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A timeline of how Dwayne Haskins ended up with the Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 2:00pm
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Less than two years ago Haskins was viewed as the top quarterback of the 2019 draft class. So how did he end up here?

Just two years ago, Dwayne Haskins Jr. was viewed as the top quarterback of the 2019 draft. Names like Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, and Drew Lock were consistently ranked behind the Ohio State gunslinger. Somewhere during the draft process Haskins took a step back which triggered a snowballing effect on his career. Haskins now finds himself competing for his NFL life in the Pittsburgh Steelers system. But how did he get here? How did Haskins blossom into one of the best players in college football to now, hanging on to his job by a thread. Today we are going to recount the events that led to the rise, fall, and eventual second chance given to Dwayne Haskins.

Pre-OSU Dominance

It has always been well documented that Dwayne Haskins was a massive Ohio State fan since he was born. Haskins got to live his dream, when, after originally committing to the University of Maryland. Haskins de-committed from the school when they fired their head coach thus enrolling at Ohio State. Haskins red-shirted his first year on campus before being the primary back-up to former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, JT Barrett in 2017.

Hey @dh_simba7, we had to dig deep into the archives for this #WBW...

⏪ to today 9⃣ years ago & you predicted the future pic.twitter.com/SuQ5vKZVEE

— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) May 17, 2017 Ohio State Dreaming

In 2018, Haskins exploded onto the scene leading the Buckeyes to a 13-1 record including hoisting the Rose Bowl trophy. On the season Haskins put up over 4,800 yards to go along with 50 touchdown passes to just 8 interceptions. He was completing 70% of his throws and took home a ton of college football hardware. Only 7 players have ever thrown 50 touchdowns in a single NCAA season. To say Haskins lit the NCAA on fire would be an understatement.

Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl 28-23! pic.twitter.com/Z7Yx8a8M5f

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 2, 2019 Top Prospect

This is what NFL analyst, Lance Zierlein had to say about Haskins following the 2019 combine:

“Big and talented with explosive arm talent but limited mobility Haskins is a chance-taker with the arm strength to get away with some tight window throws that most in this class can’t make. Haskins is still very early in his journey and is prone to misreading coverage and stalling in getting through his progressions.”

Haskins was compared to Drew Bledsoe and received a draft grade which called for him to be a quality NFL starter. His biggest down side was his lack of experience, and his less than athletic nature that has become normal in the modern offence. But Haskins had a rocket arm and could make all the throws, he didn't need to run a 4.4 40 yard dash. But, in hindsight Haskins most needed to sit and learn from an experienced quarterback.

Lance Zierlein's NFL comparisons for some notable QB prospects in 2019:

Dwayne Haskins - Drew Bledsoe
Drew Lock - Matthew Stafford
Daniel Jones - Ryan Tannehill #GiantsPride #NFLDraft

— WBG84 (@WBG84) January 29, 2019 Draft Day Drop

Many experts thought Haskins would be the first quarterback taken off the board. Some insiders caught wind that Arizona had fallen in love with Kyler Murray despite having selected a quarterback in the first round a year prior. That being said, nobody thought Haskins would make it past the New York Giants sitting in the fifth overall position. However, the Giants had other plans and selected Duke quarterback Daniel Jones. Quarterback needy teams like Jacksonville, Miami, and Cincinnati even passed on Haskins. It wasn't until the 15th overall selection when the Washington Football team called Haskins name. Reports even suggest that team owner Dan Snyder demanded the team draft Haskins if he made it to their draft position. The slight seemed to motivate Haskins who perhaps had the words of the night.

"The league done messed up."

Dwayne Haskins letting Washington Redskins fans know he's ready to get work pic.twitter.com/ym6tjIFBvr

— ESPN (@espn) April 26, 2019 Rookie Year Flop

Haskins first NFL action came in relief of Case Keenum in a Week 4 game against the New York Giants. In the Game Haskins threw for only 107 yards and three interceptions, including a pick-six. Throughout the rest of the season Haskins was mostly relegated to the bench unless he was replacing a struggling Keenum. Haskins also never saw eye to eye with then head coach Jay Gruden. He would finish his rookie year with just 1,365 passing yards while throwing 7 touchdowns and 7 picks.

PICK-6 ALERT!

Jabrill Peppers takes it to the #WASvsNYG

(via @Giants)

pic.twitter.com/YO4UKJsWz3

— PFF (@PFF) September 29, 2019 Training Camp Rebound

Things were looking up for Haskins heading into the 2020 season. He was down 7% body fat and was named both the teams Week 1 starter and voted team captain of the Washington Football Club. Even more remarkably he achieved this when his new head coach Ron Rivera didn't want anything to do with him. Haskins was determined to make a big impact in year two and by all accounts was the Football Teams’ leader throughout the offseason. Going so far as to set up workouts with his team mates at least three times per week. His offensive coordinator, Scott Turner was impressed by the effort Haskins put into the offseason.

.@dh_simba7 has dropped 11 pounds and seven percent body fat this offseason.

Grind mode.

( @ImVarTho) pic.twitter.com/coWtDaqovJ

— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) June 14, 2020 Benching

Haskins had a bumpy start to the 2020 NFL season. In Week 4 against Baltimore he set a career high for passing yards in a game (314). But the previous week against Cleveland he turned the ball over four times. The inconsistent play would lead to the Week 5 benching of Haskins. Les Carpenter of the Washington Post said of the demotion:

“Rivera’s benching of Haskins, the once-presumed quarterback of the future, after just four games was a surprise, given the seeming commitment the coach had made to playing Haskins the whole season.”

Carpenter would further go on to express his surprise of the move because of the praise Haskins earned from Rivera at camp. The regular season was a stark contrast of the bright preseason activity.

Haskins would remain on the bench until Week 14 where he would start the final three games of his Washington tenure.

Dwayne Haskins stares down second INT to a LB #Browns pic.twitter.com/oB7inAb9KA

— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 27, 2020 Fall From Grace

Following his Week 15 game against the Seattle Seahawks, pictures of Haskins surfaced in which he was attending his ‘girlfriends’ birthday party while not wearing a mask. The problem was this was the second time Haskins broke the NFL’s Covid-19 protocol. For the incident Haskins was fined $40,000 by the team and lost his status as a captain.

Despite the mistake Haskins still got the start for the Football team’s Week 16 clash against the Carolina Panthers. However, Dwayne would be benched in favor of Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter of the game. Haskins was released by the team the day after, Rivera said he believed that the move benefited both parties if they went their separate ways.

"With all the distractions, all things that happened, it was time."

Washington FT head coach Ron Rivera gave his side of why the team decided to release Dwayne Haskins.#WashingtonFootball | @PatKirwan_NFL pic.twitter.com/pwmtOuK2e6

— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) December 29, 2020 Welcome To Pittsburgh

In the Weeks following Haskins release the quarterback would make a number of decisions. The first being firing his now former agent, David Mulugheta. In a subsequent move he hired Brian Levy as his replacement. Levy also represents Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, and with Levy as the middle man there really is nowhere for Haskins to hide.

After considering offers from both the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Haskins signed his one year futures deal with Steelers on January 21st.

Steelers, QB Dwayne Haskins agree to terms on contract. (via @RapSheet) pic.twitter.com/kKZUXJlXR7

— NFL (@NFL) January 21, 2021 What’s Next?

Dwayne Haskins has no guaranteed role on this team. While many viewed Haskins decision to sign in Pittsburgh a smart one, if he fails in the Steel city it would likely be the last time he plays in the NFL. A futures contract is the least amount of money that a player in Haskins position could make. The ego side has to be completely gone as he means currently means nothing to the Steelers then a possible reclamation project.

What the Steelers offered Haskins was an opportunity to be the absolute bottom of the depth chart guy that only has to worry about learning the playbook, while demonstrating he can be an outstanding citizen. One slip up and he will be gone, and he knows this.

Just because Haskins is on the team doesn't mean he won't be replaced either. He’s essentially the Devlin Hodges replacement, and if Joshua Dobbs is re-signed he bumps back down into the fourth quarterback slot. At best he will fight to be the guy that gets healthy scratched every week. And he has to watch how Ben Roethlisberger conducts himself. Some of the lessons Haskins needs to learn won't be something someone will directly teach him, but things he picks up from others actions along the way.

With no quarterbacks currently under contract beyond the 2021/2022 season Haskins has received a very special gift. But it will come down to what he can make of this opportunity. This will be no easy task, and it all starts with Haskins proving he deserves a shot in training camp.

