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Black and Gold Links: If the Steelers want to right this ship, it all starts in the trenches

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/30/2019 - 4:23am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 4 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Cincinnati Bengals, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how if there is any hope for the Steelers resurrecting their season, it all starts in the trenches.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3, and many still have hope the team can turn things around. If they are going to do that, and that is a big if, it will all start in the trenches of the offensive and defensive lines.

Kevin Gorman: If Steelers are going to get back to business, it has to start up front

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Maurkice Pouncey wiped a towel down his face and across the back of his neck while being asked about what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do to establish a running game.

The All-Pro center wiped his face again, shook his head and let out a little laugh in exasperation inside the visiting locker room at Levi’s Stadium after the Steelers’ third straight loss.

“I don’t know,” Pouncey said. “If I knew, we would have (done) better out there.”

It is simple yet complicated.

The Steelers are enduring an identity crisis on offense, where they rank among the NFL’s best at pass protection and among the worst in run blocking. That’s a reflection of the pass-heavy approach that saw them throw almost twice as much as they ran last season.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers need their first win, not just a win over the Bengals, in Week 4.

For Steelers getting first win, not Bengals rivalry, is most important

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

player suspension, a subsequent $36,000 fine, three diagnosed concussions, two players carted off the field — including the serious spinal injury suffered by Ryan Shazier — and four others who left the game and did not return.

Past players speak out about physical play in today’s NFL compared to their eras https://t.co/LvKOSGt6c5

— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) December 10, 2017

In part because both teams are 0-3 and because many of the chief protagonists of the recent surly history of the rivalry have moved on, a repeat isn’t expected when the teams meet Monday night.

And this makes Dupree sad.

“It was fun while it lasted,” the fifth-year outside linebacker said. “There’s still a lot of chippiness going on, just from history, (from) both teams. But we’ve got a lot of new guys on our team, so they really don’t understand the feeling (of dislike for the Bengals), just like those new guys on their team don’t understand that feeling.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • I have to admit, this was entertaining to watch...

Baker Mayfield, Antonio Brown trade shots on social media

By: Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and unemployed wide receiver Antonio Brown are the latest NFL players to have a social media beef.

It started with Mayfield putting up a post on Instagram that one of his followers felt was too much like the kind of content Brown often posts. Mayfield responded to a comment by taking issue with any suggestion that he’s anything like Brown.

“You’re right,” Mayfield wrote sarcastically. “Let me call out my teammates and throw a fit about my helmet and then go freeze my feet off.”

Brown saw that allusion to him and wasn’t happy about it.

“Sorry ass Chico keep rolling right you ain’t done nothing in this league the internet only place u would ever talk too or about me; you know u get beat quick slice u up some humble pie,” Brown tweeted, addressing Mayfield. “Should of never been drafted before Lamar Jackson what a big scam.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • 2019 Hall of Honor Videos

Welcome to the #HallofHonor! pic.twitter.com/6XtDrx78Vo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 30, 2019

.@CowherCBS & @sackmaster91 checking in. #HallofHonor pic.twitter.com/P4MZYWXjF2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2019

Always repping Black & Gold.@mvp86hinesward | #HallofHonor pic.twitter.com/07xX4GDsoB

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@TunchIlkin, @dabody52, and @missi_matthews give you their keys to winning the game vs. the Bengals.@OurFordStore pic.twitter.com/vgGe9tIMgk

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2019

Hear from Mason Rudolph, Joe Haden, Coach Butler, and David DeCastro as we prepare to take on Cincinnati. pic.twitter.com/wbLGuJbepD

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2019

2019 Week 4 Late Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 3:00pm
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The Steelers don’t play until Monda night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers are slated to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 on Monday Night Football, and the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

2019 Week 4 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 11:45am
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers don’t play until Monda night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers are slated to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 on Monday Night Football, and the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

How the Bengals defense will try and stop the Steelers offense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 10:54am
Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Taking a look at how the Cincinnati defense will try to stop the Steelers’ offense in its tracks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping three staright games to start the season, they face a Bengals team who also searching for their first win of the regular season.

This isn’t a unique matchup for the Steelers. They know their AFC North rivals very well, but there are a lot of new faces on the Cincinnati side of things who haven’t been there during the Marvin Lewis era. So, I wanted to do was to get the lowdown on what the Bengals might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Cincy Jungle, SB Nation’s Bengals website, writer Patrick Judis to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this second of many installments, I asked Patrick what he thinks the Bengals defense will do when tasked with stopping the Steelers’ offense. Check out his response:

The Bengals have been putting more and more of their 3-4 or 5-2 defense (depending on how you look at it) out there. They have basically had defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Carlos Dunlap playing the edge with three defensive tackles inside. It has created some interesting results, but if the Steelers spread them out there doesn’t seem to be much hope they will stick with that. It has been one of their best ways of stopping the run, so getting them out of that could be a key for Pittsburgh.

The secondary is still solid with William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick playing the perimeter, and Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates have also been solid. We’re still trying to completely figure out what new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is doing with this defense. We have figured two things so far though. The first, he gets pretty exotic in how he disguises overages. The second, he is asking our nonathletic linebackers to do too much. When looking back at the 49ers blowout, our defensive backs struggled to make tackles on a consistent basis, but our linebackers were constantly beat to their spot or just out of position. Luckily we saw Anarumo cycle in some of our more athletic linebackers last week.

Fans might read this and think stopping the Steelers’ offense won’t be difficult to do. After all, the team has struggled in this area throughout the first three weeks of the season. However, if you know anything about the AFC North, it is how familiarity is a priority in these divisional grudge matches. What Pittsburgh might have as an advantage could be the fact little is known about Mason Rudolph and the young skill position players the team has deployed.

