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Mason Rudolph reportedly sees increased first team reps in Steelers practice

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 1:50pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Could this be a sign of a short leash for Devlin Hodges?

It was a 4 interception game which put Mason Rudolph on a short leash with the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff. This occurred in a Week 11 prime time loss to the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Eerie. The next week, a trip to Cincinnati, saw Rudolph benched in the third quarter after a red-zone interception and a floundering offense.

His replacement, Devlin Hodges, is coming off his own 4 interception game on Sunday Night Football in Week 15, and many are wondering if Mike Tomlin will follow the same guide he set for Rudolph and shorten the leash for Hodges as the team travels to Metlife Stadium to play the New York Jets.

Tomlin was asked about his leash on Hodges during his Tuesday press conference. His response was candid:

“I don’t anticipate or plan for failure. I anticipate him doing great. I anticipate him responding to the challenge. I anticipate him doing a great job of moving our offense and taking care of the ball. I haven’t pondered the possibilities of that, and I won’t. I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it.”

While Tomlin said all the right things, how the team is handling the offense in practice is saying something entirely different. In fact, Rudolph has reportedly received more first team reps in practice this week, more than any other week since his demotion.

This per Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com:

Devlin Hodges remains Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. And both Hodges and Mike Tomlin have said they don’t think about how short of a leash the undrafted rookie would have against the New York Jets on Sunday.

But whereas Hodges was given as many reps as possible since replacing Rudolph as the starter in Week 13, Washington said, this week coaches are having the former third-round pick practice in the same way Joshua Dobbs did behind Ben Roethlisberger last season. Dobbs was the No. 2 quarterback at the time.

This news came from wide receiver James Washington, who told Klinger about the situation in practice Wednesday.

“I think it was just, they were trying to give Mason a week to just kind of relax and just be to himself-type deal, I guess you could say,” Washington said. “And then now he’s back in the swing of things. He’s just to what he used to be.”

I wouldn’t read too much into this, just that the Steelers are making sure their emergency plan is still in place. If Hodges comes out and struggles, putting Rudolph into the game with some reps under his belt is never a bad thing.

Will this hurt Hodges from a preparation standpoint? That has yet to be seen, but when he received all of the first team reps prior to the prime time game at Heinz Field, everyone saw how that played out.

Let’s hope Rudolph isn’t needed, because if he is it would mean an injury, or ineffective play, was the result.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the New York Jets in Week 16.

Donnie Shell announced as a semifinalist for the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 12:49pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Shell is one of 25 players in the running for the 10 senior positions in next year’s class

Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell was announced as one of the 25 semifinalists for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the special Centennial Class of 2020.

Former #Steelers S Donnie Shell was named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Centennial Class of 2020. Shell, a four-time Super Bowl champion, finished his career with 51 INTs. pic.twitter.com/49s0prz2Ch

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) December 19, 2019

In celebration of 100 years of professional football, a special Centennial Class consisting of 10 senior players who have been retired for more than 25 seasons will be inducted this fall. Additionally, three contributors and two coaches who last coach more than five years ago will be included in the class. Former Steelers’ head coaches Bill Cowher (1992-1996) and Buddy Parker (1957-1964) are among the semifinalists.

As for Shell, his statistics and on-field play have been worthy of enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame for some time. Unfortunately, with so many Pittsburgh Steelers already enshrined at Canton, players such as Shell and L.C. Greenwood have taken a backseat. While Greenwood should have also been a well-deserved semifinalist, it is Shell who has a chance to represent the black and gold as part of the special Senior Class.

The following is a breakdown of Donnie Shell by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:

Donnie Shell
Safety (1974-87)

He didn’t earn the nickname ‘Torpedo’ for nothing. Not even close.

Donnie Shell could hit. And when he made contact, opponents would feel it as he would come at an unsuspecting running back or receiver like a torpedo, flying at them with no fear at all.

Just ask Earl Campbell, who was the victim of one of Shell’s notorious hits. Campbell, a 233-pound running back for the Houston Oilers, was having a career season in 1978 with 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. But against the Steelers on Dec. 3, with the AFC Central title at stake, Shell imposed his will. In the first quarter, Campbell was escaping a tackle for extra yards when Shell came flying up to the line of scrimmage and delivered a huge hit. Campbell left the game with a broken rib, and the Steelers beat the Oilers, 13-3, in a season that ended with the third Super Bowl championship in team history.