#HereWeGo
3 in the Bible stands for restoration and eternal life. Let’s work pic.twitter.com/x4ywPubhu1

— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) January 21, 2021

But what do you think of the Haskins signing? Can he be saved/will he put the work in to make this team in 2021? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Latest report states Matt Canada is the front-runner for Steelers offensive coordinator job

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 12:30pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be narrowing their search for their next offensive coordinator.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for their next offensive coordinator. This would be the latest offensive play caller in the Mike Tomlin era, joining the likes of Bruce Arians, Todd Haley and Randy Fichtner.

Just days ago it seemed as if the Steelers had their guy. On the same day it was being reported Matt Canada was heading down to Miami to interview for the Dolphins’ coordinator opening, reports circulated how the Steelers were planning on making Canada their next coordinator.

Obviously confused, the fan base wondered who else was interviewed, or yet to be interviewed, for the opening. After all, the Steelers would have to comply with the Rooney Rule, even for a coordinator position.

This week fans learned of Hue Jackson and Pep Hamilton both getting interviews for the vacant position, and while fans await to hear the end result of this job search, one report is stating the Steelers are almost certain they know who they want...

...and it is the same guy we all thought got the job initially.

This from Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh:

Steelers sources have told me Matt Canada will be the team's next OC. One said "It's 99.9% a done deal." But there are some things left unsettled. Like will Canada stay on as QBs coach. It's possible Pep Hamilton or Hue Jackson could be hired as QB coach.

— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) January 22, 2021

Could the Steelers hire Canada, and also convince someone like Hamilton or Jackson to stick around as a quarterbacks coach? Will the Steelers even fill the vacant quarterback coach role if Canada is promoted? Remember, when Fichtner was promoted from quarterback coach to coordinator, the team had Fichtner absorb both the coordinator and quarterback coach roles.

Then you have the reports on how the Steelers would like to hire an offensive line coach before they hire a coordinator. If that is true, the Steelers’ only public interview for the line coach is Hank Fraley, who was the Detroit Lions’ offensive line coach in 2020.

The Steelers’ will have more coaching turnover in 2021 than the past few years combined, and you can expect more news to break in the coming days. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the black and gold as they press through what could be a very tumultuous offseason.

Podcast: Is the sky falling for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 11:00am

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis talk news of the day and everything surrounding the Steelers. All of this while mixing in fun and frivolity like only they do.

The national media and the outside football world look at the Steelers who fell from 11-0 to ultimately 12-5 as a team spiraling out of the title scene. Those views only see what is on the surface. Those who pay attention to the black-and-gold faithfully know the team better. Is the sky really falling on the Pittsburgh Steelers? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-Gold and there you have the topic for the BTSC podcast The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis. Join the triumphant trio as they combine the down all things Steelers and with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The outside football world’s perception of the Steelers
  • Trivia

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.

Part 1:

Part 2:

6 Steelers whose cap savings highly outweighs their dead money if released in 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 10:00am
Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

It’s possible some members on this list my not be in black and gold in 2021.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers dealing with a difficult salary cap situation for the 2021 season, much discussion has been made about which players may become cap casualties this offseason. While there are several players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap, I have already outlined the players on the team which would cost more against the cap than to keep them for the season.

Additionally, the players who could save the Steelers some cap space but the dead money hit would be a lot to overcome have been outlined as well. Just to clarify, “dead money” is the amount money already paid to a player that has yet to be accounted for under the salary cap.

In third and final part of the series, let’s look at the players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap versus their dead money hit.

Here is a list of the six Steelers who have a higher cap savings than their dead money amount if they were to be released for the 2021 season. The list was at seven this morning, but with the retirement of Vance McDonald, which saved the Steelers $5.2 million against the salary cap, the number is down to six (one of which is only a technicality). To keep the list under control and not get into a lot of rookie contracts which fit the description but actually save much money, these players are ones whose cap hit is more than $1.5 million. Granted, some of these players the Steelers would not consider moving on from anytime soon based on their on-field production. But whether or not their departure would be likely given their salary cap situation, it never hurts to know the numbers. All figures listed are courtesy of overthecap.com and reflect if the player was a pre-June 1 cut.

David DeCastro Dead money: $5,547,500
Cap Savings: $8,750,000

The Steelers decision when it comes to David DeCastro is a bit of a tricky one. With six stright Pro Bowl selections as well as two first team All-Pro honors, DeCastro has been a staple in the Steelers offensive line for eight seasons. But at the age of 31, is he worth the $8.75 million the Steelers could save towards the salary cap? Because of his age, an extension isn’t something the Steelers are guaranteed to look to do. The Steelers could go either way with how to handle DeCastro for 2021.

Maurkice Pouncey Dead money: $6,475,000
Cap Savings: $8,000,000

Very similar to DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey has slightly more dead money and a little less salary cap savings. Pouncey has made the Pro Bowl in every NFL season where he’s played more than 8 snaps and has two All-Pro selections as well. Steelers may not half to decide what to do with Pouncey as it may be his decision to hang it up. But if not, they have to choose if the additional $8 million is worth it for their aging center.

Steven Nelson Dead money: $6,170,000
Cap Savings: $8,250,000

Unlike many of the others on this list, Nelson is not a player whom age is a huge factor. Being today is his 28th birthday, Nelson would be a prime candidate for the Steelers to extend and knock down some of the $8.25 million he is due this season. Although releasing Nelson is an option, as well as merely playing at the last year his contract, the Steelers would be foolish to not attempt to work out an extension.

Vince Williams Dead money: $3,031,668
Cap Savings: $4,000,000

Another player over 30, Vince Williams turned 31 in December and has played eight years for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although a fierce run stopper, Williams gets exposed when called upon in pass coverage. With Devin Bush returning next season and other young players such as exclusive rights free agent Robert Spillane looking for playing time, Williams’ release would save the Steelers $4 million towards the salary cap.

Eric Ebron Dead money: $2,500,000
Cap Savings: $6,000,000

When Ebron signed his contract with the Steelers last season, he was basically payed half of his salary last year and is due the other half this season. Of course, $2.5 million of that money from 2020 was pushed to 2021 to save salary cap space. With Ebron, it’s not nearly as much about the dead money as it is if the Steelers want to pay him $6 million this coming season. With the retirement of Vance McDonald, there would be a big hole at tight end in the Steelers move on from Ebron.

T.J. Watt Dead money: $0
Cap Savings: $10,089,000

This one is only included because it fits the category as of this moment. Remember, these lists aren’t players the Steelers will even realistically consider cutting, just the ones that fit into each category. Before the new league year, the Steelers could technically part ways with T.J. Watt and have zero dead money and not owe him his fifth-year option. But even considering this notion is foolishness layered on foolishness covered with foolishness on top. If the Steelers do anything with T.J. Watt this offseason it would be his upcoming monster deal. The Steelers also have the option to play out Watt’s fifth year and use the franchise tag next season in order to have time to work out his deal going into 2022. Either way, Watt’s contract becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the new league year and only changes with a new deal. If T.J. plays out this season for the $10 million, he’s still an absolute steal.

So these are the seven players currently under contract with the Steelers who have a salary cap savings which is more than their dead money hit. While cutting any of these players does carry some cost against the salary cap, the money has already been paid to the player so they are not taking any more cash out of pocket if they were released. Of course, this is strictly from a numbers perspective. When factoring on-the-field performance, some of these players are no-brainers to keep while others could be looking for the call from the Steelers’ front office sometime in the next several weeks.

Point-Counterpoint: The Steelers should invest in Dwayne Haskins

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 9:00am
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Steelers signed a young, talented, and immature quarterback

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced their signing of Former Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins on Thursday, a signing that is sure to be a polarizing one in Steeler Nation. While Haskins’ production and character are question marks, his talent isn’t. Should the Steelers treat Haskins like they did Paxton Lynch, or is he a player worth investing in?

Here with their takes on the signing are Geoffrey Benedict and Shannon White.

The Steelers is the perfect place for Dwayne Haskins to land

Dwayne Haskins fits with the Steelers for many reasons. Let’s hit the easy ones first.

  1. The Steelers are looking for young talent to sit behind Ben Roethlisberger and fight for the chance to be his successor, Dwayne Haskins was a 1st round pick with athleticism and success at a premiere college program.
  2. He’s 23 years old. He came out after his sophomore season, if he had stayed in college he would be a senior this year.
  3. Dwayne Haskins isn’t going to be expensive, it’s a low cost deal.

Sounds like a no-brainer decision, talented young player for little cost, too good to be true?