If the Steelers come out with a completely different philosophy on Monday Night Football, it could catch the Bengals off guard and help them see some early game success. Then again, it could be more of the same which would make the Bengals’ lives a lot easier when the two teams meet in prime time.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Bengals in Week 4.

Predicting the Steelers’ Week 4 inactive list vs. the Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 9:45am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Which players will join Nix, Williams, and Chickillo yet again on the inactive list Sunday?

The Steelers are looking to finish up the first quarter of the 2019 season with a win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. It would be the Steelers first one of the season and it would be the shot in the arm this team could really use before a couple tough matchup’s heading into the bye. Unfortunately, several key players have already been ruled out or are highly unlikely to play. Regardless of who is active and who is not, the Steelers need to salvage a victory to stay in striking distance in the AFC North.

Game Status

Out:
FB Roosevelt Nix (knee)
ILB Vince Williams (hamstring)
OLB Anthony Chickillo (foot)

Doubtful:
TE Vance McDonald (shoulder)

Questionable:
OLB Jayrone Elliott (hamstring)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 4:

Definitely:

FB Roosevelt Nix- although I feel the return of Nix could help bolster the Steelers running game, it is unclear if he would even be properly used in order to help. For now it doesn’t matter as he continues to miss games with his knee injury.

ILB Vince Williams- believe it or not, this one really hurts. Last week the Steelers’ defense showed how important Williams was in stopping the run. Hopefully they can get the job done without him against the last place rushing offense in the league.

OLB Anthony Chickillo- the fact his foot injury is still affecting him to miss multiple games in 2019 goes to show Chickillo should not have been signed in the off-season if this injury was going to continue to be an issue.

Most Likely:

TE Vance McDonald- I’m not exactly sure why the Steelers even bothered to use a doubtful designation as these players have not been active over the last few years. Not practicing at all this week, McDonald just isn’t going to be ready to play in this game.

G Fred Johnson- while the final three spots are up in the air as to who will not get a helmet, Johnson is the ninth offensive lineman. So out of everybody else, he would be the last person chosen.

Possibly:

OLB Jayrone Elliott- because he was on the injury report he needs to at least be considered to be inactive. But with Chickillo out coupled with the fact Elliott did not completely miss any days this week means he should be active the second straight week.

DT Isaiah Buggs- it would really be something to see Buggs active one of these days. It just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now with all the defensive linemen healthy.

OT Chukwuma Okorafor- I wouldn’t be shocked if the Steelers would start carrying an extra lineman if they only have two tight ends available. But until they make that decision, Chuks is also the odd guy out.

WR Donte Moncrief- this will be a very telling week for Moncrief. If he is inactive again this week with really no reason other than being in Tomlin’s doghouse, this would be the first indication that he is on his way out of town.

Unlikely:

CB Justin Layne- I didn’t expect Lane to be active at all in 2019 unless a corner was injured. But with so many injuries at other positions, his special teams play has made it to where giving him a hat is not unreasonable.

Projected Inactive List:
  1. Roosevelt Nix
  2. Vince Williams
  3. Anthony Chickillo
  4. Vance McDonald
  5. Isaiah Buggs
  6. Fred Johnson
  7. Chuks Okorafor

For me, The decision came down to the final two spots with Buggs, Okorafor, and Moncrief. I was extremely tempted to give the extra spot to the lineman, but with only two tight ends, the Steelers might have more need of receiver then an extra blocker. Last week I didn’t expect Justin Layne to be active, so maybe the Steelers have another surprise in Week 4.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.

Why the NFL rule book desperately needs to be simplified

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 8:30am
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Watching NFL football games is a difficult task in today’s day and age. Why? Because no one really knows what the rules are...

In the aftermath of Thursday Night’s Eagles-Packers game, the NFL is buzzing about the newly reviewable pass interference penalties that were (or were not) fairly called. Packer’s coach Matt LaFleur says he doesn’t know what a PI call is anymore, and Mike Florio is even calling for Dean Blandino to come back to head officiating (as though NFL referees were perfectly on-point under his leadership).

Many of these discussions also point to an overturned DPI non-call which eventually went against the Steelers in their home opener against the Seattle Seahawks. The call was hugely consequential, extending a Seahawk scoring drive and potentially handing the game to Seattle. To watch the Steelers-Seahawks play, you might think the pass interference is clear and obvious, but not by the standards of the Packers-Eagles game twelve days later.

Meanwhile the NFL, as has been its habit, is neither admitting to its errors nor taking public steps to remedy them. Like LaFleur, we’re all left simply not knowing what constitutes pass interference at all.

It’s easy in moments like this, when individual judgment calls are obviously failing, to do like Florio, and demand that a more competent individual take over the reins, but the truth is that no one could successfully run the system as it is. Another solution that sometimes gets bandied about is to do away with replay and let the real-time officiating stand in all cases. I am more amenable to the opposite (allowing all penalties to be reviewed) but neither more nor less instant replay would solve this problem. Remember, it was dissatisfaction with the status quo that brought us to this point in the first place. Going back to the “old” ways won’t bring us fairness on the field.

