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HIGHLIGHTS: All 56 Steelers Sacks in 2017

Steelers.com Videos - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 8:00am
The Steelers set a single-season franchise record with 56 sacks during the 2017 NFL season.

The Steelers were responsible for two of the most momentus plays of the NFL season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 7:12am

Looking back, the Steelers contributed to two moments that are indicative of the league’s popularity shift

Before we go full regalia with draft narratives and highly-speculative free agency think-pieces, allow me to indulge in a brief retrospective.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were involved in what were arguably the two most significant plays of the 2017 regular season: Ryan Shazier’s back injury against Cincinnati, and Jesse James’ non-catch against New England.

Shazier’s injury was, without question, a damning indictment of the NFL’s on-field brand, which, despite efforts to promote player safety, remains rooted in brutality. This isn’t to say that Shazier’s injury was the result of some felonious action or outright illegality—it wasn’t. In fact, it occurred on an otherwise run-of-the-mill play, one in which Shazier attempted to make a tackle he’s made a million times. But therein lies the issue: how can you prevent something so seemingly unpreventable? Safeguarding guys’ heads and knees and presiding over borderline dirty tackles with an iron fist is one thing, but subverting injury risk on a down-by-down basis is an impassable labyrinth. Rhetorical questions aside, the fact that a 25-year-old star linebacker at the height of his professional prowess is now learning to walk again is an understandable perception-changer.

James’ non-catch, on the other hand, served as incontrovertible proof that the NFL has essentially micromanaged itself to death—or, more bluntly, that it has no idea what its doing. My intent here is not to pander to the baser desires of slighted Steelers fans, but to criticize the league’s erroneous, byzantine, and impossible-to-understand “catch rule.” I will be the first to admit that James’ “catch” probably wasn’t a catch in the technical sense of what the NFL thinks a catch is, but that we, the viewing public, literally cannot enjoy big moments in real time is insane. Zack Ertz scored what was a game-winning touchdown in the freaking Super Bowl, and Philadelphia fans could not duly celebrate or reactively eat enormous piles of horse poop until the call was confirmed by the replay booth due to the precedent set forth by the James catch. Wait, did he actually catch it? What if they overturn it? DID HE SURVIVE THE GROUND?

Together, the Shazier injury and the James non-catch would seem to be emblematic of the the NFL’s ostensible popularity issues. I say it this way because, as I’m sure we’ll eventually find out, Super Bowl 52 will be the most-watched televised event of the year, just as Super Bowl 51 was the year prior, and Super Bowl 50 the year before that. Please understand that I am not throwing on my NFL cape and defending the league’s popularity. I could write a legitimate manifesto outlining my misgivings with the league’s organizational structure, which seems to grow more convoluted and bureaucratic by the year, so this is not a hill I’m willing to die on. I am merely stating that, in a strictly quantitative sense, the NFL is probably doing just fine.

Qualitatively, though? Yikes. The NFL playoffs were pretty decent and the Super Bowl winded up being a bonafide thriller, but the 2017 regular season was not great. An exceedingly long list of star-caliber players suffered season-ending injuries, which kind of diluted the quality of the on-field product. So, too, did stoppages, including those resulting from penalties and booth reviews. Reporting the particulars of viewership is an exercise in futility, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that “interest” in the league was generally lower in 2017. And I think events like Shazier’s injury and James’ non-catch (and excessive booth reviews and over-officiating) justify this decline, making it easier for us to collectively throw our hands up and exclaim “wow, this kind of sucks.”

Writing dumb columns is not my full-time job, but I do sincerely enjoy writing about the Steelers. I haven’t been doing this as long as Jeff or Anthony or any of you who have been squirreling around the comment sections, often providing insights better than my own, but I can say without compunction that 2017 was the most...discouragingly interesting season I’ve endured thus far. I almost stopped midway through the season! I did! Ryan Shazier’s injury was the most psychologically damaging sporting moment I have witnessed in my lifetime, and shortly after it occurred I switched my television off and told myself I was done with this. It was an admittedly hasty, emotional reaction, and it was obviously short-lived since I turned the game back on at halftime. But that—my initial steadfast refusal to forge onward and, ultimately, my sheepish backpedaling—is representative of the cognitive dissonance harbored by, I think, a sizable contingent of the NFL’s audience. A lot of folks, I’m sure, want to slam their remotes on the table and be done with the violence and the injuries and the constant mismanagement by the suits who govern the whole enterprise, but we can’t look away.

Forgive the nihilism. There is good news. First, there’s this:

Ryan Shazier in the house ... and standing: pic.twitter.com/3jgk1X4rgc

— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 7, 2018

Second, there exists a possibility that the NFL will revisit the catch rule this offseason, much like they did last season when they relaxed a bit on the celebration penalties. Will the resultant policy regarding what is and what is not a catch be complex and difficult to interpret? It probably will. But under the new hypothetical policy, would the Steelers have defeated the Patriots in Week 15 of the 2017 season, seizing home-field advantage and eventually winning the Super Bowl? Absolutely.