“There was a game in Houston and Donnie came up and hit Earl Campbell before he had a chance to turn up the field, caught Earl in the ribs. I don’t want to say I was glad he got hurt, but I was glad he left the game,” said Joe Greene. “We had some knock down drag outs with the Oilers. Donnie was the hitman. He gave muscle to our football team. That is what we were known for on our defense, contact. And we had some contact people back there and Donnie didn’t take a backseat to anyone.

“Donnie was an all-around player. He gave us flexibility versus the offense. We didn’t have to change our personnel group when the offense went from standard to three wide or four wide receivers. Donnie would line up in the slot and cover the slot, which is what teams try to do all of the time. Offenses want to get out in a mismatch in coverage, and because we had Donnie they couldn’t do that to us. We could play all of our coverages and defenses because of Donnie Shell.

“He was a linebacker in college. We called him Torpedo. Donnie got started on special teams. He wasn’t supposed to be the fastest guy, but he was always the first guy down. He made collisions. When he got into the starting lineup, he made an impact in the running game. He would always talk about guards who were pulling and getting up field on him. They were 250 pounds he was 215. He asked how do I deal with them? Chuck (Noll) said when they are running parallel with the line, you hit them. Hit them before they see you. He got that down well. He had a lot of collisions on the line with those guys and he won.”

Shell was part of the Steelers 1974 rookie class, the one that produced four Hall of Famers in the draft. But he wasn’t even drafted. He signed with the team as an undrafted rookie, coming in as a linebacker but making the successful switch to strong safety.

His numbers speak for themselves. Shell finished his career with 51 career interceptions, still the most in NFL history for a strong safety and had 19 fumble recoveries. Let’s just say that number again – 51 career interceptions.

“Fifty one career interceptions. 51,” said Tony Dungy after he selected Shell to be his presenter at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony. “He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who had a least one interception in each of his 14 seasons.

“Donnie came into the league and I saw him work on being a free agent, to special teams, to a starter and his approach to that,” said John Stallworth. “He became a valuable component of what I think was the best defense in the National Football League. Donnie had tremendous value. You had the guys up front and linebackers, but Donnie anchored that. His ability to come up and hit folks and stop them in the run game at a time when the run game was very important. Donnie was a player that did that. If you look at the number of interceptions he has at a time when the strong safety was looked at as just being a strong safety and doing run support and not a splash player kind of guy, Donnie was a splash player kind of guy. Then you give him the ability to come up with the interception, Donnie was that guy.

“He was a force on our defense. One of the reasons we were so strong.”

Steelers fan confidence has started to plummet after loss to the Bills

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 11:19am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost a tough game to the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, and many fans are losing confidence in the black-and-gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t supposed to lose their Week 15 game to the Buffalo Bills.

Not in prime time at Heinz Field.

Not while wearing their Color Rush uniforms.

And certainly not with the No. 5 spot in the AFC Playoffs on the line.

Yet, here we are. After a 17-10 loss last Sunday, the Steelers remain in control of their own postseason destiny, but the path to the playoffs is anything but certain. With that said, the fan base is starting to see the writing on the wall as it pertains to the confidence they have in the team moving forward.

The latest FanPulse results certainly paint a pretty accurate photo of how fans truly feel:

When it comes to the data, the Steelers’ fan confidence peaked at 83% after the Steelers beat the Rams. This approval percentage was the highest the fan base has recorded since after Week 1 in the preseason; however, it plummeted to 38% after the Week 11 loss to the Browns. Following the Week 12 win over the Bengals, fan confidence rose to a 46% approval rating, and continued to sky rocket to 75% after their revenge win over Cleveland at Heinz Field.

You would think the win over the Cardinals would move the needle in the right direction, but you’d be wrong. In fact, the Steelers’ approval percentage stayed the same at 75%. After the Week 15 loss, confidence dipped to 56% heading into Week 16.

The confidence in this team has certainly waned, and I can’t say I disagree with this taking place. The one thing Devlin Hodges always did was protect the football and give the defense a shot to win the game. Throwing 4 interceptions clearly isn’t doing that, and suddenly many fans are starting to view Hodges the way they viewed Mason Rudolph before his benching.

If I am being completely honest and fair here, I would almost suggest this dip in confidence should read “How confident are you in the Steelers’ offense?” Because everyone should have a ridiculous amount of faith and confidence in the defense. But can the offense just not kill the team? Can they do just enough to win the final two games and mark their territory on the AFC Playoffs? Let’s hope the Steelers find a way to advance to 9-6 as they they travel to play the Jets this week on Sunday at Metlife Stadium.