Instead, my suggestion is that the league dramatically simplify the rule book, cutting out as many of the judgment calls as possible, and giving the officials less to worry about on the field, while making reviews much easier to resolve.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

One rule which has several moving parts, but is almost never disputed, is intentional grounding. In order for a pass to be intentional grounding, the quarterback must be under pressure, there must be no potential eligible receiver in the area, and the passer must still be within the pocket (defines as “between the tackles”) or the pass must not travel past the line of scrimmage. These stipulations are clear and total; they make the penalty obvious and they protect a quarterback from the misfortune of being penalized for simply throwing a bad pass while under duress. They are also easily discernible circumstances—clear in real-time, and also clear in review. Intentional grounding penalties are therefore easy to spot, and easy to agree on. There might be a slight judgment call as to what constitutes a receiver “in the area,” but even that is rarely challenged.

Because the rule is so clear, quarterbacks know how to avoid it—they know to escape the pocket if they don’t see an open receiver, and they know to look for an option downfield before throwing (to make sure the pass crosses the line of scrimmage and that they’ve slung it toward an eligible man). That means fewer yellow flags get thrown, but it also encourages better play. Just like the rules are supposed to. You don’t see too many intentional grounding penalties called, and even fewer argued against. Intentional grounding as a reviewable penalty makes perfect sense too. Coaches, players, referees, and fans all know exactly what they’re looking for and looking at. It is in this context that I’d like to see most penalties work.

Some rules could use this type of clarifying immediately, such as roughing the passer, pass interference, and what constitutes a catch. But I’d also like to see this same simplifying touch applied to commonplace penalties like holding (a move that seems to happen on every single play, but only gets flagged when officials decide to call it).

Some penalties would have to retain their ambiguity, I suppose. “Unnecessary Roughness” has a built-in vagueness to account for dozens of unrelated infractions. And it probably should.

But most on-field judgment calls are unnecessarily complicated. Bringing back Dean Blandino won’t solve that. Nor will hiring more full-time referees, eliminating instant replay, or adding more nuance to the rule book. Instead, this sport needs to be streamlined. Referees are too big a part of the game as it is. Clarify the rule book and you put the game itself back in the center, where it belongs.

Steelers Fact or Fiction: The perfect timing on the schedule edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 7:27am
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

After a bizarre start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, BTSC takes five bold statements surrounding the current state of the team and labels them as Fact or Fiction.

The Steelers have so many more questions that have arisen since the team stumbled to an 0-3 start to 2019 and a lot of fans and media have already closed the book on the season and their mind as well. Because of all of this, BTSC anticipates the storylines and issues bold statements regarding each one of them. Let’s take a look and deem them as fact or fiction.

The Eagles dropping of L.J. Fort will spell the end for Donte Moncrief Fact

When Philadelphia put the inside linebacker Fort on waivers, it immediately meant that the expected third-rounder the Steelers were counting on for Le’Veon Bell signing with the New York Jets would be forfeited. The reason for that is because the number of players signed and lost in free agency would be equal. A way to remedy that problem would be to waive Moncrief, who has disappointed greatly so far in Pittsburgh. I find it hard to believe that a player that was inactive last week due to his poor play in the first two weeks of the season that featured drop after drop, would be a priority to keep around over a valuable third round selection.

If the Steelers start 0-4, Mike Tomlin won’t last the season. Fiction

It’s not the Steelers style to fire coaches, let alone do it in during the regular season. Despite reports that Tomlin is on the hot seat, It is highly doubtful that the Rooneys would pull the trigger now.

Minkah Fitzpatrick’s impressive debut will calm the naysayers that say that the Steelers gave away too much to obtain the safety. Fiction

A lot of Steeler fans are gripping over losing what they believe may be a top-five selection and the next franchise quarterback. Fitzpatrick’s stellar debut featuring a forced fumble and an interception while thrilling and promising, won’t erase the single-mindedness of some fans that don’t understand that Fitzpatrick is a known commodity and that his production alone makes him a first rounder seven months early.

Vince Williams is much more valuable than recently given credit for. Fact

When the Steelers drafted Devin Bush and signed free agent Mark Barron, overwhelming sentiment seemed to surround the Steelers embracing a faster defense with less size. That particular proposal suggested a lot less playing time for Vince Williams. However, the Steelers defense is dreadful against the run and many are longing for the return of No. 98. Williams’ injury takes a big body that excels in stoping opposing rushers out of the lineup. Bush and Barron are struggling mightily in this arena. The Steelers need to see VinnyVidiVici back soon to lock down the middle of the field.

A game plan centered around Mason Rudolph’s abilities and not a recycled one is necessary going forward. Fact

Randy Fichtner’s unimaginative offense is a definite liability for the Steelers. While it seemed like the Steelers would tailor a plan to Rudolph’s skill set, it is obvious that the team is dusting off Ben Roethlisberger’s game plan. While No. 7 was more of an improvisational quarterback, Rudolph relies on precise reads and routes. Plus, the play action was barely used in the Roethlisberger offense, while the Steelers would benefit from relying on it more. The use of bubble screens are predictable and aren’t taking advantage of No. 2’s talents. If the Steelers would allow Rudolph to wing it downfield early, it could loosen things up for the offense.

Are these statements valid? We will soon see. What matters most is your opinions on the matter. Please state them in the comments below.

Podcast: What to expect from the Steelers vs. the Bengals in Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 6:30am

Answering questions and breaking down what to expect from the Steelers vs. the Bengals in Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3, and there is no hiding from such an elementary truth, but there is always hope on the horizon and it comes in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.

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

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

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

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

A scouting report, hype video and interviews to get your ready for Steelers vs. Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 5:25am
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

While the rest of the NFL plays in Week 4, you can use this space to get yourself ready for Monday Night Football.

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t play until Monday night when the Cincinnati Bengals come to Heinz Field for a Week 4 showdown. While prime time games are always exciting, it leaves you left to watch the rest of the league play on their regularly scheduled day/time.