Since this probably should’ve been a more Steelers-centric retrospective, here are my 10 favorite things from the 2017 season:

  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster becoming the king of Pittsburgh.
  2. Antonio Brown remaining the king of the NFL and likely punching his Hall of Fame ticket before his 30th birthday.
  3. Ben contemplating retirement, deciding to play, sucking, contemplating retirement again, succeeding marginally, playing at an MVP level, and committing to playing again in 2018.
  4. Mike Tomlin cementing himself in the top-tier of the league’s coaching hierarchy (play call in the Divisional Playoffs notwithstanding).
  5. Cameron Heyward becoming an under-the-radar DPOY candidate.
  6. Chris Boswell’s clutch.
  7. The Steelers signing Joe Haden a week before the regular season.
  8. Hearing Heinz Field collectively chant “Heeaaaathhhh” when Jesse James or Vance McDonald caught passes.
  9. Vince Williams’ Twitter account.
  10. Knowing that next year could be the year.

Steelers-By-Position: QBs

Steelers.com News - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 6:30am
One year after facing a possible retirement, the QB depth chart is stable.

Art Rooney II keeps even keel about Steelers' wild 2017 season

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 6:00am

Art Rooney stuck a knife this week in some notions that circulated around the Steelers lately.

What to do with Le’Veon? Part III: The Steelers’ alternatives

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 5:53am

In the final installment of this 3-part series, we examine what the Steelers’ options are if Le’Veon Bell doesn’t return.

Here we are getting ready to delve into the final installment of my series on, “What to do with Le’Veon Bell?” This is the third exercise where we will search out some alternate options for the Steelers’ backfield not only for 2018, but for the foreseeable future.

  • First, we need to take a look at the options that are already under contract, and on the offseason roster. Here they are:

James Conner

College-Pitt Age-22 Height-6’1” Weight-233lbs. Experience-R

Career Touches-730 Touches (College & NFL)

Bottom Line: Conner is a very intriguing former 3rd Round Pick, that showed an ability to run downhill, and produce a healthy YPC behind this offensive line in his rookie season. He was not utilized in the passing game, but has a history at Pitt of being a reliable checkdown target. Needs to show he is healed from an MCL injury that required surgery, but could be used as the power element in a two-back system to replace Bell.

James Summers

College-East Carolina Age-23 Height-6’3” Weight-210lbs. Experience-R

Career Touches-278 Touches (College &NFL)

Bottom Line: Summers was signed to the offseason 90 man roster. He is a former college QB at East Carolina that converted to a RB as a Senior, and showed a versatile skill set as a runner and receiver. Lots of growth potential, just not someone to be trusted in going into training camp.

...

  • Next we need to examine those RB who were on the roster last season, but that are scheduled to be a Free Agent.

Stevan Ridley-UFA

College-LSU Age-29 Height-5’11” Weight-220lbs. Experience-6

Career Touches-1,122 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Bottom Line: Was a serviceable backup after being signed due to Conner’s MCL injury. Showed fresh legs after dealing with some injury issues that limited his skill set. Would be a nice depth signing due to his experience, and winning background, but should not be counted on as a key member of the backfield.

Fitzgerald Toussaint-UFA

College-Michigan Age-27 Height-5’9” Weight-204lbs. Experience-4

Career Touches-632 Touches(College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Bottom Line: A Special Team’s player, who got thrust into the RB rotation a few years ago. He simply does not possess an above average NFL RB skill set, nothing more than an end of the roster player who shouldn’t be made a priority to return.

...

  • So now that we know about the players in the building, as well as the Free Agent RB options that we are familiar with we need to start exploring outside help. We start with some RB’s that I had mentioned in my Tag & Trade Theory. I am going to examine my top 3 trade targets.

Duke Johnson Jr.-Cleveland Browns

College-Miami(Fl.) Age-24 Height-5’9” Weight-206lbs. Experience-4

Career Touches-1,042 Touches (College & NFL)

Remaining Contract-1yr/$2,082,523 (Free Agent in 2019)

Bottom Line: A dynamic RB who would be best served to be a two back system. Is an effective runner, and elite level receiver as a RB. Johnson Jr. and Conner would be able to efficiently replace the production of Bell’s at a much lesser cost, as well as splitting the wear and tear on their bodies, which should effectively making them fresher for deeper playoff runs. The front office would definitely have to work out a long term deal after trade, so we are not left with this problem again in 2019.

Theo Riddick-Detroit Lions

College-Notre Dame Age-26 Height-5’10” Weight-201lbs. Experience-5

Career Touches-840 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Remaining Contract-2yrs/$8.525m (Free Agent in 2020)

Bottom Line: Riddick is a very accomplished receiving threat for the Lions, who can be an effective runner in moderation. He is among the leaders of RB’s in receptions in the last 5 years. Also he is signed to a cost effective deal. Has dealt with minor injuries, and needs to be in a two back system to stay healthy.

