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Steelers hope focus on ‘little’ things this offseason will equate in big things during the season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 6:48am

Football in shorts is no fun, but the Steelers are making the most of their opportunities.

The main memory most fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have of their favorite team is them getting run over by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Playoffs last year at Heinz Field. While many fans will say this was just one game and the media has overblown the loss, the Steelers’ defense had issues all season long — despite their overall rank and record-setting sack performance.

The Steelers seemed to lack focus, struggled with communications and overall discipline was missing.

This isn’t breaking news, and don’t think for a second the Steelers, and their coaching staff, don’t know it. In fact, throughout the three weeks of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the team has been focusing on little things which they hope will pay big dividends when the pads are put on, and the games start to count.

“There’s not much you can do football-wise without equipment, but you can get your footwork right, your hand placement right,” safety Morgan Burnett told Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Footwork, and other physical aspects of an individual’s game, can certainly be improved upon during these sessions which have been labeled as “football in shorts” by head coach Mike Tomlin. But there are other areas to improve on too — like communication.

After a collision between Mike Hilton and Artie Burns during one of the workouts, the two realized they have to do better in communicating.

“Get ’em done now so they don’t cost you later in the season,” Hilton said afterward.

So, who’s to blame for the gaffe?

“Both of us,” Hilton said. “Neither of us said anything and you saw the result.”

Regardless of the individual issues players are working through, Hilton is confident in this new group of defenders donning the black-and-gold.

“We got a lot of guys coming in, a lot of guys playing different positions, but we’re all confident in each other,” Hilton said. “[Burnett] has been great since he’s got up here. He’s made a lot of plays for us. Cam’s a versatile guy we like to use. So everybody’s done a lot of great things.”

So, what should fans expect from the Steelers’ secondary in 2018?

“A lot of DBs on the field. A lot of speed on the field. It’s something we’re gonna use, and [we] feel like it’s really gonna help our defense.”

Hilton would go on to tell Gentille how 60-65-percent of the playbook is already in place, and the team hasn’t touched their dime defense yet throughout their offseason work. Many are wondering, could fans see seven defensive backs on the field at one point or another in 2018?

“It’s possible. It’s possible because we’ve got guys that can play inside linebacker like Terrell Edmunds, [rookie safety] Marcus Allen, guys like that, big guys that can run,” he said. “[Burnett] also, he’s a guy that’s versatile. You put him in the post and he’s rangy and can go sideline-to-sideline, so he can do a lot of things.”

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with a ton of on-field talk. After all, the players haven’t even worn shoulder pads yet this offseason. Nonetheless, those “little” things the team is talking about can absolutely be huge this season.

“As long as you communicate, and I feel like football is a game where you have to communicate and talk to one another. Pre-snap, during the snap and post-snap, you always have to stay [in] consistent communication,” Burnett said. “I feel like that will clean things up, as well. But that’s why you’re on the professional level — you gotta be prepared and ready to do whatever’s asked of you.”

Better to get these things ironed out before the pads go on...

Podcast: Identifying the rookies who will have the biggest impact in 2018

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 5:26am

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

The 2018 NFL Draft is over and, believe it or not, there’s lots to talk about heading into a big week of offseason news for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the new show Steelers News:

  • OTAs news and notes
  • Rookies who will have the biggest impact in 2018.
  • Deciding between Terrell Edmunds, Jaylen Samuels, James Washington or Marcus Allen.
  • My All-Time Favorite Steelers list explained
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, goes over everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

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

Who gets paid more: Evgeni Malkin or Dick's Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack?

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 4:00am

Every sports fan can cite chapter and verse when making an argument about why a player is overpaid. But when it comes to CEOs, they may not be as well informed.

Watch JuJu Smith-Schuster take on a K-9 police dog at Ben Roethlisberger’s charity softball game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 2:35pm

JuJu Smith-Schuster put on the protective arm gear to show how powerful a K-9 Police dog can be at Big Ben’s charity softball game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are banking on a big year for second year pro JuJu Smith-Schuster. When they traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders during Day 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, it was expected Smith-Schuster would be the main person to pick up the slack in his stead.

So, when Cameron Heyward posted a video of Smith-Schuster taking on a K-9 Police dog with a protective arm sleeve at Ben Roethlisberger’s charity softball game, they might not have been too thrilled.

Check out the video below:

Only @juju at Big Bens Charity Softball Event!

A post shared by Cam Heyward (@camhey97) on Jun 10, 2018 at 12:15pm PDT

Smith-Schuster was obviously not injured during the exercise, but you can hear Roethliberger himself giving him cues during event. Saying things like “Don’t look at him JuJu!” and “Get your hand out!”

Certainly a bit of fun for the wide receiver from USC, and outside of being entertained by Smith-Schuster’s antics, the Steelers are probably thrilled to see him walk away unharmed.

Like what head coach Lou Brown said to Willie Mays Hayes in the movie Major League upon Mays Hayes’ catch in the season opener: “Nice catch Hayes, don’t ever F—g do it again!”

At some point you can hear Mike Tomlin telling Smith-Schuster, “Nice job JuJu, don’t ever do it again.”

Ahhh the offseason...

Terrell Edmunds learning from his mistakes at OTAs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 11:24am

The rookie safety is learning from his early mistakes at offseason workouts, and Mike Tomlin is making sure he doesn’t forget.

Coming into the National Football League can be an eye-opening experience for rookies. The complex systems, bigger and faster competition and the overall pressure which comes from going from amateur status to professional status. It can be a whirlwind for newcomers.

But some things never change...like catching the football.

This is something Pittsburgh Steelers top rookie Terrell Edmunds learned the hard way during the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs) when he dropped two interceptions in the last day of workouts before minicamp.

For those cringing while reading the above, Mike Tomlin made sure to let the rookie know the importance of these situations.

“Coach [Mike] Tomlin came and talked to us today about that,” Edmunds told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Those are game-changing plays we can’t leave on the field because we’re trying to be a No. 1 defense. We got to make all those picks.”

“If it’s a dropped pick, it’s not a good play for us,” Edmunds said. “It’s OK, but it’s not a big play.”