With that said, it is worth taking a look at the upcoming opponent, and making sure you are prepared as a fan.

Some might suggest these two AFC North foes won’t have many surprises for the other on Monday night, but that might not be the case if you think about it.

Gone is Marvin Lewis, in is rookie head coach Zac Taylor.

Gone is Vontaze Burfict...that’s all for this one.

Ben Roethlisberger is hurt, and Mason Rudolph is the man with the plan now.

No more Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. There are many pieces of this puzzle which have changed since their Week 17 meeting in the 2018 season, so it seems fitting to help fans get acclimated with the 2019 version of the Bengals, and this new rivalry.

Check out all the information below, and feel free to use the comment section below as a space to talk about all the logistics of the Steelers’ first AFC North game of 2019.

Scouting Report with Bruce Gradkowski

.@bgradkowski5 talks with @missi_matthews about the Bengals' offense, our running game, and his keys to winning the game vs. Cincinnati.@SIRIUSXM pic.twitter.com/ZDLiluv514

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

Scouting the Bengals

.@DVEMike scouts the Bengals in this week's edition of Prisuta's Plays to Ponder. pic.twitter.com/eMeOmI3L46

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

Steelers vs. Bengals Hype Video

Monday night. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/ZKeauAY4C2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 29, 2019

Media Availability

.@Rudolph2Mason talks about getting comfortable in the offense, pushing the ball down the field, working with young wide receivers and more. pic.twitter.com/JBLdup8PkL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

.@N_Vannett81 talks to the media about coming to Pittsburgh, contributing and fitting in, getting a feel for the offense & more. pic.twitter.com/11zHnU03fi

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 26, 2019

Black and Gold Links: Steelers will have to keep an eye on Tyler Boyd on Monday night

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/29/2019 - 4:34am
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 4 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Cincinnati Bengals, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how if the Steelers want to claim their first victory they will need to keep the hometown kid, Tyler Boyd, in check on Monday Night Football.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Tyler Boyd is a Pittsburgh product, and will be a focal point of the Steelers’ defense in the Week 4 matchup vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bengals ‘count on’ big production from Tyler Boyd against hometown Steelers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Clairton native and Pitt product Tyler Boyd will return home Monday night with the Bengals and play at Heinz Field for the first time since the second game of his rookie season in 2016. He was not active for the past two matchups in Pittsburgh.

Boyd leads the Bengals with 24 receptions and is second with 250 receiving yards. His seven third-down catches that have resulted in first downs are tied for second among NFL receivers.

“Tyler has been a guy we could count on,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “We feel like we have other weapons at our tight end group, receiver group, running back, to help on third down as well. As it’s happened, he’s been the target on most of them. We feel like we can isolate any receiver, and they can win a one-on-one.”

Boyd had 76 catches for 1,028 yards in 2018 with 58 percent of his receptions resulting in first downs or touchdowns. The Bengals rewarded Boyd with a four-year, $43 million contract extension.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers have a very young receiving corps, and now a young quarterback to complete the battery. Will they be able to develop a rapport which equates to wins?

Young Steelers receivers trying to click with new QB Mason Rudolph

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It’s not lost on the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers that James Washington had a special on-field rapport with quarterback Mason Rudolph when they played together at Oklahoma State.

It would be hard to miss considering that with Rudolph throwing the football, Washington set school single-game and season records for yards per catch. That Washington had the highest yards-per-catch average among all FBS receivers as a senior at 20.9. Or that in his final season, he had 19 catches that went for 30-plus yards, 11 that were at least 40 yards and eight that surpassed 50.

“The connection he had with James in college,” JuJu Smith-Schuster said earlier in the week, “we’re trying to build that here with all of the receivers.”

The Steelers hope what transpired in the second half of their 24-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 represents a trend in that direction. Smith-Schuster turned a catch on a short crossing pattern into a 76-yard touchdown, and Diontae Johnson had a 39-yard touchdown catch. Even Washington, although limited to two catches for 14 yards, drew a 39-yard pass interference call against cornerback Jason Verrett on the play that preceded Johnson’s touchdown.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to make history vs. the Bengals on Monday Night Football.

Bengals look to avoid making history against the Steelers

By: Ben Baby, ESPN

Those around Cincinnati have let first-year Bengals coach Zac Taylor know the importance of the annual games against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“They’re pretty frank about it,” Taylor said this week.

If folks around town are pretty fed up, there’s a good reason. The Bengals are carrying an eight-game losing streak against the Steelers into Monday night’s game at Pittsburgh (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App). Should Cincinnati lose the contest between two of the NFL’s remaining winless teams and stretch the streak to nine, it will be the longest of its kind in franchise history.

And if there’s ever been a time to break the streak, Monday’s nationally televised game will be as good as any.

“Sometimes it takes one,” Taylor said of a potential victory against the Steelers, who like the Bengals are 0-3. “It just takes that first one to get it rolling. We’re hungry for that one and we desperately want it right now. The important thing is we don’t deviate, and we stay the course, and we know where we’re headed.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

.@Rudolph2Mason talks about getting comfortable in the offense, pushing the ball down the field, working with young wide receivers and more. pic.twitter.com/JBLdup8PkL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

.@missi_matthews breaks down Friday’s injury report, what Coach Fichtner, Coach Butler, and Mason Rudolph said during their media sessions and more. #SteelersLive pic.twitter.com/A5OhitTqRp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

✌️ more days. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/L4kg3MoJyY

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

Steelers Injury Report: One starter ruled out for Monday, another doubtful

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 2:45pm
photo: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Two key special teams players are also not able to play Monday against the Bengals due to injury

In the final practice of the week leading up to the Steelers Monday night match up against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4, Vance McDonald, Vince Williams, and Anthony Chickillo were unavailable for the third straight day. According to the Steelers PR Department, four players, including Roosevelt Nix, sat out of practice on Saturday.

