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Steelers running back trio ranked third best in the NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 1:59pm

The trio of Bell, Conner and rookie Samuels is a top tier unit according to ESPN Insiders.

There is no questioning what kind of player Le’Veon Bell is for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is dynamic as they come, and makes up one of the most versatile players in the entire NFL. If any media outlet were to rank the top running backs in the game, Bell would be at the top, or near it.

However, what about the Steelers’ entire running back corp

s? Where would their top three backs rank among the rest of the league?

This is exactly what ESPN did with an Insiders article as they ranked all NFL running back trios. For the black-and-gold, the trio consisted of Bell, James Conner and rookie Jaylen Samuels.

But first, take a look at the top 10:

1. New Orleans Saints
Top three backs: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Terrance West
2. Los Angeles Rams
Top three backs: Todd Gurley II, John Kelly, Malcolm Brown
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Top three backs: Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels

Projected unit stats: 379 carries, 1,610 yards, 12 TDs; 88 receptions, 704 yards, 3 TDs

Outlook: Bell is the ultimate workhorse. Counting only the weeks he was active over the past two seasons, he was on the field for 92 percent of the Steelers’ snaps, ran a route on 85 percent of the pass plays and was responsible for 82 percent of the designed runs and 20 percent of the targets. Last season, Bell easily paced the position in carries (321), rushing yards (1,291) and receptions (85). Assuming his holdout ends prior to Week 1, Bell will be a good bet to eclipse 1,200 scrimmage yards for the fifth time in six seasons. Second-year back Conner and rookie H-back Samuels will pick up the scraps.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Top three backs: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Ito Smith
5. Dallas Cowboys
Top three backs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tavon Austin, Rod Smith
6. Arizona Cardinals
Top three backs: David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan
7. Tennessee Titans
Top three backs: Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, Akrum Wadley
8. Cleveland Browns
Top three backs: Duke Johnson Jr., Nick Chubb, Carlos Hyde
9. Kansas City Chiefs
Top three backs: Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Damien Williams
10. New England Patriots
Top three backs: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead

So, what do you think of these rankings? Do you agree with the unproven talent of Conner and Samuels being enough to catapult the Steelers’ trio the the No. 3 spot? Or do you think they should be even higher?

Let us know in the comment section below, and join the conversation!

Predicting the Steelers 53-man roster, by position: The Specialists

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 12:09pm

While other outlets are giving you just one bland prediction article, we’re taking it position-by-position as we make our way through the team’s 53-man roster.

For those of you who read the headline to this article and rolled your eyes thinking “Here we go again with another 53-man roster prediction article” — think again.

Every outlet around the country is doing their own version of predicting who will, and won’t, make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final roster after training camp. The offseason has officially ended, but I decided to go a bit more in-depth on the prediction side of things. Therefore, I decided to lead up to my first complete 53-man roster prediction by going position-by-position and deciding who makes the team and who doesn’t.

Today’s position: The Specialists

Depth Chart/Roster:

Punters: Jordan Berry, Matt Wile
Kickers: Chris Boswell
Long Snappers: Kameron Canaday

This will certainly be something not decided until training camp/the preseason rolls around, but I have a feeling I know what the depth chart will look like, and how each player will fit into the team’s scheme when all is said and done, barring injury.

Starters:

Chris Boswell (K) — The Wizard of Boz. Enough said.

Kameron Canaday (LS) — With no competition, and no 6th round pick to be the spark the special teams need, Canaday’s job feels safe.

Jordan Berry (P) — Berry is the only one facing competition this camp, and it might be just what the doctor ordered. For some players, even punters, when you know your job is safe you can relax. Berry has a big leg, and the skill necessary to be a quality punter in the NFL, but his inconsistencies have been glaring at times. I think Berry returns for 2018.

