You are here


Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 09/22/2022 - 4:30am

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

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

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

The War Room: If it’s not brown should the Steelers flush it down?

The Steelers battle the Browns on TNF. Do they have the strength to flush it down if it’s brown? This will be one of the topics discussed as BTSC invites you to heck out our Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matt Peverell in The Steelers War Room. Join Matty P. for his solo show as he examines the ins-and-outs of the Steelers in an attempt to put you in the mind of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan, Andy Weidl, Sheldon White and Dan Colbert when it comes to personnel.

Rundown of the show:

  • Steelers at Browns on TNF
  • Much More

Check out the BTSC’s Aussie perspective and stay a while with Matty in The Steelers War Room.

Know Your Enemy: Who gets right quicker, Steelers or Browns?

It’s time once again to become a scout for the Steelers before their latest game. This time around, we get to know more about the Browns of Cleveland in the latest edition of Know Your Enemy. It’s the show where Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White break down the upcoming opponent for the black-and-gold. This week, Geoff and Shannon, welcome Matt Wood from Dawgs By Nature to talk the rivalry that is Steelers vs, Browns.

  • News and Notes
  • A look at the 2022 Cleveland Browns
  • Special Guest: Matt Wood from Dawgs By Nature

Geoffrey and BAD walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

The Steelers Stat Geek: Is Thursday night a recipe for disaster or a grand feast?

Thursday Night Football could be a continuance of a rough start to 2022, or the perfect regeneration. Which way do the stats lean to? Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed by Dave Schofield on the Thursday episode of the AM podcast lineup, “The Steelers Stat Geek”. Join BTSC’s Editor as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Is Thursday night a recipe for disaster or a grand feast?
  • How is Mitch Trubisky doing compared to his time in Chicago?
  • Why are only 48 players active on game day?
  • and more geeky numbers!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

Damontae Kazee facing a 3-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 5:11pm
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

The injured safety won’t be able to return anytime soon.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a signing this past offseason by bringing in free agent safety Damontae Kazee on a one-year deal which made many fans excited for the possibilities once he signed.

With Brian Flores in the mix, the Steelers could deploy a three safety defensive backfield which would include Kazee, Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick. The team showed some of that this preseason, but it was short-lived.

In the Steelers’ final preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions at Acrisure Stadium, Kazee injured his wrist making a tackle. The injury was serious enough to land him on Injured Reserve (IR). The designation to IR meant Kazee would be forced to miss the first four weeks of the season, at the least.

Wednesday it was announced it might be more than Week 5 before Kazee joins the Steelers, if healthy, and that is because he is now facing a 3-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

This per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network:

#Steelers S Damontae Kazee was suspended for the next 3 games for violations of the NFL’s substances of abuse policy.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 21, 2022

At this time, it is unclear if the suspension will begin when he comes off IR, or if the games he is missing right now would count as games missed for the suspension.

Either way, fans will have to wait until Kazee is both healthy, and available, before he can join the team and show some of the potential the team had planned for him in the 2022 regular season.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football.


Kazee will be able to serve his suspension while on IR, but won’t receive pay during that time.

Kazee, suspended for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse, gets to serve his three-game suspension while on IR, per source.

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 21, 2022

Steelers Injury Report: For the third week, there are no players with an injury status

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 1:50pm
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Once again, all players on the Steelers 53-man roster are healthy and available for Thursday night.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have very little time after their Week 2 defeat to recover as their next game is right around the corner on Thursday. Needing to have three injury reports before the game, they will come on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Steelers were scheduled to hold their typical walk through the day before a game, so the report isn’t completely based on the participation of players. In the final injury report of the week courtesy of, no players carry an injury status for Thursday’s game.

Pittsburgh Steelers Participation/Injury Report, Week 3

Game Status


Wednesday, September 21

S Minkah Fitzpatrick (Lower Leg Cramps) - LP

LB Devin Bush (Foot) - FP

Devin Bush left the Steelers game on Sunday in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and did not return. During head coach Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Monday, he stated he believed Bush would be ready for practice Tuesday. Not knowing what his exact participation would be, Bush was listed as a limited participant for Monday due to his foot injury. On Tuesday, Bush was a full participant in practice, and being listed once again as full on Wednesday has kept Bush from carrying an injury designation for Thursday night’s game.

One player added to the injury report on Wednesday was Minkah Fitzpatrick being limited with lower leg cramps. Due to the nature of the injury, Fitzpatrick does not carry an injury status for Thursday’s game.

As for the Browns’ final injury report, you can see the names below courtesy of There have already been several players ruled out for the Browns earlier this week, such as Jadeveon Clowney, Jesse James*, and Chase Winovich*.

*placed on IR Tuesday

Cleveland Browns Participation/Injury Report, Week 3

Game Status

DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle) - Out

Wednesday, September 21

G Joel Bitonio (Biceps) - LP

TE Harrison Bryant (Thumb, Thigh) - FP

DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle) - DNP

T Jack Conklin (Knee) - LP

DE Myles Garrett (Neck) - LP

T Chris Hubbard (Illness) - LP

DE Isaiah Thomas (Hand) - FP

Steelers sign a DB to fill out their 16-man practice squad

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 1:26pm
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers had an open spot on their practice squad, and that’s been filled heading into Week 3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers found out this week the Tennessee Titans had claimed one of their own off their practice squad. With Andrew Adams joining the Titans’ 53-man roster, it opened up a spot on the Steelers 16-man practice squad.

The team wasted little time filling that spot, as they announced they signed DB Quincy Wilson to their practice squad.

We have signed DB Quincy Wilson to the practice squad. @BordasLaw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 21, 2022

Drafted in the second round by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 out of the University of Florida, Quincy Wilson played three seasons with the Colts where he appeared in 29 games with 10 starts. In his three seasons, Wilson had two interceptions and eight passes defensed along with a fumble recovery. During the offseason of 2020, Wilson was traded from the Colts to the New York Jets for a sixth-round draft pick. Wilson only appeared in three games with one start for the Jets where he had one tackle. Waived in November, Wilson landed on the New York Giants practice squad where he was elevated for two games but didn’t see any action. In 2021, Wilson was placed on the Reserve/Injured List in August before being waived later in the season. For 2022, Wilson was on the Miami Dolphins offseason roster but failed to make the team come September.

The Steelers now have to turn their attention to the Cleveland Browns on a short week. The team will travel to Cleveland in Week 3 for Thursday Night Football. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the team as they press on throughout the season.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 3: Steelers fall only one spot despite loss

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 12:30pm
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

An updated look at the NFL Landscape after a crazy opening week in the NFL.

Week 2 is in the books, and there are more questions than answers across the NFL landscape, as well as within our very own Pittsburgh Steelers organization. A total lack of any semblance of competent offense is limiting what has been a fairly impressive start to the season for the defense, despite the loss to New England on Sunday.

The league is the definition of a hot mess. The New York Giants are undefeated, while the 2021 AFC Champion Bengals are 0-2 and on the skids. It’s so whacky that I considered lumping teams into tiers as opposed to a straight ranking. I mean, the Steelers might have the worst offense in the league, but it doesn’t feel right to put them behind teams like the Browns, Saints, or Bengals.

So as it stands, the Steelers only fall one spot to 16th on this week’s Power Rankings. Another abysmal offensive performance in Cleveland though could send them plummeting when next we meet.

This week, we’re looking at each team’s biggest storyline heading into Week 3. Enjoy!


Previous: 1

Storyline: Is there any way we can rank the Bills higher than number 1? No? Oh well. This is the best team in football because Josh Allen is the best QB in football right now.


Previous: 2

Storyline: The Chiefs are just good. Mahomes is a top 2 QB and the Chiefs coaching staff gets its team prepped for an opponent in all facets better than almost anyone else.


Previous: 4

Storyline: The defense is going to be the lead catalyst for whatever the Bucs accomplish in year 3 of Tom Brady. The secondary in particular is putting the clamps down on opposing passing attacks.