There’s a reason when players with talent come cheap. In this case there are two main reasons. First, he hasn’t had much on-field success in the NFL. In 2020 the Washington Football Team won their division and made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. In the 6 games Dwayne Haskins played quarterback, they went 1-5, they went 6-4 without him. That followed a rookie season where he started 7 games, going 2-5, although in 2019 2-5 was a better record than the other quarterbacks the Football Team started.

The other problem is his behavior. Dwayne Haskins lost his spot on the Washington Football Team after pictures of him at a party without masks being worn surfaced, a clear violation of COVID-19 protocols, his second violation of the season.

Making a bone-headed decision like that, putting himself above the team, is something the Steelers have seen before. Ben Roethlisberger once injured himself riding a motorcycle without a helmet, and later put himself into unwise situations that resulted in accusations and suspensions for the Steelers’ franchise quarterback.

Which brings me to why I think Dwayne Haskins is in the right spot. He’s talented, but unrefined as a quarterback who needs to gain some maturity, and needs to learn humility, professionalism and how to be a leader on a team. I won’t compare his talent level to Ben Roethlisberger’s, he’s not Ben Roethlisberger. But Ben Roethlisberger was unrefined as a quarterback and needed to learn the same lessons. The Rooneys and Mike Tomlin were here for that process, they’ve gone through it before. If anyone can help Haskins get from where he is to where he should be with his talent, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But there’s an even better reason, and that is Ben Roethlisberger himself. The guy who made those bone-headed decisions, put his team in bad spots because of his selfish and unwise choices, and found a way to become a better player, leader, and from what we are able to see, a better person too. He’s been there, he’s done it, and now he will get the chance to mentor Haskins in much more than just throwing post routes.

Don’t get me wrong, the Steelers aren’t a rehab clinic, they aren’t therapists, if Dwayne Haskins isn’t ready to change, he won’t. The Steelers can’t make someone be a different person. It took Ben Roethlisberger a motorcycle crash, getting called out by multiple teammates and Steeler legends, and two suspensions before he was able to make meaningful change. I can’t tell you if Dwayne Haskins is there or not, but if he is? He’s in the right spot, and he would be the second most talented quarterback on the roster.

And I think the Steelers should go farther than just give him a one strike you are out deal, talent is worth taking a risk or two, and with Haskins’ potential and age, the Steelers should be looking longer term with the young man. Invest in the position, give the young man a chance to grow and become the quarterback his talent shows he could be.

— Geoffrey Benedict

Haskins is the last thing the Steelers need at this point

When the distinguished Geoffrey Benedict first approached me about writing the counterpoint of this article, I assumed he was already aware of my position on his acquisition. Any big name player with athletic talent and potential that becomes available for any reason automatically sets the BTSC comment boards ablaze with rabid fans wondering aloud if said player would be a good addition for the always looking for inexpensive talent Steelers.

The moment the reports started to surface that the talented, but troubled, Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins had been released, many fans fantasized about the former first round selection being picked up on the cheap and potentially replacing the aging Ben Roethlisberger one day down the road. I immediately shared my feelings on the matter with a hard NO to that idea. I based my decision on the Steelers recent track record on handling immature malcontents in the locker room. The results aren't good.

I knew Geoffrey and other members would want to compare Haskins situation to Ben Roethlisberger's transgressions in his early years, but the circumstances are far different upon closer inspection. Roethlisberger enjoyed immediate success in the NFL; the unmatched winning streak to start his career, followed up with a Super Bowl championship in his sophomore campaign. He was praised as the missing piece the Steelers franchise had been searching for since Terry Bradshaw's retirement, and was anointed with almost cult like status by the Steelers huge fan base. Roethlisberger's entitled attitude was the byproduct of believing his own press clippings and accolades from the adoring fans. We all like to believe we would be better in the same situation; but few, if any, can relate honestly. Humility could easily be lost along the way.

That is a huge concern with Haskins. There were multiple troubling reports out of Washington about attitude issues with Haskins. The word that most caught my attention was "entitled", and for obvious reasons. Problem is Haskins has accomplished precious little as a NFL QB. He never achieved rock star status from an adoring Washington fan base. Instead, he has never played up to his draft positioning and perpetually left the desperate fans disappointed and wanting more, but somehow his behavior led many in the Washington organization to consider him entitled. That's hard to believe and very concerning.

Roethlisberger had the benefit of a locker room full of veteran leadership, plus the incomparable Dan Rooney to provide him tough love and guidance. Sadly, individuals like Dan Rooney can never really be replaced. I question if the present Steelers organization has an individual who has earned that level of respect and admiration. I still love to hear stories about his father like status with former players. I don't believe it was a coincidence that the Steelers drama issues surfaced once he passed away.

I have to believe that the dramatic situations with former players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell would have been handled quite differently if Dan Rooney had still been around. Even this year's TikTok drama with JuJu Smith-Schuster could have been handled differently with a Hines Ward type leader in the room. Roethlisberger could serve as a mentor for Haskins, but apparently the well respected Alex Smith had little impact in that regard.

Thankfully, Roethlisberger was able to turn his life around through his faith and family, and hopefully Haskins will experience a similar turnaround. I feel much better about his signing after it was revealed as a futures contract. Small risk for a potentially huge reward. For both the Steelers and Haskins' sake, here's hoping for positive results.

— Shannon White

Vance McDonald announces his retirement

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 8:19am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers tight end is calling it a career after the 2020 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a decision to make with tight end Vance McDonald heading into the 2021 season. McDonald had a club option with the Steelers, but McDonald made the decision easy on the organization by announcing his retirement from football Friday.

Vance McDonald has announced his retirement.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 22, 2021

To go into the mind of McDonald and why he chose to retire from the league, when he clearly could continue playing, he released a statement explaining his decision.

This from Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

From Vance McDonald on his retirement: pic.twitter.com/mtnNLkdk3Z

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 22, 2021

McDonald was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he spent four seasons before getting a fresh start in Pittsburgh after he was traded before the start of the 2017 season.

During his four years with the Steelers, he played in 53 games, starting 47, and caught 117 passes for 1,170 yards and eight touchdowns.

He had his best season in 2018 when he caught 50 passes for 610 yards, a 12.2-yard average, and had four touchdown receptions. But the play which McDonald will always be remembered happened on Monday Night Football in Tampa Bay with what fans now call the “Stiff arm heard round the world”.

Do not underestimate Vance McDonald's stiff arm.

: ESPN pic.twitter.com/yRuGCUEeXz

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 25, 2018

McDonald now turns his attention away from football, and to his family as he begins his life after football. In the meantime, McDonald is still the Steelers’ representative for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, an award which is given to the NFL’s best man off the field.

When it comes to how McDonald’s retirement will affect the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap, he was set to count $7,927,500 toward the cap this season according to overthecap.com. With $2,727,500 in dead money, McDonald’s retirement will save the Steelers $5.2 million.

On behalf of BTSC, and all Steeler Nation, we with McDonald all the best in his future endeavors, and I’m sure he won’t be far from the Steelers organization in the future.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for the start of the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

What happened to the Steelers 2004 draft class?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 7:15am
Photo by Bob Leverone/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Leading up to the 2021 NFL draft in April, let’s look at how some of the Steelers’ drafts played out.

The 2021 NFL draft is just over three months away. Each week leading up to the draft, we are going to dive into an NFL draft class starting with the Steelers 2004 NFL draft. In doing so, each player selected by the Steelers will be highlighted as to how their NFL career, or lack thereof, took shape. As we get to more recent years, some will be combined as many of those draft choices are still with the Steelers.

Part 1 of 15 will highlight the Steelers 2004 NFL draft. It seemed like a great starting point sense it is the furthest back in which a member of the 2020 Steelers was drafted.

So let’s take a look at the eight players drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2004 NFL draft:

Ben Roethlisberger Quarterback, Miami (OH)

Round 1
Pick 11

Going into the 2004 NFL draft, many Steeler fans hoped the team could have grabbed one of the top quarterbacks but it seemed unlikely he would make it to the 11th selection. Fortunately for the Steelers, when the Cleveland Browns passed on Roethlisberger and selected Kellen Winslow Jr, there were no teams draftering in spots seven through ten in need of a quarterback upgrade at the time. Roethlisberger fell to the Steelers and became a two-time Super Bowl champion.

Holding almost every franchise record when it comes to the quarterback position, Roethlisberger appears to be destined for Canton once he finishes his NFL career. Starting 15 games for the Steelers in 2020, Roethlisberger has yet to make a decision on his playing status for the 2021 NFL season.