Players to be Cut:

Matt Wile


Roster Spots taken: 40/53 Next position: Defensive Line Past Articles:

Predicting the Starting Safeties
Predicting the Starting Inside Linebackers
Predicting the Starting Wide Receivers
Predicting the Starting Running Backs
Predicting the Starting Cornerbacks
Predicting the Starting Outside Linebackers
Predicting the Starting Offensive Linemen

Cursed! A retrospective of the misfortunes befalling Madden cover athletes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 10:46am

With Antonio Brown securing the latest Madden cover, we dig through some previous iterations of the series to see who fell victim to the infamous curse.

If you subscribe to the notion that Madden is a harbinger of doom and ruination, a cursed talisman that precipitates immediate—and, in some cases, long-lasting—misfortune upon whoever is unlucky enough to grace its facade, then you probably felt deep pangs of despair when it was announced the Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown would be the cover-boy of the latest title of EA Sports’s powerhouse franchise.

Beginning in 2000 (confusingly, with Madden 2001), more than a dozen years following its inception, Madden begun putting NFL stars on its cover, that year substituting Tennessee Titans’ running back Eddie George for the titular John Madden, a Hall of Fame coach whose memory will endure long after he leaves this earth, thanks in no smart part to the omnipresence of each iteration of the Madden franchise. In the nearly two decades that have followed, a sizable majority of Madden cover athletes have suffered major injuries, experienced stunning and often permanent decreases in productivity, or bore witness to hilarious and sometimes self-inflicted failures in critical moments of important games. It’s true that Brown is still in his prime and among the most consistent superstars ever (he’s currently in the midst of an impossibly-productive 5-year stretch that’s quite literally unmatched by any professional receiver in the league’s history), but Madden has wrecked careers, thrown wrenches into the gears of championship seasons, and laid waste to a bevy of players who, like Brown, were and are at the league’s pinnacle.

Personally, I’m terrified by the prospect of Antonio Brown, my favorite NFL player, being featured on this cursed title. A number of players are said to have “broken” the Madden curse, but have they actually? I contend they have not, and my reasoning follows:

Madden 18

Cover athlete: Tom Brady (they called it the “GOAT edition” *groan*)

Season synopsis: Brady took a blowtorch to the NFL, guiding the Patriots to a 13-3 record and winning MVP honors in his age-40 season. New England destroyed the Titans in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs before narrowly defeating Jacksonville in the AFC Championship game on the strength of a Brady-engineered comeback. Then, against Philadelphia in the Super Bowl, Brady hilariously dropped a wide-open pass on a nifty gadget play and meme-ified himself for eternity. Later, with the Patriots trailing the Eagles 38-33, Brady, whose metronomic ability to deliver in clutch moments is perhaps his greatest hallmark, fumbled (in his defense, after getting pulverized by the meaty Brandon Graham), which allowed the Eagles to ice the game.

Curse result: I think it endures!

Madden 17

Cover athlete: Rob Gronkowski

Season synopsis: Gronk’s back (which I suspect will be responsible for his eventual retirement) flared up and cost him the season, including all of New England’s Super Bowl run.

Curse result: It absolutely endures.

Madden 16

Cover athlete: Odell Beckham Jr.

Season synopsis: Beckham was excellent, finishing in top-10 in the league in receptions (96), touchdowns (13), and receiving yards (1,450) in 2015, but the Giants were butt, losing five of their final six games after heading into their bye week with a respectable 5-5 record.

Curse result: Pragmatically speaking, yeah, Beckham probably got the better of the Madden curse, but it’s hard to ignore just how bad the Giants were in 2015.

Madden 15

Cover athlete: Richard Sherman

Season synopsis: Sherman, serving as the primary bastion of Seattle’s fabled Legion of Boom secondary, was arguably the best defensive player in the NFL during the 2014-15 season. Because Sherman routinely relegated some of the best pass catchers in the league to the football equivalent of solitary confinement, opposing quarterbacks up and decided to stop throwing the ball in his direction altogether. He even guided the Seahawks to their second-straight Super Bowl berth!

Curse result: Much like Beckham, Sherman’s performance was sufficient in and of itself to qualify as a curse-breaker. But, thanks to a now-infamous Super Bowl atrocity, Sherman was thrust into eternal memehood:

Put this image in the Smithsonian.