Do you want to be a part of the BTSC Steelers FanPulse? It is easy to sign up for, and takes mere minutes a week. Simply click HERE and fill out the appropriate information!

Bud Dupree didn’t just get snubbed for the Pro Bowl, he isn’t even an alternate

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 9:55am
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Bud Dupree has a legitimate gripe for being completely off the Pro Bowl list of players.

When it was announced the Pittsburgh Steelers had five players selected to the NFL’s 2020 Pro Bowl, I started to run through the names of players I thought would be worthy of such an honor.

The names which came to mind immediately were:

T.J. Watt
Minkah Fitzpatrick
Cam Heyward
David DeCastro

After those four players I started to wonder who was the fifth. By now we all know Maurkice Pouncey was the final player selected, but I was expecting Bud Dupree to get the nod alongside Watt. Having the Steelers’ book end pass rushers being in the NFL’s All-Star game would be pretty awesome, but Matthew Judon of the Baltimore Ravens and Von Miller of the Denver Broncos were given the honor ahead of Dupree.

My line of thinking was that even if Dupree wasn’t on the initial list of players selected, he would certainly be a player who would be selected as an alternate if someone like Miller elects not to play.

Wrong.

This per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports:

Bud Dupree said he wasn’t even named an alternate to the Pro Bowl. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) December 18, 2019

Things can always change. For instance if Miller elects to skip the game, and Judon is preparing for the Super Bowl with the top-seeded Ravens, Dupree might be getting a phone call.

Not that the Pro Bowl even matters, it is more of a popularity contest than All-Star game, but a few commenters on the site have pointed out how Dupree being left off the list could potentially help the Steelers in contract negotiations this offseason.

I’m not sure I completely buy into that theory, but if it keeps Watt and Dupree together for the foreseeable future, I’m all for it.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the New York Jets in Week 16 at Metlife Stadium.

3 games to watch in Week 16 which could impact the Steelers’ playoff scenarios

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 8:45am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are several NFL games this week which will help shape the playoff picture for the Steelers

With their 17–10 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers have solidified their lone path to the 2019 postseason. It’s the sixth seed and only the sixth seed for the Steelers, and although they are sitting there currently they still must perform in order to hold off the Tennessee Titans. While there are a couple other teams that are mathematically still alive, the reality is this: It is a two-horse race. The Steelers are in the lead, but they have to keep winning in order to stay there.

With only two games remaining, the focus has turned from strictly opponents the Steelers still have to face to games which will be of interest to Steelers’ fans due to how they affect the AFC playoff hunt. First and foremost, the Steelers’ game is by far the most important for them to hold their current position. But several other games around the NFL can have some serious implications as to where teams are seeded before next week. This week will have a slightly different approach. Therefore, some of the choices may surprise you as some are setting the stage for the importance of the games in Week 17.

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots Saturday at 4:30 PM on NFLN

This might be a curious choice to some, but this game is going to mean an awful lot when it comes to the shuffling for seeds in the AFC. If the Bills can take down the Patriots, they could find themselves the AFC East champions and could force New England to go on the road as a wildcard. So there is a realistic chance the Steelers could face either one of these teams in the first round of the playoffs. And since the Steelers just fell to the Bills, it also will be a good gauge as to the quality of the opponent with which they came up a little short.

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Sunday 1:00 PM on CBS

Once again, I feel that there is an explanation in order as to why this game is important to the Steelers. As much as anything, it goes towards the quality of the opponent the Steelers will face in Week 17. If the Baltimore Ravens win this week, they are the number one seed and have nothing to play for in Week 17. This bodes much better for the Steelers. Additionally, seeing the Browns mathematically eliminated once and for all is never a bad thing.

Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday at 1:00 PM on NFLN

Now you think I’m totally crazy! But hear me out. Believe it or not, what happens with the Texans this week is more important then what happens with the Titans. If the Steelers win their final two games, the Titans cannot catch them. But if the Titans fall to the Saints, they can still catch the Steelers by beating the Texans if the Steelers were to drop a game. So it’s really the Tennessee at Houston game in Week 17 which is more important than their games in Week 16. Therefore, Houston needs to have something to play for next week. Whether it is still holding off the Titans for the AFC South or if they have a chance to move up in the standings, the best thing for the Steelers would be for the Texans to need the victory over the Titans next week. Therefore, what the Texans do this week will help determine their level of commitment to their Week 17 matchup.

