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Ben Roethlisberger’s return has Steelers fans brimming with hope

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/11/2020 - 9:50am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger is waiting on approval to reload his refurbished sidearm and ride in on his trusted steed to save the Steelers 2020 season. Hopefully!

Hope is a necessity of life. If you take away someone's hope, you take away everything from that individual. If you have no hope, then why even try? That makes hope a precious commodity. Thankfully for the Pittsburgh Steelers, hope is on the way.

When Ben Roethlisberger was injured in the first half of the second game of the season against the Seattle Seahawks; I was obviously concerned, but I still had hope. Hope that the injury wouldn't be too severe. It was obvious to everyone watching that it was an elbow injury, but maybe it wouldn't be season ending. I was still holding out hope, against all odds.

Once we learned the tragic news, any hope of adding a seventh Lombardi Trophy to the trophy case was lost. I quickly adjusted my mindset and my expectations. I was consigned that the Steelers were going to have a losing season, but I was more concerned with the overall effort of the players and their consistent growth as a team. That way I could still have hope, even if winning games wasn't one of them.

A funny thing happened on the way as the Steelers played out the rest of the season. Thanks to a ridiculously favorable midseason schedule, after a tough opening quarter of a season, the Steelers went on a surprise winning streak. They were doing just enough on offense to eke out each victory, thanks to a rapidly improving defense that was bordering on dominant. But in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the clock struck midnight and the Steelers playoff hopes turned back into a pumpkin.

So why, after all the disappointment associated with last season, am I so filled with hope heading into the start of the off season? I see alot to be hopeful about in the Steelers near future.

Hopefully the upcoming 2020 NFL Scouting Combine will revel plenty of talented young prospects at various areas of need for the Steelers, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There are always surprises during each stage of the process: whether it's a prospect failing to meet expectations during the physicals, or not quite cutting the mustard in the individual drills. Fortunes will rise and fall over tenths of a second and fractions of an inch in many cases. The teams that can best identify the hidden gems from this plethora of information oftentimes find themselves competing on Super Sunday. The Steelers had a strong draft class last year, which gives me hope they can do it again.

Decisions made concerning Bud Dupree and the transactions that would be required to retain his services will determine the Steelers activity level in free agency. They will either need to look for mid level talent on team friendly deals at areas of need after being forced to make necessary roster cuts, or they can focus some newly found cap space toward strengthening the offense if unable to tag or resign Dupree. The three main free agent additions last year yielded varying results. Steven Nelson was a tremendous addition: Mark Barron's underwhelming production didn't measure up to his salary: Donte Moncrief was a complete disaster. Hopefully the Steelers can find more Nelsons, and less Moncriefs this off season.

Easily the biggest reason for my unbridled optimism toward next season for the Pittsburgh Steelers has to be the expected healthy return of Ben Roethlisberger. Many athletes, especially those blessed with elite arm talent, have returned from various elbow surgeries to resume highly productive careers. Ben has always possessed a superior throwing arm, complimenting a warriors mentality.

Standing tall in the pocket, eyes focused downfield while a three hundred pound defensive lineman hangs on his back, trying in vain to prevent a completion downfield. Say what you want, but Ben Roethlisberger in no way resembles the over protected QBs that the great Jack Lambert once famously stated should all be wearing dresses. Even in a league presently blessed with extremely mobile QBs, or maybe because of that mobility, it is extremely rare to see a QB with the intestinal fortitude to stand tall in the pocket till the last split second to complete a huge throw downfield, all while staring down the barrel at a rapidly approaching pass rusher with bad intentions.

Ben Roethlisberger is not just a future Hall of Fame QB: he is a football player. Ben lead the Steelers to the 2008 Super Bowl title behind one of the worst offensive lines ever for a Super Bowl champion. His level of toughness makes him a throwback to a bygone era. Just ask the Baltimore Ravens, players like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. They respected the way Ben plays the game as much as they hated competing against him.

That is the biggest reason I am so encouraged about the Steelers chances of returning to a position of prominence and the playoffs in 2020. Ben Roethlisberger will be back at the helm for his Pittsburgh Steelers, health permitting.

Steelers Nation can only hope to be so lucky.

Breaking down Diontae Johnson’s rookie season, Part 1: The Statistics

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/11/2020 - 7:47am
Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

Diontae Johnson had a really good rookie season. How good? Let’s look at the numbers.

Diontae Johnson was a surprise pick to most people on draft day. He wasn’t a standout at the combine or on anyone’s list of top receivers. Worse, he wasn’t being talked about as a potential steal, nor did he have any videos of him going viral in sports media. In a class with a lot of WRs receiving a lot of hype, that made him a nobody.

His film showed a lot of promise though, showing a similar style to Antonio Brown (an elusive, quicker-than-fast route runner with good catch radius) that probably fell off the radar because of the turmoil at QB he experienced in his senior season before injury set him back even further.

If you are interested in my views on Diontae Johnson’s college film, I did a three part fan post series on him in late May and early June of last year. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) If you read any of them you will be able to tell that his film impressed me a lot and I had high expectations for the young WR in his rookie season. Now that the season is over, we are going to take a look at how good of a season it was.

Diontae Johnson vs. his teammates

First up, the team receiving totals for 2019.

This chart shows normal stats as well as a metric of my own.

MVR: Compares receiver production to team production to help show what receivers were more important to their team, helps show good receivers on teams that don’t throw a lot. Formula: (Rec. Yards/Team pass attempts + Rec. TDs/Team passing TDs)
Impact: Compares yards gained per snap to team yards per snap, takes into account both time missed and percentage of run plays. Formula: (Rec. Yards/Off. Snaps/Team passing yards/Total team off. plays)

Diontae Johnson was the Steeler’s second leading receiver by yards and led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving TDs. He led Steeler WRs in snaps played (largely due to injuries from other players) as well as targets per snap played. If you go out to 4 decimal places Diontae Johnson is #1 in MVR as well.

While Diontae Johnson was #2 in receiving yards, if you look at each game, Johnson only led the Steelers in receiving 3 times, all in the last 4 weeks of the season. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the team 5 times, James Washington 5 times, Diontae Johnson 3 times, James Conner twice and Jaylen Samuels once.

Diontae Johnson was the #2 WR in the first half of the season, behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, and in the second half, was the #2 WR behind James Washington until the very end of the season when James Washington struggled and JuJu Smith-Schuster returned but was ineffective. The last quarter of the season Diontae Johnson would lead the Steelers in yards (100 more than James Wshington in second place) and in TDs (with 2 of the 3). Johnson’s 2.83 MVR for the last 4 games of the season are a pro-bowl level number, and that only takes into account the number of passes thrown and Johnson’s effectiveness. MVR2, which adjusts for the effectiveness of the passing game puts Johnson’s last 4 games of 2019 at a 3.46, a higher MVR than any NFL player had over the course of the 2019 season.

Don’t read too much into 4 games, but it points out just how good Diontae Johnson was in those 4 games compared to the rest of the Steelers passing game. Johnson was still producing, while the rest of the team wasn’t.

Diontae Johnson was never the #1 focus of the opposing team, and that allowed him to produce all season long as a reliable supporting piece.

Diontae Johnson vs. his draft class

Diontae Johnson was the 66th player drafted in 2019, the 10th WR. Johnson ended the season ranked 6th in receptions and 7th in TDs. When the Steelers offense is taken into account, he ranks even better.

Top rookie WRs from 2019.

Diontae Johnson ranks 5th in MVR among all rookie receivers, and in MVR2, which was designed to account for the exact kind of situation Diontae Johnson faced this season, when injuries to two QBs and the teams #1 WR greatly limited the effectiveness of the offense, ranks him 4th, behind the three rookie WRs that really broke out as rookies, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin and D.K. Metcalf.

Comparing an entire draft class is not easy, but one easure that is pretty good is Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value (AV). Diontae Johnson’s 2019 season earned a 6 AV, which ranks him in a tie with a bunch of other players that rank between 27th and 40th overall. One season is far too early to judge a career, but in his rookie season Diontae Johnson got off to a very good start, playing like a borderline first round player.

Diontae Johnson vs. history

While comparing rookies after one year is rightfully scorned as being too early to make a real judgement, look at the top rookie WR seasons over the last 5 years.

That’s every rookie WR that gained 600+ yards from 2015 to 2019. The first thing you should take away from it is that almost every single one of the receivers on that list is still producing for their team. The odds that Diontae Johnson won’t be a productive WR for at least several years are now incredibly low. there are a lot of very good supporting WRs on that list, and a good number of WRs who lead their team in receiving.

Another thing you should take away is how many of those WRs were on really good passing teams their first season. If you sort by Diff. (the change from MVR to MVR2) Diontae Johnson ranks third, showing how poorly his team’s offense compares to other offenses represented on the list.

Lastly, here’s the top Steeler Rookie WRs since the merger.

Diontae Johnson ranks among the best rookie seasons in team history. Interestingly, the truly great WRs in Steeler history all had really poor stats in their rookie season.

Conclusion

Diontae Johnson had a great rookie season, one that compares well against the better rookie seasons in recent NFL history and Steeler history. But while Johnson was a productive WR, and a highly productive WR when you consider the offense he was playing in, he was not the Steelers top receiving threat and was never the player the opposing team schemed to.

Looking historically Diontae Johnson’s production is a very good sign that he will be a productive receiver going forward, without really putting a ceiling on his potential.

