Cleveland Browns - 2-4
Pittsburgh Steelers - 2-4
Cincinnati Bengals - 0-7

Week 8 AFC North Schedule:

Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Rams - 1:00 p.m. ET
Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots - 4:25 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Miami Dolphins - Monday Night Football
Baltimore Ravens — BYE

A look ahead...

Next three opponents for all AFC North teams:

Baltimore Ravens: Bye, vs. Patriots, at Bengals
Cleveland Browns: at Patriots, at Broncos, vs. Bills
Pittsburgh Steelers: vs. Dolphins, vs. Colts, vs. Rams
Cincinnati Bengals: at Rams, Bye, vs. Ravens

It’s Steelers vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick again, just with another team

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 8:30am
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback will face the Steelers for the seventh time with six different teams

The face hasn’t changed much, but the uniform has been swapped out constantly dating back to 2008. With Ryan Fitzpatrick slated to start next Monday for the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it will be his seventh game against the black and gold. In those seven starts, the last six have each come with a different franchise.

Fitzpatrick has actually started games for eight different teams. Starting five games combined in the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the St. Louis Rams, the Steelers never faced Fitzpatrick in those seasons. Additionally, his one season with the Tennessee Titans in 2013 had Jake Locker as the starter when they faced off against the Steelers in Week 1. Other than those two franchises, Fitzpatrick has started against the Steelers in all of his other stops around the NFL.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first game against Pittsburgh came in Cincinnati as the starter for the Bengals in Week 7 of the 2008 season. The Steelers won the game 38-10 scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Fitzpatrick threw for 164 yards on 21 completions and had a 5 yard touchdown to Chad Johnson just before halftime. He was also sacked seven times in the game and lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter.

Five weeks later Fitzpatrick started again for the Bengals at Heinz Field in a Thursday night showdown. Although he jumped out to a 7–0 lead in the first quarter with a touchdown pass to Glenn Holt, the Steelers ultimately won the game 27-10. This time Fitzpatrick was only sacked once but did throw an interception while passing for 168 yards on 20 completions.

Two years later in 2010, Fitzpatrick started against the Steelers in Buffalo as a member of the Bills. Although he led a drive at the end of regulation to set up a 49-yard field goal, the Steelers were able to get the three point win in overtime 19-16.

After two more years in Buffalo and the aforementioned 2013 season with the Tennessee Titans, Fitzpatrick joined the Houston Texans in 2014 and traveled to Pittsburgh for a Monday night game at Heinz Field in Week 7. Fitzpatrick led his team to the first 13 points of the game before the Steelers rattled off 24 points in the final 3:13 of the half to take a 24–13 lead, ultimately winning the game 30-23. Although he passed for 262 yards with two touchdowns, it was Fitzpatrick‘s interception with just over a minute left in the first half which led to the Steelers third touchdown in the last 90 seconds of the second quarter.

In his second year with the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick started another game at Heinz Field in Week 5 of the 2016 season. While he played a decent game with 255 yards and a touchdown, this game was the lone highlight reel for Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates as he caught six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-13 Steelers victory.

Last season, the Steelers traveled to Tampa Bay to take on “Fitz-magic” and the 2-0 Buccaneers in Week 3 on Monday Night Football. Known as the infamous “stiff arm heard round the world” by Vance McDonald, the Steelers jumped out to a 30–10 lead at halftime. Fitzpatrick ended up throwing for 411 yards on 30 completions with three touchdowns, two of which came in the fourth quarter. But his three interceptions were the biggest downfall as one was returned for a touchdown by Bud Dupree.

In case you weren’t tallying the results yourself, Ryan Fitzpatrick is 0-6 in his career starts against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Three of the losses came at Heinz Field by a combined 42 points. This will also be the fourth time Fitzpatrick will face the Steelers in prime time, and a third time specifically on Monday night.

Quarterbacking the Miami Dolphins, Fitzpatrick will come to Heinz Field Monday night looking to do the unthinkable. Not only would he get his first career win against the Steelers, it would be the first win for a Dolphins team who seems to be more interested in gaining top draft picks for the 2020 season then actually winning a football game. But on next Monday night, look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to give everything he’s got to take down the Steelers.

The latest details on Anthony Chickillo’s arrest this past weekend

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 7:30am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ backup outside linebacker finds himself in a tough situation with the team coming off their bye week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed their Week 7 bye in a bad way. The list of players who were nursing injuries was long and a week away seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. What also can happen when away from the team facility and team activities are players who find themselves into off-field trouble/situations.