The pressure players put on themselves to make plays is likely more than anything the fans and/or media put on players, and Edmunds is just ready to play some real football. You know...with pads.

“Gonna play some real football now,” Edmunds said.

“I’m ready for that,” Edmunds continued. “I haven’t had the pads on in a while. It’s time to go out and hit somebody. All those bobble catches, you might be able to knock them out. You never know how you can mess up the timing with the shoulder pads on.”

With the rookies preparing for their first NFL training camp, Edmunds is at the point where he feels as if he isn’t a rookie anymore. Or maybe how he can’t be a rookie anymore, from a learning perspective. In fact, he realizes he has to learn the system quickly, or it will mean watching rather than playing.

“It’s all good now. There’s no more, OK, you’re a rookie. You got to step up. You’re either going to make a play or you’re not going to make a play. There’s no time to think you’re here still learning. It’s going to move on without you if you don’t learn it. You got to pick it up fast.”

Edmunds, and the Steelers’ defense, is prepared to prove the doubters wrong this year as they press forward to show the loss to the Jaguars in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs was nothing more than an aberration, not the new norm.

A rarity for Steelers faithful, going all-in to support Le’Veon Bell in his negotiations

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 9:12am

Few Steelers fans stand behind Le’Veon Bell in his quest to be paid appropriately...so I do so in rap form.

Rap Beef: Blak Mamba’s Rap Response to Defeo: For Who the Bell Tolls!

The Steelers Media and fans seem to celebrate loudest when a Steelers star takes a pay cut, see Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, etc. Conversely, they moan and groan when a star asks for the money he’s worked diligently for.

Le’Veon Bell is that unique back. He’s in the words of the late Notorious BIG, “better than your average,” and he has the stats and stripes to back it up! As the Steelers try to “Kurt Cousins” Le’Veon Bell with repeated franchise tag tenders, he has reportedly lowered his demands to where he and the team are virtually several hundred thousand dollars a year and a solid guaranteed amount of money away from a deal. This is extremely close in the world of long-term, multi-million-dollar NFL contracts.

Some hot-take novice on NFL Network has inflated Bell’s demand for shock value. Media outside of the Burgh’ always try to throw salt in the game. In the words of Doug E. Fresh, “people want us to break up be we cannot….” They are tired of the Steelers’ perennial success and dominance through the 50+ years of the Super Bowl era.

You don’t pay the same for a running back in the Toyota Camry class that you would for a running back in the Range Rover class, no less for a hybrid Rover. Le’Veon Bell is rugged, and sleek with smooth lines. He has pioneered his own unique and effective running style that Pro, college, and High school stars are starting to mimic.

Trust me, he’s no Camry.

So in the words of Deion Sanders, “PAY THE MAN!”

I’m confident that Bell will be a Steeler and ‘Killer B’ for his entire career. As Doug E. Fresh asked ”You know why, ask me why, we’re on a mission!” All the the ways to Seven, Seven-Heaven! (from Doug E. Fresh’s “All the Way to Heaven”)

I’m going to lower my skill level to elementary and retort my colleague, Mr. Tony Defeo’s Mother Goose, Dr. Seuss rhymes line for line.

Le’Veon is the name

49.5 % of offensive touches my game

My legs 582 carries over the last two

Somebody say Jello? Fool they’re super glue

Offseason workouts skipped

Better add the other killer B’s to that list

Along with Brady, Gronk, Donald. Martin and Julio

Who cares if I put in a little work in the studio

The fans are trippin’

After I’ve played hero, trying to paint me as the villain

Their opinion of me is jive

I said I’d go as low as 14.5

We have salary cap gods

make the signing bonus large, the work aint’ hard

I’m a target for sure

If you asked to get paid fans are looking at the front door

I know its about the bowl, that’s why I came back from two knees

You couldn’t measure my heart with right angles at 90 degrees

You’re right I’m no fool

If I had a major injury we know what the org. would do

Le’Veon is the name

49.5 % of offensive touches my game

My legs 582 carries over the last two

Somebody say Jello? Fool they’re super glue

Offseason workouts skipped

Better add the other killer B’s to that list

Along with Brady, Gronk, Donald. Martin and Julio

Who cares if I put in a little work in the studio

Football is tough and what have you?

I’m raising multi-tasking backs value

I’ve earned my payday

Fans and Defeo are nuttier than a Payday!

Mayday, Mayday

Better sign me with no more delay!

Running back Committee we talking

Ambercrombie. Stone, Foster Days

Le’Veon is the name

49.5 % of offensive touches my game

My legs 582 carries over the last two

Somebody say Jello? Fool they’re super glue

Offseason workouts skipped

Better add the other killer B’s to that list

Along with Brady, Gronk, Donald. Martin and Julio

Who cares if I put in a little work in the studio

Opposing coaches would sell the firstborn for ‘The Juice”

Their Defenses I terrorize, their OC’s I seduce

This should be worked out Stet

Or next offseason y’all will truly regret!

Dude on NFL Network talking 17

He’s in the B.C. section of my twitter feed!

Le’Veon is the name

49.5 % of offensive touches my game

My legs 582 carries over the last two

Somebody say Jello? Fool they’re super glue

Offseason workouts skipped

Better add the other killer B’s to that list

Along with Brady, Gronk, Donald. Martin and Julio

Who cares if I put in a little work in the studio

And let me tell you I’m far from soft

I’m born to run, my wheels don’t fall off!

...

With that said (or, rather, rapped; Anthony Defeo step your weak, prehistoric rap game up: Take that, take that, take that!

Name your all-time favorite Pittsburgh Steelers by position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 6:50am

Time to discuss the best Steelers of all-time...by position.

Remember those chain emails which used to go around to you and all your friends, asking you to copy and paste the questions and put your answers in before forwarding them to others?

Well, recently on social media there has been a similar sensation starting up again. People are asking their top albums, sports teams, etc. I thought it would be a good idea to bring this idea to BTSC for the all-time Pittsburgh Steelers, by position.