So there are the three other NFL matchups which can give Steelers’ fans a clearer picture as to what the Steelers will need to do to qualify for the 2019 postseason as well their positioning. While handling their own business is of the upmost importance, getting a little help along the way to make the Steelers path easier is always welcomed.

So which of these games this week will be the most telling as it pertains to the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers playoff scenarios moving forward? Make sure you vote in the poll and give your thoughts in the comments below.

Why the Pittsburgh Steelers offense fell flat in Week 15 vs. Buffalo

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 7:35am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense in Week 15 on Sunday Night Football.

The Steelers lost to Buffalo this past week, and there are plenty of reasons spread over the course of a 60 minute game that wasn’t well played, yet was within reach to the very end.

Today we’ll look at the offense and the struggles Duck Hodges and the Steelers faced going up against one of the best defenses in the NFL and try to figure out why that just happened.

Taking off the training wheels

Facing a great defense with 3 wins under his belt, Devlin Hodges did something I haven’t noticed him do yet this season, he called audibles.

1st quarter, 5:33, 2nd and 8.

The Bills are showing a zero blitz look here, and the corners are creeping back. Devlin Hodges falls for it and calls an audible to counter a blitz with off man coverage only to see the defenders drop and easily cover his play call.

Hodges isn’t ready for this responsibility, but he wasn’t ready to be a starting QB in the NFL, or be the QB of a team with only 2 WRs that deserve offensive snaps. I don’t think it was a bad decision to give him that level of control, facing this team he had to have the ability to get out of a play call that the defense has sniffed out. The Steelers have been playing with house money and winning with an offense held together by practice squad WRs and Duck tape. This was an overdue reality check, as throughout the game the defense baited Hodges and played to his limitations.

Taking away James Washington’s strength

The ways the Bills attacked Devlin Hodges is mirrored in how they guarded James Washington. James Washington has been terrorizing defenses with his strength and contested catches, and Buffalo had a different approach to dealing with him.

1st quarter, 8:57, 3rd and 15. James Washington is the WR to the bottom of the screen.

The defense doesn’t even touch him. They double him and pounce on Hodges’ off target pass, but without physically touching Washington. The Bills play a lot of hands off coverage, but looking through the game, they kept off of James Washington even when they got physical with other WRs. This play went bad for the Steelers, as did the last play of the game when the Bills were playing under Washington and daring Hodges to throw over them. But Hodges and Washington still connected for big gains a couple of times.

2nd quarter, 14:17, 1st and 10.

Here is a much better throw by Hodges, and James Washington shows that he’s improved his route running since last season, while also displaying the overall ball skills that got him drafted in the second round. Devlin Hodges puts the ball in a good location to beat the Bills zone defense.

4th quarter, 3:10, 3rd and 1.

Here James Wqshington shows some speed on a nice corner route and Hodges only slightly under-throws the ball, good enough for a big gain. If you look at Deon Cain (17) you can see Tre-Davious White jam him right at the line, Cain saw a lot of physical defense while James Washington was intentionally left to run his route.

While this strategy did get the Bills burned a few times as Washington nearly matched John Brown’s big day, it also led to two interceptions and no touchdowns. The strategy of removing Washington’s physical strength and ability to fight through defenders to get the ball by just playing off of him and attacking Hodges’ passes worked well, but the fact that Washington recorded his fourth 80+ yard game in the last 6 weeks is a good sign for his development and for Devlin Hodges’ odds of bouncing back next week. In the last 6 games James Washington ranks 13th among all NFL receivers in yards, and 9th in yards per target (5th among players with 30+ targets).

Running is a numbers game

There were two weaknesses that stood out in the Steelers run game against the Bills, the first was Ramon Foster struggling with the agility and speed of the Bills defensive line, and the second was the Bills winning the number game too often with slot corners and safeties cheating into the box and disrupting the Steelers plays. We’re going to look at the second part of that.

3rd quarter, 12:04, 1st and 10. Watch #58 Matt Milano, LB to the left side of the play.

You’ve probably heard people talk about LBs cheating up and teeing off on the run a good bit this season as a defense of the offensive line. A great example of this is Zach Banner’s work on this play. Banner is the big lineman just inside the TE to the left of the screen. His job here is to help establish Nick Vannett’s block on Shaq Lawson (90), and then peel off and block Matt Milano. Milano is really close to the line on this 1st and 10 play, and you can see how fast Banner has to move to even get a piece of his target. That is the hole Benny Snell is supposed to hit. but with the LB cheating up and two DBs pinching that corner, there’s no way to block the four defenders with 3 Steelers and Snell loses a yard.