This was the case when Steelers’ reserve outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo was arrested early Sunday morning on charges of simple assault, criminal mischief and harassment. News hit the wire late Sunday, and the Steelers director of Public Relations, Burt Lauten, released the following statement:

“We are aware of the incident involving Anthony Chickillo last night and are still gathering information. Until we have further details we will not provide any further comment,” the Steelers said.

As more information is uncovered, more details of what led to this unfortunate series of events comes to light. KDKA in Pittsburgh has released new details of the incident, and it shows an altercation between Chickillo and his girlfriend, Alysha Newman.

This is what KDKA had to say about the incident:

According to the criminal complaint, Chickillo was arrested today by the Uniontown Pennsylvania State Police.

Police say the arrest was from a domestic dispute that happened at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort with his girlfriend, Alysha Newman.

Chickillo says the argument became physical when Newman hit him in the head.

Newman says she punched Chickillo in the head after he grabbed her and forced her against the door and wall in the room. She had injuries on her biceps.

The Steelers say they are still gathering information regarding the arrest.

Chickillo was released on $10,000 bail, and will face a preliminary court hearing on October 30th. At this time it is unclear what the Steelers’ plans are for the player they drafted in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they turn their attention to the Miami Dolphins coming to Heinz Field in Week 8 on Monday Night Football.

The Steelers ‘Bonehead’ and ‘Genius’ decisions of the week, Chargers Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 6:31am
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

A new feature on BTSC gives fans an arena to let their displeasure be known about one specific facet of the game that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have had their share of ‘bonehead’ decisions throughout their 1-4 start to the 2019 season. Every game, even games where the Steelers pull out the ‘W’, have their moments where fans are scratching their heads regarding a specific decision. There have also been some very genius moves made, of which should be noted too.

The overall crux of this article was built around the fact of giving fans a chance to have a space where they can put their collective heads together and try and figure out what went wrong, what went right, and why the outcome went down the way it did.

After last week’s article, it was recommended along with the bad decision of the week, which some viewed as too negative, we add in a positive decision. So, this feature has turned into the bonehead and genius decisions of the week.

When it comes to bonehead decision, for me it was what led to the only real gaffe quarterback Devlin Hodges made the entire night. Hodges played a masterful game, taking what the Chargers gave him, but it was a decision made by both Randy Fichtner and Hodges to start driving the ball down the field which resulted in the Steelers’ first, and only, turnover of the game.

Up until that point it was pure domination by the Steelers on both sides of the ball, but that interception was the first time they strayed away from what was working so well, and it equated to momentum swinging in Los Angeles’ favor. In fact, I doubt the game would have been even remotely as close if not for that one key mistake.

There just wasn’t a need to start driving the ball down the field at that juncture in the game.

I decided to reach out to Dave Schofield regarding his bonehead decisions and/or genius decisions of Week 6. See what he had to say:

Dave Schofield — Bonehead Move — Throwing to Ryan Switzer behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd & 7

With 4:55 remaining in the game, the Steelers had a third and seven on their own 42-yard line. The ensuing play was a throw two yards behind the line of scrimmage to Ryan Switzer who was tackled immediately. Switzer does not get many yards after the catch (2.125 yards after catch per reception), so running that play specifically to him was the wrong call and killed the drive.

Dave Schofield — Genius Move — Punting on 4th & 1 with 1:11 remaining in the game

With a seven point lead and 1:11 left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were faced with a 4th & 1 at the Chargers 36 yard line. Rather than going for the first down or trying the 54-yard field goal, the Steelers chose to punt the ball away. Pinning the Chargers at the one yard line worked out perfectly as they working out of their own endzone. Two plays later Cameron Sutton ended the game with an interception.

It is here where you, the reader, gets to voice your concern/anger/pleasure with something the Steelers did, or didn’t do, from the week that was! Let us know your bonehead and/or genius decisions of the week in the comment section below!

Podcast: Is the Week 8 Dolphins game a trap game?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 5:30am

Answering questions and breaking down what to expect from the Steelers vs. the Dolphins in Week 8.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-4, and there is no hiding from such an elementary truth, but there is always hope on the horizon and it comes in the form of the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

With there being an extra day off, Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams took to the airwaves to answer all of your burning questions about the team leading up to the game, and we answer them to the best of our ability.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and I lay it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Black and Gold Links: Cameron Sutton proving his worth for the Steelers in 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 10/21/2019 - 4:33am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 8 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Miami Dolphins this week we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Cameron Sutton is finding a niche in this Steelers’ defense, and proving his worth.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers now seem to have a plethora of defensive backs at their disposal, and Cameron Sutton is the latest to shine for the secondary.