Yeah, Sherman didn’t tell Pete Carroll to call a doomed passing play on second-and-goal from, like, inside the one-yard line and he certainly didn’t tell Russell Wilson force a terrible throw to a blanketed receiver instead of airmailing it five rows into the seats, but it isn’t a stretch to say that he was cursed-by-association.

*We’re excluding Madden 25 (which is actually Madden 14) because it featured two cover athletes, one of whom (Barry Sanders) retired five years prior to its release.

Madden 13

Cover athlete: Calvin Johnson

Season synopsis: Johnson very nearly posted the first 2,000-yard receiving season in NFL history. Frustratingly, though, he only scored five touchdowns, and the Lions posted a 4-12 record despite making a run at the playoffs during the season prior.

Curse result: Eh, probably not. Kinda like Odell and the Giants, Detroit’s inability to, you know, win football games was bad but not really reflective of Johnson.

Madden 12

Cover athlete: Peyton Hillis

Season synopsis: What Peyton Hillis accomplished during the 2010 season was and remains to this day the single most baffling, utterly confounding sporting occurrence I have ever witnessed. Hillis, then a member of the Browns, amassed 1,177 yards on 270 carries (a very healthy 4.4 yards per carry!) and scored 11 touchdowns. He added 60 catches and 477 receiving yards for good measure, establishing himself—briefly, gloriously—as an honest-to-God one-man backfield. (This development, coupled with the professional success of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, led me to erroneously conclude that the 2007 University of Arkansas Razorbacks fielded the greatest backfield in college football history, a take that is easily among my five coldest.) EA would’ve been out of its mind to pass up the opportunity to feature a beefy white running back on its next cover.

In 2011—a contract year for Hillis, it should be noted—Hillis tweaked his hamstring and never got fully healthy, rushing for just over 500 yards in a truncated season.

Curse result: OMG, yes. When your Madden campaign is so disastrous that the Cleveland Browns—the Cleveland Browns—look at you and say, “Nah, we’re better than this,” you are unquestionably afflicted with chronic, debilitating misfortune.

Madden 11

Cover athlete: Drew Brees

Season synopsis: Brees threw for a very characteristic 4,600 yards and 33 touchdowns, but also threw a career-high 22 interceptions and lost to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs, a game that yielded Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Quake.

Curse result: It is insane to me that Drew Brees, perhaps the most accurate quarterback ever, once tossed 22 picks in a single campaign. Still, I think that can be overlooked since a) Brees was still an MVP candidate and b) the Saints, who won the Super Bowl the year prior, didn’t experience anything resembling a hangover during the regular season. But to have lost to Seattle the way they did—namely by allowing the first playoff team with a losing record in league history to win a playoff game—surely felt aided in some ways by cosmic forces. I’m blaming Madden.

Madden 10

Cover athlete(s): Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu

Season synopsis: This was the dumbest cover ever. Both Polamalu, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and still luxuriating in his second Super Bowl victory, and Fitzgerald, already the second-best receiver in the NFL and the face of the Arizona Cardinals, were both worthy candidates to emblazon the cover, but selecting both felt like a cop-out.

Anyway, Fitzgerald was great, scoring a whole mess of touchdowns and more-or-less maintaining his status as a world-beating aerial threat, but Polamalu was limited to just a handful of games due to a knee injury.

Curse result: I mean, yeah, technically it endures.

Madden 09

Cover athlete: Brett Favre

Season synopsis: Favre unofficially retired after the 2007 season, making his selection as the cover athlete in for the 2008 iteration of Madden seem a fitting send-off. EA even used his Packers garb for the cover art! Then, Favre famously un-retired, was traded to the Jets, texted a picture of his junk to a female reporter, threw an equal number of touchdowns and interceptions, and tore his shoulder.

Curse result: Yup.