As expected, Roosevelt Nix will miss his third straight game with a knee injury. Other players missing a second straight game will be Vince Williams with a hamstring and Anthony Chickillo with a foot injury. Both players did not play this past Sunday against the 49ers and will not see the field against the Bengals.

With Williams our again, Devin Bush and Mark Barron will be tasked with stepping up to stop the Bengals running attack. Although the Steelers are ranked 27th in the NFL against the run in 2019, the Bengals are last in the NFL in rushing yards with just 125 yards in three games.

As for Vance McDonald, he missed his third straight practice of the week and is listed as doubtful. In both 2018 and 2019, the Steelers have not dressed a player with a doubtful designation.

With McDonald most likely out on Monday, newly acquired TE Nick Vannett looks as if he will get the start in his first game with the Steelers. Much like his teammates, Vannett will play his second game of 2019 at Heinz Field, this time on the home sideline since his previous game he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks.

Reserve OLB Jayrone Elliott was a full participant in Saturday’s practice, but is still listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. After two straight practices as a full participant, Joe Haden does not even carry an injury status this week.

As for the Bengals injury report, according to Steelers.com, four players have been ruled out with another listed as doubtful. As expected, A.J. Greenwill miss Monday’s game along with OT Cordy Glenn who has yet to play in 2019 due to a concussion. Bengals’ DE Carl Lawsonis listed as doubtful and has not practiced all week.

Game Status

DE Kerry Wynn (Concussion) - Out

WR A.J. Green (Ankle) - Out

DT Ryan Glasgow (Thigh) - Out

OT Cordy Glenn (Concussion) - Out

DE Carl Lawson (Hamstring) - Doubtful

Saturday, September 28

DE Kerry Wynn (Concussion) - DNP

WR A.J. Green (Ankle) - DNP

DT Ryan Glasgow (Thigh) - DNP

DE Carl Lawson (Hamstring) - DNP

OT Cordy Glenn (Concussion) - DNP

OT Andre Smith (Hamstring) - Full

DE Sam Hubbard (Ankle) - Full

DE Carlos Dunlap (Hamstring) - Full

S Shawn Williams (Back) - Full

CB B.W. Webb (Forearm) - Full

G Michael Jordan (Knee) - Full

DE Andrew Brown (Cramps) - Full

CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Illness) - Full

How the Bengals offense will try and move the ball against the Steelers defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 12:28pm
Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Taking a look at how the Cincinnati offense will try to move the ball on the Steelers’ defense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping three staright games to start the season, they face a Bengals team who also searching for their first win of the regular season.

This isn’t a unique matchup for the Steelers. They know their AFC North rivals very well, but there are a lot of new faces on the Cincinnati side of things who haven’t been there during the Marvin Lewis era. So, I wanted to do was to get the lowdown on what the Bengals might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Cincy Jungle, SB Nation’s Bengals website, writer Patrick Judis to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this first of many installments, I asked Patrick what he thinks the Bengals will do when they have the ball and trying to move the ball on the Steelers’ defense. Check out his response:

Joe Mixon has shown some success against Pittsburgh over his short career. Unfortunately, coaching and injuries have limited him from having as big of an impact as he probably should’ve. After seeing signs of life from the running game last week, I think the Bengals try to feed their feature back a little bit more than in past season.

When the Bengals go to the air, it is a matter of if Andy Dalton will have time to set his feet on a consistent basis. It seems like left tackle Cordy Glenn may be closer to retirement than returning to a football as he still remains in concussion protocol from a concussion he suffered during the preseason. That leaves good ol’ Andre Smith at left tackle, which has been an adventure (to put it kindly). Expect plenty of Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, who had a career game last week, underneath. Also John Ross will either go off for over 150 yards or he will lay a goose egg. There is no in between.

It makes sense the Bengals might want to lean on the run more than the pass, especially considering the loss of their starting tackle, and the Steelers inability to stop the run over the first three weeks of the season.

The Steelers defense will have to try and make the Bengals as one dimensional as possible, and most would suggest forcing the game into Andy Dalton’s hands would be the best course of action to seeing success on the defensive side of the football. However, if they continue to struggle to stop the run, giving the Bengals the ability to both run and pass at will, then you can expect a similar defensive performance as the last three weeks. And that would include the overall result if they can’t stop the run.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Bengals in Week 4.

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking all the Week 4 games against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 11:05am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC’s Jeff Hartman and Dave Schofield pick all remaining NFL games both against the spread and over/under point totals

The first quarter of the NFL season is coming to a close. After Thursday night’s game, there are seven teams who have yet to lose a game while seven others have yet to achieve a win. With the first two teams having their byes this week, the NFL season now feels like it moving right along.

While Week 4 will give either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh their first win on Monday night, there are also two match ups of undefeated teams. The Patriots travel to the Bills as two 3-0 teams square off. Additionally, the 3-0 Chiefs roll into Detroit to take on the 2-0-1 Lions. Can either the Bills or Lions show they are for real in 2019? Will the Patriots and Chiefs show they are still the cream of the crop in the AFC?

For the 2019 NFL season, both Jeff Hartman and myself will be picking every game (except Thursdays) against the spread and the over/under point totals. Please remember we are not experts on betting or any kind of sports gamblers. We are just a couple of Steelers’ fans saying who we think will come through each week.