From just looking at stats we get the impression of Diontae Johnson being a WR who will be productive in the NFL, but most likely as a #2 or a 1A type of receiver. In the other part of this review we will review his film for the season and look at his strengths, areas he needs to improve and his fit in the offense going forward.

Analyzing the repercussions of the NFL’s proposed 17-game schedule

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/11/2020 - 6:28am
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Ramon Foster is the Steelers NFLPA rep, how do you want him to vote?

I have been waiting to write an article about the NFLPA voting on the new CBA that’s centerpiece is moving to a 17-game schedule. The players were expected to vote last Thursday at an undisclosed location — the strange thing is, there has not been any leaks about the vote. Putting all that speculation aside and even other parts of the CBA — let’s focus on the 17-game schedule and what that might entail and even look like.

Key aspects
  • The NFL would add one more game would be added for each team.
  • The NFL would reduce the number of preseason games. By how many is still being speculated upon.
  • Adding another bye week during the season.

One more game for each team looks great on paper for fans, but it also creates one enormous issue. It is an unbalanced schedule. Sixteen teams would get nine home games while the other 16 would only get eight. Not a big deal, you say? If Baltimore plays nine games at home and the Steelers only play eight and down the stretch Baltimore gets more home games, Pittsburgh fans would cry foul.

If teams can only have eight home games, where does the odd game get played? That is where things can get very interesting.

Reports have London as probably getting a full eight-game schedule. In 2019, games played in London averaged the eighth most fans in attendance of all NFL stadiums. Before you shoot down games played outside of the United States, look at the history. The very first regular-season game played outside of the U.S. was played in 1926 in Toronto. From 1948 until 2005, there were 60 exhibition games or similar games played outside of the country. In 2005, the first modern-day regular-season game was played in Mexico City in front of over 103,000 fans.

Since 2007, at least two regular season games have been played outside of the U.S. each season and 17 played (one was relocated back to Los Angles due to poor field conditions) since 2015. In 2019, the league played a record five regular-season games outside of America with four in London and one in Mexico City.

Could Mexico City see a full eight games? Possibly, but the chatter is not going in that direction. The chatter is some games will be played there while they will play others at neutral venues such as South Bend, Alabama, Hawaii, Canada and possibly many other cities that have sufficiently sized college stadiums.

Think of the Steelers playing the Philadelphia Eagles each year in Beaver Stadium at Penn State with over 106,000 screaming fans. Both fans would love to have an annual rivalry such as this. But would it happen or would the NFL prefer facing off against other teams based on how they finished the previous season? Personally, I would like to see geographical rivalries, but this might not be realistic.

Fans, coaches, and players all have varying reasons for liking or disliking preseason games. The die-hard fans love them while casual fans might catch a highlight or two. Veteran players may fear them because of the risk of injury while the undrafted rookie, out of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, might try to make a name for himself. Coaches like them so they can get to see injured veterans return to action, young players how they handle themselves in live game situations, and getting their coaching staff to work together.

I have seen mentioned that the preseason could be cut by one or by two games. If I really had to guess, I would say it would get cut by two.

Adding a second bye week during the season could make things very interesting but also complicated for numerous reasons. Hopefully, the league will look back at 1993 when the league intentionally had two bye weeks. The bye weeks ran from Week 3 through Week 12.

  • When will the bye weeks start and end?
  • Will bye weeks be tied to playing on Thursday nights?
  • Will bye weeks be tied to playing outside of the US?
  • Could a team have two bye weeks in a row or even two out of three weeks they will not play?
  • Will bye weeks help or hurt a team and their momentum?
  • How much influence will television networks have?

The greatest influence on the above aspects would be from the networks. In 2993, the networks took a beating to their ratings. Below is a great quote by Peter King outlining the issue with the networks, keeping in mind there were only 28 teams.

The problem: The double byes are a double disaster. A second bye week was added this season in order to stretch the network TV schedule to 18 weeks. The bonehead result was that there were as few as 10 games per weekend through the first two months of the season, not 14. Fewer games, fewer chances for good games, obviously. Another by-product of the double bye: With so much time off between games, teams fall out of sync. “We beat Minnesota, and we were ready to roll,” says 49er quarterback Young. “Then we had to pick our noses for two weeks before playing Dallas.” The result: Dallas 26, San Francisco 17. The 49ers are 1-3 after bye weeks over the last three years, 30-8 without a week off.

The additional game per team is driven by an expected $1 billion in revenue that will be divided up between owners and players. The players say that the biggest aspect is safety. While this may be true, how the money is split between the two factions is a close second. With this being the biggest item on the owners wish list, will the owners bend on other aspects to ensure this gets done? Hopefully, soon we will have an answer to this and a positive one at that which will avert any kind of work stoppage.

Podcast: The Steelers positives strongly outweigh the negatives

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/11/2020 - 5:24am

Join Bryan and Tony with offseason Steeler talk, strengths outweighing weaknesses, the running backs and the XFL in the latest edition of the Steelers Hangover.

The Steelers 2019 season is thankfully a memory now and it’s time to officially look ahead. There’s been plenty of talk about all the improvements that the Steelers need to make, but some feel the strengths still outweigh the weaknesses. Join Tony and Bryan as they discuss this and more.

In case you are new to the show, you can check out a complete rundown of the show below:

  • The XFL
  • The Steelers Running Back corps...what road do you go down?
  • The Steelers positives strongly outweigh the negatives.
  • Live chat Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Predictions state the Steelers could be targeting a veteran QB in 2020

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 02/11/2020 - 4:31am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at a bold prediction made by ESPN regarding the Steelers’ QB situation heading into the 2020 regular season.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Pittsburgh Steelers say they are fine with Mason Rudolph, and the rest of their quarterbacks, heading into 2020. But what if they decided to add a veteran to their depth chart?

Bold offseason predictions for all 32 NFL teams: Gurley trade, QBs on move

By: ESPN Writers

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers will add a veteran quarterback to the roster.

Even if he’s not one who has been in the system for a decade, an experienced signal-caller could have solved many of the issues that arose when Ben Roethlisberger went down and they were left with Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges. The Steelers should be able to fix some of those issues with the hiring of new QBs coach Matt Canada, but adding a veteran to the room is a smart insurance policy. — Brooke Pryor

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • William Shakespeare wasn’t just an author. He was also a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Shakespeare was first for the Steelers

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

On this day in Steelers history the team selected their first ever draft pick, William Shakespeare, but there’s more to it.

February 8, 1936

Back William Shakespeare selected in the first round of the NFL Draft

When you hear the name William Shakespeare, it’s only natural you think about the historic English poet and playwright from the late 1500s to early 1600s who is frequently quoted to this day.

But there is another William Shakespeare, one maybe not as well known in literary circles, but one who is known in the history of the Steelers.

William ‘Bill’ Shakespeare was the first player ever drafted by the Steelers. Shakespeare, who was an All-American halfback and punter at Notre Dame, was the Steelers first round pick in the 1936 NFL Draft, which was the first official NFL Draft.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Was the decline of the NFL written in a 1980 book?

1980 book predicted the looming death of football

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

There’s been plenty of talk about the decline of football. It’s not new. Indeed, it’s at least 40 years old.

Earlier this week, when discussing the Championship Throw That Wasn’t from Super Bowl LIV, I remembered Championship Throw That Was from Super Bowl XIV. I specifically remembered the photo of Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw’s pinpoint pass that Rams defensive back Rod Perry nearly batted away but that landed in the arms of receiver John Stallworth, who caught the ball in full stride for a 73-yard touchdown while the Steelers trailed 19-17 in the fourth quarter of a game played in front of more than 100,000 spectators at the Rose Bowl.

The image of Stallworth ready to corral the throw, with Perry’s blurred right hand obscuring the “I” in Sports Illustrated, continues to be one of the most powerful and iconic of the Super Bowl era. Curious as to whether my copy of the issue was still floating around in the attic over the garage, I accepted the challenge of sifting through the various places it possibly could be, and I found it without much sweat or frustration.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

“Troy! What are you doing?!”

Bill Cowher tells @wyche89 a story about how smart and unique of a player @tpolamalu was on the field for the @steelers pic.twitter.com/NTlE8Gz9JG

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 10, 2020

#OTD in 1982, Hall of Famer Joe Greene retired.

MORE: https://t.co/VYmUHXzTJc pic.twitter.com/AbdIOzviYG

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 10, 2020

The 84th Annual Dapper Dan Dinner & Sports Auction

This evening, @CamHeyward, Coach Tomlin and Bill Hillgrove will be honored at the event! pic.twitter.com/3YWDhV0Otc

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 10, 2020

If you take one player off any other team, and put them on the Steelers, who would it be?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 2:15pm
Could you imagine a safety duo of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jamal Adams? | Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Who would you dream to see play for the Black and Gold?

Could you imagine the dominance a defensive front featuring Nick Bosa and T.J. Watt could achieve? Or what about about Jamal Adams roaming the defensive backfield with Minkah Fitzpatrick? Well we'd probably have a better chance winning the lottery...twice.

We all share a common love of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I'm sure most of us will watch a game and think to ourselves “I wish (Insert name here) played for us”.

Now it would be easy to slap Patrick Mahomes name in the comments and go on with your day. But what if we focused on every position outside of QB. And that player doesn't even have to be a superstar, just your favorite player you'd like to see play for the Steelers.

I’ll give you two names. New York Jets safety, Jamal Adams and how about an obscure pick in 49ers fullback, Kyle Juszczyk.