Despite no defined position, Cameron Sutton in right place for Steelers

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The first time Cameron Sutton wrapped his hands around the football against the Los Angeles Chargers, he thought it might be the play that sealed a victory for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Turns out, he was wrong.

It wasn’t until Sutton came down with the ball a second time that put the finishing touches on the Steelers’ 24-17 victory over the Chargers on Sunday night.

The third-year, do-it-all defensive back from Tennessee had his most impressive game as a Steeler with two critical plays in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter: He recovered an onside kick, then had an interception.

“It’s just the next man up. When opportunity presents itself, you’ve just got to be ready to go in there and make the play,” Sutton said. “Credit to the guys around me, obviously, having confidence in me. Not just in me. Everyone played well in all three phases. We really played complementary football, and that’s what it’s all about.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • What has life been without Mike Munchak? Inconsistent.

Mixed results for Steelers new offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By replacing such a decorated position coach in Mike Munchak, Shaun Sarrett faced inevitable comparisons to his Hall of Fame predecessor.

Six games into his tenure as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach, Sarrett has enjoyed a seamless transition in the unit’s pass protection, but he’s also received less-than-favorable results in the group’s run blocking.

While the Steelers line has allowed an NFL-low five sacks, the running game ranks No. 28 in the league and it took until the sixth game to produce a 100-yard effort — as a team.

Sarrett is willing to accept the good and the bad that comes with his elevated role on Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff. And he has been more than happy to carry on the standard created by Munchak, whose five-year tenure ended in January when he made a lateral move to the Denver Broncos.

“I think we’re ready for games,” Sarrett said last week while the Steelers were on their bye. “I don’t think the process has changed. We’re doing the same things even from when Munch was here. I’ve maybe tweaked a few things here and there, but the process is still the same. We’re doing the things we need to do. We just need to get better at it.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Dolphins coach says Ryan Fitzpatrick earned another start

By: Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk

Dolphins coach Brian Flores told reporters after the game that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick earned another start.

Which, if we allow history to be our guide, means Josh Rosen may well start next week against the Steelers.

Via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, Flores said after Sunday’s loss to the Bills that Fitzpatrick had earned a chance to start next week.

It’s worth noting that it was a week ago Flores said Rosen was his starter for the rest of the season, only to reverse course and start Fitzpatrick against the Bills.

The veteran quarterback was OK against his old team, throwing for 282 yards, with an interception and a touchdown. It’s a strange strategy for a team with no immediate future, but Rosen hasn’t given them much reason to stick with him either.

In a normal scenario, it’s hard to argue that Fitzpatrick isn’t the one who gives them a better chance to win a particular game. But that might not be the point for the Dolphins, either.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

#Steelers fan, Drew McBriarty, got the opportunity to hang out with @joehaden23 and ask him a few questions! pic.twitter.com/BPiYNU9vxI

— SteelersNationUnite (@SteelersUnite) October 20, 2019

Our defense has recorded 1️⃣5️⃣ takeaways this season, which is 2️⃣nd most in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/3eVZVyClYH

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 20, 2019

.@_Dbush11's season stats:
52 tackles (#10 in NFL)
4 FR (#1 in NFL)
2 INT (#7 in NFL) pic.twitter.com/43qJetdTFQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 19, 2019

Steelers OLB Anthony Chickillo arrested on Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 9:37pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The charges include simple assault, criminal mischief, and harassment

Steelers outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo was arrested early Sunday morning for an alleged dispute with his girlfriend outside of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

#Breaking: Steelers LB Anthony Chickillo was arrested at overnight for an incident involving his girlfriend. Source confirms it happened at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He’s charged with Simple Assault, Criminal Mischief and Harassment. pic.twitter.com/hC4qPzmcZ8

— Jim Madalinsky (@JimWTAE) October 21, 2019

Chickillo was drafted in the sixth round of the 2015 draft out of the University of Miami. This past off-season, Chickillo signed a new two-year contract worth $8 million.

After missing three games with a foot injury, Chickillo returned to the Steelers for their Week 6 victory against the Chargers in which he had 0.5 sacks and one tackle.

While the Steelers have acknowledged they are aware of the incident, they are not commenting on the situation at this time.

Statement from @Steelers Burt Lauten:
We are aware of an incident involving Anthony Chickillo last night and are still gathering information. Until we have further details we will not provide any further comments.#Steelers

— The Final Word (@WPXIFinalWord) October 21, 2019

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

2019 Week 7 Late Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 2:56pm
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Steelers are on their bye, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 7.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on their bye week, and having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like an eternity. With the Steelers slated to play the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 on Monday Night Football, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

2019 Week 7 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 11:45am
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Steelers are on their bye, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 7.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on their bye week, and having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like an eternity. With the Steelers slated to play the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 on Monday Night Football, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

Some take this day to just relax and get caught up on things outside of football, but if you are like me, you are still watching the full slate of action on Sunday.