Madden 08

Cover athlete: Vince Young

Season synopsis: Young, whose presence in Tennessee’s offense was always meant to accentuate the strengths of its rushing attack, threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2007, but somehow guided the Titans to a 9-6 record in his 15 starts. Young also made his only career playoff start in 2007, completing 16 of his 29 passes for a shriekingly bad 138 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Curse status: Not only was the curse very real and very pervasive in 2007, but it took hold of Young like a parasite, completely derailing what seemed destined to be a successful, accolade-laden career. Young was last seen in the CFL, where he spent part of 2017 as member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ practice squad.

Madden 07

Cover athlete: Shaun Alexander

Season synopsis: Alexander, who scored a then-record 27 rushing touchdowns in 2005, fractured his foot in the third week of the 2006 season. He did return, but finished the season with 896 yards and seven touchdowns (which, adjusted for today’s rushing stats, would be like 550 yards and three touchdowns).

Curse status: For sure it endures!

So, yeah, you get the point. The Madden curse is nothing to mess around with, so send your deepest, sincerest prayers Antonio Brown’s way.

James Harrison’s comments on Le’Veon Bell aren’t as crazy as they may sound

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 9:30am

While on FS1 to talk all things football, James Harrison actually made some logical points regarding the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell.

Believe it or not, when James Harrison visited FS1 to do shows like ‘Undisputed’ and ‘The Herd’ with Colin Cowherd, he didn’t just talk about the Steelers and Patriots and compare Mike Tomlin to Bill Belichick.

No, they actually asked him other questions!

One of those questions was regarding Le’Veon Bell, and the failed long-term contract which was reported shortly after the July 16th deadline passed. When asked what he thought went wrong, Harrison stated something which may sound crazy, but is likely 100-percent true.

The Steelers wanted to pay Bell, but just couldn’t.

Take a listen:

@LeVeonBell is not your average RB. He’s getting 70-80 catches a year. You got #1 WRs on other teams that aren’t even doing that. So if you can’t find the money that he wants, it has to be an issue of they don’t have it.” — @jharrison9292 pic.twitter.com/YSbODyIHP4

— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) July 19, 2018

Harrison runs down the names of players who recently cashed in at the bank of Rooney: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Alejandro Villanueva, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro and he even threwe in Ben Roethlisberger with the group. A lot of key players, at key positions, the team has invested heavily in. With this all well known information, what else is known is how little salary cap space the team has to work with.

The Steelers are wizards with contracts, and have always found ways to get money to those players deserving of it, but what if Harrison is right? Maybe they just didn’t have the money to give Bell what he wants/feels he deserves?

There will be some, like Skip Bayless did on the above segment, who say if the team really wanted Bell they would find the money. But how can they “find the money” to do so when the league’s salary cap is far from forgiving?

Sure, the Steelers could have had the forethought to think about Bell’s contract, but they did. The team tried hard to find middle ground with Bell, and his representation, for two years, and when those contract negotiations failed they went out and signed other players who were willing to take the deal offered.

Last year it was Alejandro Villanueva and Stephon Tuitt who were signed after Bell chose to play 2017 under the franchise tag, and this year it very well could be someone like kicker Chris Boswell who will cash in thanks to the space now available due to the mega-offer turned down by Bell.

While most Steelers fans have chastised Harrison for his recent remarks on the culture in Pittsburgh, not everything coming out of his mouth was nonsense. In this case, he may actually have been right — regardless of what Skip Bayless thinks.

Report: Eli Rogers’ free agent tour to hit Cleveland and Oakland this week

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 7:31am

A day after it was reported Rogers will be visiting the Chiefs, it was also reported he will be headed to Berea, OH to work out with the Browns.

A day after it was reported former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers will be visiting the Kansas City Chiefs for a workout, it was also reported he will be headed to northeast Ohio to visit with the Cleveland Browns.

This from Nate Ulrich of the Record-Courier:

New Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley will soon reunite with free-agent wide receiver Eli Rogers.

The Browns are among three teams scheduled to work out Rogers this week, ProFootballTalk.com reported Saturday. He’s also set to audition for the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.