Previous: 6

Jalen Hurts is having an MVP caliber start to his regular season and looks like the long-term solution at QB in Philly after some uncertainty in his first 2 seasons. He has improved drastically as a passer in year 3, and might be the smartest runner of the football at QB in the league.


Previous: 3

Storyline: Justin Herbert is a man amongst boys. Playing the majority of the 4th Quarter against KC with fractured rib cartilage and throwing absolute ropes in the tightest possible windows is beyond elite.


Previous: 5

Storyline: The Rams involved a bunch more players in their wild Week 2 win over the Falcons. Allen Robinson and Cam Akers specifically were given a lot of run after quiet Week 1 performances. A must if LA wants to be more than just the “Cooper Kupp Show.”


Previous: 11

Storyline: Can Tua take advantage of the speed of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? After Week 2, the answer is a resounding yes. If Tua plays consistently good football this year, watch out for Miami.


Previous: 7

Storyline: The cure for the Packers offense is the Bears, and Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon might just be pushing Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt as the league’s best RB duo. Green Bay would be wise to take advantage regularly.


Previous: 8

Storyline: The Ravens offense looks explosive with a dialed in Lamar Jackson, who again looked much improved as a passer in Week 2. The loss to Miami is on a defense that couldn’t get pressure on Tua for much of the game.


Previous: 19 *RISER OF THE WEEK

Storyline: The extremely unfortunate injury to Trey Lance is disappointing for the ‘9ers to be sure, but with Lance now missing the remainder of the season, the best move of the offseason is the one that never happened: Jimmy Garoppolo staying in San Fran likely saved their season.


Previous: 10

Storyline: The Vikings offense couldn’t continue it’s Week 1 magic against Philly. Kirk Cousins will need to figure out how to get the ball to someone not named Justin Jefferson if this unit wants to keep up.


Previous: 12

Storyline: Russell Wilson is struggling to get rolling in his new home, but the real story is new head coach Nathaniel Hackett looking unprepared for the rigors of being a head coach in the NFL. If the Broncos want to live up to offseason expectations, Hackett needs to take a few long, deep breaths.


Previous: 20

Storyline: The Patriots offense is still a problem, but Bill Belichick is still one of the best defensive scheme builders in the league. Nobody makes an opposing offense pivot like The Hoodie.


Previous: 22

Storyline: The Giants are 2-0 with wins over the Titans and the Panthers. Not necessarily world beaters, but with the rest of the league struggling through two weeks as well, the Giants are better off than most, carrying an undefeated record into a suddenly saucy Week 3 matchup against the next team on our list.


Previous: 21

Storyline: Micah Parsons is making his case as the best defensive player in football in only his second season, and that Cowboys defense made Joe Burrow look like a wide-eyed rookie for the 2nd week in a row, allowing Cooper Rush to do just enough with the ‘Boys offense to win the game.


Previous: 15

Storyline: The Steelers struggles on offense run deeper than Mitch Trubisky, but the 6th year vet isn’t helping. Number 10 is struggling to see the field, often choosing the check-down option before letting the routes fully develop downfield. The Offensive Line has actually been pretty solid in pass protection through 2 games, so no leaning on that as an excuse for the issues at QB.

The Defense has to make the plays it’s given, especially with an offense that leaves such little room for error. Cam Sutton has to real in the INT that hits him in the chest. Cam Heyward has to beat a Rookie LG more than he did, and Teryl Austin’s crew has to scheme up more pressure with TJ Watt in street clothes.

If the Offense looks anemic again on Thursday night against the Browns, it’s probably Kenny Pickett time in Pittsburgh. If Pickett comes in and the overwhelming struggles remain, you can bet that Matt Canada’s seat will start getting hot in a hurry.


Previous: 16

Storyline: A heartbreaking loss for the Browns, who continue to find ways to give up leads in the 4th quarter. They survived in Week 1, but the Jets made them pay with a wild final 1:55 of game time. Gotta recover that onside kick...


Previous: 25

Storyline: Kyler Murray is an absolute magician. I don’t know how sustainable of a winning model it is to rely on Murray to overcome your team’s many shortcomings, but man is it fun to watch.


Previous: 9

Storyline: The Bengals OL is the worst in the league right now, and it’s not close. Until that situation remedies, it is the only storyline of note in Cincy.


Previous: 27

Storyline: Are the Lions a true machine on Offense? They might be with Jared Goff playing mistake-free, efficient football and DeAndre Swift moving with a different gear than everybody else. This team will be a tough out every week in 2022.


Previous: 17

Storyline: The calling card for the Saints is supposed to be defense, and for a large portion of Sunday’s matchup vs. Tampa, the defense controlled the game. Much like Pittsburgh and New England, the defense can only do so much with such inconsistent offensive play.


Previous: 13

Storyline: The Raiders were a sneaky pick to win the AFC West after high profile additions on both sides of the football this offseason. It hasn’t looked cohesive through two weeks, though, and Josh McDaniels needs to figure out a way to coax some splash plays from his defense to help Derek Carr and the offense.


Previous: 29

Storyline: The Jaguars posted a shutout on the very team they ended the playoff hopes for in Week 18 last year. Trevor Lawrence is starting to look like the QB he was drafted to be, and the team’s offensive additions are working out. The Jags have a shot at this division if they keep playing football like this.


Previous: 18

Storyline: Tennessee looked completely overmatched against Buffalo on Monday Night, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Outside of Derrick Henry, Tennessee is bereft of difference makers on Offense, and the Defense is only solid, not great. It’s going to be tough for this team to win consistently this year.


Previous: 14 *FALLER OF THE WEEK

Storyline: Talk about anaemic offense. The Colts under Matt Ryan look dysfunctional and out of sync over the 1st two weeks. They’ll need to figure it out quick after starting 0-1-1 in the division.


Previous: 23

Storyline: The Carson Wentz experience is in full swing, with the veteran tossing a couple critical picks against Detroit, but also leading Washington’s bevy of talented pass catchers to a near comeback vs. the Lions. If he can be more consistent, this offense will be tough to stop.


Previous: 32

Storyline: What a win for the Jets, who rode a renaissance day from Joe Flacco and a breakout performance from Rookie Wideout Garrett Wilson to an unlikely victory against the similarly snake-bit Browns. This offense has weapons and unlocking them will be the key to competitive outings the remainder of the season.


Previous: 24

Storyline: With the emotional victory over Russell Wilson and Denver in Week 1 out of the way, the Seahawks return to reality where their offense just isn’t that good and the defense is, well, not good either. If the ‘Hawks can’t rush the football successfully, there’s not much here to like.


Previous: 28

Storyline: Another “come-back-to-earth” week for an unlikely Week 1 winner, the Bears ran into their own personal buzz-saw named Aaron Rodgers. The Bears defense had no answer for the Packers’ running game, and Justin Fields just doesn’t have enough help on offense to sin shootouts.


Previous: 30

Storyline: Another week, another heartbreaker for the Falcons who couldn’t close out a 28-3 comeback against the then reeling Rams. Arthur Smith is a fantastic offensive mind and he’s getting the most out of guys like Marcus Mariota and Rookie receiver Drake London, but this organization cannot close out a game to save their lives. That will need to change for this team to take the next step.


Previous: 26

Storyline: Baker Mayfield has struggled in his first 2 games as a Panther, and Matt Rhule is square on the hot seat. Despite having a good crop of weapons on Offense, the inability to take advantage is killing this team, especially late in games.


Previous: 31

Storyline: The Texans might be the most talent-poor roster in the league, and don’t show much direction as an organization. The one bright spot is a defense playing better than the sum of it’s parts. It hasn’t equated to a winning performance through 2 weeks, but Lovie Smith’s group looks to be the team’s only hope at staying in games in 2022.

Who’s too high? Too low? What did I get right? Let me know about it in the comments section and don’t forget to vote in the poll below.