Ricardo Colclough Defensive back, Tusculum

Round 2
Pick 38

As much as the Steelers first-round pick was a home run, the Steelers did not have the same success in round two. Trading up six spots with the Indianapolis Colts and giving up their fourth round pick, the Steelers drafted Ricardo Colclough out of Tusculum. In the spot the Steelers vacated, the Colts ended up selecting Bob Sanders who had an impressive NFL career. As for Colclough, he lasted four seasons with the Steelers but fizzled in his last two years. Although he appeared in 16 games as a rookie, Colclough never had a start in any of his career games in Pittsburgh. In both 2006 and 2007, Colclough only appeared in three games each season. With anything but impressive numbers, Colclough had one career interception in 2005 and 2.5 career sacks. Finishing his career in Kansas City for two years in 2008 and 2009, Colclough made one start ins even games for the Chiefs before exiting the NFL.

Max Starks Tackle, Florida

Round 3
Pick 75

The Steelers found gold in their third-round selection of 2004 with tackle Max Starks. Not getting any starts in his rookie season, Starks started at right tackle all 16 games in the Steelers 2005 Super Bowl campaign. Making a shift over to left tackle later in his career, Starks started 96 games for the Steelers in nine seasons including starting all 16 games in his last year in 2012. After being part of three Super Bowl teams in Pittsburgh, Starks played in two games for the St. Louis Rams in 2013 but only played a total of eight offensive snaps.

Nathaniel Adibi Defensive end, Virginia Tech

Round 5
Pick 145

Failing to make the Steelers 53-man roster his rookie season, Nathaniel Adibi was claimed off waivers by the Tennessee Titans after his release from the Steelers. Not sticking long in Tennessee, Adibi spent part of 2004 on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. Picked up by the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason, Adibi landed on injured reserve during training camp and was subsequently waved. Adibi never played a game in the NFL although his younger brother Xavier spent five years in the league from 2008 to 2012 with the Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans.

Bo Lacy Tackle, Arkansas

Round 6
Pick 177

The second tackle taken by the Steelers in the 2004 draft, Bo Lacy did not make the 53-man roster but was on the Steelers practice squad his rookie season. Poached by the Browns in late September, Lacy returned to the Steelers practice squad once he was waived by Cleveland and never appeared in a game. Poached again in December by the Chicago Bears, Lacey still did not see the field in an NFL game and was waived by the Bears following their 2005 training camp. Lacy spent time on the practice squad‘s of the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons over the next two seasons before failing to make a squad in 2007.

Matt Kranchick Tight end, Penn St.

Round 6
Pick 194

In the draft pick acquired for the St. Louis Rams for Troy Edwards, the Steelers drafted tight end Matt Kranchick out of Penn State. Kranchick appeared in two games his rookie season for the Steelers and also made the team in 2005 where he started one of the four games in which he appeared and had one reception on one target for 6 yards. Kranchick did not last the season in Pittsburgh and was signed by the New York Giants later in 2005 where he appeared in two games. Kranchick was released by the Giants in the offseason and spent the 2006 training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but did not make their 53-man roster. Kranchick was briefly picked up by the New England Patriots in 2006 on the practice squad which was his last stop of his NFL career.

Drew Caylor Center, Stanford

Round 6
Pick 197

The third offensive lineman taken in the 2004 draft, Caylor was drafted more as a long snapper than center. Failing to make the team, Caylor was briefly signed by the New York Jets but never appeared in an NFL game.

Eric Taylor Defensive tackle, Memphis

Round 7
Pick 212

Injured in training camp, Eric Taylor did not play with the Steelers in his rookie season. Appearing in one game for the Minnesota Vikings in 2005, Taylor bounced around between the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans never appearing on their 53-man rosters. In 2008, Taylor joined the Canadian Football League where he played until 2015 for the Edmonton Eskimos, Toronto Argonauts, and BC Lions.

You want the Steelers to think about a future without Ben Roethlisberger? Dwayne Haskins it is

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 6:00am
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Steelers have signed quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round draft choice, to a one-year reserve/future contract. You know what that means? Not much. It’s no big deal. Stop fretting. You wanted the Steelers to think about a future without Ben Roethlisberger? It’s going to be like this until he retires—projects and mid-round draft choices.

“When are they going to start thinking about Ben’s replacement?” many fans have been asking since Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was about 30.

I’ve been trying to tell those fans that Pittsburgh will really begin to think about Roethlisberger’s heir apparent the moment he finally hangs up his cleats, but they just don’t want to believe me.

“They need to groom someone!” When has grooming ever worked? I know what you’re going to retort with: “Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes say, ‘What’s up?’”

My retort to that is, please. Those guys would have been great if they showed up to work on Day 1 and were named starting quarterbacks for their respective teams.

Unfortunately, despite the historical evidence that grooming someone for the quarterback position just doesn’t work—along with the lack of evidence that the Steelers will employ anyone even approaching Roethlisberger’s skills for the subsequent 20 years following his retirement—fans have been longing for the security of a true heir apparent.

Guess what? They’ve appeased those fans. First, it was Landry Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. A few years later, when it was decided that Jones was the worst backup quarterback in the history of the league, Pittsburgh selected Josh Dobbs in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A year later, the Steelers went “all in” and picked Mason “First-round Grade” Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Sadly, none of those guys have been able to wow fans and give them an ironclad guarantee that the Steelers quarterback position will be in great hands after Roethlisberger’s career comes to a close.

But don’t despair, because it was announced on Thursday that Dwayne Haskins, the former first-round pick of the Washington Football Team, was inked to a reserve/future contract.

Or should I say, “Despair, do lots and lots of despairing”? Because his name is Dwayne Haskins, a former first-round pick from Ohio State, and not Hwayne Daskins, a former undrafted free agent from Toledo, people are going nuts...and not in a good way. No, they’re going nuts in a “FML, I can’t believe Haskins is going to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback for the next 16 years” kind of way.

Relax and take a chill pill. I realize Haskins hasn’t exactly been the model of consistency on the football field. I also realize he hasn’t exactly been a role model off the field, either, as his in-game selfies and trips to the strip club will attest. Fortunately for the Steelers and their fans, reserve/future contracts aren’t ironclad.

Signing Haskins is just the Steelers’ latest attempt to upgrade the backup quarterback position and/or find Roethlisberger’s replacement on the down-low. If it works, great! If it doesn’t work, oh well.

I know what you’re going to say next: “What about Haskins’s influence on a locker room culture that is already so toxic thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster’s logo dancing and Chase Claypool’s TikTok trash-talking?

Do you really think Dwayne Haskins will enter a locker room filled with guys named Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, David DeCastro, Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey (possibly—it’s still 50/50) and immediately become Mr. Culture?

Please.

Do you know what’s happening here? Your need for the Steelers to find that heir apparent at quarterback has got such a grip on you that you’re reading too much into things.

If I may sum it up, the Steelers really won’t try to find Roethlisberger’s replacement until he retires. In the meantime, they’ll keep drafting guys in the third or fourth round and signing former first-rounders to reserve/future contracts in the hopes they’ll beat the odds by developing a project.

But if the Dwayne Haskins deal is still a bit too much for you to handle, just refer to him as Hwayne Daskins.

Podcast: When is ‘enough’ enough for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 01/22/2021 - 5:00am

Jeff Hartman brings an AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

The Steelers and Mike Tomlin started out like a house afire in 2020, but that house morphed into a dumpster set ablaze in the end. It makes Steeler Nation wonder when Coach T and his Men of Steel will have enough of not getting to the next level. Also, will the relationship between Tomlin and the organization sour? These are the main topics that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Examining the potential for the relationship between Mike Tomlin and the Steelers to go sour.
  • Hart to Heart
  • AFC/NFC Championship predictions
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Steelers’ offensive coordinator search continues with Chargers QB coach Pep Hamilton

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 7:38pm

The Steelers are interviewing another candidate for their vacant offensive coordinator position

You can add Chargers quarterback coach Pep Hamilton to the list of candidates for the Pittsburgh Steelers vacant offensive coordinator job. The team placed an interview request with the Los Angeles Chargers quarterback coach on Thursday, this according to Josina Anderson.

I'm told #Chargers QB coach Pep Hamilton has been informed the #Steelers are putting in a request to interview him for the OC job, per source.

— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 22, 2021

While it’s still not known whether or not the request will be accepted, it appears fair to say the position is still up for grabs.

NFL insiders had speculated earlier in the week that current Steelers quarterback coach Matt Canada was going to be named the Steelers replacement for Randy Fichtner. However, after the fulfillment of the Rooney Rule, when the team spoke with former Browns head coach Hue Jackson, the interview request of Hamilton suggests this spot is still completely open.