The thought of Jamal Adams and Minkah Fitzpatrick terrorizing wide-outs and the week of prep they'd present for opposing Quarterbacks would be a dream come true. It’s like imagining a new-era Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed playing for the same team. Could you imagine how many turnovers they'd force?!

It doesn't help that the Jets were rumored to be shopping the All-Pro safety or that when CBS sports played a game with Adams that generated who someone’s ‘True NFL team is’. and Adams landed on the Steelers he remarked “Ooh, that's not bad” and smirked in the image below...

Screen shot: TikTok/CBSSports Adams reacted positively when told his true team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

...Yeah, I’m a dreamer.

And secondly I’d love to see Kyle Juszczyk line up in Pittsburgh because of how much of a threat he is coming out of the backfield. Seemingly he’s good for at least one 40 yard reception, on a wheel route, every game! He’s a great lead blocker and is A FULLBACK THAT CAN RUN THE ENTIRE ROUTE TREE!!

So who's your favorite non-Steeler? who's one guy that you’d love come play in Pittsburgh? Let us know in the comments!

Steelers Power Rankings: Greatest Steelers not to get the call to the Hall

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 1:00pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

BTSC ranks the eligible Steelers that aren’t enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a rich history and a strong and steely presence in Canton, Ohio. With Bill Cowher, Donnie Shell and Troy Polamalu joining the 25 other Hall of Famers to represent the “Black-and-Gold” as enshrinees in August, there are still more legendary Steelers deserving of the honor. BTSC ranks the eligible men (that excludes Antonio Brown and James Harrison) who they consider deserving of having their images bronzed for eternity.

1. L.C. Greenwood Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The man with the golden shoes wore them to prevent mistaken identity. PA announcers would credit Joe Greene for some of Greenwood’s tackles, so to correct that, he would lift his legs in the air every time he made a play in order to get his proper due. The man known as “Hollywood Bags” is not in the Hall of Fame, but truly deserves to be. In 13 seasons with the Steelers, the 6’6” Greenwood was a dominant member of the Steel Curtain. He was named to six Pro Bowls and was honored twice as an All-Pro. His 73.5 (unofficial) sacks has him second on the Steeler career list, 4.5 of them came in one 1979 game against the Browns and another four came in Super Bowl X. L.C. is a member of the Steelers’ All-Time Team and the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team. He passed away at age 67. He wasn’t among the finalists for the recent centennial class, but could still get in on a veteran vote posthumously down the road.

2. Alan Faneca Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Faneca is one of the best offensive lineman in team history. In 10 seasons with the Steelers, Faneca was a seven-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro. Alan also was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2000s and the Steelers 75th Aniversary team. One of the defining plays of Faneca’s career was the pulling-block to spring Willie Parker on his 75-yard touchdown ramble in the 21-10 victory over Seattle in Super Bowl XL. Down by more than 100 pounds since his playing days, Faneca looks far from the player who wore No. 65 and 66 in Pittsburgh. Al is on the verge of Canton and could earn HOF recognition in the very near future when there aren’t three others and Steve Hutchinson getting in.

3. Bill Nunn Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Nunn, a sports editor at the Pittsburgh Courier, voiced his frustration to Dan Rooney regarding players from historical black colleges being overlooked by the NFL. Rooney agreed and hired Nunn as a part-time talent evaluator for the team in 1967, where he hooked-on full time in 1969 and remained for 46 seasons. Nunn is more responsible than most for the success of one of the NFL’s greatest franchises. Players he scouted include Hall of Famers John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, Donnie Shell from South Carolina State and Southern’s Mel Blount. Others include L.C. Greenwood from Arkansas AM&N, Grambling Tiger Frank Lewis, Dwight While from Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas Southern’s Ernie Holmes and Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State.

4. Hines Ward Photo by Albert Dickson/Sporting News via Getty Images

With 1,000 career receptions, Ward is tops all-time when listing the best Steeler receivers and 14th all-time in league lore. His 12,083 receiving yards ranks him 23rd in NFL history. One of the most popular players to wear the black-and-gold, Hines was a devastating blocker when he didn’t have the ball. The 14-year veteran was a four-time Pro Bowler, a three-time All-Pro, a two-time Super Bowl champ and the Super Bowl XL MVP. A member of the Steelers All-Time Team, the Dancing With The Stars-Mirror Bowl winner also wore #86 and scored a touchdown for the Gotham Rogues in The Dark Knight Rises. Hines may get in down the road, but like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth...will probably be forced to wait a long while.

5. Rocky Bleier Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The four-time Super Bowl champion is also a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient. After his rookie season, Bleier was drafted into the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam where a grenade blew off part of his foot. While recovering, Bleier received a note of encouragement from the Chief, Art Rooney Sr. A year later, the Rock returned and became an important cog in the Steelers’ offensive machine. Bleier retired after the 1980 season with 3,865 rushing yards, 136 receptions for 1,294 yards and 25 touchdowns. In my mind, this guy is Hall of Fame...but the lack of numbers will unfortunately keep him far away.

6. Heath Miller

Miller defined the tight end position in Pittsburgh. The first rounder in 2005 served as Ben Roethlisberger’s safety valve in the passing game. Twice a Pro-Bowler, his 592 career receptions rank him first in franchise history at the position and eighth all-time among NFL Tight Ends. Heath, who retired prior to the 2016 season, sits at third in team history in receptions and fourth with 6,569 receiving yards.

7. Greg Lloyd Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The man who once wore a t-shirt that read “I wasn’t hired for my disposition” was a difference-maker on defense. The dominance of Greg Lloyd was first apparent when he three-counted out Pat Ryan, a Jets quarterback, in 1989. Lloyd, the leader of the famed “Blitzburgh” defense of the 1990s, ranks eighth among all-time team leaders with 53.5 sacks and second with 15 fumble recoveries. The five-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and two-time Steelers MVP is a member of Pittsburgh’s All-Time Team. His partner in crime in the mid-90s, Kevin Greene, is enshrined in Csnton...but Lloyd is probably unlikely to make it.

8. Gary Anderson Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Landslide team leader in career scoring and field goals made. The quintessential Steelers kicker should be enshrined in Canton, but a presumed kicker-bias and the miss in the 1998 NFC Championship for the Vikings may be keeping him out. But Anderson is the No. 1 player ever to wear the uno in Pittsburgh.

9. Joey Porter

Nick-named “Peasey,” the linebacker was a whirling dervish of a pass-rusher for eight years at Heinz Field. Porter was named a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro on three occasions. The 2002 Steelers Co-MVP was the first player in NFL history to record 70 sacks and 10 interceptions. A member of the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team and the Steelers’ All-Time Team, Porter was the vocal leader of the Super Bowl XL champions. He finished his Steelers career fifth all-time with 60 sacks, 10 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries. Porter, who once was shot below the buttocks outside of a club in Denver in 2003, only missed two games due to the incident.

10. Andy Russell Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Russell was a part of the greatest trio of linebackers in NFL history. Not as recognizable as Jack Ham and Jack Lambert, Russell still thrived for 12 years and won two Super Bowl titles. His 93-yard fumble return in the 1975 playoffs versus Baltimore was voted by fans as the seventh best play in Three Rivers history. Russell was selected to the Pro Bowl seven times and was a four-time All-Pro.

Honorable Mention; Tunch Ilkin, Casey Hampton, Carnell Lake, Dick Hoak, Elbie Nickel, Dwight White, Buddy Parker, Mike Wagner

Report: The Steelers are still interviewing wide receiver coaches for 2020

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 11:58am

Reports over the weekend have the Steelers filling the position already, but a report Monday said a decision has not been made

On Sunday, Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports reported the Steelers had filled the role of wide receivers coach with former South Carolina coach Bryan McClendon. But according to the Pittburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, the Steelers are still interviewing candidates for the position.

Mike Tomlin has dipped into the college ranks to fill his wide receivers coaching position.https://t.co/tUAvIGe8kv

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) February 9, 2020

Not so fast...Steelers still
interviewing candidates for WR coach. https://t.co/zdhydDqrDr via @PittsburghPG

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) February 10, 2020

According to Dulac, former Steelers’ wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is in the mix to fill the Steelers vacant position of wide receivers coach. Cotcherry began his career with the New York Jets for seven seasons before joining the Steelers in 2011. After a career-high 10 touchdown receptions in 2013, Cotchery went on to finish his NFL career with two seasons in Carolina playing for the Panthers.

The Steelers had a tumultuous 2019 when it came to the receiver’s coaching position as they lost coach Darrell Drake due to his sudden passing during training camp. Coach Ray Sherman filled in on an interim basis for the season, but no announcement has been officially made from the Steelers as to where they are going for 2020.

While Bryan McClendon seems to be a smart hire for the Steelers, nothing has been made official. And with the Steelers being very tight-lipped on the situation, knowing exactly what the team plans on doing will take an official announcement from the Steelers at some point. McClendon and Cotchery have now been names tied to the position with the Steelers, but it is unsure if the team will go with either of these candidates or if they are still continuing to entertain other options at this time.

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

The Highs and Lows of the Steelers’ 2019 season: The offensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 11:00am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers had an O-line built to pass protect regardless of who was the quarterback

Now that the Steelers 2019 season has concluded, the long off-season has begun. As we move through the remainder of the NFL postseason and beyond, it’s time to look back at some of the numbers the Steelers put up (or failed to put up) this past season. There are some numbers that are great, while others are definitely short of the mark. Either way, let’s put some context behind a few of the statistics for 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers produced during the season.