RB:
TE:
QB:
OL:
DL:
CB:
S:
ILB:
OLB:
ST:

Below are my picks:

RB: Barry Foster
TE: Heath Miller
QB: Ben Roethlisberger
OL: David DeCastro
DL: Aaron Smith
CB: Rod Woodson
S: Troy Polamalu
ILB: Levon Kirkland
OLB: Joey Porter
ST: Antwaan Randle El

There’s no real science behind this. We’re not looking for who you think was the best at the position, just personal favorites. For instance, Terry Bradshaw won 4 Super Bowl rings, but Ben Roethlisberger is my pick for the best ever. Why? He was the dominant quarterback of my generation. When you look at my answers, they are riddled with players from my childhood. Was Levon Kirkland the best ILB in Steelers’ history? No way, but watching him absolutely punish ball carriers as a young boy is something I will never forget.

So who are your favorites by position? I’m sure we’re going to see some generational differences in the comments. Simply copy and paste the above positions into the comments and let the debate begin!

The “unique” connections this writer has with several members of the 2018 Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/10/2018 - 5:49am

The author of Random Thoughts lists some possibly little-known personal facts about the current Pittsburgh team and compares their similarities somewhat self-indulgently to himself.

Sometimes in the offseason, I find myself searching for any information I can find to cram into my black-and-gold brain. As I was prepping for this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday, I was reminded of how former Steelers running back Erric Pegram once owned every episode of Sanford and Son. I, in turn, have all six seasons on DVD. So it made me reflect and wonder what I have in common with current Steelers.

With that in mind, I compiled a list of interesting facts about some 2018 Steelers, and how closely, or not so closely, I relate to them. Enjoy.

Steeler Center Maurkice Pouncey goes by his middle name, not his given name...LaShawn.

  • For BTSC purposes, I go by both my first and middle names...Bryan Anthony Davis.

Le’Veon Bell’s mother, Lisa, is a lifelong Steelers fan.

  • My father, Bill, is a lifelong fan as well. There was many a bonding Sunday between my father and I. That black-and-gold bond still exists today.

As a high school senior, Chris Boswell was selected to play in the 2009 US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

  • As a high school senior, I was selected to play “Sonny” in the Richland High School production of Grease.

Ramon Foster wasn’t the only NFL lineman in his family. His older brother, Renardo Foster, played seven games for parts of four seasons in St. Louis, Atlanta and New Orleans.

  • My only sibling, Lisa, has never played in the NFL nor written for BTSC.

Coach Mike Tomlin went to William and Mary.

  • That school has way too high of standards to enroll me, but my father’s name is William and my Grandmother’s name is Mary.

Stephon Tuitt majored in Anthropology at Notre Dame.

  • I majored in Communications/Theater at Pitt-Johnstown.

Joe Haden, Tyson Alualu and LaShawn Pouncey were all drafted in the top 18 of the 2010 draft.

  • My best friend and I both worked at the same radio station after college.

Marcus Allen is not related to his Hall of Fame namesake, but his Godfather is enshrined in Canton. His name is Curtis Martin.

  • I am not related to the Brian Davis that triumphantly played played for the Redskins in SB XII. My Godfather, Bob, did not play in the NFL.

A year before signing with the Steelers, Jordan Berry was working the graveyard shift at an Australian McDonalds.

  • A year before signing with BTSC, I sold prostate medicine for a pharmaceutical company.. Also, I never worked in the fast food industry, but I worked the graveyard shift as a Top 40 deejay in Johnstown, PA.

Both of Dave DeCastro’s parents hail from South Africa. His father’s family were mostly all rugby players.

  • Both of my parents hail from Johnstown. Neither played rugby, but both play a pretty mean game of pinochle.

Morgan Burnett is the only Steeler on the winning end of Super Bowl XLV.

  • I was the only Steelers fan at our Super Bowl Party to win sixty dollars for putting my initials on squares. It’s no consolation though, the party cost way more than that and I’m still not over the Rashard Mendenhall fumble.

Artie Burns is the legal guardian of his two younger brothers.

  • I am the legal guardian of four dachshunds...oh yeah, two kids as well.

Marcus Gilbert’s father, Jeff, protected three US presidents as a member of the Secret Service.

  • Among his other proud accomplishments, my father protected valuable packages as a courier for FedEx.

Alvin Dupree’s Godmother had a dream before her Godson was born that he’d grow up to be a football player that would go by “Bud,” hence the nickname.

  • I don’t think my Godmother, Rita, had any such dream about my being a football blogger that sometimes goes by (my initials) BAD.

New Mexico native Landry Jones has interesting ties to Texas professional sports. He is named after legendary Cowboys coach Tom Landry and is married to a 2013 draft pick of the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars.

  • This Pennsylvanian/Marylander has no ties to Texas sports, but after my 8-month-pregnant mother saw James Caan and Billie Dee Williams in the TV movie Brian’s Song, I became Bryan...but with a “y” instead of Shawn (BAD is much better than SAD). Also, My wife decided to forego the WNBA to marry me, and more so because she doesn’t play basketball.

James Washington played tennis in high school.

  • I played bass drum in high school.

JuJu Smith-Schuster was born John Sherman Smith. The nickname came to replace “John John”. The moniker was given to him when he was only a few months old by his aunt.

  • I was born Bryan Anthony Davis, but my ass-clown friends nicknamed me”Raisin” because of my hair in ninth grade. The handle stuck for four excruciating years. Although they were both in my wedding, I’m still planning revenge for the nickname 33 years later.

James Conner appeared on an episode of Ellen in 2016 to celebrate being a cancer survivor.

  • Although I’m proud to call myself a cancer survivor, I was never asked to appear on Ellen, but I’ve watched it on television.

Justin Hunter is a world class long jumper, competing in the IAAF World Junior Championships in 2010.

  • I’ve competed in four World Series of Trivia and a Big Mac-eating contest. But I’ve never been considered world class at anything.

Trey Griffey was drafted in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Mariners. The 24th round is significant because that’s the number his HOF father wore in Seattle.

  • I was really bad at baseball, but my dad lobbied the coaches to select me in the last round of the Arbutus Little League in 1984. If that’s not HOF fathering...I don’t know what is.

Alejandro Villanueva paid $245 to attend a regional NFL combine in 2014.

  • I paid $20 for B.J. Finney’s game-worn pants in April.

Coty Sensabaugh and his wife Dominique decided to forego their honeymoon in 2016 to hand out shoes to people in need in the Dominican Republic.