Last week, Jeff and I both struggled in picking games against the spread with each of us having only a 6-9 record. When it came to picking the over/under, Jeff finished better yet again at 8-6-1 as I was way behind him at 5-9-1.

So here are the picks for the 14 games this Sunday and Monday for Week 4 of the NFL season. Please feel free to list your choices in the comment section below and play along!

All selections are based off of the consensus data from oddsshark.com as of Friday night.

Crunching the Numbers: The Steelers’ perfect setup for a must win game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 9:53am
Photo: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Although Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season, history says the Steelers will still remain competitive

The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers are in trouble. Heading into Week 4 without a victory on the season, the Steelers are in a must-win game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on Monday night. While an 0-3 start has many Steelers’ fans discouraged, the fact the Steelers play Cincinnati in prime time at home does offer some encouragement.

Although historical stats do not guarantee anything when it comes to the Steelers getting their first win of 2019, it can show some possible trends. In this week’s installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at how NFL teams have fared starting 1-3 versus 0-4. Additionally, we’ll outline the encouraging stats of playing both the Cincinnati Bengals and on Monday Night Football at Heinz Field.

0%

Since 2000, there have been 59 teams who have started the season 0-4. Of those teams, none of them have made the playoffs. Only seven of those 59 teams managed to get to .500 or better to finish the season. The only team to ever start 0-4 in the history of the NFL and make the playoffs were the 1992 San Diego chargers who finished the rest of their season 11-1.

13.7%

As for teams who have started the season 1-3 since 2000, 19 of them have gone on to make the playoffs out of the 139 possible teams. That is 13.7% of the time a team who starts 1-3 goes on to make the playoffs. While those are not great odds, they are obviously better than the 0% of going 0-4. Additionally, since 1970 the Steelers have made the playoffs 25% of the seasons they began 1-3.

3-1

Since 1970, the Steelers have gone 0–3 to start a season four times. In those four seasons, they managed to win their next game on three occasions in 1970, 1986, and 2000. The only loss after a 0-3 start for the Steelers was in 2013 when they lost to the Minnesota Vikings in London 34-27.

For The remainder of the stats, we will be looking at the favorable matchup the Steelers have Monday night at Heinz Field. All things considered, it may be the best-case scenario of the perfect opponent on the perfect stage at a time when the Steelers really need a win.

8

The Steelers currently have an eight game winning streak against the Cincinnati Bengals including the playoffs. The last time the Steelers lost to Cincinnati was in 2015 when they fell 16–10 at Heinz Field. The Steelers have won 11 of their last 12 games against the Bengels dating back to 2013.

16

The Steelers have a current 16 home game winning streak on Monday Night Football dating back to 1991. The Steelers have also won 14 of their last 16 Monday night games regardless of where they were played. As for the Bengals, they have lost their last four games on Monday Night Football and have a seven-game road losing streak dating back to 1990.

23

Since 2000, the Steelers have faced a winless Bengals team in Week 4 or later three times. In those games, the Steelers are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 23 points. With the exception of their Week 7 win in 2000, the Steelers also have had a losing record entering their other two matchup’s against a winless Bengals team in 2002 and 2008.

So there are some numbers which lay out the importance of winning this week and the Steelers history with both the Cincinnati Bengals and Monday Night Football. But do these statistics against Cincinnati matter? Can the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers get back on the winning track in Week 4? Please leave your answers in the comments below!

A Letter From the Editor: With transactions, Steelers fans can’t have their cake and eat it too

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 8:42am
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When it comes to trades and transactions, fans have to realize they can’t have their cake and eat it too.

It has been a while since I have sat down and penned one of my Letter From The Editor articles, but I felt the time was right heading into Week 4. As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, I can’t help but think about how much this roster has changed since cut down day at the end of the preseason.

Gone are Joshua Dobbs, Jerald Hawkins and several rookies, but players are let go all the time. What has been truly unique about the early portions of this season have been the trades made to acquire talent.

In the last two weeks the team has shipped a 2020 first round pick, and others, to the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and most recently gave a 5th round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for tight end Nick Vannett.

To take a quick sidebar, in the six years I have been the editor of this fine establishment, I have become very good at putting my finger on the pulse of the fan base. When things are going bad, I could predict just how the majority of fans will react. There are some who are never happy, even after a Super Bowl win, but what I’ve realized the most after the past two weeks are the people who need to realize they can’t talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Every offseason when the new league year begins and free agency starts, you hear fans bemoaning the fact the Steelers aren’t big players in the free agency process. There are FanPosts written about how trades should happen because the Steelers should try to win now, and at all costs.

Now, some, not all, of those same people who are always wishing the Steelers were more aggressive when it comes to trades and acquisitions, are the same people who are filling the comment section with comments regarding the fact they feel the Steelers are selling their future by giving away so many draft picks.

Sure, giving up a first round pick isn’t an easy thing to stomach, but getting a proven commodity is certainly better than a gamble of any draft pick, even in the first round. If you are reading this, please understand this article isn’t written towards all fans. There are those who believe the team should be built through the draft, and trading away those assets should be a cautious practice. That’s fine, kudos to you for standing firm in your beliefs. Then there are those who think draft picks are nothing but ammunition to gain more talent for your team. That’s fine, kudos to you for standing firm in your beliefs.

But there are some who want both, and you can’t have it that way. You can’t build your team through the draft and be ultra aggressive in regards of acquiring talent. There might be some who think trades shouldn’t include draft picks, but player-for-player trades in the NFL are extremely rare in today’s game.

The other day during our Standard is the Standard podcast, we talked about the “Steelers Way”. We defined this way of running a team as building the team through the draft, and we followed it up with wondering if that way is officially dead.