The report suggests the Browns aren’t the only team Rogers will be visiting, but also the Oakland Raiders.

Despite coming off a torn ACL in the Steelers’ playoff loss last season, Rogers is drawing plenty of interest around the NFL. Earlier reports suggested Rogers’ rehabilitation has been going extremely well, and he is ahead of schedule. However, teams will certainly do their homework on his overall health before offering any type of contract.

Steelers fans very well might be wondering why Pittsburgh hasn’t been in the fold for Rogers, but there is nothing saying they haven’t. Offseason reports showed Rogers was at the team’s facility training and going through his rehabilitation. If anyone knows the health of Eli Rogers, it is the Steelers. In the past, the Steelers have told players to go out and test the market, and let them know what they come up with.

Sometimes players come back to the Steel City, and sometimes they get an offer the Steelers simply can’t match. Such is life in the NFL. Nonetheless, Rogers will continue his free agent tour this week, and BTSC will be keeping close tabs on where he lands for the 2018 regular season.

An inside look at Kennywood Park’s plans for their Steelers-themed roller coaster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 6:00am

The Steelers will be the first team in the league with a ride dedicated to them when Kennywood opens its “Steel Curtain” roller coaster in 2019.

If you’ve never been to Kennywood Park, you might want to make plans for a day out next year. After the amusement park unveiled plans to build a Pittsburgh Steelers-themed roller coaster called “The Steel Curtain” in 2019 — a ride that will be the centerpiece of an entire section of the park dedicated to the Black-and-gold — it’s set to be a must-visit attraction for Steelers fans when it opens.

Located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, a short 20-minute ride from Pittsburgh, Kennywood Park broke ground on the zone to be known as “Steelers Country” on Thursday, and were joined by former Steelers’ defensive lineman Chris Hoke for the ceremony.

Kennywood Park Kennywood Park “Steelers Country” groundbreaking

Once it’s complete, Pittsburgh will become the only team in the NFL with a family attraction dedicated just to them. As Kennywood Park general manager Jerome Gibas commented:

“Being the first park to collaborate with a professional sports franchise on not only a themed area, but also a pulse-pounding, high-flying roller coaster is a great honor that fits in with Kennywood’s longstanding tradition of innovation. For that franchise to be our hometown Steelers, the most successful team in America’s most popular sport, it’s a sure touchdown!”

In a move that will hopefully appease long-time fans of the Log Jammer ride like Pittsburgh Dad, Steelers Country will sit on the same site where the popular water ride which closed last year was located. In its place, Kennywood Park will build a record-breaking roller coaster set to be the tallest inversion coaster in the world — with more inversions than any other in North America and one that will be the tallest roller coaster in Pennsylvania when completed.

Designed by S&S Worldwide, The Steel Curtain has a record-breaking 9 inversions and a 197-foot-high loop. Overall the track is 4,000 foot long and passengers will travel at 75 miles per hour.

Kennywood Park Kennywood Park - The Steel Curtain

Alongside the new ride, Steelers Country will also feature a variety of merchandise stalls, skill games and several new food locations including a Steelers-themed tailgating area. Fans will be able to see how they measure up in practice drills, perfect their touchdown dances and check scores and highlights on giant video screens.

Unfinished business remains by way of a long-term deal for Chris Boswell

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 1:33pm

The Steelers might be locking up the ‘Wizard of Boz’ sooner than later.

Let’s be honest here. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been very fortunate with place kickers in recent years.

Well, let’s forget about the Josh Scobee experiment for a second and go back to the days of Jeff Reed, before the Sheetz incident. Reed, who was picked up under Bill Cowher, won the job as an undrafted kicker out of North Carolina after Todd Peterson was injured, and held the job from 2002-2010.

When Reed left the team, Shaun Suisham, the kicker who seemingly couldn’t make an extra point for both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, came in and reinvented his career. From 2010-2014 he was a tremendous addition to the Steelers’ roster. However, after tearing his ACL during the Hall of Fame game in 2015, the Steelers were forced to try and find another kicker and brought in Scobee. After missing crucial kicks in consecutive weeks, the team was eventually forced to find a new kicker, and like Reed before him, Chris Boswell won the job.