Behind Enemy Lines: BTSC’s Q&A with Dawgs By Nature

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Preparing for the Steelers and Browns Week 3 showdown, I asked Dawgs By Nature some burning questions leading up to the AFC North showdown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for Week 3 of the 2022 regular season with a trip to Cleveland, OH to play the Browns. A tough task for the Steelers who are coming off a loss to the New England Patriots in Week 2, and have to travel on a short week.

With this being such a big game, not like every game isn’t a big game, I was able to ask Chris Pokorny of Dawgs By Nature, SB Nation’s Cleveland Browns website, five questions leading up to the game.

Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.

The Browns are 1-1, and as we all know this is without Deshaun Watson. What has the vibe been around the fan base for this start of the 2022 regular season?

It has been a bit of a weird vibe leading up to the season where we were still excited about football, but it felt like the team was going to have to punt on their 2022 season (as far as being a serious playoff contender goes) because of having Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback for 11 games. The hope we had was the thought of starting the season 4-0 or 3-1 against the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, and Falcons, which is certainly one of the easiest schedules a team could ask for. Cleveland looked like they were on their way to that 2-0 start this past Sunday against the Jets, which would’ve been the first time that’s happened for Cleveland since the 1993 season. Even with all of the headaches associated with the quarterback position all offseason, it was exciting to taste that type of start to the year, so I think the fan base was hooked again — only to, in typical Cleveland fashion, have it ripped away in unfathomable fashion, collapsing to the Jets. I think the vibe is still strong simply because we’re here in the moment and football is back, but we know the media storm that will resume once Watson returns later this season.

After 2021, and Baker Mayfield gone, are hopes high for the Browns this season, or is it more of a question mark considering the big money quarterback Watson won’t be playing for quite a while?

As I alluded to in the previous question, I think the thought process for me was, “if we can get to 4-0 or 3-1, then let’s hope we can be 6-5 or 5-6 by the time Watson comes back.” Our schedule gets tougher after Week 4, and with the way our defense is playing, our offense and Brissett isn’t built to go score-for-score with high-powered offenses. When Watson comes back, the dynamic of the offense changes completely, to where we can start thinking about that playoff push. However, I wouldn’t be confident in Watson thriving right away, because not only are we talking about a guy who essentially will have missed two seasons of live game action, but the background noise has to play a bit of a factor too in distracting his preparation.

What are the weaknesses of the Browns offense and defense? Any specific areas of concern?

On offense, the Browns’ weakness is our receiving talent after Amari Cooper. Last week, we were able to get away with it because Cooper had a great day, the running game was on point, and Brissett had about as efficient of a day as one could ask from him. However, if the Browns get down on offense and Cleveland needs to start going through the air, needing those second-, third-, and fourth-receiving options to make a play, I’m not too confident in it due to the lack of separation they get and/or their lack of reliable hands.

On defense, Cleveland’s pass rush was thriving with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, but now that group takes a hit with Clowney out on Thursday to an ankle injury. But the bigger concern, by far, is the defensive backs. It’s not a case of individual talent, but one of those “only in Cleveland” type of things where the players are letting receivers run wide open for touchdowns because they are confused as to what coverage they are in. We’re talking about NFL players who have been in the league for awhile, and it’s crazy how many complete breakdowns we’ve had the past two weeks that you don’t see from any other team. If the Browns didn’t have those huge lapses, then instead of needing a game-winning field goal against the Panthers and collapsing to the Jets, we’d be talking about two 14- to 21-point victories to begin the year.

Likewise, what are the strengths of the Cleveland offense and defense? What areas of the team do they hang their hat on?

The strength of the Browns’ offense remains their running game. It’s only two games, but the Browns lead the NFL with 200.5 rushing yards per game. Nick Chubb has 39 carries for 228 yards (5.8 YPC) and 3 touchdowns, while Kareem Hunt has 24 carries for 104 yards (4.3 YPC) and 1 touchdown. Both players have been doing well in the screen game too.

On defense, I’ll go with a bit of a surprise and that is the team’s top two linebackers through two games: Anthony Walker and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, both of whom have graded above 90 by Pro Football Focus. In fact, PFF pointed out that Cleveland, with Walker, Owusu-Koramoah, and Myles Garrett, have three of the top eight defensive players in the NFL this season as far as grades go.

As you mentioned in your questions, the day the Browns announce Clowney and Winovich won’t be playing, the line jumps to favor the Browns even more. What do you think of this, and how would you be putting your money down?

I’m a little puzzled as to why the line is so much (Browns by 5.5 as of this writing) coming off a loss to the Jets, and not having Jadeveon Clowney available. The Steelers have only lost by 3 in their first two games, so with the chances of the outcome being that close again, I would take the Steelers against the spread. For the moneyline pick, I’d still take Cleveland, just not against the spread.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for their season opener vs. the Bengals this Thursday in Cleveland.

Steelers Burning Questions: Playing the blame game with the offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 2, and it wasn’t pretty. We ask your confidence in the team, and who is to blame for the offense struggling.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their Week 3 game vs. the Cleveland Browns, and many fans of the black and gold are starting to see their confidence fluctuate heading deeper into the regular season.

Even after a Week 1 win, a 23-20 overtime victory vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, there are still massive questions which remain. Throw in the Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots, and doubt has officially crept into every fans’ mind.

So, with that being said, it is time to ask some key questions to the fan base as the Browns game quickly approaches. We call them the ‘Steelers Burning Questions’, and there is one which is consistent every week.

Are you confident in the team moving forward?

Other than that staple question, some other questions can be added to help give readers at BTSC, and Steelers fans in general, a voice in what they think about the team. This week the question is based on the struggles the Steelers have on offense

In other words, who is to blame?

Time to play the blame game!

Who is at fault for the Steelers offensive issues?

How do you participate in this exercise? It’s easy. All you have to do is scroll down to the polls and place your vote. The results of the votes will be published on BTSC later in the week, but getting as many votes as possible is the key with the SB Nation Reacts, powered by DraftKings Sportsbook.

So, go ahead in place your votes below, and feel free to explain yourself in the comment section below the article! In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the regular season.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NFL. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Pittsburgh Steelers fans and fans across the country. Sign up here to participate.

Please take our survey

Steelers Vertex: Does Najee Harris really have bad vision as a running back?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 8:45am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There is a narrative that Harris is not seeing and hitting the proper holes in the Steelers running attack, but is it true?

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 regular season is underway. The Steelers came up short in the home opener with many putting the blame on the offense who could only muster 14 points. While a large portion of the discussion has been around the quarterback and the offensive coordinator, Steelers running back Najee Harris has faced scrutiny for his vision in seeing and hitting the hole on running plays. But is this really the case? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

When it comes to a running back’s vision and ability to hit the hole, it’s going to come down to the film and not the statistics. But to still set up what the numbers ultimately mean, Najee Harris does have his lowest two-game yards per attempt average (only of games in the same season) of his NFL career to start the 2022 season. Granted, he’s only playing his 19th regular season game.

So far in 2022, Najee Harris has 72 rushing yards on 25 attempts for a 2.9 yards per attempt average. Only one time in 2021 did Harris have a lower rushing total in two games than what he has to start this season. In Week 11 against the Chargers followed by Week 12 in Cincinnati, Najee Harris rushed for 39 yards on 12 carries and 23 yards for eight carries respectively. The total of 62 yards on 20 carries is a lower yardage output, but still carries a 3.1 yards per carry average.

Looking back at the start of the 2021 season, Najee Harris only rushed for 11 more yards on one additional rushing attempt in his first two games of last year. Running for 45 yards on 16 attempts against Buffalo and 38 yards on 10 attempts against the Raiders, it’s not that Harris was setting the world on fire right out of the gate. In fact, it wasn’t until Week 5 against the Broncos in his rookie season that Harris rushed for more than 100 yards and had more than 20 attempts as he had 122 yards on 23 carries. But being this is a second NFL season, the hope is for Harris to build on his rookie year and not simply duplicate it.