J.D. McKissic-Seattle Seahawks

College-Arkansas State Age-24 Height-5’11” Weight-193lbs. Experience-2

Career Touches-421 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Remaining Contract-ERFA this offseason/RFA in 2019/UFA in 2020

Bottom Line: After floating around at the end of the Falcons and Seahawks roster, opportunity came knocking in the form of ineffectiveness and injury in Seattle’s backfield in 2017. McKissic is a converted college WR, that really was a dangerous weapon for Russell Wilson and company. Has and excellent set of hands as can be expected, and has excellent elusiveness and speed. Is on a team friendly contract with just making a roster for the first time this past year.

...

  • Now let’s take a look at some options of some outside Free Agents in 2018, they could be Unrestricted or Restricted, but I am going to focus on 3 key Unrestricted Free Agents, and a Valuable Veteran Unrestricted Free Agent.

Dion Lewis-UFA-New England Patriots

College-Pitt Age-27 Height-5’8” Weight-195lbs. Experience-6

Career Touches-1,092 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Projected Contract according to Spotrac->3ys/$15,002,639 (AAV-$5m)

Bottom Line: Lewis is a dynamic RB, who can make big contributions in the passing game, and as a runner. Dealt with some injuries in the NFL, and even has some trouble with fumbles from time to time, but would be an excellent 1A option to Conner’s 1B option. He would definitely come at a reduced cost comparative to Bell’s.

Jerick McKinnon-UFA-Minnesota Vikings

College-Georgia Southern Age-25 Height-5’9” Weight-205lbs. Experience-4

Career Touches-1,282 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Projected Contract according to Spotrac->4yrs/$16,252,344 (AAV-$4m)

Bottom Line: McKinnon really came into his own after the injury to rookie RB Dalvin Cook. He split carries with Latavius Murray, and already made the comments that he is looking for an opportunity to be the bellcow of someone’s backfield. We have the carrot to dangle in front of him. He blow up the Combine a few year’s ago with his upper-echelon athleticism, and would be an intriguing fit to see put into this offense. Also is the youngest option amongst UFA RB’s.

Rex Burkhead-UFA-New England Patriots

College-Nebraska Age- 27 Height-5’10” Weight-214lbs. Experience-5

Career Touches-921 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Projected Contract according to Spotrac->2yrs/$6,628,203 (AAV-$3.3m)

Bottom Line: Burkhead was one of my favorite guys to target last offseason after a late season cameo apperance with the Bengals. He has excellent balance, and is a efficient runner with a soft set of hands in the passing game, and he is a proficient pass protector. Does not have a lot of wear and tear on him at the NFL level, and he is a very effective Special Teams player as well.

Special Veteran Target

Darren Sproles-UFA-Philadelphia Eagles

College-Kansas State Age-34 Height-5’6” Weight-190lbs. Experience-13

Career Touches-2,203 Touches (College & NFL Reg. Season & Playoffs)

Projected Contract->1yr/$3m-$4.5m

Bottom Line: Darren Sproles is one of the most dynamic all around threats in NFL history, and was considering making 2017 his final year in the NFL, but due to a broken arm and a Torn ACL for which he is ahead of schedule in his rehab in both has recently started to reconsider making another try in 2018. With the Eagles just coming off a Super Bowl victory in which Sproles’s understudy Corey Clement putting on a show with his pass catching abilities I can see Sproles scouting out another team with Super Bowl aspiration, which leads us none other than our Pittsburgh Steelers. Sign him to a one year deal, and then draft a young RB so that he can mentor them to take his place the following hopefully after he is hoisting a Lombardi trophy in his swan song of a season.

...

  • That leads me to our last option to replace the production that Le’Veon Bell would leave behind, and it is none other than drafting his replacement. Here is some prospects from Early Round Targets to Mid/Late Round Targets.

Early Round Targets

Sony Michel

College-Georgia Age-22 Height-5’11” Weight-215lbs. Class-Senior

Career Touches-654 Touches

Overview: Michel is a dynamite RB who has good power, and speed in the running game, and can make some big time plays in the passing game. Was used in a two back system at Georgia, and could be an impact player in his rookie season.