Pep Hamilton is one of the hottest names for teams looking for an offensive coordinator. Before his time in Los Angeles, Hamilton was the General Manager and head coach of the XFL’s D.C. Defenders. Prior to that, he spent time as the assistant head coach for both the Cleveland Browns and the University of Michigan. Before that he was Andrew Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts.

A genius when it comes to developing quarterbacks, Hamilton has coached up the likes of, Justin Herbert, Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, and Chad Pennington. Hiring a guy like Hamilton would instantly spark debate on whether the Steelers might be looking for its next quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft. His track record speaks for itself, and his success with quarterbacks should make anyone more comfortable with the selection of a quarterback.

Pep Hamilton is very deserving of a play-calling OC position. His work with Justin Herbert this season was impressive and essential. And he has experience. https://t.co/DTguo9k3nH

— Daniel Popper (@danielrpopper) January 14, 2021

Hamilton is still being courted by the Miami Dolphins for the same position. With news breaking on coaching hires nearly every day make sure to stay locked on Behind The Steel Curtain for all your latest news surrounding the coaching carrousel.

Steelers WR coach Ike Hilliard interviewing for Detroit’s offensive coordinator position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:51pm
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After one season with the Steelers, Hilliard is getting noticed around the NFL.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the market for an offensive coordinator for the 2021 season. With reports of Matt Canada being the front runner and former Brown’s head coach Hugh Jackson being interviewed earlier this week, it’s Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard who is interviewing in Detroit for their open offensive coordinator position. This per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer:

Source: The Lions are interviewing Steelers receivers coach Ike Hilliard for their open offensive coordinator position this afternoon.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 21, 2021

The Steelers hired Hilliard as their wide receivers coach during the 2020 offseason. After only one season in Pittsburgh, Hilliard has been credited in the development of the Steelers young wide receivers who had three players all with at least 800 receiving yards for the first time in franchise history.

Hilliard’s coaching experience started as an assistant wide receivers coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2011, but in 2012 Hilliard was brought in as a wide receivers coach under Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins. But 2013 saw him leave Washington and head to the Buffalo Bills with the same position title. In 2014 he came back to the nation’s capital under Jay Gruden, and stayed there through the 2019 season. During the 2019 season, Hilliard helped to develop a group of rookie wide receivers which included Terry McLaurin, Kelvin Harmon and Steven Sims. McLaurin finished the season with 58 receptions for 919 yards and 7 touchdowns, and was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

Drafted as the seventh selection overall in the 1997 draft by the New York Giants, Hilliard played eight seasons in New York where he caught 30 touchdowns. Hilliard finished his playing career in Tampa Bay where he played four seasons and added another eight touchdowns. Hilliard might be best known for his 10 reception, 155 yard, and two touchdown performance in the 2000 NFC Championship game. After defeating the Minnesota Vikings 41-0 to advance to Super Bowl XXXV, the Giants eventually fell to the Baltimore Ravens.

Whether or not Hilliard was considered for the Steelers offensive coordinator position has not been reported.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued news as the Steelers look to finalize their coaching staff for the 2021 season.

Steelers Championship Anniversary Flashback: Super Bowl XIII vs. the Cowboys

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:00pm
Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images

With the Super Bowl matchup set without Pittsburgh, BTSC looks back at the Steeler Super Bowl wins. Next up, Super Bowl XIII

With the flux capacitors fluxing and the time circuits set to January 21, 1979...The BTSC Delorean has plenty of room to take us all back to another remarkable day in Pittsburgh sports history. On that very day, Neptune became the outermost planet, the price of gold increases to a record $875 troy ounce, “Le Freak” by Chic was the No. 1 song on the charts, The Deer Hunter and Love at First Bite was big at the box office and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys were both vying to become the first three-time winner in the 13 year history of the event.

Leading up to the game, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson got into a war of words with Terry Bradshaw by saying that the Steeler quarterback couldn’t spell cat if you supplied the c and the a. But this was a guy that later admitted to inhaling cocaine out of an asthma inhaler while being shown by NBC cameras. It was the perfect setup to a bubbling rivalry.

Jack Lambert, Sam Davis and Joe Greene emerged at the center of the field with the legendary NFL owner and patriarch George Halas for the coin toss, but the Dalllas contingent won the toss and elected to receive. The erratic Roy Gerela came out to boot the ball and open up the contest. From their 28, Dallas introduced Pitt’s Tony Dorsett to this Super Bowl rivalry and the Rochester native shredded the Steel Curtain for 25 yards on his initial two carries. The last one was nearly broken by Dorsett, but Donnie Shell saved it with the tackle. After no gain by RB Robert Newhouse, Tom Landry went back to Dorsett for 13 more yards and it looked like Dallas was definitely fixing to get a timeshare in Pittsburgh territory. However, Dallas tried trickery on the next play and paid for it when Dorsett and Drew Pearson misconnected on the reverse that was meant to become a pass play to TE Billy Joe Dupree. Jon Banaszak pounced on it at his own 47 to stop the drive.

After they took over, the Steelers were stopped on two runs. Then Bradshaw went to the air and threw precision bullets in the light rain to Randy Grossman and twice to John Stallworth. The second of No. 82’s two spectacular catches went for 28 yards and pay dirt. It was 7-0 Steelers with 9:47 left in the first.

With the Cowboys moving into Steeler territory on their next series after Butch Johnson beat Steelers CB Ron Johnson to get to the enemy 39, the Steeler defense (Steve Furness and Dwight White) sacked Captain America twice to force a punt. The Steelers looked to take early control with Bradshaw completing consecutive passes to Harris and Swann, but his connection with D.D. Lewis from the Dallas 30 halted that drive. It was his first ever pick thrown in a Super Bowl, his third.

After forcing another Danny White punt, the Steeler Offense took the field and went looking for dinner again with good field position from their own 38. But Bradshaw got rocked by Harvey Martin for a strip sack on third and six that was recovered by Dallas’ Ed “Too Tall” Jones with a minute to go in the quarter. Staubach looked to take quick advantage by finding Drew Pearson open in the end zone, but Donnie Shell recovered and broke it up. But on the very next play, the Steelers blitzed and “how Roger the Dodger” stood tall and located Tony Hill 15-yards downfield. Hill raced past Donnie Shell for the 40-yard score and a 7-7 tie at the end of one.

In the Second Quarter, the Steelers were moving the ball. However, Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense” was putting a lot of pressure on Bradshaw. On third and long from the Steeler 48, Terry bobbled the snap but retained it. However the botch gave Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson enough time to constrain Bradshaw’s arms to allow Mike Hegman to thieve the ball and run it in all the way for a score. The Steeler QB landed on his elbow and there was much concern about the health and availability of TB12, more than the 14-7 Dallas lead.

No. 12 came out on the next drive and must have not been hurt too bad, for on third down he rifled a 15-yard pass to John Stallworth who, with help from a Lynn Swann block on Bennie Barnes, beat Randy Hughes and jetted off to the end zone and a 14-14 tie. The Steelers almost had a quick defensive score on the next series when a Joe Greene sack jarred the ball loose deep in Dallas territory, but Steve Furness didn’t pounce on it. Instead he tried to pick it up for a sure touchdown, couldn’t get control and the Cowboys recovered. Dallas escaped by punting from his own end zone. Roy Gerela, perhaps the worst player in Steeler Super Bowl history, clanked his 51-yard attempt off of the uprights and crisis was averted for Dallas.

Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images

Tom Landry’s team looked like they were going to take advantage and take the lead as they drove into Steeler territory, but couldn’t do anything with their luck. Pittsburgh put a ferocious rush on Staubach and his offering was snagged by Mel Blount at the Steeler 16 and returned to the 29 inside the two-minute warning. Because of a 15-yard penalty on an unnecessary hit by Billy Joe Dupree on Blount, the Steelers had great field position before the end of the half. Bradshaw took advantage and Lynn Swann was his weapon of choice on this possession (for 50 yards on two catches) to get the Steelers in the Red Zone. With :26 to go, Bradshaw rolled right and found a leaping Rocky Bleier in front of D.D. Lewis for seven yards and a 21-14 lead at the half.

The first three possessions of the third quarter ended in punts as amped-up defenses and tempers flared along the way. On the fourth possession, “America’s Team” mounted a drive behind Dorset’s legs that had “the Steel Curtain” about to break. On third down at the Steeler 10, Scott Laidlaw delivered a shot to Lambert in the ribs that knocked the future Hall of Famer off course, thus freeing Jackie Smith to be all alone in the middle of the end zone. But the future HOF TIght End of 16 years dropped the soft pass and the Cowboys settled for a 27-yard Raphael Septien field goal. The play would go down as one of the biggest blunders in Super Bowl lore. Many Cowboys fans cite this instance for being the reason that their team lost the game, however it would have only tied the score with more than a quarter left of action. It was now Steelers 21 and the Cowboys 17.

Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

There was plenty of scoring in the Fourth Quarter, but it started with consecutive punts. A controversial pass interference penalty on Bennie Barnes while covering Swann led to a 28-yard gain. But on third down, Pittsburgh suffered a delay of game penalty. Hollywood ignored the whistle and slammed Bradshaw to the Miami turf. It was a move that Franco Harris took exception too and the two opposing players had words. Now with ten yards to go, it isn’t typical to run the ball. But an angry Harris was set free on a trap by Mike Webster, Ray Pinney and Gerry “Moon” Mullins and scored from 22 out. On the play, Charlie Waters ran into an official preventing from getting to Harris. With 7:10 remaining, Pittsburgh held a 28-17 advantage.

Photo by Nate Fine/Getty Images

Roy Gerela squibbed the kick. Not sure if it was behind or if he was merely being Roy Gerela, but it worked when it bounced off of the casted-hand of Randy White playing on Special Teams. Dennis “Dirt” Winston recovered and the Steelers had the ball on the Dallas 18. Terry Bradshaw, who never had a 300-yard passing game at this juncture in his career, got it immediately with an 18-yard TD pass to Lynn Swann. The score was now 35-17 with 6:51 remaining on the clock.

Dallas, now in desperation mode, went to Dorsett and the air hoping for a miracle. Despite the Banaszak Bunch celebrating the second sack perpetrated by their hero, the Cowboys put together a 4:24 second drive that culminated in a seven-yard BillyJoe Dupree touchdown catch from Staubach. After Robert Thurman recovered with 2:27 left in the game, the Cowboys scored again when Butch Johnson hauled-in a Staubach throw from four-yards out. But only :22 remained and the world knew that another onside kick was coming with the Cowboys trailing by four points. Rocky Bleier surehanded the attempt and the Steelers, by a score of 35-31, were three-time champions and again the toast of the town.

As for me, I was seven and this was the first Steelers Super Bowl that I was cognizant of and fully engaged. My love affair with this team officially began this day and I’ve never been the same.

Steelers make it official, announce the signing of Dwayne Haskins and 3 others

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 1:45pm
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Haskins becomes one of three Steelers quarterbacks currently under contract for the 2021 season.

After a visit with Steelers on Thursday, the Steelers have announced they have officially signed quarterback Dwayne Haskins to a Reserve/Future contract. The Steelers also signed defensive back Stephen Denmark, tight end Charles Jones, and tight end Dax Raymond.

We have signed DB Stephen Denmark, QB Dwayne Haskins, TE Charles Jones and TE Dax Raymond to Reserve/Future contracts. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/9tnTdPDoSb

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) January 21, 2021

The signing of Haskins gives the Steelers three quarterbacks currently under contract for the 2021 season. Having four players with the team in 2020, the Steelers did not sign practice squad quarterback Devlin Hodges to a futures contract. Additionally, third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Haskins is a name many Steelers fans have had on their radar since the relationship with the Washington Football Team, and mainly head coach Ron Rivera, soured in the final weeks of the 2020 regular season. Haskins was the 15th overall selection of the 2019 NFL draft and took over the starting role in Week 9 of 2019 until an ankle injury caused his early departure in Week 16. In his rookie year, Haskins was 2-5 as a starter completing only 58.6% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

In his second season, Haskins started the first four games of the year before losing the starting job. After several injuries to various Washington quarterbacks, Haskins started in Weeks 15 and 16, both of which were Washington losses. With only 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in 2020, Haskins has a career record of 3-10. It was following the the Week 16 loss when the relationship deteriorated to a point where Washington released Haskins.

While some of Steelers’ Nation may think bringing in the former first-round draft pick puts the writing on the wall for either Ben Roethlisberger or Mason Rudolph, Haskins may be no more than the addition of a high pedigree cast-off for the Steelers to test the waters, much like Paxton Lynch. With Steelers current wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard coming from Washington in 2019, the Steelers may have had some inside information as to what was going on with Haskins and if it was worth taking the chance.

Charles Jones finished the 2020 season on the Steelers practice squad but was not in the first round of Reserve/Future contracts. Jones played four games with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 where he had one reception for 5 yards.

Tight end Dax Raymond may sound familiar to Steelers fans as he spent part of training camp with the Steelers in 2020. Coming from the Chicago Bears in 2019, Raymond spent part of 2020 on the Green Bay Packers practice squad.

Cornerback Stephen Denmark was a seventh-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 2019 and spent the year on the practice squad. Denmark was also with the Bears in 2020 and on their practice squad for part of the season. He also spent time on the Cleveland Browns practice squad in 2020 before being released in December.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for breaking news, player updates, coaching hires, and all things Pittsburgh Steelers.

Updated reports show Dwayne Haskins set to sign with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:59pm
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly hosting the polarizing quarterback for a free agent visit.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who many consider to have a very depleted quarterback group. Ben Roethlisberger is in the waning years of his career, backup Mason Rudolph is still considered a mystery, Joshua Dobbs is an unrestricted free agent and the organization allowed Devlin Hodges’ practice squad contract to expire with the team.

This clearly means the team will be looking to add depth to their quarterback room, and the first name which popped up certainly will raise eyebrows. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Steelers are hosting former first round pick Dwayne Haskins Thursday.

Former Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins has a visit with the #Steelers today, sources say. Some potential QB depth and upside. The free agent and ex-first round pick also recently visited the #Panthers.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2021

Haskins is a name many Steelers fans have had on their radar since the relationship with the Washington Football Team, and mainly head coach Ron Rivera, soured in the final weeks of the 2020 regular season. As Rapoport points out, Haskins has already visited with the Carolina Panthers with no contract offered upon the completion of the visit.

The Steelers have been known to be willing to take a chance on players who many view as damaged goods, and being able to repair Haskins both on and off the field would be a major undertaking for the Steelers. However, it should also be noted Haskins does have a tremendous amount of talent.

Haskins was the 15th overall selection of the 2019 NFL draft by the now Washington Football Team. Haskins took over the starting role in Week 9 of 2019 until an ankle injury caused his early departure in Week 16. In his rookie year, Haskins was 2-5 as a starter completing only 58.6% of his passes for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his sophomore season, Haskins started the first four games of the year before losing the starting job. After several injuries to various Washington quarterbacks, Haskins started in Weeks 15 and 16, both Washington losses. With only five touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020, Haskins has a career record of 3-10.

UDPATE:

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated is stating the Steelers are expected to sign Haskins.

Sources: The Steelers are planning to sign ex-first-round QB Dwayne Haskins today. Haskins is meeting with the coaches now, and if all goes well, a deal will be hammered out.

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 21, 2021

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the start of the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

What’s the possibility of the Steelers trading up for quarterback Trey Lance?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:31pm
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Recent mock drafts have suggested that the Steelers could put a package together in attempt to select FCS’ greatest player

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the precipice of a complete offensive overhaul. And since no position effects the success of an offense more than the quarterback spot, that might be the best place to start. With Ben Roethlisberger under contract for just one more year, and already 38 years of age, the Steelers will soon be in the market for a new quarterback anyway. While it’s still possible Roethlisberger retires this offseason, by all accounts he is poised to return for one more season.

If the Steelers want to draft a quarterback that’s able to play right now, but is still highly impressionable as a thrower, there is no greater prospect than North Dakota State University’s, Trey Lance. The 20 year old pivot is a two-time FCS national champion (2018/2019) and likely would have led the Bison to their fourth straight title. In my opinion, had the FCS played their 2020 season Lance’s stock would have skyrocketed and he would have been the second pick of the draft. Lucky for the Steelers, but unlucky for Lance, he may end up being the fourth, or in some cases, fifth quarterback taken.

So, that brings us to the point of our exercise. CBS Sports Ryan Wilson posted his latest NFL mock draft. Within it he made a number of trades, including the Steelers making a deal with the Dallas Cowboys to jump from number 24 to the number 10 slot of the draft. This deal sees the Steelers jump over quarterback needy teams like the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, and the Washington Football Team to select its future quarterback.