That’s enough talk about the numbers. Let’s get the answering the question.

The Film Line:

Despite recording his worst two-game stretch statistically of his career, Najee Harris looked a lot better in Week 2 and ran more like the player Steelers fans remember watching last season.

That doesn’t mean it was all good though.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 1st quarter, 15:00.

Najee Harris is the running back.

Look at the middle of the line, it certainly looks like Najee Harris made the wrong decision here. It was bad enough to get tweeted about by former Steelers offensive lineman Trai Essex.

I had to watch it again to make sure I wasn’t trippin. This was the first play of the game. It is blocked almost to perfection! Look at that interior push! There is no read here that tells Najee to bounce it. He predetermined this. Man this angers me so much…

— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) September 19, 2022

It’s not a good play. But we need to dig a bit more into it to understand what led Harris to head outside here. I want you to go back and note how deep Pat Freiermuth was driven on this play before watching this different angle.

Harris is indeed heading outside at the handoff. His pre-handoff read tells him to head right at Pat Freiermuth, and when Freiermuth gets driven back, Harris heads even wider. I think Harris was planning to run at Freiermuth and Gentry and then cut off of their blocks, and then went wider when Freiermuth was driven back. It wasn’t the best decision to start with, and the bodies in the backfield led to a worse decision.

Najee Harris isn’t a vision-based back. He’s not LeVeon Bell. He’s a different style of back, and he has a play or two like this show up. Things mostly go wrong when bodies are in his backfield and he’s adapting, that’s when his vision seems to hurt him.

Also note that Freiermuth loses to #91, Deatrich Wise Jr. You’ll see him again.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 1st quarter, 0:42.

Najee Harris is the running back.

This is outside zone. We didn’t see that much at all last season, and didn’t see it much in Week 1. The Steelers started running it when they struggled to run the ball in their first few drives. It worked here for a nice 5-yard gain.

The addition of outside zone runs made an immediate difference in the run game, and the inside runs were getting jumped less as the defense had to respect the outside run.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 1st quarter, 0:07.

Najee Harris is the running back.

You can see they can’t just crash the middle of the line here, and it gives a bit more space for the run game to work with.

But what I want you to take away from this play is how Najee Harris attacks the #93 and cuts off of that block and moves the linebacker (#30) by faking going to the left of the defensive tackle.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 2nd quarter, 12:13.

Najee Harris is the running back.

This is an outside zone play again, and it doesn’t go great. Kevin Dotson (#69) and Mason Cole (#61) can’t keep #98 from moving laterally to the left and Dan Moore Jr. is unable to move #91. Harris is able to cut back and gain 6 yards on this play.

He could have cut vertically earlier, again, he’s not an elite vision back, but he still gets 6 yards on this play, and if the blocks he’s running at do just a bit better he slips between Cole and Moore Jr. and has a great chance for a big run.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 2nd quarter, 11:29.

Najee Harris is the running back.

Najee Harris ends up in the designed run lane this time, and gains 4 yards, but this play has also gotten thrown around as evidence of Najee Harris’s poor vision, because of that giant gap in the middle of the field. But this is not a bad decision by Najee Harris. That big gap doesn’t matter nearly as much as people think it does. Largely because if you look at the nose tackle (#98) he has leverage on Mason Cole to that side, and the gap isn’t the advantage it appears to be.

Here’s the moment it looks the worst, I drew a line right where the center of the nose tackle’s mass is and drew two lines the exact same length to each side. Check it out.

The reason the right side looks so open is the lack of black shirts. But Najee Harris isn’t running away from his blockers, those guys are there to help him.

Cutting this to the right means Harris has to reverse his momentum, get outside the nose tackle’s reach when he already has leverage to that side, and get past #30 who is ready to run that way to help.

Now check out the scene shortly after Najee goes to his left.

Yeah, he made the right choice. Dotson has the linebacker squared up and the defensive lineman both have blockers between them and Najee.

Najee made the right choice, the problem on the play is Mason Cole can’t stop the nose tackle from squeezing the run lane and Dan Moore Jr. loses his block on #91, Deatrich Wise Jr. Harris still gains 4 yards with quick reactions.

Lastly, notice again how Harris slows up to threaten that cut to the right before going left. Notice how the nose tackle and linebacker react to it and it makes the run lane he ends up in a better one.

That’s how Najee Harris runs. He isn’t an elite vision back who runs to open grass, he runs at his blockers and uses them.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 2nd quarter, 6:42.

Najee Harris is the running back.

Here’s a run play that failed badly. At first glance it is easy to blame Kevin Dotson alone for his whiff on #91 (again), but look at James Daniels and Mason Cole and you can see Cole is trying to move toward Dotson and can’t get away from the nose tackle.

This could be some confusion from the offensive line, or just really bad execution, but I wanted to show this play because on a day where the offensive line was much better, they still weren’t a well-oiled machine. But the steady improvement is heartening.

Steelers vs. Patriots, 3rd quarter, 8:31.

Dan Moore Jr. is the tackle to the right side of the screen.

Deatrich Wise Jr. (#91) had a heck of a game for the New England Patriots, and Dan Moore Jr. had a rough game in run blocking. Instead of ending up one-on-one with a cornerback in the run lane Najee Harris has a defensive end in his face.

The Point:

Najee Harris is not a running back with elite vision and he isn’t a run-to-space type of back. But his vision has gotten an unfair rap this week with a lot of people giving examples of “bad vision” that aren’t that at all. The Steelers run game is starting to look better, Najee was running more like himself in this game and they were able to add a good amount of outside zone runs to the game plan and it resulted in better rushing stats.

The blocking needs to keep improving, and the passing game needs a lot of work, but when we look at the problems the Steelers have on offense, Najee Harris isn’t one of them.

Steelers reportedly losing one of their practice squad players to the Titans

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 8:03am
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tennessee is signing Andrew Adams off the Steelers practice squad.

The 53 players on an NFL roster along with the 16 members of the practice squad is a constantly changing items throughout the season. Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed outside linebacker David Anenih off of the Tennessee Titans practice squad. This week, it has been reported by Jordan Schultz of theScore that the Tennessee Titans are signing safety Andrew Adams off the Steelers practice squad.

#Titans are signing safety Andrew Adams off the #Steelers’ practice squad and onto their active 53, per source.

Adams has amassed 35 career starts with the #Giants and #Bucs — totaling 7 INTs, 23 passes defensed and 2 FF.

— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) September 21, 2022

Safety Andrew Adams joined the Steelers practice squad in their last round of signings leading up to Week 1. Adams was an undrafted free agent out of UConn in 2016 when he signed with the New York Giants. Spending two seasons in New York, Adams appeared in 30 games with 17 starts with one interception and seven passes defensed. After failing to win the starting job in 2018, Adams did not make the 53-man roster and landed in Tampa Bay a couple weeks into the season.

After a season of appearing in 13 games with four starts where Adams had four interceptions and nine passes defensed, he signed with the Detroit Lions for the 2019 season. Failing to make the roster out of training camp, Adam‘s headed back to Tampa Bay for two more seasons before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. Once again failing to make the Eagles squad, Adam was back in Tampa Bay for 2021. In his four years in Tampa, Adams played in 57 games with 18 starts and six interceptions with 16 passes defensed. In 2022, Adams was in the New York Giants training camp but failed to make the team.

The only way another NFL team can sign a player off of a team’s practice squad is by putting them on the 53-man roster. By being poached off of another teams practice squad, Adams now will remain on the roster the Titans for at least three weeks, or at least he will be paid the equivalent of being there during that time.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to announce the loss of Adams at this time. The official announcement will probably come with the subsequent move they will be making to add a player to their own practice squad to get their number back up to 16. With only one day remaining to prepare for Thursday’s game in Cleveland, the Steelers may choose to wait until after the game to fill the position.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage as the Steelers prepare to face the Browns in Cleveland on Thursday night.