  • My wife and I never officially went on a honeymoon, but we did go to Cracker Barrel and tipped well.

Ben Roethlisberger is on track to tie Mike Webster as the longest-tenured Steeler at 15 seasons.

  • I’m on track to tie Anthony Defeo as the longest-tenured fan who writes for BTSC. If correct, we are both going on 39 years of Steelers fandom.

Joe Haden won a Maryland state championship in football as a quarterback and two in basketball as a point guard.

  • I live in Maryland and have won three People’s Choice Chili titles.

Haden is also involved with an organization trying to eliminate the use of the word “retarded”.

  • No jokes here. It’s an ugly word and I applaud Joe for working towards the removal of it from our lexicon.

First rounder Terrell Edmunds first name is actually FeDerrius.

  • That’s way too awesome to even try to compare to. I fold.

Now, that I’ve read this myself. I’ve come to two conclusions. No. 1, I’m practically a Steeler and No. 2, you’re never getting the four minutes back that it took to read this. Nevertheless...Go Steelers!

PFF provides yet another statistic showing just how dominant David DeCastro was in 2017

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 2:19pm

As if you didn’t know...David DeCastro is good.

The life of an NFL offensive lineman is not glorious. You work your tail off, get hit every play and never get any type of recognition for your work. You pave the way for others to make plays, and understand the only time you get truly noticed is when you make a mistake.

In other words, as an offensive lineman, the less they talk about you the better you are.

In this situation there would be no reason to talk about Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro. After all, the man was nothing short of dominant in 2017.

Many statistics have proven this, and highlight reels show DeCastro’s athleticism in pulling and run blocking, but what doesn’t get a lot of publicity is his work done in pass blocking. Thanks to Pro Football Focus (PFF), DeCastro was highlighted for going a whopping 589 snaps without allowing a sack.

The guards who went the most pass blocking snaps without allowing a sack in 2017 pic.twitter.com/6JyjzpRGks

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 6, 2018

When you think about this achievement, it is difficult to wrap your head around...at least for me. Sure, guards don’t go up against the opposition’s best pass rushers, but don’t think stunts and defensive linemen like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins don’t do plenty of damage from the interior of the defensive line.

When DeCastro was drafted many were stunned he fell to the Steelers, and after an injury hampered rookie season he has done nothing more than show he is absolutely worth every penny he has earned with the Steelers.

DeCastro reminds you of another offensive lineman who wore No. 66, Alan Faneca, and the hope is, unlike Faneca, DeCastro remains in black-and-gold for years to come.

Bud Dupree states the obvious, “nowhere near” his ceiling in terms of production

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 12:58pm

The Steelers’ top pick in 2015 still has yet to live up to the hype, but it doesn’t mean he can’t produce as many expected.

I recall the lead up to the 2015 NFL Draft vividly. After all, it was then when I took over this fine establishment and became the editor of the website. The build up to the draft was intense, as usual, but one prospect who absolutely throttled the NFL Scouting Combine, and therefore many thought would be gone well before the Steelers picked in Round 1, was Bud Dupree.

The Kentucky product was rough around the edges, in terms of technique, but was absolutely brimming with potential and raw athleticism. In other words, fans couldn’t wait to see Dupree busting around the edge and abusing the opposing quarterback.

What they saw instead was a player who was exactly as advertised — raw.

Throughout his three seasons with the Steelers, Dupree’s stats have left a lot to be desired, and it should be noted he dealt with injuries in his first two years with the team:

2015: 4 Sacks, 17 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defense
2016: 4.5 Sacks, 19 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defense, 1 Forced Fumble
2017: 6 Sacks, 31 Total Tackles, 1 Fumble Recovery

Not really eye-popping statistics from a first round draft pick, and Dupree realizes this. He was sent a very clear message this offseason when the Steelers were anything but sold on picking up his 5th year option, and it is time for Dupree to start producing on the field.

Recently, at the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Dupree talked to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler about his “ceiling”. Regardless of the past, Dupree’s potential is still there, but what needs to change for him to reach it?

Check out the interview:

Steelers’ OLB Bud Dupree eyeing big season: “The ceiling I have, I’m nowhere near reaching that (yet).” Fourth-year vet said he wants to become one of most talked-about linebackers in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/RQ6hXVKIi6

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 5, 2018

Some will point to the Outside Linebackers coach, Joey Porter, for not teaching Dupree the technical aspect of the position needed for him to succeed. Some criticism there is warranted, but the brunt of the issue falls squarely on Dupree’s shoulders. For whatever reason, Dupree has yet to put together a complete season where he routinely beats the opposing blocker, and sometimes he is rushing against tight ends.

The Steelers have realized a change might be necessary, and have already started swapping Dupree and T.J. Watt on both sides of the defensive front in hopes of finding a spark throughout a game. Will it work? Only time will tell, but ask anyone if they feel Dupree is underachieving and I’m sure near 100-percent would concur he hasn’t lived up to his first round billing.

I should add Dupree is still capable of being an extremely effective linebacker in the Steelers’ current defense. Will he ever produce like James Harrison and/or LaMarr Woodley did in the Steelers’ classic 3-4 defense? If you are honest with yourself you know the answer to that is NO. However, with as much sub package football as Keith Butler deploys on a weekly basis, combined with the athleticism required of the outside linebackers in this scheme, Dupree fits the system well. The downside is in this scheme and system Dupree will rarely evernblow up the stat sheet like fans expect.

That is what we call at Catch-22.

Dupree knows he is nowhere near his ultimate potential, but will he find it this year? His next contract might depend on it.

An explanation to why Antonio Brown might still have a beef with Bruce Arians

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 10:15am

Antonio Brown sounded off about Bruce Arians on Instagram, and Bob Labriola provides a reason why Brown might be holding a grudge.

Several members of the Pittsburgh Steelers are extremely active on social media. One of those players is wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has created a brand for himself across several platforms.

One of those platforms is Brown’s verified Instagram page. Brown’s posts on his page have been sporadic, and out of the ordinary recently, but one post spiked the interest of fans when he mentioned former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and even Mike Tomlin.