I wouldn’t say it is dead, but the way of winning in the NFL is changing, and the game itself is changing with it. Fans want to compare today’s game to those 1970s teams, but those teams didn’t have to worry about free agency or a salary cap. In today’s day and age teams have to be aggressive in spots, and know when to sit back and just keep their draft picks.

The Steelers are doing just that. They have been extremely aggressive this season, especially with the Fitzpatrick trade, but we all know there have been times when the team has decided to take the conservative role when it comes to these decisions.

It may be difficult to stomach, but this current leadership team has seen a lot of success since 2007. It might not always have been pretty, but they have seen a level success only a few teams in the NFL have seen over that time period. I typically tend to trust the organization when it comes to these types of decisions. But like all things in today’s day and age, we should all take a wait-and-see approach. If Minkah Fitzpatrick becomes a staple in the back end of the secondary for over a decade, was the trade a bad one?

Let’s just wait to see how things pan out over time before drawing any conclusions...

Eagles release L.J. Fort, Steelers no longer eligible for 2020 compensatory pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 7:30am
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With Fort’s release, the Steelers no longer have a “net loss’ in the compensatory formula

It was a scenario I brought up in an article back in May. If one of the players who left the Steelers in free agency in the 2019 offseason were to be released before Week 10 of the NFL season, the Steelers might lose out altogether on a compensatory draft pick. Although the scenario seemed unlikely, it was put more to rest in August when it appeared that Le’Veon Bell, Jesse James, and L.J. Fort would all make their respective teams.

Not anymore.

On Friday, the Philadelphia Eagles released L.J. Fort, a move that will help them gain an extra compensatory pick while causing the Steelers to no longer enter into the formula.

Eagles have agreed to terms with CB Orlando Scandrick and released LB L.J. Fort.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 27, 2019

As a reminder for everyone, the way the compensatory formula works is a team must lose more eligible free agents than what they sign in a given offseason. Two of players the Steeler signed in 2019 did not factor into the formula. Mark Barron did not count because he was released by the Los Angeles Rams therefore he was not lost due to free agency. Additionally, Johnny Holden was in the same situation as well as being signed after the deadline two weeks after the NFL draft.

For the 2019 off-season, the Steelers lost three eligible players (Bell, James, and Fort) while they signed CB Steven Nelson and WR Donte Moncrief. Once a team is determined to have a “net loss” in eligible players, the round of a compensatory draft pick is determined by canceling players based on their round of designation. At the moment, all of these designations are estimated based on the yearly averaged salary of the players new contract because the other factors of playing time and postseason awards cannot be determined until after the season.

The Steelers had been predicted to be in line for a third-round choice because the signing of Steven Nelson was not designated in a high enough round to cancel Le’Veon Bell. Therefore Nelson canceled the loss of Jesse James and Moncrief canceled the loss of L.J. Fort.

While some people’s first thought may be Fort being the bottom man should not really affect the formula. But remember, it all comes back to players lost versus players gained. The only way the NFL can award a compensatory pick when there was not a net loss was if they determined a team to have an excess loss in value compared to value gained. For example, if a team were to lose two third-round compensatory value players while only signing two seventh-round players, the league could award a compensatory pick of whatever value they determine. Unfortunately, even with Le’Veon Bell holding a third-round value it appears there is not enough of an imbalance for the league to step in.

So what can the Steelers do to continue to be in line for a third-round compensatory pick? There is really only one solution: release Steve Nelson or Donte Moncrief before week 10.

In the article cited above, I made the case for the Steelers needing to cut Moncrief if the worst case scenario came about. When asking the opinion of those here at BTSC, it was an overwhelming opinion that Moncrief’s value to the team was more important then a third-round draft pick next year.

Enter the 2019 season.

After several trades, the Steelers no longer possess a first-round selection for 2020. Add in the fact the Steelers had already given up their third-round pick in trading up for Devin Bush, the only third-round selection the Steelers were believed to have was of the compensatory variety. What seem to not be a very important pick in May now seems much more important in September.

Additionally, Moncrief’s production has been less than stellar when stating it in the most positive way. Three catches for 7 yards on 11 targets does not paint a very good picture, especially when his last target resulted in an interception instead of a first down. Add the fact Moncrief was not active for the Steelers Week 3 game in San Francisco, his roster spot may be very much in jeopardy at this point.

If Moncrief was contributing in any positive way for the Steelers, I would say to forget about the draft pick and focus on winning now. But if Moncrief is going to not even be active on game day, why bother keeping their most-expensive receiver on the sidelines? While releasing Moncrief would carry a $1.75 million dead money hit this season and next, it would also save over $1 million towards the salary cap in 2019.

So what would you do? Playing Steelers GM for a day, would you release Donte Moncrief in order to keep your third-round compensatory selection? Would you make the move now when the decision would be much easier, or would you wait until Week 10 until you had to make the final decision in hopes that Moncrief’s production would increase? Please leave your thoughts below!

Podcast: The Steelers need to keep it simple by running the ball, and stopping the run

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 6:30am

In a brand new show titled ‘Yeah, I said it’, we talk about some burning topics surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their third straight game in San Francisco in Week 3, many black-and-gold fans are screaming from the tree tops regarding what the team needs to do to get back in the win column. Some are suggesting a change in position for some players, and cutting others, but Lance Williams is here to say why the team should just keep it simple heading into their Week 4 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

This is where the newest BTSC podcast “Yeah, I Said It” comes in. My co-host on ‘The Standard is the Standard’, Lance Williams tells fans why the recipe for success doesn’t have to be complicated.