This Steelers offense is just as pathetic as ever

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 7:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Despite so many changes over the past few years—including this past offseason when the organization decided to move on from Ben Roethlisberger—the Steelers' offense looks just as pathetic as ever in 2022.

Two touchdowns.

That’s what the Steelers offense has produced through two games of the 2022 regular season.

Two touchdowns.

Fifty-two minutes and forty-two seconds. That’s how much time the Steelers offense has possessed the football through two weeks—out of a total of 130 minutes of game time, by the way.

Thirty-two yards. That’s the Steelers' longest offensive play from scrimmage through two weeks. Did you wager any money on Zach Gentry, the former quarterback and current number-two tight end, being the man who gained those 32 yards on a screen pass in Week 1? If so, you’re likely a little wealthier today.

The Steelers offense isn’t wealthier in 2022. It was certainly pocket poor in that crazy and wacky Week 1 overtime win in Cincinnati.

If Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the Patriots at Acrisure Stadium was any indication, this Steelers' offense needs to file for bankruptcy, because it seems as if there are no tangible assets it can use to get out of the revolving debt it’s been saddled with since late in the 2020 season.

We keep hearing about what opposing defenses are doing to neutralize Pittsburgh’s offense, but what is the plan to attack these opposing defenses?

Why has it been the same unimaginative and impotent attack for almost two calendar years? The Steelers are on their second quarterback, second running back, third different group of tight ends, third different version of an offensive line, third variation of a receiving corps, and second coordinator since 2020, but the offensive attack hasn’t changed a bit.

Charles Davis, the analyst who worked Sunday’s game for CBS alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle, talked about how the Steelers didn’t necessarily have to just sit back and take what New England was giving them on defense.

Guess what? The defense never wants to give you touchdowns or chunk plays.

In other words, you as an offense have to be more aggressive and attack the defense with what you feel is your strength. Clearly, the dink and dunk approach, the habit of mostly ignoring the middle of the field, is not the strength of the Steelers’ offense.

To tell you the truth, it’s been so long since this Steelers offense was effective, I can’t even begin to form an opinion on what I think its strength actually is.

I have no clue what it does well or who the true stars can be.

Obviously, Diontae Johnson is a polished receiver, one who is good enough to earn $18 million a year. But have the Steelers been able to maximize his abilities during his four seasons in town?

We saw a ton of great things from receiver Chase Claypool during his rookie season in 2020; did he just suddenly forget how to be a dynamic weapon since then?

We assume that Pat Freiermuth is headed for super-stardom as one of the game’s next great tight ends, but will this Steelers offense ruin him before he gets that chance?

Speaking of which, receiver George Pickens looked like a sure-fire bet to contend for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award when he was dazzling everyone during training camp and the preseason; after being so under-utilized over his first two games, however, I fear Pickens might morph into Tom Brady and smash every iPad he can get his hands on since he can’t seem to get them on any passes.

As for quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the criticism he’s drawn already? Can you blame the fans for that? They’ve sat and watched the same ineffective offense for going on two full seasons of football. Why wouldn’t they be restless? Why wouldn’t they begin to chant for Kenny Pickett to replace Trubisky and his 5.1 yards per pass attempt?

As for offensive coordinator Matt Canada and the calls for him to be fired after two weeks? Can you blame the fans for that? They’ve witnessed from Canada what they witnessed from Randy Fichtner.

You can’t continue to feed people bad food and not expect them to have heartburn.

Think about all the arguments the fans and the media got into over the offseason. We had endless debates over the potential starting quarterbacks and even the backups. Folks got into social media hot water because of ugly discussions over who the third-string running back should be, for crying out loud.

Fans spent way too much time worrying about who the swing tackle should be and whether or not Cody White would make the team.

All of the social media arguments about this offense all throughout the offseason—for example, “Should they draft a quarterback in the first round, or should they go with a left tackle?”—all the emotional energy people spent talking about football that didn’t involve actual games, and this is the offense you give the faithful to start the 2022 regular season?

A new offense that looks identical to the old offense?

People keep referring to this offense as a work in progress. Is it really, or is it a work in futility?

I know what my answer is.

Finally, head coach Mike Tomlin and Co. have spent so many premium draft picks on skill-position players in recent years, beginning with Johnson in 2019 and ending with Pickett and Pickens in 2022. The fans have spent many days and nights actually lauding these guys and defending their abilities when comparing them to the stables trotted out every week by teams like the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, etc. Yet, somehow, Pittsburgh is asking these guys to be a part of an outfit that is supposed to just play conservatively and not make mistakes.

To quote social media: Make it make sense.

Joe Haden announces retirement, as a member of the Browns

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 6:55am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The former Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback is calling it a career.

It seems fitting it is this week Joe Haden has decided to call it a career.


The two NFL franchises he called home during his career, the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, are set to face off against one another in Week 3 on Thursday Night Football.

As being reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and confirmed by Haden’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, the veteran cornerback is deciding to call it a career. On top of that, Haden is reportedly set to sign a one-day contract with Cleveland to retire a member of the Browns.

Former Pittsburgh and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden is retiring and will sign a one-day contract to retire as a Brown, per sources. His agent, @DrewJRosenhaus , confirmed his client’s decision.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 21, 2022

Haden, now 33 years-old, had spent the 2017 to 2021 seasons with the Steelers after he was released by the Browns. He had served as a steady presence in the Steelers’ secondary, starting 66 games and racking up 10 interceptions during his time in Pittsburgh, but dealt with a foot injury in 2021 which forced him to miss five games and not record an interception.

The former University of Florida product will retire with 148 starts under his belt, totaling 615 tackles, 29 interceptions and two touchdowns. He was selected to three Pro Bowls in all.

Steelers fans welcomed Haden into the organization with open arms, and Haden reciprocated that love. We here at BTSC wish Haden well in his future endeavors.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Browns this week on Thursday Night Football.

Previewing the Steelers vs. Browns Week 3 showdown

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are traveling to play the Cleveland Browns Week 3 of the 2022 regular season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are two teams who know each other well considering they are AFC North division rivals. For these rivals, the game in Week 3 is as big as a Week 3, Thursday Night Football game can get. Throw in the fact the Steelers are coming off a loss at home in Week 2, and this game gets even more attention.

Here is the game preview for the Steelers and Browns for their Week 3 matchup in Cleveland.

Teams (Records)

Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-1
Cleveland Browns: 1-1

Odds (Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)

Steelers (+4.5)
Moneyline: Steelers +175; Browns -205

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

Last 5 Games in series

Steelers: 3-2
Browns: 2-3

Matchup History

Pittsburgh Steelers lead series 79-61-1

Injury Report (Note: This will be updated throughout the week as more injury reports are released) Steelers

Tuesday, September 20

LB Devin Bush (Foot) - FP

Monday, September 19**

LB Devin Bush (Foot) - LP

** Note that Monday’s report is an estimate, as the Steelers did not hold practice


Tuesday, September 20

G Joel Bitonio (Biceps) - DNP
TE Harrison Bryant (Thumb, Thigh) - LP
DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle) - DNP
T Jack Conklin (Knee) - LP
DE Myles Garrett (Neck) - DNP
T Chris Hubbard (Illness) - LP
DE Isaiah Thomas (Hand) - FP

Monday, September 19**

G Joel Bitonio (Biceps) - DNP
TE Harrison Bryant (Thumb, Thigh) - DNP
DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle) - DNP
T Jack Conklin (Knee) - Limited
TE Jesse James (Biceps) - DNP
T Chris Hubbard (Illness) - DNP
DE Isaiah Thomas (Hand) - Full
DE Chase Winovich (Hamstring) - DNP

** Note that Monday’s report is an estimate, as the Browns did not hold practice

News and Notes

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns are familiar foes, and this will be the first meeting between the two AFC North rivals in 2022. The Steelers swept the season series a year ago, their trip to Cleveland being the game where they won without a kicker after Chris Boswell was left concussed after a fake field goal.