Rashaad Penny

College-San Diego State Age-22 Height-5’11” Weight-220lbs. Class-Senior

Career Touches-530 Touches

Overview: Penny had one of the hardest jobs to do in all College Football, replace the super productive Donnel Pumphrey, and replace him he did. He put up elite level production, which showed he might just be an overall better NFL prospect than his teammate. With a sturdy build, excellent power, and great long speed for his size, I can envision him making a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Ronald Jones II

College-USC Age-20 Height-6’0” Weight-215lbs. Class-Junior

Career Touches-623 Touches

Overview: “RoJo” as he is affectionately called by his fans at USC is a offensive force. He improved his tackle breaking ability as a Junior, which in combination with his tremendous quickness, and speed make him draw comparisons by some to Jamaal Charles. Jones can instantly become a 1A option to team with Conner to make a young stable of RB’s for the foreseeable future. Also will be one of the youngest prospects in this year’s draft, which worked out for us last year. (JuJu Smith-Schuster)

Mid to Late Round Targets

Kalen Ballage

College-Arizona State Age-? Height-6’2” Weight-230lbs. Class-Senior

Career Touches-532 Touches

Overview: Ballage has a lot of eerily close similarities to Bell when he came out of Michigan State, he even made the statement he tries to pattern his game after out dynamic RB. Big, Sturdy frame who has great power when he wants to use it, and underrated slipperiness and speed in the open field. Will be used best in a one cut or zone blocking scheme, which we excel at. Really flashed at Senior Bowl practices, as well as in the game. He was used in a 2 back system, which limited his production, but possesses the natural talent to be the best RB in this draft class. One of my personal favorites in this Draft.

Ito Smith

College-Southern Miss Age-22 Height-5’9” Weight-195lbs Class-Senior

Career Touches-960 Touches

Overview: Ito Smith seems to be a forgotten man amongst the big name RB prospects in this year’s draft, but shouldn’t be because of his ability to be a workhorse at his size. Possessing upper echelon shiftiness, and elite speed, he will be a constant pest for defensive coordinators at the NFL level. Don’t discount this kid just because he doesn’t come from a bigger conference. Reminds me a ton of when Darren Sproles was going through draft process, and the questions that people were having with his game.

Phillip Lindsay

College-Colorado Age-23 Height-5’8” Weight-190lbs. Class-Senior

Career Touches-882 Touches

Overview: Lindsay was the Colorado offense at times. Whether by air or by ground he had his fingerprint on a ton of games. Possessing a scrappy and cerebral skill set in addition to his great speed and underrated strength to break tackles, and pass protect. he will be able to fall right into a RB committee and be a key contributor as well on Special Teams as a coverage man and PR.

...

In conclusion to my series, I would like to know what you think is the best overall idea in regards to Le’Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am going to include a poll to see just where everyone stands on this issue. Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed my series.

References: Sports Reference-College and Pro, Cbssports.com,Spotrac,Fox Sports, NFL.com,Overthecap.com

Podcast: The “Terrible Towel Cafe” breaks down the coaching, and contract, decisions made recently

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 4:51am

Getting black-and-gold fans ready for another week!


All of us here at BTSC welcome Michael Clyburn to the podcasting team with his unique brand of podcasts!

Michael has dubbed his podcast the “Terrible Towel Cafe” where you will hear a whole lot of Pittsburgh Steelers talk, as well as plenty of other information sprinkled in! Check out his latest episode in the player above, and prepare yourself for a heaping helping of java from the Terrible Towel Cafe in the weeks and months ahead!

Don’t miss on this episode:

Check out the podcast here or on iTunes by searching “The Standard is the Standard”. You can also listen to the shows on several podcast platforms for Android users.

You can always get all of our shows from our BlogTalkRadio page for all the information necessary for upcoming shows, as well as our entire catalog of past podcasts.

New for the show is its live recording on YouTube. You can actually watch the latest podcast and subscribe to our YouTube channel to get updated on all that’s going on with The Standard is the Standard. Subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE.

HERE WE GO!!

...

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

Analyzing the salary cap savings with Stephon Tuitt’s and David Decastro’s new contract structure

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 9:35am

Are these moves foreshadowing a Le’veon Bell contract, franchise tagging him or getting ready for free agency to begin?

On Saturday it was reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers reworked the contracts of both Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro. Such a move would free up $13.26 million. Each player will reduce his base salary to $790,000, which is the veteran minimum for their years of service. The Steelers were backed into a corner in regards to the cap as they were over the cap by $5 million. The Black and Gold have moved their cap space into the black by $7,647,724, according to Over the Cap. This was a necessity to be compliant by March 14, the start of the new league year.

Stephon Tuitt before the rework.

2018

$3.5 million base salary

$2.6 million prorated signing bonus

$7.5 million roster bonus

$13.6 million cap hit

New contract

2018

$790,000 base salary

$4.624 million signing bonus prorated

Cap hit: $5.432 million

$8,168,000 cap savings

2019

$6 million base salary

$4.624 million signing bonus

$3 million roster bonus

$13,642,000 cap hit

2020 and 2021

$9 million base salary

$4.624 million signing bonus

$13,642,000 cap hit

2022

$9,048,560 base salary

$4.624 million signing bonus

$11,090,560 cap hit

David DeCastro before the rework.