Latest Mock Draft @ryanwilsonCBS with some interesting mock trades pic.twitter.com/3a0w31SNk0

— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) January 19, 2021

The biggest roadblocks to this deal happening is the feasibility of Trey Lance slipping in the draft. We all know the big names at the top of the draft board, but Lance could very well be the next quarterback selected after Trevor Lawrence. The second biggest potential problem is how much draft compensation are the Steelers willing to part with to move up 14 spots. If Trey Lance is still on the board after the Denver Broncos make their pick, then I would expect a bidding war with a number of teams trying to get the Cowboys’ slot. Wilson himself thought the Steelers would need to deal their first and second round pick this year and another first round pick in 2022 to pull off this deal. In my opinion, if you really think Lance is the guy to bring your team back to the promised land, you make that deal every day of the week.

The biggest pro as to why the Steelers would make this deal include Lance’s athletic ability that would add a brand new dimension to the Steelers’ offense. The second is the Steelers love drafting underclassmen with their early draft picks. Lance is so young that a year under Ben Roethlisberger could set him up for a massive 2022 season. Lance is also extremely careful with the ball. How careful? He didn't throw a single interception in his 2019 campaign. The worst game of Lances’ career was his lone game of the 2020 season, when NDSU played Central Arkansas in what was quite literally a showcase for Trey Lance to NFL scouts. Knowing what NDSU was playing for, Central Arkansas built a game plan around shutting down the arm of Lance; however, Lance showed off his running ability and put up 143 yards and two scores on the ground.

While trading up for a quarterback within the next two drafts seems like an inevitability, if the Steelers are planning on making a trade of this magnitude now, the entire organization has to be on board. With Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin (and multiple other coaches) operating on continuous one year contracts, it would appear Lance would outlast the current regime. Instead, making a move like this needs to start on the shoulders of Brandon Hunt and Omar Khan. Either of whom will likely become the next general manager in Pittsburgh. If they crown Trey Lance the man to take over Ben Roethlisberger’s job, Kevin Colbert probably pulls the trigger.

To put it simply, this deal is possible. But it’s going to take a lot of cooperation from everyone in the organization, as well as a pretty steep price to to pay to make the deal work. If the Steelers are sure this is their guy, they will make the deal.

But what do you think? Could you foresee the Steelers trading up to draft Trey Lance? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Check out the podcast below where BTSC’s co-editor Jeff Hartman outlines why the Steelers should be aggressive in the 2021 NFL Draft to get a quarterback, and why Lance is the man they should target:

Podcast: Steelers free agents, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 11:00am

BTSC breaks down the Steelers 19 unrestricted free agents

With the offseason here, BTSC is putting Know Your Enemy on hiatus. However, you still get an hour every week of Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict discussing Steelers news of the week and much more like only they can. So much will be pondered on the latest episode from the BTSC family of podcasts, “The Curtain Call”. As always, it is a good time to talk everything Steelers. Join Beck and Benedict as they break down the Steelers free agents and who should be on the Steelers chopping block.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Who of the Steelers free agents will return in 2021
  • and MUCH MORE!

Michael and Geoffrey 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!

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Report states the Steelers met with Hue Jackson for vacant offensive coordinator position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:29am
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to hire an offensive coordinator, and Hue Jackson was the latest name to be interviewed for the vacancy.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were thought to have their man for the vacant offensive coordinator job. That man was Matt Canada, who served as the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2020. Shortly after those reports circulated, other reports stated fans should pump the brakes before wishing Canada congratulations on the promotion.

Instead, it seemed as if the Steelers still had other candidates to interview, not only to abide by the league’s Rooney Rule, but also to ensure they are finding the man they feel is right for the job.

The latest names attached to the vacant coordinator role was none other than former Cincinnati Bengals coordinator and Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson.

This per Dianna Russini of ESPN:

The Pittsburgh Steelers interviewed former Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson earlier this week for the offensive coordinator position per a league source.

— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) January 21, 2021

Most would suggest Jackson, for all his short comings as a head coach, is a tremendous coordinator. His work in the league in multiple systems speaks for itself, but most remember him strictly for his failing attempts as a head coach.

Jackson began his coaching career in the season immediately following his senior year as quarterback at the University of the Pacific. After three years as a graduate assistant, Jackson continued in the college ranks and a number of colleges including Arizona State, Cal, and USC.

Making the jump to the NFL in 2001 as the running backs coach for the Washington Redskins, Jackson became the offensive coordinator in Washington in 2003. After three seasons as the wide receivers coach in Cincinnati from 2004 to 2006, Jackson was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator for a season in 2007 before going to Baltimore as the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach for two seasons. Jackson then moved onto the Oakland Raiders first as coordinator and then head coach before returning to the Cincinnati Bengals as an assistant in 2012. Jackson was promoted to the Bengals offensive coordinator for 2014 and 2015 before serving as the Cleveland Browns head coach for three seasons from 2016 to 2018. When Jackson was fired mid season after a loss to the Steelers, he became a special assistant to the head coach for the Bengals to finish the year.

The Steelers interviewing Jackson shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, and there are likely other candidates who have, or will be, interviewed as well. Whether those candidates are made public has yet to be seen.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

Dwayne Haskins reportedly visiting the Steelers Thursday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:08am
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly hosting the polarizing quarterback for a free agent visit.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who many consider to have a very depleted quarterback group. Ben Roethlisberger is in the waning years of his career, backup Mason Rudolph is still considered a mystery, Joshua Dobbs is an unrestricted free agent and the organization allowed Devlin Hodges’ practice squad contract to expire with the team.

This clearly means the team will be looking to add depth to their quarterback room, and the first name which popped up certainly will raise eyebrows. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Steelers are hosting former first round pick Dwayne Haskins Thursday.

Former Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins has a visit with the #Steelers today, sources say. Some potential QB depth and upside. The free agent and ex-first round pick also recently visited the #Panthers.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2021

Haskins is a name many Steelers fans have had on their radar since the relationship with the Washington Football Team, and mainly head coach Ron Rivera, soured in the final weeks of the 2020 regular season. As Rapoport points out, Haskins has already visited with the Carolina Panthers with no contract offered upon the completion of the visit.

The Steelers have been known to be willing to take a chance on players who many view as damaged goods, and being able to repair Haskins both on and off the field would be a major undertaking for the Steelers. However, it should also be noted Haskins does have a tremendous amount of talent.

Haskins was the 15th overall selection of the 2019 NFL draft by the now Washington Football Team. Haskins took over the starting role in Week 9 of 2019 until an ankle injury caused his early departure in Week 16. In his rookie year, Haskins was 2-5 as a starter completing only 58.6% of his passes for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his sophomore season, Haskins started the first four games of the year before losing the starting job. After several injuries to various Washington quarterbacks, Haskins started in Weeks 15 and 16, both Washington losses. With only five touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020, Haskins has a career record of 3-10.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the start of the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.

6 Steelers whose dead money outweighs their cap savings if released in 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:00am
Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While releasing these players could give the Steelers some salary cap space, the amount of “dead money” the Steelers would absorb makes it a difficult financial move

With the Pittsburgh Steelers dealing with a difficult salary cap situation for the 2021 season, much discussion has been made about which players may become cap casualties this offseason. While there are several players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap, I have already outlined the players on the team which would cost more against the cap than to keep them for the season.

In part 2 of 3, let’s look at the players who could save the Steelers some cap space but the dead money hit would be a lot to overcome. Just to clarify, “dead money” is the amount money already paid to a player that has yet to be accounted for under the salary cap. In the first part of the series, it was obvious those players weren’t going anywhere based on the numbers, let alone their worth on the field. This time, it’s a little bit more complex as some players are more obvious to stay than others.

Here is a list of the six Steelers who have at least a $1 million dead money amount if they were to be released for the 2021 season, and this value exceeds their salary cap savings. While some of these players the Steelers won’t consider moving on from anytime soon based on their on-field production, others may offer some much-needed cap relief despite their dead money amount. Remember, another option is for the Steelers to extend any of these players which could help the situation. As usual, it never hurts to know the numbers. All figures listed are courtesy of overthecap.com and reflect if the player was a pre-June 1 cut.

Ben Roethlisberger Dead money: $22,250,000
Cap Savings: $19,000,000

The problem when it comes to Ben Roethlisberger is both of these numbers are extremely high. With the majority of Roethlisberger‘s 2021 salary cap hit being in the form of dead money, it makes it difficult for the Steelers to pay so much for someone who would no longer be on the team. But on the other hand, do the Steelers really wants to pay an additional $19 million to a quarterback who turns 39 before the start of next season? It’s extremely difficult for the Steelers to keep Roethlisberger at this number, but the only way to reduce it and keep him on the team is to knock off some of that $19 million in the form of an extension. But it’s still the same problem: Do the Steelers want to invest more years in a quarterback who only has one season left before turning 40?