Nonetheless, the last time the Steelers visited Cleveland on a Thursday night was the infamous “helmet game” with Myles Garrett using Mason Rudolph’s own helmet against him in the waning minutes of the game. The Steelers haven’t had a ton of success in Cleveland on Thursday nights, but the current roster is hoping to reverse this rare trend.

As you can see from the injury report, the Steelers are the healthier team, but they also are a team reeling after Week 2. Pittsburgh will again be without T.J. Watt, and their 0-6-1 record since the start of 2021 season without Watt, and his absence looms large. Throw in the fact the Steelers offense has yet to prove they can have anything resembling sustained success and you have wonder what this prime time game has in store for the visiting team.

If the Steelers stand a chance in Week 3, they will need to do two main things to win:

  • Stop the run
  • Create some big plays on offense

Winning on the road on Thursday night is not easy, but if the Steelers can force the football into Jacoby Brissett’s hands, and out of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, they’ll stand a chance. At the same time, if Mitch Trubisky expects to keep his job, he’ll have to prove he can not just throw to the middle of the field, but also downfield with accuracy and consistency.

The team who wins this game will enter the “mini bye week” 2-1, with a division win under their belt, and feeling good. The other will be looking an at uphill climb heading into Week 4.

Related Articles Podcasts

Be sure to check out the many BTSC podcasts in the player below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold for all the coverage of their game with the Browns in Cleveland in Week 3 of the 2022 regular season.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/21/2022 - 4:30am

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

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

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

The Steelers Fix: Fixing the Steelers in time for Cleveland

The Steelers are 1-1, but they are rife with problems. Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar look at both sides of the ball and what can be repaired quickly in time for the Cleveland game.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Quick Fixes
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Preview: Setting the stage for Steelers vs. Browns on TNF

It’s early in the 2022 season still, but the TNF visit to Cleveland could be pivotal in the AFC North. This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Dave Schofield, Jeff Hartman and Bryan Anthony Davis for The Steelers Preview.

Let’s Ride, Wednesday: The Browns on a short week could be just what the Dr. ordered for the Steelers

After the offensive ineptitude against the Patriots, there’s a lot of doom and gloom about the Steelers in a short week on the road. But maybe the Browns on Thursday Night Football could be the magic fix. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Mail Bag
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

Podcast: Latest from BTSC’s #Steelers shows, Wednesday

@Andrew_Wilbar @thebetz93 on fixing the Steelers for TNF

@JHartman_PIT @STLRSuperFanDad @btscbad sets the stage for TNF

@JHartman_PIT on Cleveland on a short week being what the doctor ordered

BTSC Survivor Pool Update: Week 2 results

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 4:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Less than 1 out of 5 contestants remain after only two weeks.

The Behind The Steel Curtain survivor pool is rolling along as each week those who make it through are one step closer to the prize. With four leagues completely filled with 100 entries, the fifth league finished with 35 participants. While technically there are 435 total entries, I have one entry in each league as the commissioner so there were 431 different contestants. Hundreds have entered, but only one can go home with the autographed Cam Heyward Football.

The most common selection for Week 1 was the Cincinnati Bengals in Dallas against the Cowboys which was the most selected game in all five leagues. This game saw the Bengals come back from being down two touchdowns in the second half to tie the game and have another possession to win it. Instead Cincinnati had to punt it away and the Cowboys kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. The 54 contestants who chose the Bengals led the way among those eliminated in Week 2.

The second most popular pick was the selection of Super Bowl Champion Los Angles Rams to bounce back and get a win against the Atlanta Falcons. With the Falcons on the wrong side of a 28-3 lead in the third quarter, Atlanta came storming back only to see the potential go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes be intercepted by Jalen Ramsey. The Rams held on and sent 34 entries into Week 3.

The next most commonly picked game was the Cleveland Browns hosting the New York Jets. The Browns held a 13-point lead with just over a minute and a half remaining only to see the Jets score a touchdown, get the onside kick, and score another touchdown. The late-game implosion eliminated 22 contestants.

Although the Browns game was the second-most selected game in which contestants were eliminated, it was the third-most common factor in elimination as 28 people failed to make their pick in time. Hopefully this number will drop over the rest of the contest.

So after two weeks, only 15.9% of the entries still remain. If you are still alive, make sure you enter your pick early so you don’t get knocked out due to a lack of selection. This is your reminder, so go make your pick now!

Weekly Update: Upcoming Week 3 Games of Note:
  • Most heavily favored: L.A. Chargers (-7) at home over Jacksonville
  • Closest match up (other than the Steelers): San Francisco (-1.5) at Denver
  • The Steelers match up: Pittsburgh (+4.5) at Cleveland

(all lines are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

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

Steelers Injury Report: Devin Bush practices fully on Tuesday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 3:03pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bush remains the only Steelers player on the injury report.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have very little time after their Week 2 defeat to recover as their next game is right around the corner on Thursday. Needing to have three injury reports before the game, they will come on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Steelers held practice on Tuesday, so the report is actually based on the participation of players. In the second injury report of the week courtesy of the Steelers PR department, no new playewrs were added as Devin Bush is the only player on the report.

Steelers PR Department

Devin Bush left the Steelers game on Sunday in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and did not return. During head coach Mike Tomlin‘s press conference on Monday, he stated he believed Bush would be ready for practice Tuesday. Not knowing what his exact participation would be, Bush was listed as a limited participant for Monday due to his foot injury. On Tuesday, Bush was a full participant in practice and is o track to play on Thursday night.

As for the Browns’ estimated injury report, you can see the names below when available. There have already need a number of players ruled out for the Browns this week (such as Jadeveon Clowney, Jesse James*, and Chase Winovich*), with even more possible to miss the game (Joel Bitonio, and Miles Garrett).

*placed on IR Tuesday

Cleveland Browns Participation/Injury Report, Week 3

Tuesday, September 20

G Joel Bitonio (Biceps) - DNP

TE Harrison Bryant (Thumb, Thigh) - LP

DE Jadeveon Clowney (Ankle) - DNP

T Jack Conklin (Knee) - LP

DE Myles Garrett (Neck) - DNP

T Chris Hubbard (Illness) - LP

DE Isaiah Thomas (Hand) - FP

AFC North Recap: Steelers remain atop the division after a forgettable Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 2:00pm
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC North did not have a banner day Sunday in Week 2 of NFL action.

The second 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...

New York Jets - 31
Cleveland Browns - 30

Just when it looked like the Browns had run away with the game in Week 2 at home, Joe Flacco, at age 37, dug up some magic and pulled off an incredible comeback. Looking like the Flacco who carried the Ravens to a Super Bowl in his time during Baltimore, the elder statesman quarterback tallied four touchdowns on his way to a come-from-behind win. What isn’t being discussed much is how the Browns defense got shredded by the Flacco-led Jets. Should make for interesting television in Week 3.

Miami Dolphins - 42
Baltimore Ravens - 38

Comeback wins were the theme for the non-Steelers teams in the AFC North, and Miami pulled off a tremendous win at M&T Bank Stadium. When it looked like Lamar Jackson and company were literally, and figuratively, running away with the game, Tua and the Dolphins stormed their way back and capped off a crazy finish. A combined 80 points scored makes you wonder if either team knows defense is still allowed in the NFL.

New England Patriots - 17
Pittsburgh Steelers - 14

The Steelers were just a trio of plays from winning this game, and their quality defensive effort was wasted due to some gaffes along the way. What might be the craziest aspect of this loss was how the Steelers’ offense was the epitome of ineptitude, and yet almost won. If the offense could generate even an average output on a weekly basis, this defense will keep the Steelers in, and win, plenty of games in 2022.