2018

$3.79 million base salary

$3.2 million signing bonus

$3.79 roster bonus

$10.78 million cap hit

New contract

2018

$790,000 base salary

$4,897,50l million signing bonus

$5,687,500 cap hit

$5,092,500 cap savings

2019

$7,070,000 base salary

$4,897,50l million signing bonus

$11,967,500 cap hit

2020

$8,750,000 base salary

$4,897,50l million signing bonus

$13,647,500 cap hit

2021

$8,750,000 base salary

$4,897,50l million signing bonus

$10,447,500 cap hit

BTSC faithful will read into these restructures. Does this mean that Bell is on the verge of signing a long-term contract? Is this the march towards freeing up enough cap space to franchise tag him and that massive $14.5 million hit that it would entail? Is this just the start to shave off the $16 million the six-time Super Bowl champs have to clear off their books to make bare minimum offseason moves?

Stay tuned to BTSC for updates on the Steelers offseason news.

Steelers free up necessary salary cap space by reworking contracts of two veterans

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 7:55am

Cap space was needed. So the Steelers made their first off season cap related move.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Steelers were looking at a cap space number of about -$4.9 million. That’s a negative number, meaning that the Steelers would be over the salary cap with their existing contracts. Not only would the Steelers not be able to sign free agents, afford the projected salary of their draft class, or have enough players sign to field a full 53 man roster; the Steelers would have to get rid of some players’ contracts (cut players) just to be in cap compliance when the new league year begins (4:00 PM on March 14).

The team restructured the contracts of two players today, however, which went a long way in lowering their 2018 Salary Cap figure. Per Field Yates (ESPN):

Source: the Steelers have created $13.26M in cap space for 2018 by reworking the deals of G David DeCastro and DE Stephon Tuitt. Each player reduced his base salary to $790K for 2018, converting the rest of his base salary and a roster bonus into a signing bonus.

— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 10, 2018

OverTheCap.com now lists the Steelers as $9.129 million in cap space. Starting to breathe a bit easier, Steelers fans? I feel most fans suspected that several contract restructures were inevitable. Decastro and Tuitt were prime candidates, as they both had big cap hits, and multiple seasons left on their contracts (4 for Decastro, 5 for Tuitt) to spread the signing bonus over.

Will the Steelers restructure or extend any more contracts? Ben has stated he wants to play at least 3 more seasons and is currently under contract for 2. Art Rooney II stated they will look to get an extension done with Ben, although not necessarily in 2018.

Will the team cut some players in order to free up cap space. Some of the potential “cap casualties” have been mentioned already. I won’t list them again. Either way, there truly is no “off season” in the NFL.

Stay tuned to BTSC for updates on the Steelers off season news.

Saying goodbye to an old friend

Steelers.com News - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 7:15am
It was home to some great memories, but it was time to say goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium.

Ron Cook: Brett Keisel is rooted in Pittsburgh

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 7:00am

It’s the damndest thing, Brett Keisel was saying the other day. In the past eight years, he has raised more than $500,000 for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “Just by having people come out to see a man’s beard being cut!”

My dream is for the Steelers and the NFL to one day win football gold in the Olympics

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 6:53am

Is the USA the very best at American football? I think it's time we all found out on the Olympic stage.

As I watched the Opening Ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea on Friday night, the question nagged at me.

And as I watched participating country after participating country introduced before the world, the question nagged on.

And as I watched athlete after athlete take everything in, knowing they'd soon begin the journey they've been preparing for the past four years, the question festered still.

What question was that, you ask?

Is America the best in the world at football? And when I say "football," I don't mean the one involving that round ball which the USA is obviously elite at. I'm talking about the oblong shaped ball.

I mean, think about it, the game of American football has never been played on the Olympic stage, yet, the National Football League has had the audacity to call its annual title winner the World Champion since the league's inception back in 1920.

How does that make any sense, and how is that fair to a country like, say, Peru?

Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown often says he's the best in the world at what he does.

Oh really? There are over 1.3 billion people in China, alone. Isn't it safe to say there's at least one person in that country capable of out-tapping Tony Toe Tap on the sidelines?

And it's probably not just us, proud Americans, that want to know if we are, in-fact, the best in the world at our game of football, either.

Yes, sir, while the citizens of a country like, say, Germany will be cheering for their athletes as they attempt to be the best in the world at events such as skiing and ice hockey this month, you just know, deep down, they're wondering, "But can we beat Taiwan in American football?"

And forget their version of football. Can Germans one day be the best at America's version?

As a proud citizen of this country, the thought that those folks abroad are dreaming of being the best at USA's football is what keeps me up at night.

Perhaps now more than ever, American pride has overtaken regional and provincial pride.

I don't know about you, but I'd trade every single one of those six Lombardi trophies displayed in the Steelers lobby on the South Side for just one magnificent gold medal in football, a medal won on the international stage, a stage much, much bigger—and far more significant—than the platform the NFL provided last week when it presented the Eagles as its latest Super Bowl winner.