Check out the post:

Bruce Arians said he’s a special team guy he caint learn the plays hots n sites. Not Smart Enough Coach T Bench me on a bye week ; said two dogs one bone. God bless em #putsomerestpectonmyname

A post shared by Antonio Brown (@ab) on Jun 4, 2018 at 12:39pm PDT

If you're like me, you probably wondered why in the world Brown would be calling out Arians and Tomlin the way he did. Well, in the most recent article of ‘Asked and Answered’ by Bob Labriola, he shines a light on why Brown might be holding a grudge against his former offensive coordinator.

But when it came time to cut the roster, Arians’ opinion was that Brown was nothing more than a practice squad player. That was what Arians advocated, which would have meant waiving Brown first before he could be signed to the practice squad. And during his 24 hours on waivers, Brown could have been claimed by any other team in the NFL.

Cut the guy who would become the most productive receiver in franchise history, a guy who today is the best receiver in the NFL and has been the best receiver in the NFL going on a few years now. To put him on the practice squad. That was the idea BA brought to the table late in the summer of 2010.

The receivers the Steelers kept coming out of training camp that year were Ward, Wallace, Antwaan Randle-El, Sanders, and Arnaz Battle. There’s no room for Antonio Brown on that depth chart? Really?

Some tremendous perspective on Brown’s feelings in the eary years of what has turned into a dominant NFL career.

In typical Labriola fashion, he also provided some insight into Arians’ new career as a color analyst for NFL games.

So this fall, if you happen to be listening to Arians on a talk show or as an analyst during a CBS telecast, just keep in mind that the same guy who’s talking to you in that moment is the same one who wanted to cut Antonio Brown.

Why Brown has been holding a grudge for so long is anyone’s guess, but Brown pulls motivation from a variety of places and this just might be the most recent.

If it equates to another dominant season, Steelers fans won’t mind one bit.

What will it take for Antonio Brown to surpass Jerry Rice’s many receiving records?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 8:10am

Antonio Brown is blazing a trail no one, and I mean no one, has ever walked. Time to see what needs to be done for him to surpass the greatest of all-time, Jerry Rice.

A couple of weeks ago there was a spirited debate on the BTSC boards about Jerry Rice and Antonio Brown. Part of that discussion was whether Brown would surpass Rice in some of the mind-blowing records he currently holds (Wiki states that, as of 2016, Rice holds more than 100 NFL records).

I had the pleasure of watching Rice’s entire career, and I’m currently watching Brown’s career unfold before my eyes. It’s conceivable that Brown ends his career high on the career list in different statistical categories, but how high?

Brown has stayed relatively healthy most of his career. Could he play long enough, and be sufficiently productive, to break Rice’s records? Let’s take a look to see what he would have to accomplish in order to catch Rice.

* All stats provided by Pro Football Reference

Career Length

Rice: 20 years

Brown: 8 years

Brown would be turning 42 to reach his twentieth season. To put this in perspective, Rice is the only Hall of Fame WR to play at the age of 40. That would be a long battle against father time and the effects aging has on NFL players. Brown has not shown any signs of slowing down, but can he play at a high level deep into his thirties when so many other HOF WRs could not?

Receptions

Rice: 1,549

Brown: 744

Rice’s longevity outpaces any other player’s reception numbers — not by a small margin but by a chasm. Tony Gonzalez is 224 receptions behind, while the closest active wide receiver is Larry Fitzgerald. The 34-year-old Fitz is more than 300 receptions behind Rice.

What would it take for AB to catch Rice?

Brown has averaged 91 receptions per year, dwarfing Rice’s average of 77. Using his career average, it would still take Brown just shy of nine more years to supplant Rice as the all-time reception leader in the NFL. That would mean that Brown would have to continue his torrid pace.

Receiving Yards

Rice: 22,895

Brown: 9,910

Fitzgerald, if he does indeed play in 2018, should pass Terrell Owens for second place in receiving yards during his career. Fitz currently sits at 15,545 yards and is less than 400 yards behind Hall of Famer Owens.

What would it take to catch Rice?

Brown has averaged 1,279 yards per season while Rice averaged 1,145. It would take 10.15 more years for AB to break Rice’s all-time receiving yardage mark.

Touchdown Receptions

Rice: 197 (Another 10 rushing — I found the high number intriguing.)

Brown: 59

To put Rice’s mark here in perspective, the next closest wide receiver is Randy Moss with 156 touchdowns. To say that Rice was a TD machine is an understatement, as he led the league six times during his illustrious career.

What would it take to catch Rice?

Brown, the six-time Pro Bowl selection, has never led the league in TDs. He does average 7.4 per season. At this pace, AB would be 48 by the time he caught Rice. To say this is not happening is being a master of the obvious.

Playoffs

Rice: 29 games 151-2,245-22

Brown: 10 games 51-837-4

Brown holds his own against Rice here in per-game averages, except for TDs. For total numbers, it’s not a fair comparison given that Rice made appearances in the playoffs for 15 years. That in itself is an incredible feat.

Brown outpaces Rice in per-season stats but he’ll have to remain healthy and productive for another decade to accomplish the conquest of Rice. Of the 101 times that a WR has surpassed the 100 reception mark, nearly one-quarter of those times it was accomplished by a player 30 years or older. Of the 236 times that a player has gone over 1,250 receiving yards in a season, 39 of those times has been by a player over the age 30. That just goes to show that putting up big numbers in the NFL is not a young man’s game. In case you don’t have it memorized or the date circled on your calendar, AB turns 30 on July 10.

While it’s hardly debatable that AB is one of the top wideouts currently playing in the NFL, I think the debate definitely is closed that he’s in the same category as Rice. Brown does beat Rice in per-year averages, but the sheer length of Rice’s career overshadows the accomplishments by AB so far.

Will Brown’s love for the game surpass what his body will be able to tolerate or vice versa? Will the two factors lead him to have a career as long as Rice? Will Brown be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Rice someday instead of looking up at him?

Lawrence Timmons staying positive back in South Carolina

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/09/2018 - 6:22am

Could a healthy L.T. follow in James Harrison’s footsteps by returning to Pittsburgh to help bolster the Steelers at linebacker?