Dallas Cowboys - 20
Cincinnati Bengals - 17

Raise your hand if you have the Bengals starting the season 0-2 after their appearance in the Super Bowl last year. I can’t speak for you, the reader, but I didn’t think it would pan out this way for Cincinnati. While I think they are still a very good team, I also recognize they are a team with some issues to rectify before they are to be considered a legitimate threat to return to the Super Bowl as the AFC representative. The Dak-less Cowboys pulled off a crazy win with Cooper Rush at the helm, and the Bengals are wondering what’s happened as they now turn their attention to a trip to the Big Apple in Week 3.

AFC North Standings

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

Week 3 AFC North Schedule:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns — Thursday, 8:20pm ET
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets — Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots — Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

A look ahead...

The next four opponents for all AFC North teams:

Baltimore Ravens: at Patriots, vs. Bills, vs. Bengals, at NY Giants
Cleveland Browns: vs. Steelers (TNF), at Falcons, vs. Chargers, vs. Patriots
Pittsburgh Steelers: at Browns (TNF), vs. Jets, at Bills, vs. Buccaneers
Cincinnati Bengals: at Jets, vs. Dolphins, at Ravens, at Saints

6 former Steelers nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2023 class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 1:10pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Five players have been nominated before with one new name on the list.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 129 modern-era players who have been nominated for enshrinement for 2022. Among the players are six with ties to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Six former #Steelers are Modern-Era Nominees for the @ProFootballHOF Class of 2023.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 20, 2022

Nominated for the first time is former Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison. Undrafted in 2022 out of Kent State, Harrison spent time with the Steelers practice squad and appeared in one game his rookie year where he recorded no statistics. After spending time with the Baltimore Ravens and the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, Harrison returned to the Steelers in 2004 where he stuck for the next nine seasons before departing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. In all, Harrison spent 14 different seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and appeared in 177 games with 107 starts. More notably, Harrison was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time First-Team All-Pro, and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Harrison is also currently the Steelers all-time sack leader with 80.5.

Hines Ward has made it as far as a semifinalist in previous years. Ward spent all 14 of his NFL seasons in Pittsburgh and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times. Playing in three Super Bowls with the Steelers, Ward was the Super Bowl MVP for the 2004 season.

Other nominations are nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Chad Brown, linebacker James Farrior, and kicker Gary Anderson. During the 2020 offseason, Hall of Fame kicker Morton Andersen gave a ringing endorsement for Gary Anderson to enter the Hall of Fame in an exclusive interview with BTSC.

Modern-era finalists will be trimmed down to 25 in November and again to 15 in January before going down to 10 and then five during Super Bowl weekend in February. The five finalists and three senior finalists will undergo a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote and must receive 80% in order to be selected.

A complete list of all players who were nominated for 2022 can be seen below courtesy of the Pro football Hall of Fame.


We are happy to announce the 129 Modern-Era Nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023

Full List Of Nominees:

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) September 20, 2022

POWER RANKINGS: Steelers tumble down the rankings after Week 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Time to check the weekly NFL Power Rankings to see where the Steelers fall this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 2 of the 2022 regular season, and the loss was not pretty. In fact, through two weeks it has made it extremely difficult to gauge where the Steelers rank among their NFL peers.

How far did the team fall after the Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots? Based on this week’s NFL Power Rankings, pretty far. Was the defensive performance enough to keep the team out of the bottom third of the league?

All in all, the Steelers’ rankings this week were all over the map. The truth might be somewhere in the middle, but it’s that time of the week where we take a look at other outlets’ rankings after Week 2 of regular season action.

Let’s get to the rankings...


1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Los Angeles Rams
5. Miami Dolphins
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Baltimore Ravens
10. San Francisco 49ers
18. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Biggest early adjustment: Incorporate passing downfield

The Steelers have leaned on a conservative game plan through the first two weeks and aren’t stretching the field on offense. Through two games, Mitch Trubisky is averaging 4.85 yards per pass. While his decision-making is far from perfect and his completion percentage is just under 60%, the bigger issue appears to be play design and play calling. After Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, Trubisky was asked how the team could open up the downfield passing game and he put it simply: “Just call concepts to get receivers there. And when the coverage dictates that, get them the ball within that.””

CBS Sports

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Miami Dolphins
9. San Francisco 49ers
10. Baltimore Ravens
18. Pittsburgh Steelers

“How much longer can the team go with Mitch Trubisky? Not that he’s being helped much by his offensive line or his coordinator.”

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Miami Dolphins
9. San Francisco 49ers
10. Baltimore Ravens
23. Pittsburgh Steelers

“You had a feeling points would come at a premium for the Steelers this season, and that’s how it looks so far. Pittsburgh’s offense was held under 300 yards for the second consecutive week, and a Gunner Olszewski special teams miscue proved to be the difference in a 17-14 loss to the Patriots. Olszewski’s muffed punt set the Patriots up deep in Steelers territory and led to the decisive touchdown. It’s the type of mistake this Pittsburgh team — with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and T.J. Watt on injured reserve — cannot overcome. Kenny Pickett: Your time is near, young man.”

The Sporting News

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Los Angeles Rams
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Los Angeles Chargers
8. Miami Dolphins
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Green Bay Packers
14. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Did Mitchell Trubisky do enough to remain the Steelers’ starting QB over rookie Kenny Pickett? He’s been in shaky in two games, but the team is still in first place (with everyone else) in the AFC North and have a big shot at the Browns on the road Thursday night. Pittsburgh may get too reliant on winning defensive-minded battles of attrition and may need a change for the sake of more offensive explosiveness come Week 4.”

Yahoo! Sports

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. Miami Dolphins
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Green Bay Packers
10. Los Angeles Rams
15. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Mitchell Trubisky was the wise move when it looked like the defense could carry the Steelers to a playoff berth. With T.J. Watt out, it might be time to take a spin with Kenny Pickett. Steelers have nothing to lose.”

What do you think of these rankings? Should the Steelers be higher? Are they ranked too high? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns in Week 3.

Safeties top the Steelers Week 2 defensive PFF grades

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the grades provided by PFF from Week 2, Edmunds and Fitzpatrick had the best scores on defense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers followed up their big road win to start the season by coming up short in their home opener. Although the Steelers defense surrendered less points than the previous week, it was not getting the key stops at the end of the game which was their downfall. But even if they did get the ball back, the offense had gone three and out the previous two possessions, so there definitely wasn’t anything close to a guarantee that they would put up the necessary score.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for the Steelers Week 2 performance. Remember, these are just the grades for the Steelers for this past game and not combined with their previous performances. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one defensive snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 68 snaps on defense in Sunday’s game.


Top 5 (regardless of position)

S Terrell Edmunds: 86.5 (68 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 79.7 (68 snaps)
DT DeMarvin Leal: 78.7 (16 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 73.8 (57 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 68.6 (6 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

DT Tyson Alualu: 48.2 (32 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 47.0 (68 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 46.0 (6 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 45.3 (22 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 39.4 (8 snaps)

Defensive Front Five

DT DeMarvin Leal: 78.7 (16 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 73.8 (57 snaps)
OLB Jamir Jones: 68.6 (6 snaps)
OLB Malik Reed: 67.7 (45 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 66.6 (22 snaps)
DT Montravius Adams: 65.1 (11 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 64.8 (52 snaps)
OLB Delontae Scott: 54.6 (7 snaps)
DT Larry Ogunjobi: 51.7 (43 snaps)
DT Tyson Alualu: 48.2 (32 snaps)

It was nice to see the Steelers third-round draft pick, DeMarvin Lieal, move from the bottom five up to the top five in his second game. Leal’s overall score improved by more than 30 points in Week 2 with scores going higher in run defense, tackling, and coverage. His pass rush score dropped slightly from 51.9 to 50.5, but he was not rushing as many snaps this week (8) as last week (14). It’s also interesting how Alex Highsmith had an increased score despite a decrease in statistics, something PFF claims is their ultimate calling card as they weigh each snap evenly. Highsmith went from 66.5 in Week 1 where he had three sacks to a 73.8 in Week 2 where he had just a single quarterback hit. But it was other parts of scores which improved as he saw significant increases in his run defense, tackling, and coverage but a decrease in his pass rush score.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Myles Jack: 66.2 (59 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 61.1 (31 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 45.3 (22 snaps)

Even though Myles Jack head a slight dip in his scores from Week 1 to Week 2, he is still proving to be the best option inside linebacker. Ultimately it was his pass rush score, which was only 4 of 59 snaps, that brought him down the most in Week 2. Devin Bush saw an increase in his score to move above the line, particularly due to a 66.7 pass coverage score which was improved from 40.3 the previous week. As for Robert Spillane, his score took a hit this week as both his run defense and coverage scores were in the 40s. Despite having the lowest coverage score of the three linebackers, Spillane continued to be the player on the field as the single linebacker in dime coverage.