And the great thing about Olympic play, is you put aside the hatred of individual players for the greater good of your country.

I mean, imagine how loud you'd be cheering on Tom Brady, as he attempted to lead the USA Men's American Football Team to a gold medal over, say, North Korea in the finals.

Imagine how much love you'd have for Richard Sherman, as he totally shut down—and talked trash to—the very best wide receivers a country like, say, Madagascar had to offer along the way to the USA's—God willing—gold medal triumph.

I know I would cheer for the Bradys and Shermans of the world, true Americans, the both of them. I know this because, back in 2010, I cheered for American goaltender Ryan Miller and jeered Canadian center Sidney Crosby as their teams battled it out for the gold medal in men's ice hockey.

"Go back to Canada with that Matthew Perry," I screamed at Crosby to no avail, as he ultimately broke the hearts of Americans everywhere by scoring the gold-clinching game-winner in overtime.

I believe that, much like in Canada and Russia, where a gold medal in hockey is held in a higher regard than, say, a Stanley Cup or KHL title, Steelers fans—at least the ones in America—would take much greater pride in the United States bringing home Olympic gold than they would their local football team defeating the Patriots in the AFC title game.

Finally, the Eagles are champions of the NFL, but are they truly world champions?

Will they put their individual interests aside and band together with the Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers and Buccaneers to see if the United States of America is the very best at American football?

Maybe by the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, we'll all get to find out.

Recapping 2017, Shazier, coaches & more

Steelers.com News - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 5:00am
If you missed anything this week, we have you covered with our weekly recap.

Black and Gold Links: The NFL needs to change ‘the catch’ rule, but how do they alter it?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 02/11/2018 - 4:50am

Everyone knows the rule needs changed, but figuring out how to change the rule is the real challenge.

Every single black-and-gold fan realizes the NFL needs to alter the league’s ridiculous ‘catch rule’. Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin said the competition committee needs to revisit the rule, and team owner Art Rooney II echoed those sentiments recently.

“I’m for looking at the rule,” Rooney said this week. “There should be a change.”

“I think the Jesse James play was actually called the right way. That’s the way the rule reads,” Rooney said. “But I don’t think that should be the rule. I think he had possession of that ball, reached into the end zone and had possession when he was reaching in. If he was a running back, that would have been a touchdown.

”I just think having consistency in the way plays are officiated like that, I think we have room to improve.”

Again, all of Steelers Nation agrees with Rooney, but the challenge here isn’t stating the rules needs change, but pinpointing that change. So, I ask you, the fans, what you would change with ‘the catch’ rule? Would you scrap the entire rule, or adapt some changes to the current rule?

Let us know in the comment section below! But now time for the black-and-gold news outside the walls of BTSC...

The NFL community remains largely polarized on the subject of the dynastic New England Patriots and if the instances the league has sanctioned then for cheating are legitimate or merely sour grapes.

Apparently, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to err on the side of caution.

The Eagles’ day-before-game practice session in advance of Super Bowl LII last week “was just a complete fake walkthrough,” Philadelphia’s long snapper, Rick Lovato,said during an interview with WDAE radio in Tampa .

Throughout the season, teams meet for a light practice session the day before a game in which pads aren’t worn and plays typically are practiced at no more than half-speed. While these usually occur at a team’s home facility — they will travel for road games after completing the workout — during the Super Bowl, these are held at the stadium.

Over the past quarter-century, it’s been arguably the most high-profile defensive position on a franchise that’s associated with defense: outside linebacker.

But the Steelers face quite a few decisions at outside linebacker going forward.

Of the four players at the position who finished the season on the Steelers’ 53-man roster, three are free agents and another is due a huge contract option to be exercised for 2019.

”Truly, at the end of the day it could and may only be me and T.J. (Watt) left in the room (in 2018),” Bud Dupree said. “So we will have to see what is going on.”

Veteran Steelers cornerback William Gay was invited by Joe Biden to join the advisory council for the former vice president’s foundation.

According to a story published on the ESPN website The Undefeated , Gay accepted an invitation to join a prominent group of leaders, experts and advocates who have been selected to serve as ambassadors for the Biden Foundation, guiding strategic partnerships to create societal change.

Gay’s role will be focused on ending sexual assault and violence against women, among other causes. The 33-year-old, 11-year NFL veteran lost his mother to murder by her boyfriend when Gay was 8 years old.