It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers have some significant questions at the inside linebacker position as they look forward to the opening of their summer training camp. And the Steelers’ organization has at least some history of bringing back players who have excelled for them in the past. That’s why the availability of a healthy and rested Lawrence Timmons poses some intriguing questions for the Steelers’ coaches and front office.

These days, Timmons has returned to his roots in Florence, SC, where he hosted a free youth football camp at Wilson High School (his alma mater) on June 2nd. Interviewed there by Florence News reporter Scott Chancey, Timmons was upbeat about his current circumstance as a free agent.

“I’ve just got to wait it out and keep working out and see where it gets me, and hope for the best,” he said. The 32-year-old, former Steelers linebacker has stacked up some impressive numbers during his NFL career, including 735 tackles, 35 ½ sacks and 12 interceptions. One of LT’s picks which may stand out in the memory of Steelers Nation is the one he returned 89 yards for a touchdown in 2010 against New England.

Timmons clearly still has a love for football and the conviction that he can bring some valuable qualities to an NFL team seeking help at his position. But for the time being at least, “patience” is Lawrence’s watchword. “I’ve never been through this before, so I don’t know. This is a first for me,” he said. “I’ve got to wait it out and see how it goes. Just keep it positive — that’s all I’m trying to do.”

In addition to his skills as a player and many years of NFL experience, Timmons hinted he might have a preference for his next — and perhaps final — stop on his NFL journey. “Pittsburgh has always been a home to me,” he said. “I’d been there for 10 years, so it’s all love there.”

Obviously, some attractive intangibles are attached to the prospect of the Steelers bringing back their former No. 94. His familiarity with the organization and his former Black-and-gold teammates is one. Additionally, Timmons always had a reputation as a solid character guy who brings a positive vibe to the locker room.

It’s difficult to evaluate exactly how much Timmons has left in his tank these days, but his stint with the Miami Dolphins (84 tackles and zero sacks) indicates he’s probably still capable of producing at a level comparable to what we saw during his last season (2016) in Pittsburgh. That's why, when the discussion turns to the Steelers’ current linebacker needs, and in view of the other veteran free agents currently available at his position, Timmons certainly deserves to be considered as a reasonable possibility.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 20

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 5:47pm

Ugh...the offseason continues. Here We Go.

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. The Steelers just released their training camp schedule. Have you attended? If so, please give those who are going some pointers on traffic patterns, places to eat, where to watch, etc. Time to start making plans!

2. With the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup last night (I just puked in my mouth after typing that), what are your feelings on rivals winning it all? Are you a “If we can’t win, they should?” person? Or are you a “If we can’t win, I want everyone to lose” person?

3. I answered this question in my latest podcast (video is below), but we want to know what you think. Who will have a bigger impact on the 2018 season: Mike Hilton or Cameron Sutton?

4. Rank the following 3-4 OLBs in Steelers history from best to worst:

Jason Gildon
Greg Lloyd
Kevin Greene
Joey Porter
James Harrison
LaMarr Woodley

5. I have long learned being a fan of the Steelers is like being in a huge fraternity. When I see someone wearing the black-and-gold, there is typically a greeting thrown in the air. My question is: what do you do/say if you see someone else donning the hypocycloids?

6. There are times when conversations in the Friday Open Thread get started by what people are drinking on this particular Friday night. If you walk into a liquor store, what is your favorite go-to beverage? If it’s a mixed drink...share the recipe!

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCAST

PFF dives deep into the Steelers statistical minutia this offseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 1:37pm

Some love PFF. Some hate PFF. Either way, these stats regarding the Black-and-gold are telling.

More often than not, when Pro Football Focus (PFF) numbers are thrown about on BTSC, a skirmish ensues about the validity of PFF and their grading or rankings. Steelers fans can either take them as an oracle for advanced metrics and film break-downs, or simply as entertainment. However you want to take them, they do churn out some interesting tweets about Pittsburgh Steelers players.

Last fall, PFF made more Twitter accounts directing their tweets towards the teams involved, and not just to their general feed. This made it easier for followers to grab info from their favorite teams — instead of digging through the mountain of information whipped out on their main Twitter handle.

One of the tweets that gets Steelers fans salivating is JuJu Smith-Schuster’s rating when targeted. Smith-Schuster not only led all rookies in this category, he led all NFL wideouts.

The 2017 second-round pick reeled in 58 of his 79 targets and scampered into the end zone on seven occasions. The sure-handed product out of USC had only two dropped passes, making him a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger’s. For reference, a perfect quarterback rating is 158.3.

Targeting JuJu Smith-Schuster in his rookie year was a very good idea pic.twitter.com/v1HhRYCC6H

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 1, 2018

For those Steelers fans who have been clamoring for a box safety, look no further than Green Bay Packers castoff Morgan Burnett. Burnett has been crowding the line of scrimmage for years, but the pinnacle was last season. In 2017, Burnett played within eight yards of the line on an astonishing 83% of his snaps. I wonder how this rate compares to Steelers’ legend Troy Polamalu.

New #Steelers S Morgan Burnett's % of run defense snaps lined up within 8 yards of the LOS since 2014:

2014: 50%
2015: 53%
2016: 59%
2017: 83%#SteelerSpotlight

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) May 29, 2018

James Washington fans who have glowed about his college stats and tape already have seen what the Steelers’ 2018 second-round pick did to Big-12 defenses. Out of his 1,549 receiving yards, 815 were of the long variety. It’s an interesting stat, but PFF doesn’t list what constitutes “deep receiving yardage”. That’s up to you to debate in the comments section.

The Pittsburgh Steelers latest deep threat! pic.twitter.com/ILqV7dtJ00

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 25, 2018

Cornerback Mike Hilton burst onto the scene and excited Steelers fans during the 2017 preseason. At that point, not many fans had an inkling about who he was. But after the 2017 season, fans knew exactly who he was. The former undrafted rookie bounced between the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots before landing on the Steelers’ practice squad in December of 2016.

Hilton earned PFF’s eighth-highest ranking for all slot cornerbacks which is based on all facets of his game, including not only pass coverage but also run defense. Let the debate begin over how PFF uses their proprietary methods to rank players.