If you look at the middle of the line the blocks are all made and Snell probably could have gained a few yards following David DeCastro as he drives Tremaine Edmunds (49) backwards.

2nd quarter, 7:57, 1st and 10. James Washington is the WR at the right edge of the screen, Taron Johnson (24) is lined up on him.

Taron Johnson jumps this play at the snap, and James Washington has no shot at blocking him. Without Johnson filling that lane there would have been a huge hole for Conner, instead there was nothing. Again if you look to the middle of the line, the blocks were all there and he could have gotten at least a few yards.

1st quarter, 12:13, 1st and 10.

The first of Conner’s big gains, and he avoids the DB help on this play by running inside and then bouncing outside once he is past #24. He ran to a place where the Steelers had even numbers with the Bills and with a couple of strong blocks by Allejandro Villenueva and Nick Vannett is able to get past the front 7 and pick up 15 yards.

3rd quarter, 12:52, 1st and 10. Micah Hyde (23) is at the bottom right corner of the screen.

Safety Micah Hyde is the DB help on this play and he’s outside of the box. Conner is able to get past the line before having to face Hyde and is able to juke him and pick up 17 yards. This play shows the difference between last year and this year. In 2018 DBs weren’t cheating up and playing the run, they were worried about Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. With DBs playing up into the box, those big open holes are getting filled, and Conner isn’t a player that breaks tackles in the backfield.

Concluding thoughts...

Watching this game I kept wondering how different it would have looked with JuJu Smith-Schuster healthy. Consider that the slot WR was either Tevin Jones, Deon Cain, or Johnny Holton, who played a combined 62 offensive snaps in a game with 59 offensive plays. JuJu has traditionally done very well against off-man defense, and putting him next to Washington in the slot would be a nice combination to see now that Washington is starting to produce.

I’m glad to see Conner running better than he did when he tried to come back in Cleveland, he’s the best runner on this team when he isn’t taking the wrong run lane.

Lastly, I think Devlin Hodges was better in this game than Mason Rudolph was in Cleveland. I’m glad Hodges will start against the Jets and I’m expecting a bounce back game from him.

The Steelers still control their own playoff fate, and that means everything

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 6:32am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

By losing to the Bills on Sunday Night Football, the Steelers certainly squandered a great chance to make their path to the playoffs a bit clearer. But, with two weeks remaining, they still have a great chance to get to where they want to go.

Following a rather frustrating 17-10 loss to the Bills on Sunday, many feel that the Steelers, who dropped to 8-6, squandered a huge opportunity in their quest to qualify for the postseason.

Yes and no.

Yes, Pittsburgh could have made its path much, much clearer and easier with a win over the Bills. With a 9-5 record and tiebreaker advantages out the wazoo, the Steelers could have clinched a spot as early as this Sunday by defeating the Jets.

But while the Steelers chances at the postseason aren’t as good as they were before Sunday night’s results, they are far from impossible. In fact, they’re as good as they were a year ago at this time, when they simply needed to win their final two games to clinch the AFC North and the fourth seed.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, thanks to a gut-wrenching Week 16 loss to the Saints in the Superdome. The Steelers fell to 8-6-1 and, coupled with a Ravens’ victory over the Chargers in Los Angeles the night before, headed into Week 17 a half-a-game behind Baltimore.

Therefore, the Steelers not only needed to defeat the Bengals in Week 17 at Heinz Field, they needed the Browns, of all teams, to knock off Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium.

As they prepared for their final game of the 2018 season, Mike Tomlin and his players may not have wanted to admit it, but it had to be a bit of a helpless feeling, knowing a victory over Cincinnati was only going to be half of the equation for getting to where they wanted to go.

How weird is it that, despite the decimation the Steelers have suffered on offense this season, if they go into New York and take care of a 5-9 Jets team, they would head into Week 17 in much better shape than they were a year ago, when they had a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown (or so they thought, up until game day)?

Pretty weird.

Pretty empowering, as well—at least one might think so.

It has been said that the Steelers chances of going on the road in the final week and defeating a Baltimore team that will likely have the top seed wrapped up and will be resting several key starters—including all-everything quarterback Lamar Jackson—would still be pretty slim.

Funny thing is, it has also been said that the Titans, who are still going to be very-much alive for a postseason spot no matter what happens in Week 16, will have a great chance to go into Houston in Week 17 and defeat a Texans team that, much like the Ravens, may have already clinched everything it could by that point—including the AFC South title.