Time to deliver the goods on the latest show.

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!

Check out the audio below:

Feel free to give us your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below, and don’t forget to follow us on all our audio platforms by following the links below:

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

Pittsburgh Steelers well represented in the first episode of the NFL’s Top 100 games list

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 5:32am
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The NFL Network is listing their Top 100 plays, and the Steelers have been well represented so far on the list.

The NFL Network is done with their Top 100 plays list, but are now currently doing a Top 100 games in NFL history to coincide with the commemoration of the NFL’s 100th season.

This list has been going from 100 to 1, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been well represented throughout the early portions of the list to date. There are plenty of plays from the dynasty of the 1970s, but more modern day Steelers have made their mark on the list too.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the show, or you don’t want to sift through all the other plays and just want to see the Steelers plays, you can check out the videos are below. Some are longer than others, but every single play is worth watching.

In fact, some of these plays bring up some tremendous memories as a fan, and some were nightmares which eventually turned out okay for the black-and-gold...I think you know what play I’m talking about.

Check these out:

3️⃣ interceptions
3️⃣ sacks
2️⃣3️⃣-1️⃣4️⃣ win over Baltimore

Coming in at #98 on the #NFL100 Greatest Games countdown: the 2008 AFC Championship game vs. the Ravens. pic.twitter.com/MsNfRqBZlS

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

This game was SUPER

Coming in at #️⃣9️⃣2️⃣ on the #NFL100 Greatest Games countdown: Super Bowl XIV. pic.twitter.com/W9S4yWjqXx

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

Checking in at #️⃣8️⃣9️⃣ on the #NFL100 Greatest Games countdown:

January 15, 2006
AFC Divisional Round Game#Steelers 21, Colts 18 pic.twitter.com/3ldgnr6vl2

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

‍♂️

#87 on the #NFL100 Greatest Games countdown ➡️ 1995 AFC Championship vs. the Colts. pic.twitter.com/farMwRXe8E

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 28, 2019

Black and Gold Links: Mason Rudolph thinks he should be more aggressive, but is that a good thing?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/28/2019 - 4:38am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving into Week 4 of the NFL regular season, and as the team prepares for the Cincinnati Bengals, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Mason Rudolph realizes he could have been more aggressive vs. the 49ers, and declares to be aggressive vs. the Bengals on Monday night. But is this a good thing?

Let’s get to the news:

  • Rudolph wants to be more aggressive. This could be good and bad...

Steelers’ Mason Rudolph: ‘I could have been a little more aggressive’ against 49ers

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Until Mason Rudolph threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 39-yard score to Diontae Johnson in the second half, the Pittsburgh Steelers scheme last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers was more generic than a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Passes consisted of screens, quick outs and short crossing routes. The longest play through the first 40 minutes was a 10-yard gain by tight end Vance McDonald. Of Rudolph’s 14 completions overall, only the two touchdowns were on passes thrown more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.

It gave the appearance of a dumbed-downed, conservative game plan drawn up for a second-year quarterback making his first NFL start.

But offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner insisted Friday that the Steelers didn’t intentionally prohibit the record-setting passer from Oklahoma State from stretching the field with deep passes.

“We had some opportunity. We had some throws for shots,” Fichtner said. “If you don’t connect or throw them, it never really materializes.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Are you still believing in the Steelers? This article is a downer then...

Mark Madden: It takes a cockeyed optimist to like Steelers’ chances

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you’re thinking rationally, you know the Steelers’ chances of significant accomplishment this season lie in a bloody heap.

Being 0-3 is the head of the spear. Ben Roethlisberger being out for the year twists the knife.

Either of those facts bodes poorly. Combine them, and it’s time to get an Uber to Palookaville. No return trip.

But what fun is thinking rationally?

Optimism springs eternal, or at least until about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

After all, the Steelers acquired Ronnie Lott Jr. (Minkah Fitzpatrick) to play free safety.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • What will the playbook look like for the Steelers in Week 4? According to Randy Fichtner, a lot of deep passes.

Steelers OC: We’ve got to throw the ball down the field

By: Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers threw a lot of short passes during Mason Rudolph‘s first start at quarterback last week, but it doesn’t sound like that was exactly the game plan that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner drew up against the 49ers.

Rudolph hit Dionte Johnson for a 39-yard touchdown in the second half and JuJu Smith-Schuster turned a 12-yard pass into a 76-yard touchdown, but the offense was otherwise unsuccessful when the ball traveled a long way through the air. Fichtner was asked about a lack of deep throws during a Friday media session and said that there were opportunities to do so early that Rudolph didn’t take.

“We were able to go down the field early,” via Josh Rowntree of KDKA. “You’ve got to throw them. You’ve got to throw it. You’ve got to attempt to throw it there.”

Fichtner went on to say that he wasn’t second-guessing Rudolph because many things come into play for a quarterback deciding whether to pull the trigger. Rudolph didn’t disagree with Fichtner when the same topic came up during his own press conference.

to read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Mason Rudolph Media Scrum

.@Rudolph2Mason talks about getting comfortable in the offense, pushing the ball down the field, working with young wide receivers and more. pic.twitter.com/JBLdup8PkL

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019
  • Social Media Madness

.@missi_matthews breaks down Friday’s injury report, what Coach Fichtner, Coach Butler, and Mason Rudolph said during their media sessions and more. #SteelersLive pic.twitter.com/A5OhitTqRp

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

One step closer to Monday.

MORE : https://t.co/9y3ZQzDpPq pic.twitter.com/3tneWII0LA

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 27, 2019

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