With that said, join others like me in the open thread to talk about all of the games going on Sunday. Which game are you watching? Are you someone with NFL Sunday Ticket who has access to all games, or are you stuck watching just one or two games? Let us know, and be sure to keep tabs on all those AFC North games in the process.

As always, remember we are all here for the same reason...

GO STEELERS!

2020 NFL Draft Order: Entering Week 7 the Steelers are giving the Dolphins another Top 10 pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 11:08am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the current 2020 NFL Draft order, and what the Steelers are giving to the Dolphins in their part of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to right the ship on their 2019 season and make something out of nothing. When they started the season 0-3, things were bad. After dropping to 1-4 on the year it was a big road win over the Los Angeles Chargers which propelled them to 2-4 heading into their Week 7 bye.

It seems like the perfect time to take a look at the 2020 NFL Draft order and see just what the Steelers will be giving the Miami Dolphins in their part of the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The debate has been ongoing between Steelers faithful regarding whether Fitzpatrick was worth a top pick, but the overall consensus has been the hope the Steelers will rebound and not give up a high draft pick — one which could have been nice to have if the season torpedoes into Mike Tomlin’s first losing season.

As of right now, the Steelers will be shipping a Top 10 pick to the Dolphins.

Check out the Top 10 of the 2020 NFL Draft entering the full slate of games in Week 7:

1. Cincinnati Bengals - 0-6
2. Miami Dolphins - 0-5
3. Washington Redskins - 1-5
4. Atlanta Falcons - 1-5
5. New York Jets - 1-4
6. Denver Broncos - 2-5
7. Cleveland Browns - 2-4
8. Jacksonville Jaguars - 2-4
9. Miami Dolphins (via Pittsburgh Steelers) - 2-4
10. New York Giants 2-4

See the rest of the draft order HERE

There are still 10 games remaining for the Steelers, and a lot can happen in the meantime. With the defense improving the Steelers could see their offense slowly come around and become capable of winning games. Or the alternative could happen and the Steelers could see their season collapse underneath them and fans will be left what could be if they still had their top pick in next year’s draft.

Let’s hope the Steelers turn things around and send the Dolphins nothing more than a late round draft pick...No. 32 sounds pretty good.

Pro Football Focus sheds light on how good T.J. Watt and the Steelers defense is becoming

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 10:15am
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have had a disappointing season to date, but it doesn’t mean every aspect of the team has been bad. In fact, PFF shows how T.J. Watt and the defense is becoming one of the league’s better units.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans aren’t used to not having an offense that ranks near the top both in individual statistics as well as team stats. But, in 2019 without Ben Roethlisberger under center, the Steelers have struggled offensively and stumbled out of the gate to a 2-4 record.

While 2-4 isn’t a good start for a team with the history of the Steelers, the fact is how not everything about the 2019 Steelers is bad. In fact, there are some extremely bright spots on the other side of the football.

Yes, on Keith Butler’s defense.

When you look at the defense as a whole they are certainly an up-and-coming unit. In fact, some might say they are as close to dominant as any defense the Steelers have put on the field since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2010.

This isn’t to suggest there aren’t issues still surrounding the defense moving forward, but the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF) put together some statistics for both the defense and individuals throughout the first six weeks of the regular season.

Check them out:

When it comes to EDGE defenders, T.J. Watt is among the top 5 in the league, per PFF’s grading system.

The highest-graded edge defenders this season! pic.twitter.com/ifwOt9tdaQ

— PFF (@PFF) October 20, 2019

The Steelers’ defense has improved immensely throughout the early portions of the season. Sure the loss of Stephon Tuitt were killers, but the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick has helped solidify the back end of the defense.

Here is how they rank among the rest of the league in terms of overall defense:

NFL DEFENSE rankings through Week 6!
https://t.co/ubQThFidtB pic.twitter.com/NaLEvPTScV

— PFF (@PFF) October 18, 2019

While the offense has been disappointing for the most part, there are areas, mainly with James Conner, who have stood out. So far, Conner ranks among the Top 5 when it comes to broken tackles.

No surprise to see Kamara and McCaffrey leading the way in broken tackles as receivers out of the backfield! pic.twitter.com/q9OsLtbPXn

— PFF (@PFF) October 20, 2019

On top of Conner’s ability to break tackles, he has turned into a top receiving option as a running back in the entire league. In fact, he ranks behind only Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey in this regard.