  • 17 total QB pressures.
  • First among all CBs in run-stopping percentage.
  • Allowed 53 passing yards from Week 12 through Week 17.
  • Allowed a 61.7 quarterback rating out of the slot which was good enough for second among all CBs.

.@MikeHilton_28 : UDFA ➡ Top 8 Slot Corner in the NFL https://t.co/F4qPemOcU0

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) June 1, 2018

Mike Hilton + slot = ⬇ pic.twitter.com/Aps1FuiwdV

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) May 22, 2018

I’ve stayed away from Le’Veon Bell mentions in articles lately. I thought BTSC fans had already been inundated by the constant chatter about him. But judging from the popularity of Bell articles, it’s clear the majority of Steelers’ fans are not as tired of hearing about him as some of the fan base is. With OTAs concluded and training camp still well over a month away, what is there really to discuss and debate?

Bell is coming off his third Pro Bowl selection — which oddly opens up the debate on how good he actually is. PFF does show his versatility and also his running style.

Bell-cow back pic.twitter.com/zzgmtEMhj3

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) May 30, 2018

#Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell picked up 835 of his rushing yards last season after contact! That ranked 2nd in the NFL, behind only Kareem Hunt who had 838. #SteelerSpotlight pic.twitter.com/msZijUW94E

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) May 20, 2018

Le'Veon Bell remains one of the toughest running backs in the NFL to bring down. pic.twitter.com/W81NJ4VMh4

— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 11, 2018

It’s left up to you exactly what you gather from the above tweets. For me, at the very least, it’s entertaining during the most boring time of the year for the NFL. At most, I find the tweets informative as nuggets of information not found elsewhere.

Do the tweets give you a bit more insight into new additions such as Burnett and Washington? Do you catch a new perspective from what you saw out of JuJu, Bell and Hilton in 2017?

Mike Gundy feels the Steelers are a perfect fit for Mason Rudolph and James Washington

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:45am

Mason Rudolph and James Washington will see success for years to come in Pittsburgh, according to their college coach.

If you’re like me, when someone mentions the name Mike Gundy, head coach of the Oklahoma State football program, I immediately think of this:

While Gundy seems to be the only coach who had a legendary rant, yet has kept the same job for years, for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, he was the man responsible for getting two of the team’s seven draft picks to the NFL.

Gundy coached second-round pick James Washington and third-round pick Mason Rudolph throughout their time in Stillwater. Considering he recruited these players and coached them throughout their college tenures, there isn’t a better person to hear from when it comes to their overall football prowess and how they will fit with the Black-and-gold.

Speaking of that, in an interview with Missi Matthews of the Steelers official website, Gundy spoke about the fit for Rudolph and Washington in Pittsburgh, and he labeled it as perfect.

Yes, there will be growing pains — especially for Rudolph — as he gets acclimated to taking snaps under center, something he hasn’t done since his early days in High School. But it’s also a challenge for Washington to learn to deal with the high-caliber defenders who will be lining up opposite him every down in the NFL.

Either way, Gundy sees the Steelers’ rookie duo having a lot of success for a long time in Pittsburgh.

Regarding Washington, he spoke about his work ethic and uncanny ability to accelerate underneath a pass to make the reception. In other words, according to Gundy, Washington plays much faster than his 40-yard-dash time might indicate. As for Rudolph, Gundy referred to him as a pure football guy who loves the game, works on his craft and studies at every possible moment. Gundy even suggested he wouldn’t be shocked if Rudolph already has a great grasp of the Steelers’ playbook, and just needs the physical repetitions to be labeled ‘ready to go’.

Gundy was asked when he last spoke to the duo, and he said it was just a few weeks ago. The two are staying in a hotel in Pittsburgh together, and when he spoke with his former star quarterback, Rudolph was studying the playbook while Washington was on the phone with people in his hometown talking about coyote hunting — this was a Friday night.

The Oklahoma State coach gives great insight into the type of players the Steelers were able to pick up in the 2018 NFL Draft, and the interview is certainly worth watching. Check it out in the player below:

.@CowboyFB Coach Mike Gundy discusses the tremendous fit for his former players in Pittsburgh, @JamesWashington's quiet personality, breaking down a 'deep threat', @Rudolph2Mason as a student of the game and more. pic.twitter.com/Tk8pVULDCT

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 7, 2018

When it comes to football and the national anthem, Trump is seen as the ultimate culture warrior

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 11:00am

President Donald Trump rescinding the invitation to the entire Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles was viewed as suggesting that in Mr. Trump’s America, the president will accept nothing short of full agreement with his worldview.

Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason heading into minicamp

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 10:25am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are wrapping up OTAs, and it’s time to put a grade on their offseason so far.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason has been unique, to say the least. For once, the team hasn’t had to deal with any suspensions or major injury news (I just knocked on wood for those superstitious readers out there). But it doesn’t mean there haven’t been speed bumps along the way.

The Le’Veon Bell saga continues, Ben Roethlisberer’s comments on Mason Rudolph ruffled feathers and, of course, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) attendance is always at the top of the headlines, even though the workouts are completely voluntary.

Off-field distractions aside, the Steelers have also gotten their first look at their 2018 NFL Draft class and undrafted, free-agent rookies. Needless to say, the reports have been solid, even though it’s nothing more than football in shorts.

Mason Rudolph was lauded for his command of the huddle and arm strength, while James Washington’s deep play ability has been on display during team drills. Terrell Edmunds’ overall football intelligence and communication skills seem to be a great addition to the secondary.

Thinking of all this made me wonder just how fans would grade the offseason so far, and if their grade changed at all since the 2018 NFL Draft wrapped up.

I noticed an article recently in Sports Illustrated grading every team’s offseason so far, and this is what they said about the Steelers:

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

2017 record: 13-3

Crucial veteran additions: S Morgan Burnett, LB Jon Bostic

Crucial veteran losses: WR Martavis Bryant, S Mike Mitchell, OT Chris Hubbard, DB William Gay

What improved?

Theoretically, Pittsburgh did their best to get younger and faster in the secondary, though this is still an offseason consistent with the club’s measured approach. The Steelers are still built to win now, which means striking the delicate balance between developing their young players and massaging their core of star offensive players.

What needs work?