Steelers sign Roosevelt Nix to 4-year contract extension

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 2:26pm

The undrafted free agent FB was rewarded for his first Pro Bowl appearance

The Steelers continued their off-season work, re-signing another of their own soon-to-be free agents. As reported by Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review:

Steelers sign FB Rosie Nix to a 4-year (!) extension. Was a restricted free agent.
Hey, he's a Pro Bowler

— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) February 10, 2018

Nix was set to become a Restricted Free Agent. The Steelers could have placed an RFA tender on Nix, which would have meant a 1-year contract. This also would have meant another team could have made a contract offer to Nix (which the Steelers have the right to match). Instead the Steelers decided that Nix’s value as a blocker in the run game, and on special teams, was worth the long term investment.

The Steelers did not disclose financial terms of the contract. However, Jeremy Fowler (ESPN) tweeted:

New four-year deal for Steelers FB Roosevelt Nix expected to fall among top-five contracts for the position. Nix, a former defensive lineman at Kent State, made his first Pro Bowl this year.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 10, 2018

The top contract for FB’s, in terms of avg./year:

Kyle Juszczyk-$5.25 million

Patrick Dimarco-$2.1 million

Jamize Olawale-$2.0 million

Jay Prosch-$1.916 million

Anthony Sherman-$1.25 million

We see quite a difference from the #1 spot and the rest of the top 5. I’d have to guess that Nix’s contract would be closer to the middle/lower end of that list than the top.

Regardless, the Steelers locked up a player that figures to be an integral part of their running game for the foreseeable future. Whether that means blocking for Le’Veon Bell, or another RB, Nix is likely to remain a fan favorite for years to come.

Steelers sign fullback Roosevelt Nix to a four-year contract

post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:33pm

The Steelers signed fullback Roosevelt Nix to a four-year contract Saturday. Nix, who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season, was going to be a restricted free agent.

The Steelers’ six Super Bowls are still the standard, which tells you how hard it is just to win one

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:21pm

The Steelers have only won two Super Bowls since their historic run of four in six seasons back in the 1970's. Yet, they still hold the title for most Lombardi trophies, a title that may stay in Pittsburgh for many more years to come.

This hasn't happened to me in a while, but as I sat around Monday morning, listening to a local sports radio personality talk about the Steelers still having the most Lombardi trophies, following the Eagles upset victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII on Sunday night, I kind of had a prideful moment.

Perhaps more than anything, the thing that really struck me was that, even in the face of the Patriots current run of dominance that might be unparalleled in the annals of modern professional sports—a run of dominance that includes eight trips to the Super Bowl and five rings since 2001—they have yet to even tie Pittsburgh in the Lombardi race.

Think about it, the Steelers haven't been the dominant team of any extended era since the late-70's, when they completed their run of four titles in six years, and since that time, other franchises such as the 49ers, Cowboys and those Patriots have had historical runs where they were the top dogs of their day. Yet, by simply adding two Lombardi trophies to its trophy case over a 38-year span, Pittsburgh has been able to stay ahead of the pack.

As I wrote the other day, counting rings isn't exactly something that gives you that same euphoric feeling as simply celebrating your team's latest title—regardless of the number in the trophy case—but I think the fact that the Steelers still own the most illustrates just how hard it is to put even one trophy in your case.

I mean, for as unstoppable and almost unbearable as the Patriots dynasty has been, one of these offseasons is going to be the one that signals the end of the road (I doubt many thought Pittsburgh's historic Super Bowl run was over 38 offseasons ago), and when it does end, it might actually end at five.

So, what's the big deal?

The big deal is, 30 years from now, New England could still be stuck on five titles.

That might seem hard to believe right about now, but when Pete Rozelle handed the Chief, Art Rooney, that fourth Lombardi in January of 1980, I'll bet nobody could have predicted it would take over a quarter of a century for the organization to finally earn that one for the thumb.

This is why I'm just so appreciative of everything that has taken place since Ben Roethlisberger was selected in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

To think that I'd get to witness three trips to the Super Bowl and two parades because of that selection still leaves me in awe.

A team drafts a quarterback in the hopes that he'll turn into the franchise variety. And if you're lucky enough as an organization for the investment to pay off to that degree, even getting one title out of it makes it worth it, but to get two?

Wow.

Not to seem like I'm preaching or telling fans their frustrations with the team in recent years are misguided, but, come on, if you look at things from a historical perspective, Pittsburgh has been playing with house money since about 2011.

Just look at football history and try to come up with many regimes that even made it back to the Super Bowl after going to a few in a short period of time.

I'll save you the trouble by saying the list is a short one.

Between 2005-2010, the Steelers made it to three Super Bowls, which, while not a record, was certainly an unusual accomplishment.

And this is why I have to shake my head a little when fans describe the latter years of Roethlisberger's career as a waste.

Guess what? No portion of Roethlisberger's career has been a waste, because he's already surpassed the odds when it comes to championship success in the NFL.

How many quarterbacks have won at least three Super Bowls?

Tom Brady (five), Terry Bradshaw (four), Joe Montana (four) and Troy Aikman (three). That's it, that's the list. Therefore, if Roethlisberger somehow earns another ring, he'll truly be in rarefied air.