The highest receiving grades among RBs thus far this season! pic.twitter.com/iikxF2Co9b

— PFF (@PFF) October 18, 2019

With the Steelers on the bye week, fans will have the opportunity to sit back and watch the rest of the league as they get healthy and prepare for the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 on Monday Night Football at Heinz Field.

6 things fans can do on Sunday since the Steelers are on bye

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 10/20/2019 - 9:02am

The NFL just doesn’t seem the same when the Steelers aren’t taking the field

About seven years ago my family planned a trip to Disney World in the fall. At the time, I was thinking about how I would plan my schedule around getting back to the room to watch the Steelers game. Using my son as an excuse to possibly need a nap, I was ready to make sure I didn’t miss out on the weekly event. But when the schedule was released a month later after we booked the trip, I realized I had timed it perfectly. I managed to hit the bye week.

Ever since then, I’ve attempted to do some sort of family trip on a weekend when the Steelers are on bye. It’s not as much that I wants to go on these trips every fall, but if I’m going to do one it works out the best if traveling without missing a game.

This year I had some lofty expectations for traveling this weekend, but due to other circumstances I ended up being in town. So what am I going to do on Sunday with the Steelers being on bye?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who needs to answer this question. And since sometimes content is hard to come by during this week (Who knows if anyone’s even going to take the time to read this article), let’s see what kind of options there are for filling our time when we have to deal with a weekend of NFL football that does not involve the Steelers.

Get close to Mother Nature

In honor of Bryan Anthony Davis who is spending the weekend in the woods, some people who are into these sort of things might find the middle of October to be the perfect weather to go on a hike or even a camping trip. Personally, if mankind were made to sleep out under the stars, why in the world did we invent the house?

Attempt to match Jeff Hartman in the kids department

For those who may not know, BTSC editor Jeff Hartman is the father of five children. No, that is not a typo. Five children. If you are unsure what to do with your spare time on Sunday afternoon, perhaps suggesting some time with your significant other could be in the cards. If you already have Jeff’s total matched or surpassed, you may want to reconsider approaching Phillip Rivers’ total.

Notice this is not the only option of what you can do while the Steelers are not playing. If this is not the correct situation in your life at this time, I ask you to just move on to the next suggestion. But I at least had to mention this option as many Steelers players both past and present have taken advantage of the bye week for such things. Have you ever noticed the unusual amount of Steelers who have to miss time at the beginning of training camp because of the birth of a child? Do the math. It’s usually right around nine months after the bye week.

Binge watch Pittsburgh Dad

“Hey Tom!”

If you are unfamiliar with the YouTube sensation portrayed by Kurt Wootton, where have you been since 2011? If you’re a Steelers’ fan, you have to be a fan of the city. And if your fan of the city, Pittsburgh Dad embodies everything about “yinzer culture” we have come to knw and love. If you haven’t watched every episode, take the time on Sunday to do so. And if you have, there’s nothing wrong with watching them again. And again.

Actually spend time with family members you ignore when Steelers games are on

I love my kids. I would do anything for them and they are the light of my life. But during Steelers’ games, it’s zip it or hit the bricks! If they want to sit quietly next to me as I watch the game and they are allowed. But that’s the extent of it. With no game on this Sunday, I guess it’s time to either bust out a board game, puzzle, or whatever other bonding activity the family might feel like doing.

Head to the golf course

This was Jeff Hartman’s answer, and it sounds exactly like him. For those of you who do not know, Jeff is quite the golfer. It’s tough to argue with this one. Golf is fun, even when you’re terrible. And if you’re not a golfer, try the driving range. When you go to the golf course you have to hit every shot great to have a good day. At the driving range, it only takes one shot out of a massive bucket of balls to feel like you did something amazing.

Watch the other inferior teams playing on Sunday

Football is football. I’m sure many of us are just going to tune in Sunday to watch whichever game happens to be on in your area. I’ll watch about any NFL game, I’m just not as emotionally involved if it does not involve the Steelers. While some people despise it (like Jeff Hartman), I myself am a fan of NFL Red Zone. Growing up with my father, he used to flip between a bunch of different games when the Steelers were not playing, many times missing the best action from every game he was attempting to watch. I enjoy a channel which does it for me so I don’t have to worry about if I timed my viewership exactly. So this Sunday I will find a more comfortable spot than usual, possibly even grab a nap in the middle, and enjoy some football even if it doesn’t involve the black and gold.

So what are you going to do with your Sunday without Steelers football? Make sure you let us know by answering the poll or in the comments below.

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