We have already looked at some items such as takeaways, sacks, points scored, rushing, and pass defense. This time, it’s a category where the Steelers took a step back in 2019.

Run/Pass Blocking

When it comes to the statistics for the offensive line, it is very difficult to pair numbers with performance. There are a few that can be considered, but not necessarily the sole responsibility of the line. For example, the Steelers surrendered 32 sacks in 2019 which was ninth fewest in the NFL. But was the sack due to the offensive line’s blocking or the quarterback not throwing the ball?

Another statistic which is an indicator of offensive line play was the number of rushing attempts for no gain or a loss. The Steelers had 84 of such attempts which was tied for the sixth most in the NFL in 2019. But were all of these runs a result of the offensive line?

While some people like to rely on them, others completely despise the positional rankings done by Pro Football Focus. But when it comes to the play of the offensive line, it’s the most telling number which can be expressed. For 2019, the Steelers offensive line had an overall rank of ninth in the NFL. Interestingly enough, the Steelers ranked third in pass blocking only behind the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints.

When it came to individual rankings, every single player who started a game for the Pittsburgh Steelers on the offensive line had a higher pass blocking ranking then run block ranking. The only player on the Steelers offensive line who ranks higher in run blocking was Zach Banner who was used exclusively as an extra blocker at tight end (and technically started one game at the position). Banner had an overall ranking of 78.3 which broke down to a 54.4 pass block score and 74.0 when it came to run blocking.

When it came to the starters, the top overall ranking went to Matt Feiler who was 20th among all tackles in the NFL. His overall ranking of 75.2 was broken down by a score of 80.7 in pass blocking and 64.9 in run blocking. Next to Banner, Feiler had the highest run blocking score on the Steelers.

The only player on the Steelers who had a higher pass blocking score than Feiler was David DeCastro who ranked 15th overall at guard in the NFL and had a pass blocking score of 82.7. DeCastro’s run blocking score was 63.9 for an overall score of 71.0 which placed him three points behind Alejandro Villanueva’s overall score.

The worst scores on the offensive line were by center Maurkice Pouncey who ranked 36th among NFL centers with an overall score of 51.5. His pass blocking score was 57.7 with a run blocking score of 50.3. Even B.J. Finney finished higher than Pouncey as he was ranked 32nd among centers with a 56.9 overall score broken down as a 72.0 in pass blocking and 52.1 in run blocking.

Do these scores mean much to Steelers fans? That is for you all to decide. I am simply passing on the data. But by all indications, it appears the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line was built for a passing game. Unfortunately, the Steelers had the lowest amount of passing yards in a season (2,981) since 2005. Additionally, it was the first time since 1998 where the Steelers threw more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (18).

Yes, it would be safe to assume that the decrease in passing yards was due to the injury to Ben Roethlisberger. It is, by no way, an indication of the play the offensive line. What the numbers seem to indicate is the Steelers could not rely on their passing game in 2019 and could have benefited from a strong rushing attack. Unfortunately, this is not what the Steelers offensive line was built to do as effectively.

Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line is getting up there in age category, their perceived woes in 2019 were also highly situational. Yes, individual players need to step up their game. But I think saying the offensive line couldn’t come through is not an accurate narrative. If anything, it shows how much the loss of Ben Roethlisberger in 2019 affected the individual play of the entire offense.

Don’t worry Steelers fans, JuJu Smith-Schuster gets the message

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 9:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The unique and vibrant young wide receiver is coming off the worst season of his career, and he clearly gets the message sent from the fan base loud and clear.

2019 was a year to forget for JuJu Smith-Schuster. The former second round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers had high aspirations for his play as a No. 1 wide receiver after Antonio Brown jettisoned to the Raiders.

What looked like a promising start to the season became a rocky road in training camp with the death of wide receivers coach Darryl Drake. Drake and Smith-Schuster had a very visible relationship, and Smith-Schuster was clearly troubled by the sudden death of his mentor.

Fast forward to a season which was marred with injuries and miscues, and you could start to feel it. No matter how charismatic and giving Smith-Schuster was in the community, it didn’t matter. It just kept coming. Then, after Smith-Schuster’s heart-wrenching fumble against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field in overtime cost the team the game, it wasn’t just coming — it engufled No. 19 like a tidal wave.

What is “it”?

The vitriol and anger of the Steelers fan base.

Sure, there were fans who had Smith-Schuster’s back, but the vast majority saw a young player who spent all of his free time playing video games and worrying more about his dog’s Instagram account than working out and honing his craft.

Let’s be honest, Antonio Brown was the gold standard for both work ethic and production while in Pittsburgh. He just happened to go off the deep end on his way out of the door. Brown would post relentless workout videos of him getting therapy, working out at all times of the day and showing the laser focus of a perennial All-Pro.

Fans might forget it now, but Antonio Brown was beloved by the Steelers fan base until the very end of the road.

When they put the two receivers together in comparison, Smith-Schuster’s easy going lifestyle and fun-loving ways weren’t enough. At least not when he wasn’t producing the way many fans expected.

Did I mention he battled through a foot injury early in the season followed by both a knee injury and concussion? How about having to catch passes from two backup quarterbacks in Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges? Both are true, but that didn’t deter the fan base from gathering their pitch forks and torches, prepared to call Smith-Schuster a bum and wanting him out of town.

Well, it seems as if Smith-Schuster got the message.

No, he didn’t stop playing video games, or making money doing so. But he has been much more open about his workouts and his overall approach to the game recently. He hasn’t changed his ways, but is showing fans he is much more than a gamer, and does have a desire to be the best wide receiver he can be.

I doubt Smith-Schuster is new to hiring a personal trainer and getting one-on-one workouts, but this is the first time he is showing it on social media. He doesn’t have to show his workouts, but I’m sure he has been feeling the heat, reading the comments and seeing his notifications of fans wanting more from him.

As we have discussed on several podcasts for the site, Smith-Schuster gets the game. He understands the social media aspect of the NFL better than most players. He knows when to talk, when to send a message with just a photo and when to just stay away and be quiet. Smith-Schuster hasn’t gone away, but he sure has decreased his time sharing his life on social media.

I think it is safe to say Smith-Schuster has gotten the message loud and clear, but whether this results in increased production in 2020 has yet to be seen.

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers look to add a defensive tackle with their top pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 7:47am
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Playing any spot along the defensive line may be the key if the Steelers look to add to the position early in the 2020 draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season has now been over for more than a month, so it’s time to get into the off-season mindset. Although free agency comes first on the calendar before the 2020 NFL Draft, the NFL Combine will occur before either of them. With that said, it might be nice to have an idea as to some of the names associated with the Steelers in the second round. The Steelers’ first round pick has already been named an All-Pro player as Minkah Fitzpatrick can be thought of as the Steelers’ choice. So let’s look at prospects who may be available at the 49th selection and see what they could bring the the Steelers in 2020.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the off-season. Hare are some of the projected positions of need for the Steelers in no particular order:

Wide Receiver
Running Back
Offensive Line
EDGE Rusher
Tight End

There could be other positions added to the list, but when it comes to what position the team will target with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest two-round mock draft by draftsite.com, they have the Steelers addressing the projected loss of Javon Hargrave along the defensive line. While I believe the Steelers will look to fill bigger needs with their first pick in the draft, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the pick:

49. Pittsburgh Steelers | Larrell Murchison | DT | NC State | SR |

As many players are declaring their eligibility and preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine, there are plenty of players most fans have not seen play in 2019. Since this is the case, here is a breakdown of Murchison according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Explosiveness: Constant two-gapping responsibilities muddy the view here, but generally has a strong first step. Effective at gap shooting and slanting given positive lateral agility and a wide base. Keeps his pads low on his first step and can immediately break his opponent’s anchor head-up when he lands his hands and brings his feet with him. Wish he had better pad level and leg drive throughout the rep and doesn’t have great closing explosiveness when looking to finish a sack.

Lateral Agility: Solid side-to-side athlete with enough quickness and length to fight through reach blocks and cross face against down blocks. Ability to work his hips into a half-man is spotty, but when he has a two-way go he generally has the agility to work his away to the corner and penetrate the pocket. Not a strong space player which is an important note given that his size may lend itself to EDGE play at the NFL level.

Pass Rush Technique: Hands are flashy but maddeningly inconsistent. Has a slow approach to his opponent and only wins in head-up situations in which he’s one-on-one. Will work two hand swipe and swims to generate half-man relationship and get his hips into his gap, but is too often early with his hands and surrenders his chest. Does not show good hammer strength and fails to break hands on a regular basis when he initially loses positioning. Has the necessary length to win with a long-arm, which he uses well to maintain an advantageous pass rush-angle, but he must develop his strength profile here.

Leverage: Good through the first step, poor afterwards. Understands how to fire through the chute and immediately win the line of scrimmage with hand placement and explosiveness, in large part due to a two-gapping responsibility on senior year film. Against pass sets, will slow up and allow pads to pop upright as he tries to keep his chest clear through his pass-rush move. Also guilty of popping up and reading offensive line play slowly, which leaves him susceptible to big blocks from double-teams or pullers. Must consistently play lower at the next level.