Pittsburgh’s offense spent part of last season lost in the woods before hitting hyperdrive. It’s a foregone conclusion each year that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell will form one of the NFL’s most maddening offenses, but for how long? Roethlisberger spent a portion of the offseason steamed about the team drafting his possible successor. Bell, for another year, will enter the season with no long-term contractual stability. When will the personalities, expectations and disappointments become too big to handle?

What can we expect?

Barring a Lamar Jackson takeover that revolutionizes Baltimore’s offense, this is still a Steelers team that can (and probably will) win the division. Though, how much longer is this a safe bet? With Roethlisberger turning 36, vacillating between retirement and a career resurgence, embattled by internal squabbles, what do we really know for sure about the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Fact/tidbit/piece of news learned from OTAs/minicamp: Per the great Ed Bouchette, the Steelers are experimenting with their rolodex of pass rushing, outside linebackers. After the Steelers defense was torched multiple times in big spots last year, the push is on to find a solution.

Letter grade: B. The Steelers are a great organization, and it’s nearly impossible to pacify three offensive megastars, especially one like Roethlisberger. And yet, here we are picking them to win the AFC North again.

A grade of “B” seems pretty accurate, depending on how you felt about the team’s additions and subtractions this offseason. When I think about where the Steelers were last season, and where they are now as the offseason continues to roll on, I have to admit I’m excited about this team.

I’m excited about the athleticism which is the Steelers’ secondary, offensive playmakers at every turn and a lot of new coaches who could make an impact on the field. Given these offseason additions, I think this team will be one to be reckoned with again by the time the regular season comes to a close.

Grade: B

What grade would you give the team at this point in the offseason? Vote in the poll below, and be sure to explain yourself in the comment section!

Another Super Bowl victory will go a long way in eliminating some of the Steelers’ “distractions”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 8:26am

The Steelers have certainly been no strangers to distractions in recent years. Many have said these issues have prevented them from winning a title. Accurate? Doubtful, but a seventh Super Bowl sure would make these "distractions" disappear.

Ever since arriving in Pittsburgh a few seasons ago, the Penguins’ star forward Phil Kessel has shown all the signs of a distracting diva.

It has been said that Kessel doesn’t practice hard; he avoids contact on the ice; he doesn’t block shots; he cares more about his consecutive-games-played streak than he does about resting up and getting healthy for the playoffs. Hockey writers have described him as a pain in the ass. He sulks if he doesn’t get to play on the same line as star center Evgeni Malkin. He has been seen on the bench arguing with Malkin, and perhaps the biggest indictment of Kessel is that he’s simply uncoachable.

These sure are a lot of unsavory traits attributed to one hockey player. Yet, the fans have embraced Kessel and even celebrate his quirky and often surly disposition.

Here is footage from March of 2017 of Kessel losing his cool on the bench after the team trainer or equipment manager couldn’t fix his broken skate in a timely fashion.

I get it, emotions run high in the midst of an intense sporting event, and it’s not really all that uncommon for a player to get angry and throw a tantrum or two.

You would think something like that might get discussed and dissected at great length by the media and fans. However, it was quickly laughed off. In fact, I’ve seen a GIF or two of that footage altered to make it seem like Kessel was arguing about a hot dog (he came to Pittsburgh from Toronto with a reputation for not taking care of his body and for eating too many hot dogs).

Hilarious stuff, right?

If you’re a Steelers fan (you obviously are, and you’re probably wondering when I was going to get to them on this Steelers site), you remember the sideline meltdown of star receiver Antonio Brown in a Week-4 matchup against the Ravens last season; Brown was so upset following a play in which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger failed to get the football to the completely uncovered superstar, he tossed a Gatorade cooler in disgust.

The CBS game-day crew captured Brown’s tantrum on tape for all the world to see.

Again, these emotional outbursts happen all the time in professional sports, but instead of chalking them up as just that, Brown’s sideline antics were deemed more controversial and selfish than humorous.

Brown is your typical star receiver, in that he cares about his statistics and gets upset when he isn’t being involved enough.

Like Kessel, Brown once took great pride in a personal streak of his own, when he caught at least five passes for at least 50 yards in 35-straight games.

Brown’s streak often made news, but it was also often ridiculed.

Despite his superstar status and popularity, Brown has certainly been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism during the past few seasons, and I could never understand why a player like Kessel wasn’t receiving the same sort of backlash.

But then the Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs in May, thus preventing them from winning a third-straight Stanley Cup. Not long after the Pens’ postseason exit, rumors surfaced that they were looking to unload Kessel via trade.

Why? Because Mike Sullivan, the Penguins’ head coach, has never been the greatest fan of Kessel, further cementing the player's reputation for being uncoachable.

Last summer, following the Penguins second-straight championship, Sullivan and Kessel reportedly tried to mend fences.

Today, on the heels of his first postseason exit as a Penguin, Kessel is reportedly on the trading block.

It’s amazing how much people (fans, coaches and even the media) are willing to overlook as long as championships are being won.

When championships are elusive, however, nothing is overlooked — not sideline temper tantrums, not Facebook Live posts from victorious playoff locker rooms, not even the skipping of voluntary OTAs.

Social media is considered a distraction.

Producing your own rap song is taboo.

Elaborate touchdown celebrations are frowned upon.

When the offensive coordinator tells someone to “shut the bleep up” (Todd Haley to either a player or another assistant coach during a game against the Colts last season), funny GIFs aren’t made by fans. Instead, it’s discussed ad nauseam for the better part of a week on sports-talk radio.

When a team wins multiple championships, distractions aren’t even a thing.

When a team hasn’t won a title in years, distractions are the only thing.

Off-field distractions aren’t the reason the Steelers haven’t won a Super Bowl in recent years (and it’s debatable whether most players are even thinking about anything but the task at hand when they’re in the throes of a football game).

But capturing a seventh Lombardi trophy sure would make “distractions” become a non-issue in the eyes of many in Steelers Nation.

Terrell Edmunds is ready to 'go out and hit somebody'

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 8:00am

The development of No. 1 pick Terrell Edmunds is right on schedule. The next phase comes when the Steelers convene their three-day minicamp beginning Tuesday. And then it’s on to training camp, where the real work will commence.

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