Defensive Backs

S Terrell Edmunds: 86.5 (68 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 79.7 (68 snaps)
CB Levi Wallace: 54.6 (59 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 49.1 (68 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 47.0 (68 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 46.0 (6 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 39.4 (8 snaps)

Although not the score he had the previous week, Minkah Fitzpatrick still was in the Steelers top five only behind fellow safety Terrell Edmunds. With Edmunds being knocked down in his tackling the previous week, he had no missed tackles on Sunday and had the Steelers top scoring coverage of 82.0 against the Patriots. What is concerning is the huge drop from these two players down to the rest of the group who all landed in the bottom half of the Steelers defense. Additionally, the snaps counts are interesting with the four starting defensive backs playing every snap as well as Levi Wallace also on the field for all but nine snaps. This ultimately just goes to show how much the Steelers are not in their base defense, at least in Week 2.

So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.

Stock Report: See whose stock is falling after the loss to the Patriots

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/20/2022 - 10:00am
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at whose stock is trending up or down after the Steelers loss to the Patriots in the home opener.

Not all injuries are created equally. When the Steelers lost defensive lynchpin Ryan Shazier to a career-ending injury in 2017, there were no feasible answers to solve the season defining dilemma. How do you adequately replace the generational talents of a player that is irreplaceable in your system, a system that has been built around their truly unique abilities? The simple and obvious answer was staring the Steelers in the face.

You don't, and they didn't.

As good as Shazier was, and as important as he was to the Steelers defense back then, he doesn't begin to compare with T.J. Watt. Watt is the heart and soul of the Steelers defense. He makes everyone of his defensive cohorts even better than they already are. His mere presence instills confidence and elevates performances. That's the unfathomable impact of having the best defender walking the planet on your roster.

Let's just call it the “Mean” Joe Greene advantage.

The Steelers defense produced a solid all around effort on Sunday, without unquestionably their best player and defensive difference maker, but it turned into a day of missed opportunities for the defense, and a game changing miscue on special teams.

The Steelers are simply unable to generate any semblance of an acceptable pass rush without Watt. The same franchise that has lead the league in sacks each season for 5 years running, and totaled 7 sacks in their Week 1 road upset of Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, looked absolutely pathetic trying to generate pressure against Mac Jones and the New England Patriots. The Steelers had zero sacks on the day. If there was any remaining doubt of Watt's greatness and importance to the Steelers defense, there isn't anymore. The Steelers apparently can't win without him.

Let's take a look at whose stock is trending in the right, or wrong, direction.

Stock Down: Opportunistic defense

What might have been? Just a week prior, the Steelers defense was creating turnovers early and often against the Bengals. The Steelers rather anemic offense desperately needed everyone of those possession changes to pull out the surprising road victory. Another week, another underwhelming Steelers offensive performance. However, this time the Steelers defense literally dropped the ball on multiple occasions when they had chances to make the offense's job a little easier.

Steelers corner Ahkello Witherspoon had tight man coverage on Patriots receiver Nelson Agholor late in the second quarter on Sunday. He was in excellent position to at least knock the ball away, if not intercept the 50/50 jump ball. Witherspoon inexplicably failed to do either, giving up a contested catch touchdown instead.

As bad as that missed opportunity was, the next one was even more tragic. Midway through the third quarter, on one of the rare occasions that the Steelers pass rush actually forced Jones out of the pocket, Jones escaped the pocket to his left. He never saw Steelers corner Cameron Sutton sitting in zone, and Jones threw the ball right to him. Sutton went to his knees to try and secure the slightly low throw, but he dropped the gift interception. At that moment, nobody fully realized how big that dropped opportunity would prove to be.

It only took a few seconds off the game clock to find out. The Steelers forced a punt, which turned into a disaster, easily the biggest momentum shifting moment of the game. Steelers punt returner; and former Patriot, Gunner Olszewski called for a fair catch, but he muffed it, giving the Patriots great field position at the Steelers ten yard line. The ensuing touchdown seemed almost inevitable.

The Steelers have the NFL's most expensive defense, and least expensive offense. The Steelers are counting on their well-paid defense to carry more than their fair share of the load. That's the way it has to be if the Steelers are going to be successful during the early part of this season, especially until the Steelers offense finds it's footing, and it's next quarterback. The Steelers can't afford missed defensive opportunities, or special teams miscues.

Stock Down: Steelers coaches

As much as it pains me to say this yet again, Bill Belichick out coached Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. I know I am committing a cardinal sin by suggesting that Tomlin shoulder any of the blame for the Steelers below the line performance Sunday, but it's the truth. The buck stops with Tomlin, he's the man in charge, so stop trying to deflect blame.

The Steelers already knew coming into the matchup that Belichick and the Patriots offense have feasted over the middle against the Steelers defense, especially the base 3-4, but seemed unprepared or unconcerned. The Steelers continue to be venerable in the middle, thanks to soft zone concepts, and their puzzling insistence to play Robert Spillane in coverage. Belichick continues to take Tomlin's lunch money, because Tomlin gives it to him.

There's really nothing left to be said about the Matt Canada/Mitch Trubisky situation, so I will leave it at this: Those are Tomlin's guys. Win, lose, or draw, you dance with the one who brought you.

All we heard about all last season was Tomlin pining away for quarterback mobility, and how he wanted an experienced signal caller when Roethlisberger hung up his cleats. Then the Steelers hand picked Mitch Trubisky out of free agency, and Kenny Pickett out of the 2022 Draft class.

So why does the offense look so similar to last season? These quarterbacks can take snaps under center, roll out, scramble, and run RPOs. Different quarterback, same inept offense. The offensive line is still struggling, but there has been some improvement over last year.

Where are all the play action plays, designed to attack the middle of the field and down the seams? The designed QB runs, utilized to slow down overzealous pass rushes? Varying the offensive tempo, and when you snap the ball? Any and all of these make your offense less predictable, which helps both your struggling QB and offensive line.

For a head coach who claims to not live in his fears, his decisions thus far this season have seemed pretty tentative to me. It appears he will have ample opportunity to make some bold decisions in the very near future.

Stock Up: Under the radar observations

DeMarvin Leal did a solid job playing his first NFL snaps on the edge, as a few insightful individuals predicted. He is a very athletic 305 pound youngster. Where the Steelers finally decide to play him moving forward in his NFL career will be crucial.

Tyson Alualu's return has brought stability to the Steelers defensive interior, and solidified the Steelers run defense, which was the league's worst without him in 2021.

Minkah Fitzpatrick had yet another huge interception, causing casual fans to maybe miss another outstanding overall effort by Terrell Edmunds, especially in pass coverage. Together they form one of the best safety tandems in the NFL.

Myles Jack is playing more physically aggressive as he becomes more comfortable within the Steelers defense. Jack and Larry Ogunjobi were two brilliant offseason acquisitions.


Subscribe to Steelers Fans of Minnesota aggregator