Block Deconstruction: Below-average player. Regularly loses to power in the trenches because he surrenders his chest and doesn’t have good upper-body strength to break hands or reset his opponent. Upright play style and modest lower-body power means it takes him a couple of steps to shuck down blocks and work across face back into the gap, though he has a good sense of timing and strong contact balance here. Poor mental processing puts him at an immediate disadvantage and he can get washed accordingly. Has little prayer against double teams as an undersized 3-technique with poor leverage and strength.

Lower-Body Power: Undersized and his lower half is the culprit: lacks a strong anchor or particularly notable leg drive. Can initially create displacement with lower body power but regularly allows opponents to re-anchor without much drive to compromise pocket integrity as an interior bull rusher. Inability to anchor against bigger guards or double teams leads to structural integrity problems in his defensive fits as a two-gapper — must be a penetration player only responsible for single-gap control at the NFL level. Better lower-body mass a must in the NFL.

Upper-Body Strength: Stronger here. Has some displacement force with his hand strikes when they’re well-timed and can work a club or swipe to generate a half-man relationship nicely. Can keep bodies off of him while using length to read backfield and present in a gap. Wish grip strength was better to rag doll his opponents, and does not yet have a good ability to break his opponent’s hands when already engaged. Again, profiles more as a one-gap player than a two-gapper.

Mental Processing: Struggles here. Exposed often as a read player who can get suckered in by misdirection/play action and lose his leverage and integrity. Does not ID blocking schemes quickly and is often “taken where he wants to go” as he runs himself out of the play. Shows a good instinct for feeling QB movement in the pocket and adjusting his rush plan accordingly, which is nice to see. Gets frozen in place by backfield action and doesn’t have the explosiveness to recover in space.

Motor: Appreciate the hustle. Not a fast player and will take reps off in pursuit because he needs to keep his stamina, but generally understands when he’s still got a chance at a play and will work himself into the action. Gives a ton of effort in space and will dive for much faster players in an attempt to slow them down or force them to belly their path, helping his teammates. Doesn’t give up on rushes when he has a one-on-one look, but will sit on double teams and get in passing lanes, which is a smart approach.

Round Grade: Incomplete

Best Trait: Motor

Worst Trait: Lower-Body Power

NFL Comparison: James Looney

Summary: Larrell Murchison is a Day 3 candidate for teams looking to investigate his potential as a gap-shooter after playing in a two-gapping role for much of his senior season with the Wolfpack. Murchison was a productive player in the ACC, grabbing seven sacks across the first six weeks of the 2019 season before falling dorminant as the NC State defense succumbed to a ton of injuries. A quick player with swift hands, Murchison does nicely to get his body into gaps as a run defender and pass rusher alike, but concerns with his anchor, mental processing, and leverage put his future as a permanent DT in doubt. Murchison could develop into a nice tweener on a depth chart in the NFL, but inconsistencies make him a low-ceiling player at this juncture.

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Murchison with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or should the team target another position/player at that spot? Or are you like me and would like this pick much better in the third round assuming the Steelers get the compensatory pick they are believed to receive? Let us know in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.

If the Steelers can return to the playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger deserves some type of award

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 6:32am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

If Big Ben doesn't bring home the CPOY award, the 2020 season could be a long one.

An injury shortened season to a franchise quarterback automatically thrusts said player into the following season’s Comeback Player of the Year conversation. Think Tom Brady in 2009, or Peyton Manning in 2012. In 2020, Ben Roethlisberger should be hot in the mix to win the award.

No matter what moves the Steelers make this offseason, no one player will effect their playoff hopes like Roethlisberger. And this team needs every ounce of vintage Big Ben they can get if they want to hoist one more Lombardi with the 17th year quarterback under center.

On the shoulders of one of the best young defenses in football, the Steelers really don't need Roethlisberger to recreate a 2018 season, which saw him lead the NFL in completions, yards, and attempts. In reality, just an average season from Roethlisberger should be enough to crack a Wildcard spot.

Across his 15 full, or nearly full, seasons Roethlisberger has averaged:

  • 3,750 Passing yards
  • 24 Touchdowns
  • 308 Completions on 478 Attempts (64.4 completion)
  • And 13 picks

Putting up a similar stat line, and bringing the Steelers back to the playoffs, should make Big Ben the odds on favorite at winning Comeback Player of the year at the annual NFL Honors ceremony.

Roethlisberger’s only real competition for the Comeback Player of the Year is Carolina’s Cam Newton. While it’s certainly possible Newton out performs Roethlisberger, it doesn't seem likely with the Panthers having a first year head coach and the loss of Newton’s top target in Greg Olsen. It’s also possible Newton gets moved off the Panther’s roster and has to find chemistry with an entirely new offense, making it harder yet to impress the award voters.

Roethlisberger would also be the first Steeler since Tommy Maddox, in 2002, to win the award. Maddox, if you remember, was who Roethlisberger famously took the starting job from back in 2004.

While one Steeler was snubbed at the 2019 NFL honors, Ben is already the leading candidate for the Comeback Player of the Year in 2020. But will he do it? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Podcast: The Steelers new wide receivers coach is more than meets the eye

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “Steelers Q&A” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over, and the Steelers lost their final game by losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, ending their record at 8-8.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Q&A Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers’ new WR coach Bryan McClendon
  • Week in Review
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

Black and Gold Links: Deon Cain thinks he can be the vertical threat the Steelers’ offense needs

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/10/2020 - 4:36am
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how 2019 midseason acquisition, Deon Cain, believes he can be the deep threat the Steelers’ offense needs in 2020.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Many are thinking wide receiver is a position of need for the Steelers as Free Agency and the 2020 NFL Draft approach. Deon Cain disagrees.

WR Deon Cain: ‘I know how much I can help Steelers out’ in 2020

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Though he did not join the Pittsburgh Steelers until mid-November and played only 72 offensive snaps for them, Deon Cain made an impact.

Cain caught five of the six targets thrown his way and twice drew important pass interference penalties (one gained 26 yards, another was in the end zone). Including a catch he had for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, three of Cain’s nine receptions last season went for more than 20 yards.

It was a small sample size in the midst of learning a new offense on the fly and with inexperienced quarterback play in late-season weather conditions. But did Cain show enough that perhaps he could be a part of the Steelers’ passing game in 2020?

“Definitely, for sure,” Cain said after the Steelers’ season ended with a loss in Baltimore. “I am still young in this game, and I know I what I am capable of. Everything will come together. Just got to get chemistry with the quarterback. So now I am glad we’ve got this offseason to get together and put everything together.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Tim Benz: My bad, Troy. I could’ve done this better.

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

My bad, Troy.

You deserved better for this.

I dropped the ball.

I was so busy being concerned about Steelers guard Alan Faneca getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and mad when I found out that it didn’t happen — that I barely acknowledged your candidacy and presumptive election.

Which, to no one’s surprise, eventually happened.

Yes, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu got into the Hall of Fame Saturday night on his first try as a finalist.

And I didn’t write much about it. Not in the few days after his election. Nor in the weeks leading up to the selection announcement in Miami before the Super Bowl.

That wasn’t intentional, though. It’s not like I was uninterested in his nomination, or had some personal dislike for Polamalu.

Quite the opposite, actually. Polamalu is one of the best people that I’ve covered in the nearly 25 years I’ve been working in sports media.

Note, I said one of the best people I’ve ever covered. Not one of the best athletes.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Taking a look at how the quarterback position is changing in the NFL.

NFL revolution at quarterback; a dynamic position’s renaissance

By: Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

A revolution is occurring at the game’s most important position — and it was on full display last weekend.

At “NFL Honors” on Saturday night, Lamar Jackson became the second unanimous MVP in NFL history, while Kyler Murray surprisingly ran away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. One night later, Patrick Mahomes was named Super Bowl LIV MVP.

The prototype for NFL quarterbacks has been changing in recent years, but those two nights really cemented the transition. Now it’s time for the football world to acknowledge — and embrace — the new landscape of the position.

The top QBs in the game today are breaking traditional norms, and inherently changing the way scouts evaluate the position. Instead of looking for polished pocket passers with textbook footwork and mechanics, talent evaluators and coaches are more willing to take chances on raw athletes and build around their strengths as explosive playmakers.

”This movement has been in the works for years,” an AFC assistant college scouting director told me. “It is the trickle-up effect. High schools and colleges are putting their best athletes at quarterback and letting them run around to make plays. The NFL has started to adapt because these guys are entering the league and making the same kinds of plays. Plus, the speed and athleticism of the defensive linemen force you to play with a mobile quarterback or a guy that gets the ball out of his hands quickly.

”Quarterbacks have to be more than traditional pocket passers to play in this league. You need athletes who can make plays with their minds, arm and legs.”

In basketball terms, coaches are looking for scorers instead of shooters — the ability to “get buckets” is changing the way evaluators are grading the position.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

.@MelBlountYLI sits down with @StanLoveTheShow to discuss being drafted by the #Steelers, playing for Chuck Noll, the Mel Blount Rule and more.

FULL : https://t.co/EPdp68BSbT pic.twitter.com/kB71trIX9H

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 9, 2020

Check out the #Steelers all-time leaders in total punt return yards!