I don’t know about you, but I'm smitten with the idea of the Steelers going into Week 17 with more than one possible scenario for landing that sixth seed—and that would be a reality with a 9-6 record.

Obviously, the Steelers are trying to win games with offensive replacements who have replaced the original replacements. Therefore, it’s quite possible that even a desperate and motivated Pittsburgh team could still lose on the road to a resting Ravens team.

And it’s also possible that a desperate and motivated Tennessee team could go on the road and defeat a resting Texans’ team that was destroyed at home by a pathetic Broncos squad just one week after beating the Patriots.

But nothing is set in stone, and if I’m the Steelers, I like my chances of going into Week 17 with more than one way to punch my ticket to the dance.

With two weeks to go, the Steelers still have a great opportunity in front of them and more than a realistic chance of clinching a playoff berth.

Podcast: The Steelers problem is Randy Fichtner, not Devlin Hodges

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is underway, and the news is really starting to heat up. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • A look ahead to the New York Jets
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • Predictions
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Are the Steelers now in a situation where they are “stuck” with Duck Hodges?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 12/19/2019 - 4:31am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 16 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the New York Jets we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the next game starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether the Steelers are now “stuck” with Devlin Hodges at quarterback for the remainder of the 2019 season?

Let’s get to the news:

  • Devlin Hodges is the Steelers’ starting quarterback heading into Week 16, but have the Steelers painted themselves into a corner with their decision?

Tim Benz: Steelers are stuck with ‘Duck’ for now. Starting him Sunday is right call.

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

I started drinking coffee when I was 13.

I’ll say it before you do. Yes, that’s what stunted my growth.

It was usually instant coffee. I stole it from my father every morning. He always seemed to have Folgers Instant Crystals or Taster’s Choice in the pantry.

Gross.

The grounds were locked away in his den. And I was too dumb to work the coffee maker back then anyway.

If anything, that should’ve turned me off to coffee forever. I should’ve just gotten addicted to Jolt cola or something.

There was no reason to choose between the two brands. Both options were distasteful, watered-down knockoffs. I simply swallowed hard and picked whichever one I thought would get me through the day.

Kinda like how head coach Mike Tomlin has to choose between Devlin “Duck” Hodges and Mason Rudolph to play quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Yup. Pittsburgh is home to the instant-coffee version of quarterback controversies. There is no right choice. But you have to pick one, or else you’ll fall asleep at the wheel and drive off the road.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • This is Mike Tomlin’s time to shine...

Kevin Gorman: Mike Tomlin, Steelers at best during this time of year

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

In one breath, Mike Tomlin sounded like he was in the spirit of the season, in terms of delivering on yearlong wishes in December. In another, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said he didn’t care about what happened at this time last year.

One year, he’s on the naughty list. The next year, Tomlin wants to make nice.

“We recognize what time of the year it is,” Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “We recognize the urgency of it. Man, I love this time of year, the clarity of it, the weight of it. It’s football.”

It’s a shame the Steelers (8-6) didn’t find any clarity Sunday night, when they could have put some serious space between themselves and the Tennessee Titans (8-6) for the sixth seed and a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Why starting Devlin Hodges is the right thing for the Steelers to do, both now and in the long term.
Duck Hodges is the right choice in Pittsburgh, for 2019 reasons and beyond

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers have decided to stick with Duck Hodges at quarterback. And it’s the right call, for the balance of the current season and beyond.

With Ben Roethlisberger getting closer and closer to the end of the road and given the possibility that his anti-TB12 approach to health and fitness could lead to other parts of his body breaking down, the Steelers need to be thinking about Life After Ben. In so doing, they need to remember Life Before Ben.

In the 20 years from the retirement of Terry Bradshaw until the drafting of Roethlisberger, the Steelers learned the hard way the consequences of not having a franchise quarterback. From Cliff Stoudt to Mark Malone to David Woodley to Scott Campbell to Bubby Brister to Steve Bono to Todd Blackledge to Neil O’Donnell to Mike Tomczak to Jim Miller to Kordell Stewart to Tommy Maddox, the Steelers had their own version of the Browns’ jersey that spanned two decades from Tim Couch to Baker Mayfield.

As the Steelers get closer and closer to the end of the Roethlisberger era, they need to be planning for the future. Which means that they need to know whether any of the options currently on the roster are good enough. They’ve likely seen enough from Mason Rudolph to know that he isn’t. With Hodges, there’s still a ceiling that could be significantly higher than where his play currently resides. Over the balance of the season, the Steelers will see whether and to what extent Hodges can get closer to his maximum level of performance.

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