And if Roethlisberger joins that club sooner rather than later (it would almost have to be sooner at this stage of his career), it would not only extend the Steelers lead in the Lombardi race to two over the Patriots, 49ers and Cowboys, their fans could probably brag about having the most Super Bowl titles until Roethlisberger's kids have grandchildren.

You might say, "Well, history has nothing to do with right now, not with all the talent on this team." Really? I have 52 years of data that tells me history has a lot to do with it.

It's just so hard to win one Super Bowl, let alone six of them.

Steelers sign Nix to new four-year deal

Steelers.com News - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 12:13pm
FB Roosevelt Nix signs with the Steelers through the 2021 season.

Random Thoughts From a Black-and-Gold Mind: Post-Super Bowl LII edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 10:10am

Dive into the tangled nest of neurons inside the brain of BTSC's resident madman on all things Steelers and beyond.

The Super Bowl is over and the New England Patriots were vanquished and for many in Steeler Nation, there is much rejoicing. But with the Steelers getting so close, my black-and-gold mind is definitely in overdrive with “what-might-have-beens” and then some. So as always, I pass the ravings on to you. But first, I am obligated to throw a tickertape parade of penance for my blog sins from a week back. So a sedan of sorries go out to and for the following...

  • For those of you who ended up humming Dionne Warwick’s Deja Vu all week.
  • 1970s coin-operated beds
  • Weird Al concerts
  • Posting the three-way percentages of the 1992 Presidential Election
  • Monty Hall’s toupee
  • The Pirates front office ineptitude
  • Those who eat fried Oreos as a main course at dinner

And now for this week’s edition of Random Thoughts From a Black-and-Gold Mind.

  • Could the Steelers have beaten Philadelphia on Sunday? Possibly. But we’ll never know. It’s like being upset that your wife slept with the exterminator and left you and realizing that if she would have stayed...she could have stabbed you, stolen your kidney and sold it on eBay.
  • Classy move by the Steelers guaranteeing Ryan Shazier a job in some fashion next year.
  • Jesse James got a lot of publicity during a Super Bowl in which he did not play in. He’s now synonymous for the no-catch rule. So basically he is the poster boy for getting screwed. Cher performed a song called Just Like Jesse James, but it had nothing to do with having a touchdown called back.
  • Expect a lot of drama when it comes to contract talks between Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers. I would love to see Bell remain a Steeler for life, but the Steelers don’t want a Flacco situation that has handcuffed the Ravens.
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
  • Watching James Harrison and LeGarrette Blount play in the Super Bowl made me think of the Steelers “all eggs in one basket” approach at some positions. I get Mike Tomlin’s reliance on his “next man up” policy, but there’s got to be something better than sticking with a starter and letting the sub rot until he’s needed.
  • So Art Rooney II wants to see Ben Roethlisberger stay in Pittsburgh longer than 2019. If so, they desperately need to upgrade at the backup QB position. Landry Jones can’t do what Nick Foles can and did.
  • The hiring of Tom Bradley to coach the Steelers secondary was a pleasant surprise for me. The guy has been a DC at both Penn State and UCLA and has enjoyed great success with accomplished defenses. If Keith Butler doesn’t hear footsteps, than he’s not paying good attention at all.

And finally, I wonder what Jim Miller is doing these days.

Until next time, open up your ears and your brain and let these Matchbox 20 lyrics sync in...

She’s got a little bit of something, god it’s better than nothing

And in her color portrait world she believes that she’s got it all

She swears the moon don’t hang quite as high as it used to

And she only sleeps when it’s raining

And she screams, and her voice is straining

Take that for what it’s worth, Go Steelers and don’t stop Shalievin’.

Steelers sign B.J. Finney to one-year deal, adding to their growing depth along the line

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 7:56am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to sign their own free agents, especially along the offensive line.

Another week down, and another member of the Pittsburgh Steelers free agent class officially signed. The team has continued to sign several free agents, and most recently offensive lineman B.J. Finney.

B.J. Finney signs a one-year contract to remain with the Steelers. He was the top interior reserve on the O-line.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) February 9, 2018

Finney is just the latest player along the team’s offensive line to be brought back into the fold for at least next season. Realizing it is unlikely the team will be able to re-sign Chris Hubbard, they signed Matt Feiler and hope Jerald Hawkins can hold down the tackle positions for depth.

Finney is the player who is truly versatile on the interior of the line. Finney has played both guard positions, as well as center, and has become a very valuable commodity within the offensive line ranks.

How important? Some are suggesting the team could cut ties with Ramon Foster to allow the Steelers to save cap space, and gain a more athletic guard in Finney. While this might be a long shot, Finney returning is a great sign for a team who wants to keep as many offensive pieces together as possible as they try to push for that long awaited seventh Super Bowl trophy.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on the Steelers free agency, and other black-and-gold news...

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