MORE: https://t.co/2RwSn7ugRi pic.twitter.com/Nnyo0Ew9iU

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 10, 2020

Joe Gilliam#BlackHistoryMonth #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/DqEa1FFeZJ

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 8, 2020

Week 8, 1954#HTTR #HereWeGo
Finks 16-28-196-2-2
Scarbath 9-18-159-1-1
Atkeson 19-70 3-69 pic.twitter.com/rPoDfsz8co

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 9, 2020

Week 7, 1954#HereWeGo #GiantsPride
Conerly 13-20-137-3-2
Finks 15-31-187-0-3
Gifford 8-77 pic.twitter.com/52WgCbiN4f

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) February 9, 2020

Report: Steelers hire former South Carolina coach Bryan McClendon as wide receiver coach

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 11:33am
Photo by Jamie Gilliam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mike Tomlin has reportedly rounded out his coaching staff by dipping into the college ranks once again.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a glaring vacancy on their coaching staff since the offseason began. After the passing of Darryl Drake during training camp at Saint Vincent College, the team coaxed Ray Sherman to stay on staff for the season to take over for the late coach.

Mike Tomlin was adamant the move was temporary, but after the season there was no news of any new hire, until now.

Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports reports the team has finally filled the role of wide receivers coach, and they have gone to the college game to do so by hiring former South Carolina coach Bryan McClendon.

Mike Tomlin has dipped into the college ranks to fill his wide receivers coaching position.https://t.co/tUAvIGe8kv

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) February 9, 2020

McClendon has been in the coaching game since he graduated from the University of Georgia. After being a graduate assistant with the Bulldogs, he was promoted to running backs coach from 2009-2013. From 2014 to 2015 McClendon served as the recruiting coordinator for Georgia. On January 12, 2015, he was promoted and given the title of assistant head coach. He served as interim head coach for Georgia after Mark Richt left the team late in 2015.

After Georgia hired Kirby Smart as their head new coach, McClendon left to become the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at the University of South Carolina. On January 5, 2018, McClendon was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Gamecocks.

Jon Ledyard provides more context to the players McClendon coached at Georgia, as well as the wide receivers he has developed in his time in the college ranks.

This is my way of saying "help Randy Fichtner design a good run scheme too". But even at South Carolina, McClendon switched to WRs and developed Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith.

— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 9, 2020

The Steelers adding McClendon looks as if it is much more than a wide receivers coach, but possibly another set of eyes to help build the running game, an area the Steelers struggled mightily in 2019.

This isn’t the first, or likely the last, time Tomlin has turned to the college game to fill coaching needs. He did it when he hired Eddie Faulkner as the running backs coach, Tom Bradly as the secondary coach and Karl Dunbar as the defensive line coach.

Will McClendon make an impact for the Steelers in 2020 and beyond? The product on the field will be the first indicator. However, it looks as if the Steelers have solidified their coaching staff for the 2020 regular season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue to press on throughout the offseason.

NFL attendance is down, but can they fix the problem?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:12am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Teams are faced with the challenge of offering fans a better experience than watching the game from the comfort of their own home

It used to be said there was nothing like experiencing an NFL game in the stadium, particularly when it came to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Heinz Field. Since most fans cannot make an NFL game even once every few years, let alone every week, expanding the home viewing experience has become a priority. Through HDTVs and NFL Sunday Ticket, Steelers’ fans can catch all the action for the black and gold in the comforts of their own home. But has the home experience uprooted the desire to watch players in person? If the attendance numbers are any indicator, than, yes, it has.

In an article by Mike Florio on profootballtalk.com, he stated some specifics of the 15 year low the NFL experienced in game attendance.

More people are watching the NFL on TV. Fewer people are watching the NFL in person.

According to David Broughton and Andrew Levin of Sports Business Daily, the NFL averaged 66,648 attendees at home games in 2019. That’s the lowest average since 2004.

Although the TV numbers have risen 5% since the 2018 season, fans are not flocking to the stadium in order to see their favorite teams. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of visiting fans who are filing into stadiums. I experienced this first hand in Week 15 at Heinz Field during the Steelers home finale on Sunday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills. In my five seasons as a season ticket holder, it was, by far, the most visiting fans I have ever seen in Pittsburgh.

With NFL teams worrying fans are choosing alternative methods for watching games other than in stadiums, some are doing all they can to expand the fan experience. In the new stadium which will be shared by both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, a 120-yard long 4K HDR video system is being installed. The purpose of the video system is to enhance the viewer experience. Personally, if I’m spending the money to come to the stadium, my eyes will be on the players on the field more than a video board.

So is the problem with fan attendance having a better viewing experience at home, or do other factors come into play as to why fans are staying away from the stadium?

For me, there are several factors in going to Heinz Field for a game. I stated before, I am currently a season ticket holder. My reasoning behind going to games may be different from other fans since I have access to go to any home game I choose. But knowing I will not be able to attend all the games, I end up strategically choosing games in which selling the tickets will not be too difficult.

One issue for many Steelers fans going to Heinz Field is the high amount of night games the Steelers end up playing. Of the four games (including preseason) I attended in 2019, three of them were in prime time. Having to travel more than three hours to Pittsburgh, it is highly inconvenient to arrive home in the middle of the night.

What the NFL may not want to deal with is the harsh reality that it’s not having a better experience at home when watching a game, but a less expensive experience. Between travel, tickets, parking, concessions, merchandise, and any other amenities fans wish to enjoy, the cost of attending a game is in the hundreds of dollars. Even if stadiums offer more experiences, it ultimately would not affect fan attendance as much as reducing the overwhelming costs. Even if tickets did not change in price, the other expenses being reduced could help fans return to the stadium.

So is adding a cool video board or other fan experiences going to help attendance? Or does the NFL need to face the harsh reality that the price of their product outweighs the in personal experience? Is there anything the Steelers could add to their games to make you more likely to attend in person? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

3 rules adopted by the XFL the NFL should consider, and 2 they shouldn’t

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After two games to kick off the season on Saturday, fans were given the chance to see some of the rule differences in action

I found myself very intrigued with the XFL this off-season. For some reason, the AAF did not excite me last year. But as for the XFL, I find myself tuning in to see how former Steelers are doing and to check out some of the different rules they are implementing. Luckily, we aren’t seeing a race for the ball for possession like we did back in 2001. But the league decided to experiment with several issues which possibly need tweaked in the NFL.

So here are three rules in the XFL this season which the NFL should consider implementing some version of them. Also, there will be two rules which the NFL is better off not going anywhere close to changing.

Yes: Touchbacks

Currently, the NFL has the rule for a touchback on a kick off being at the 25-yard line and a punt at the 20-yard line. In the XFL, both types of touchbacks result in the team getting the ball at their opponents 35-yard line. Additionally, if a punt goes out of bounds the team will get the ball at either the 35-yard line or the point where the ball went out of bounds, whichever gives the team better field position.

The reason I like this rule is teams are more likely to go for it on fourth down based on how much they would net in field position. Bottom line, if the team is over midfield and are not in field goal range, it makes a lot more sense to attempt to get the first down rather than gain less than 15 yards a field position.

Yes: Kickoffs

Yes, the touchback rule is also part of kickoffs, but everything else they have done deserves to have its own category. Rather than eliminate the kickoff or, as the NFL is attempted to do, make it so worthwhile for teams to have a touchback they won’t try and return, the XFL has tried to keep the play in the game but make it more safe. In the XFL, the ball is kicked off from the 30-yard line and one kick returner is back between their own 20-yard line and the goal line. The other 20 players are lined up and stationary much further down the field than the NFL. The kickoff team is lined up at their opponents 35 yard line while the receiving team is at their own 30 yard line. The only players who are allowed to move are the kicker and the returner until the ball is caught or three seconds after it hits the ground. Personally, I’m okay with their not being the three second delay. But keeping the kickoff in the game is something I would like to see and this setup should reduce the number of high-speed collisions.

Two other items of note from the kick off rule is the kick must go inside the 20-yard line. If not, it is the same as a touchback and the ball is spotted at the 35. This set up did eliminate the surprise onside kick, but teams can still attempt an on sidekick if they announce it for their players to line up where the ball is kicked off.

Yes: Clock

The XFL has implemented several rules to keep the game moving with rules that are separate outside of the last two minutes of each half. One rule is the XFL has a running game clock which means the clock does not stop when a player goes out of bounds or if there is an incompletion. Another rule when it comes to the clock management is inside of two minutes every play initially has a stopped clock at its conclusion until the ball is set and five seconds run off the play clock. This rule allows teams to use the entire field when trying to preserve time because even a completion over the middle will get a temporary clock stoppage. One thing which should be noted is if the XFL only has a 25-second play clock.

To make sure we understand the current NFL rule, many fans do not realize that when a player goes out of bounds during the majority of an NFL game the game clock starts once the ball is set. It is only inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half where the clock does not run when a player goes out of bounds.

While I do not believe the NFL should adopt all of the clock rules from the XFL, they could definitely consider some of them. Perhaps the NFL could treat incompletions much like out-of-bounds plays to where the clock begins to run once the ball is set. Also, I don’t know that I like running five seconds off the play clock before starting the game clock, but stopping the clock until the referees can set the ball is not something I would be opposed to completely. It should also be noted the XFL has one official on the field whose only job is to spot the football as he doesn’t even have a flag to throw. Having a ball-spotting official is something the NFL should implement as well.

No: Point(s) After Try

One thing the XFL did away with was kicking an extra point. When a team scores a touchdown, they have the option of going for 1 point from the 2-yard line, 2 points from the 5-yard line, or 3 points for the 10-yard line. Throwing in the three-point option gives a team and additional field goal or half a touchdown depending on how you look at it. While it does give teams more options to go for a tie or a win, it makes the team trailing by seven points not very certain they are even going to tie the game. Some fans may like this option, but personally I prefer the old-school options of one point kicking and two points for getting the ball in the end zone.