Stephon Tuitt Dead money: $9,281,500
Cap Savings: $5,659,250

When it comes to Stephon Tuitt, he is one of the few players not on a rookie contract who has multiple years left as it runs through the 2022 season. Although the option could be to spread out Tuitt’s dead money over two seasons if the Steelers chose to move on, it’s still over $9 million which will have to be accounted for at some point, let alone for someone not playing. Add in the fact Tuitt only missed time in 2020 due to being on the COVID-19 list, coupled with the fact he had his best season of his career, saving a little more than $5.5 million on the salary cap is not worth it to also lose Tuitt’s production.

Joe Haden Dead money: $8,575,000
Cap Savings: $7,000,000

Much like Roethlisberger, Joe Haden is it one of those difficult decisions where his salary cap number does carry more dead money than what the Steelers would save should they move on from him. With the opportunity to save $7 million on the salary cap, the Steelers have to decide what they would like to do with Haden moving forward. Turning 32 this spring, there are fans who feel strongly on both sides as to whether or not the Steelers should retain or release Haden. Being the last year of his deal, the Steelers do you have the option of an extension in order to lower the cap hit for 2021.

Terrell Edmunds Dead money: $2,221,053
Cap Savings: $1,182,789

Although he fits into this category, the fact Terrell Edmunds is still one is rookie deal makes it foolish to consider releasing him as there would be a little value in terms of the salary cap. Saving a mere $1 million while taking a dead money hit of over $2 million, Edmunds’ worth on the field is much more there any concern with his salary cap number.

Chris Boswell Dead money: $3,366,667
Cap Savings: $1,406,666

With another strong season kicking for the Steelers in 2020, Chris Boswell actually has two years left on his contract with the Steelers. Much like Edmunds, the savings would be so little from a number standpoint to justify releasing their kicker, let alone the fact that Boswell’s on-field performance is well worth his contract.

Derek Watt Dead money: $2,166,667
Cap Savings: $1,666,666

This is a case where the numbers really matter. Many Steelers fans are wondering why they have invested so much money in a fullback to be so seldom used. Who knows what Steelers wants to do with the position moving forward once they announce a new offensive coordinator, but if you’re going to employ a fullback at this price it makes sense to use them. With that said, Derek Watt has two years left on his contract and would not save very much on the salary cap versus how much he would cost in dead money. So for 2021, it makes sense for the middle Watt child to still be in Pittsburgh.

So these are the six players currently under contract with the Steelers who have a dead money hit which is more than their salary cap savings. While it does not make it impossible to cut any of these players, the savings might not be worth how much they still continue to count towards the salary cap. Of course, this is strictly from a numbers perspective. When factoring on-the-field performance, it’s not about the dead money as much as how much they can save if the Steelers feel their performance is not worth their salary.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the 3rd and final part outlining players who give the most cap savings versus their dead money hit.

2020 Steelers Replay, Week 1: Benny Snell’s big day shows the keys to running the ball

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 8:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

What we can learn looking back at Benny Snell’s big game against the Giants.

To start the offseason, I’m going to take a look at each week of the Steelers season, and focus on a player that made an impact in that week, and what their film teaches us about the Steelers in 2020. It won’t just be about that player, but more an evaluation of what the Steelers did right, what they did wrong, and what they need to focus on heading into the 2021 season.

For Week 1, Benny Snell is an easy choice. He came in to the game in the second quarter and took over the game, running for 113 yards, the only 100 yard rushing game of his short career. It’s also a nice start to revisiting this season where the run game fell apart so spectacularly by looking at what went so right for Benny Snell in Week 1.

Week 1, 2nd quarter, 11:08. Benny Snell is the running back, Vance McDonald is the tight end (second from left)

Benny Snell showed improved quickness right away on this outside run, and delivers a shot to the cornerback at the end of the run. A key block on this run is the double team from Eric Ebron and Vance McDonald on the defensive end and Vance McDonald getting off the double team to the second level to slow down middle linebacker Blake Martinez, taking him out of the play.

Week 1, 2nd quarter 12:35. Benny Snell is the running back, Stefan Wisniewski is the guard to the left side of the screen.

On the opposite side of the coin, on this play Stefan Wisniewski gets stuck on the double team with Maurkice Pouncey and Blake Martinez is free to make the play on Benny Snell.

Week 1, 3rd quarter, 14:18. Benny Snell is the running back, Zach Banner is the tackle to the left of the screen.

Zach Banner gets to the second level, blocks Martinez and Benny Snell is running loose in the secondary. You can see the trend, Benny Snell ran well when the Steelers blockers got off the double teams to the second level, got almost nothing when they didn’t.

Week 1, 3rd quarter, 13:41. Benny Snell is the running back, Eric Ebron is the tight end to the left side of the screen.

I love this play design, and the work both Eric Ebron and Matt Feiler do on this play. Ebron starts outside, drawing the defensive end’s attention, then heads upfield like he’s running a route, only to block the middle linebacker. Ebron causes the defensive end to pause, and that sets up the block from Feiler and Snell cuts upfield for a solid gain.

Week 1, 3rd quarter, 12:59. Benny Snell is the running back, Maurkice Pouncey is the center.

This play doesn’t go well, and it shows one of my consistent criticisms of the Steeler running backs. Benny Snell cuts a full 2 yards when he changes direction, and is tackled with plenty of room between himself and Maurkice Pouncey. Running tighter to the offensive line makes it harder for the defense to tackle you, and would have added solid yards onto this run.

Also, Snell wastes fantastic work from Pouncey to get out of the lane in two steps. Watch it in slow motion.

Look at Pouncey go from driving the tackle out of the way to getting skinny and leaving Snell with plenty of room to run. Look at when Snell gets parallel to Pouncey, he could have just run straight upfield and the space would have been there. It just requires trust and a little more patience. I’ll go even farther than that, because if Snell is right behind Pouncey, he either gets this lane, or he gets a lane outside, #94 can’t cover both lanes while being double teamed, and Pouncey is trying to get off that block, but it’s already too late.

So while the lineman need to do a better job getting to the second level, there are also times where the backs don’t have the patience or trust to use the lanes that are there.

Week 1, 3rd quarter, 2:46. Benny Snell is the running back, Zach Banner is the tackle to the left side of the screen.

Love the job Banner does on this play, provides help to DeCastro and gets upfield where he is a big man to try and get around, he doesn’t even nail the block, he doesn’t have to, he’s big enough to get in people’s way and take them out of the play.

Also take a moment and watch the defensive back to the right side of the screen as the clip starts. That DB started to follow JuJu Smith-Schuster’s motion, then goes back. Smith-Schuster blocks the outside corner and Snell just has to out run the linebackers that the line has slowed down. If you look at most of the runs in this film room you will see motion (or at least the end of it), several others had motion, but the Steelers waited two seconds to snap the ball so I cut it out of the clips.

Motion was a consistent part of the offense early on, and at the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, it is a key to the offense in 2021. The Steelers were a top ten rushing team for the first third of the season when they were using motion heavily. They need to invest in it, and not give up on it in 2021.

Week 1, 4th quarter, 9:00. Benny Snell is the running back.

Gotta love this run. Benny Snell sees Zach Banner driving a defender back and dives under Banner’s arms for a 5-yard gain. Just find any hole you can and get yards. A five yard run is a win for the offense.

Week 1, 4th quarter, 6:56. Benny Snell is the running back, Alejandro Villanueva is the tackle to the left side of the screen.

Wanted to show a little love for the other side of the line, Alejandro Villanueva isn’t a great run blocker, but he does a good job on this play. Villanueva has done a fantastic job protecting Ben Roethlisberger over the years, and has held his own with many great pass rushers, if he doesn’t return, the Steelers will have a hard time replacing him.

Benny Snell’s great week 1 game had far more to do with the Steelers scheme and execution than it did Benny Snell’s talents. But it is worth noting that Snell has the ability to give a team good play if the offense is well designed and executed.

Re-watching this game is a good reminder that Zach Banner could be the answer at right tackle for the Steelers. If he can bounce back from injury, he brings energy, power and size to the right tackle position that Steeler fans crave. He consistently showed the ability to move a defender and get off double team blocks to reach the second level, something Chuks Okorafor and Matt Feiler don’t do as well.

The takeaway from this film room is the Steelers, with better scheme and execution, can have success running the ball, even with Benny Snell. They need to invest in using motion and keep it going all year, and they need to be more consistent at getting blockers to the second level on their zone runs. That might be achieved with a new offensive coordinator and a new offensive line coach, or it might require adding talent via free agency or the draft, but however they do it, it needs to happen. because the difference between the Steelers offense that was running the ball well and the offense that wasn’t was huge and it wrecked the season.

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