No: Timeouts

Another thing the XFL has done to cut down the time of games is they only give teams two timeouts per half. Personally, I would be more in favor of expanding the three timeouts used in the NFL per half if they were used merely to stop a running game clock and not to regroup on the sidelines. With the XFL rules, when the team leading the game has the ball, it is difficult for the defense to get the ball back quickly even if they have saved all their timeouts. If I were going to change the time out rule in the NFL, I would definitely go with my previous suggestion of having more but merely to stop the clock rather than inhibit the number given to each team.

So what are your thoughts on these rules? Do any of the changes appeal to you as something the NFL could try to consider in some form? Or has the NFL already changed rules enough over the past several seasons and need to just leave the game alone? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

A complete list of players invited to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 6:31am
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers, along with all 32 NFL teams, will be present for the NFL Scouting Combine. Here is the list of players who were invited to the combine.

It is hard to believe, but the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is right around the corner. And with that news is a large list of players who were invited to put their talents on display for all 32 NFL teams in attendance.

So, before coaches and scouts get to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, it is time to take a look at the prospects who received an invitation from the National Football League. Take a look at all the players invited below, by position.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers fans out there, what players are you looking forward to watching, especially considering the Steelers don’t have a first round pick after trading it away to the Miami Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019.

Quarterbacks

» Kelly Bryant, QB, Missouri

» Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

» Kevin Davidson, QB, Princeton

» Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

» Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

» Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

» Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

» Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

» Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State

» Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

» Jake Luton, QB, Oregon State

» Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii

» Steven Montez, QB, Colorado

» James Morgan, QB, Florida International

» Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan

» Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

» Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama

Running backs

» Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington

» Cam Akers, RB, Florida State

» Jet Anderson, RB, TCU

» LeVante Bellamy, RB, Western Michigan

» Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State

» Raymond Calais, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette

» DeeJay Dallas, RB, Miami

» AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College

» J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State

» Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina

» Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU

» Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State

» JaMycal Hasty, RB, Baylor

» Brian Herrien, RB, Georgia

» Tony Jones, RB, Notre Dame

» Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA

» Javon Leake, RB, Maryland

» Benny LeMay, RB, UNC-Charlotte

» Anthony McFarland, RB, Maryland

» Zack Moss, RB, Utah

» Sewo Olonilua, RB, TCU

» La’Mical Perine, RB, Florida

» Scottie Phillips, RB, Mississippi

» James Robinson, RB, Illinois State

» D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

» J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona

» Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

» Patrick Taylor, RB, Memphis

» Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt

» Mike Warren, RB, Cincinnati

Wide receivers

» Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State

» Omar Bayless, WR, Arkansas State

» Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky

» Tony Brown, WR, Colorado

» Lawrence Cager, WR, Georgia

» Marquez Callaway, WR, Tennessee

» Quintez Cephus, WR, Wisconsin

» Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame

» Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida

» Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island

» Gabriel Davis, WR, Central Florida

» Quartney Davis, WR, Texas A&M

» Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas

» Bryan Edwards, WR, South Carolina

» Chris Finke, WR, Notre Dame

» Aaron Fuller, WR, Washington

» Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty

» Antonio Gibson, WR, Memphis

» Stephen Guidry, WR, Mississippi State

» KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State

» Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

» John Hightower, WR, Boise State

» K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State

» Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State

» Trishton Jackson, WR, Syracuse

» Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

» Van Jefferson, WR, Florida

» Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee

» Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

» Collin Johnson, WR, Texas

» Juwan Johnson, WR, Oregon

» Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

» CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

» Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt

» Austin Mack, WR, Ohio State

» Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor

» Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane

» K.J. Osborn, WR, Miami

» Aaron Parker, WR, Rhode Island

» Dezmon Patmon, WR, Washington State

» Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan

» Malcolm Perry, WR, Navy

» Michael Pittman, WR, USC

» James Proche, WR, SMU

» Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU

» Joe Reed, WR, Virginia

» Kendrick Rogers, WR, Texas A&M

» Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

» Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

» Darrell Stewart, WR, Michigan State

» Freddie Swain, WR, Florida

» Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami

» Ben Victor, WR, Ohio State

» Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Mississippi

» Cody White, WR, Michigan State

Tight ends

» Devin Asiasi, TE, UCLA

» Jacob Breeland, TE, Oregon

» Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic

» Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington

» Josiah Deguara, TE, Cincinnati

» Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

» Dalton Keene, TE, Virginia Tech

» Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame

» Sean McKeon, TE, Michigan

» Thaddeus Moss, TE, LSU

» C.J. O’Grady, TE, Arkansas

» Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri

» Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford

» Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt

» Stephen Sullivan, TE, LSU

» Charlie Taumoepeau, TE, Portland State

» Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton

» Mitchell Wilcox, TE, South Florida

» Charlie Woerner, TE, Georgia

» Dom Wood-Anderson, TE, Tennessee

Offensive linemen

» Trey Adams, OL, Washington

» Hakeem Adeniji, OL, Kansas

» Tremayne Anchrum, OL, Clemson

» Ben Bartch, OL, St. John’s (MN)

» Mekhi Becton, OL, Louisville

» Tyler Biadasz, OL, Wisconsin

» Ben Bredeson, OL, Michigan

» Cohl Cabral, OL, Arizona State

» Saahdiq Charles, OL, LSU

» Cameron Clark, OL, UNC-Charlotte

» Ezra Cleveland, OL, Boise State

» Trystan Colon-Castillo, OL, Missouri

» Lloyd Cushenberry, OL, LSU

» Jack Driscoll, OL, Auburn

» Yasir Durant, OL, Missouri

» Jake Hanson, OL, Oregon

» Nick Harris, OL, Washington

» Charlie Heck, OL, UNC

» Matt Hennessy, OL, Temple

» Justin Herron, OL, Wake Forest

» Robert Hunt, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette

» Keith Ismael, OL, San Diego State

» Cordel Iwuagwu, OL, TCU

» Austin Jackson, OL, USC

» Jonah Jackson OL, Ohio State

» Joshua Jones, OL, Houston

» Solomon Kindley, OL, Georgia

» Shane Lemieux, OL, Oregon

» Damien Lewis, OL, LSU

» Colton McKivitz, OL, West Virginia

» John Molchon, OL, Boise State

» Kyle Murphy, OL, Rhode Island

» Netane Muti, OL, Fresno State

» Lucas Niang, OL, TCU

» Mike Onwenu, OL, Michigan

» Matt Peart, OL, Connecticut

» Tyre Phillips, OL, Mississippi State

» Danny Pinter, OL, Ball State

» Cesar Ruiz, OL, Michigan

» Jon Runyan, OL, Michigan

» John Simpson, OL, Clemson

» Terence Steele, OL, Texas Tech

» Logan Stenberg, OL, Kentucky

» Simon Stepaniak, OL, Indiana

» Alex Taylor, OL, South Carolina State

» Andrew Thomas, OL, Georgia

» Calvin Throckmorton, OL, Oregon

» Prince Tega Wanogho, OL, Auburn

» Darryl Williams, OL, Mississippi State

» Jedrick Wills, OL, Alabama

» Isaiah Wilson, OL, Georgia

» Tristan Wirfs, OL, Iowa

Defensive linemen

» McTelvin Agim, DL, Arkansas

» Bradlee Anae, DL, Utah

» Ross Blacklock, DL, TCU

» Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn

» Josiah Coatney, DL, Mississippi

» Kendall Coleman, DL, Syracuse

» Darrion Daniels, DL, Nebraska

» Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn

» Carlos Davis, DL, Nebraska

» Khalil Davis, DL, Nebraska

» Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama

» Jordan Elliott, DL, Missouri

» A.J. Epenesa, DL, Iowa

» Leki Fotu, DL, Utah

» Neville Gallimore, DL, Oklahoma

» Jonathan Garvin, DL, Miami

» Trevis Gipson, DL, Tulsa

» Jonathan Greenard, DL, Florida

» Yetur Gross-Matos, DL, Penn State

» DaVon Hamilton, DL, Ohio State

» LaDarius Hamilton, DL, North Texas

» Alex Highsmith, DL, UNC-Charlotte

» Trevon Hill, DL, Miami

» Benito Jones, DL, Mississippi

» Khalid Kareem, DL, Notre Dame

» Javon Kinlaw, DL, South Carolina

» Rashard Lawrence II, DL, LSU

» James Lynch, DL, Baylor

» Justin Madubuike, DL, Texas A&M

» Larrell Murchison, DL, North Carolina State

» Julian Okwara, DL, Notre Dame

» John Penisini, DL, Utah

» Chauncey Rivers, DL, Mississippi State

» Malcolm Roach, DL, Texas

» Alton Robinson, DL, Syracuse

» Qaadir Sheppard, DL, Mississippi

» James Smith-Williams, DL, North Carolina State

» Jason Strowbridge, DL, UNC

» Derrek Tuszka, DL, North Dakota State

» Broderick Washington, DL, Texas Tech

» Kenny Willekes, DL, Michigan State

» Raequan Williams, DL, Michigan State

» Rob Windsor, DL, Penn State

» D.J. Wonnum, DL, South Carolina

» Chase Young, DL, Ohio State

» Jabari Zuniga, DL, Florida

Linebackers

» Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State

» Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue

» Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin

» Francis Bernard, LB, Utah

» Daniel Bituli, LB, Tennessee

» Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple

» Jordan Brooks, LB, Texas Tech

» Cameron Brown, LB, Penn State

» K’Lavon Chaisson, LB, LSU

» Nick Coe, LB, Auburn

» Carter Coughlin, LB, Minnesota

» Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State

» Michael Divinity, LB, LSU

» Troy Dye, LB, Oregon

» Tipa Galeai, LB, Utah State

» Cale Garrett, LB, Missouri

» Willie Gay Jr., LB, Mississippi State

» Scoota Harris, LB, Arkansas

» Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State

» Khaleke Hudson, LB, Michigan

» Anfernee Jennings, LB, Alabama

» Clay Johnston, LB, Baylor

» Azur Kamara, LB, Kansas

» Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama

» Jordan Mack, LB, Virginia

» Kamal Martin, LB, Minnesota

» Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma

» Dante Olson, LB, Montana

» Jacob Phillips, LB, LSU

» Michael Pinckney, LB, Miami

» Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami

» Patrick Queen, LB, LSU

» Chapelle Russell, LB, Temple

» Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson

» Justin Strnad, LB, Wake Forest

» Darrell Taylor, LB, Tennessee

» Davion Taylor, LB, Colorado

» Casey Toohill, LB, Stanford

» Josh Uche, LB, Michigan

» Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State

» Curtis Weaver, LB, Boise State

» Evan Weaver, LB, California

» Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming

» David Woodward, LB, Utah State

Defensive backs

» Damon Arnette, DB, Ohio State

» Grayland Arnold, DB, Baylor

» Trajan Bandy, DB, Miami

» Essang Bassey, DB, Wake Forest

» Julian Blackmon, DB, Utah

» Antoine Brooks Jr., DB, Maryland

» Myles Bryant, DB, Washington

» Terrell Burgess, DB, Utah

» Shyheim Carter, DB, Alabama

» Jeremy Chinn, DB, Southern Illinois

» Nevelle Clarke, DB, Central Florida

» Rodney Clemons, DB, SMU

» Brian Cole II, DB, Mississippi State

» Kamren Curl, DB, Arkansas

» Cameron Dantzler, DB, Mississippi State

» Ashtyn Davis, DB, California

» Javaris Davis, DB, Auburn

» Grant Delpit, DB, LSU

» Trevon Diggs, DB, Alabama

» Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Rhyne

» Jalen Elliott, DB, Notre Dame

» Jordan Fuller, DB, Ohio State

» Kristian Fulton, DB, LSU

» Alohi Gilman, DB, Notre Dame

» Jeff Gladney, DB, TCU

» A.J. Green, DB, Oklahoma State

» Javelin K. Guidry, DB, Utah

» Bryce Hall, DB, Virginia

» Harrison Hand, DB, Temple

» Jaylinn Hawkins, DB, California

» C.J. Henderson, DB, Florida

» Lavert Hill, DB, Michigan

» Darnay Holmes, DB, UCLA

» Noah Igbinoghene, DB, Auburn

» Dane Jackson, DB, Pittsburgh

» Lamar Jackson, DB, Nebraska

» Jaylon Johnson, DB, Utah

» Brandon Jones, DB, Texas

» BoPete Keyes, DB, Tulane

» Xavier McKinney, DB, Alabama

» Josh Metellus, DB, Michigan

» Chris Miller, DB, Baylor

» Tanner Muse, DB, Clemson

» Michael Ojemudia, DB, Iowa

» Jeff Okudah, DB, Ohio State

» James Pierre, DB, Florida Atlantic

» Troy Pride, DB, Notre Dame

» J.R. Reed, DB, Georgia

» John Reid, DB, Penn State

» Amik Robertson, DB, Louisiana Tech

» Reggie Robinson II, DB, Tulsa

» Stanford Samuels, DB, Florida State

» Josiah Scott, DB, Michigan State

» L’Jarius Sneed, DB, Louisiana Tech

» Geno Stone, DB, Iowa

» A.J. Terrell, DB, Clemson

» Daniel Thomas, DB, Auburn

» Stantley Thomas-Oliver, DB, Florida International

» Kindle Vildor, DB, Georgia Southern

» K’Von Wallace, DB, Clemson

» Antoine Winfield Jr., DB, Minnesota

Specialists

» Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern

» Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia

» Joseph Charlton, P, South Carolina

» Blake Ferguson, LS, LSU

» Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse

» Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M

» JJ Molson, K, UCLA

» Alex Pechin, P, Bucknell

» Arryn Siposs, P, Auburn

» Tommy Townsend, P, Florida

» Michael Turk, P, Arizona State

» Steven Wirtel, LS, Iowa State

Podcast: Who you got? Terry Bradshaw or Ben Roethlisberger?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 5:54am

The Steelers season is over, so we ask a really tough question — Terry Bradshaw or Ben Roethlisberger?

When it comes to burning questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is none hotter than the Bradshaw vs. Ben debate. The Blonde Bomber has 4 Super Bowl wins in just 4 games, but Big Ben holds all the records in the Steelers’ record books, and 2 Super Bowl wins to his name.

This is a tough question, and one where they can be multiple responses/answers to. This is going to be the talking point in the latest podcast.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and Bryan Anthony Davis puts 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

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Google Play: CLICK HERE

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

Black and Gold Links: Was Antonio Brown speaking the truth during his recent interview?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/09/2020 - 4:43am
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at whether or not Antonio Brown was actually speaking the truth during his most recent radio interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

Let’s get to the news:

  • When Antonio Brown speaks Steelers fans typically just tune him out. But during his most recent interview, was he speaking the truth?

Tim Benz: Antonio Brown’s interview was maddening. Now let’s talk about where he was right.

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown’s first Pittsburgh radio interview since he left the Steelers was 22 minutes of rambling inconsistencies, inaccuracies and illogical denials.

That being said, let’s try to do what you may think is impossible. Let’s talk about where Brown was right.

Because, believe it or not, A.B. was actually on point about a few things during his appearance on 93.7 The Fan on Thursday.

Trust me. That last sentence was 10 times tougher for me to write than it was for you to read.

Brown was right about the NFL. There is no investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct. The league knows what it needs to know. And it is dragging its feet on purpose in an effort to keep the former All-Pro receiver out of the league.

Commissioner Roger Goodell knows NFL teams can’t help themselves. Brown is a talent. And if he is available, a team will sign him. And Goodell doesn’t want to deal with that headache. Nor does he want to have to help another team clean up that mess.

Brown is also right about JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Kinda.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • This isn’t a question of what the Steelers would look like without Bill Nunn, but what the NFL would look like without Bill Nunn.

Labriola on why the doors should open for Nunn

By: Bob Labriola, Steelers.com

Ready or not, here it comes:

• At the risk of contributing to the Hall of Fame hangover gripping the nation’s NFL fans around this time, I have something to get off my chest.

• Bill Nunn deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

• Nunn deserves it, not just because he was the artist behind the greatest draft in NFL history, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 1974 version that produced four Hall of Fame players over the first five rounds and a fifth in the form of an undrafted free agent linebacker turned safety.

• Nunn deserves it, not just because of John Stallworth from Alabama A&M, and Mel Blount from Southern, and L.C. Greenwood from Arkansas AM&N, and Frank Lewis from Grambling State, and Dwight White from Texas A&M Commerce, and Ernie Holmes from Texas Southern, and Joe Gilliam from Tennessee State, and the countless others he was responsible for bringing to Pittsburgh during a six-year period that saw the Steelers metamorphosize from laughingstocks to a dynasty.

• Nunn deserves it, not just because his fingerprints are all over the Steelers’ six Lombardi Trophies as their best scout in franchise history, or because he had a symbiosis with Chuck Noll that was summed up in the marching orders Noll gave Nunn when their working relationship began. “You know athletes,” Noll once told Nunn, who was a good enough college basketball player to be asked to help integrate the NBA after World War II. “Bring me athletes,” added Noll, “and we’ll teach them how to play.”

• Nunn deserves the Hall of Fame, because he is a historically significant figure in helping to shape the National Football League into the sports powerhouse it is today, and for those who might be suffering from a chronic case of “too many Steelers in the Hall of Fame,” the bulk of Nunn’s work toward opening the NFL to a group who ultimately included some of the greatest players in league history happened before Dan Rooney ever hired him.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Speaking of Antonio Brown...

Antonio Brown found liable for damage to Miami apartment

By: Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk

At a time when he has no money coming in, Antonio Brown will have more money going out.

According to TMZ.com, Brown has been found liable for damage to an apartment in Miami in connection with the incident that culminated in Brown allegedly throwing furniture and nearly hitting a toddler and his grandfather.

Brown argued that his former trainer was responsible for the damage, but the court found Brown legally responsible. In the next phase of the proceedings, the court will determine the amount that Brown must pay.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Social Media Madness

John Stallworth sits down with @StanLoveTheShow to discuss being drafted by the #Steelers, his career in Pittsburgh, being a part of the @ProFootballHOF and more.

FULL : https://t.co/RN3gIB0dhn pic.twitter.com/RM0uyXzN5i

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 7, 2020

#SteelersNation #FanFriday pic.twitter.com/qqiKh63HkI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 8, 2020

#OTD in #SteelersHistory, William ‘Bill’ Shakespeare became the first player ever drafted by the #Steelers. Shakespeare was our first round pick in the first official NFL Draft in 1936. pic.twitter.com/OAQ7k10FrI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 8, 2020

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