Since 2015, Boswell has been nothing short of spectacular for the black-and-gold, and giving him a new contract is something which could still happen before the start of the season before the team shuts down all negotiations.

With the negotiations with Le’Veon Bell now stagnant for the season, the team very well could look to Boswell as the next player they sign to a long-term deal.

This from Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

One piece of unfinished financial business before the end of training camp is for the Steelers to get Boswell’s signature on a long-term deal. He will make $2.914 million in 2018 as a restricted free agent, which ranks No. 15 among kickers. To keep him from hitting the open market in 2019, the Steelers will need to up the ante. Three examples for negotiation purposes: The Chicago Bears signed free agent Cody Parkey for four years and $9 million guaranteed. The Tennessee Titans re-signed Ryan Succop for five years and $7.5 million guaranteed, and the Carolina Panthers kept Graham Gano from hitting free agency with a four-year deal that included $9 million guaranteed.

The Steelers typically still work new contracts for players during training camp, and have gone all the way till Week 1 to get players a new contract. Last year Alejandro Villanueva and Stephon Tuitt were both given new contracts before the regular season, and the Steelers would be wise to lock up Boswell to keep No. 9 in the fold for years to come.

Antonio Brown’s ultimate motivator has always been fear

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 11:55am

Antonio Brown was recently voted No. 2 among the league’s best players by his peers on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list. Believe it or not, he may still be underrated and definitely is far from satisfied.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear.”

Fear can be a powerful motivator. Fear can also make cowards of us all.

It’s impossible to accurately describe or explain Antonio Brown’s greatness without discussing the impact fear has played in his career — the fear of failure.

Brown’s performance over the past five years is unprecedented in NFL history. His stats during this time period are second-to-none.

This has resulted in fans and pundits alike contemplating where Brown will rank in the hierarchy of Hall of Fame wide receivers when his career finally comes to an end.

It’s fun to speculate, but that’s all it is — pure speculation.

How long can Brown maintain his present, never-before-seen level of production? A lot of unknown variables will go into answering this question.

Will Brown’s legendary work ethic and commitment to physical conditioning allow him to remain relatively healthy, enabling him to withstand the wear and tear of a full schedule, plus hopefully multiple playoff runs even at an advanced age?

How many more seasons will Ben Roethlisberger continue to play before he decides it’s time to call it a career and stay home with the wife and kids? Brown and Ben undoubtably have a special connection and each has been vital to the other’s success. If they achieve their shared goal this season and win the Super Bowl, Big Ben might decide to ride off into the sunset while on top, just like his good buddy Jerome Bettis did back in the day.

One thing’s for sure, if Brown is going to continue his climb up the all time receptions and yardage lists he will have to develop a special rapport with another quarterback not named Ben Roethlisberger sometime before the end of his professional career.

That quarterback might turn out to be our own Mason Rudolph. That would be sweet, but only time will tell.

A truly great receiver can make an average quarterback look good or a good one look great. Steelers Hall of Famers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are prime examples of this statement.

First, for any reader not old enough to have watched Terry Bradshaw play football, let me clarify. Terry Bradshaw was a great football player — one of the all-time greats. He had maybe the strongest throwing arm ever to come into the league. One tough son of a gun. A winner.

But he definitely wasn’t an accurate passer. Terry would throw the ball in the vicinity of Swann or Stallworth and they would go GET the ball. That’s why, when you watch old NFL Films highlight videos, they’re filled with miraculous catches by both players. Not only during the regular season but also on the sport’s biggest stage at the Super Bowl.

No player I ever watched high-pointed the football like Lynn Swann. He made catches that I don’t know whether any other receiver would even have got a hand on. Swann was the epitome of grace, leaping ability, and body control. But Swann never loved the game of football like Antonio Brown does. He had other interests and aspirations, so he walked away.

John Stallworth’s greatness was driven by the insatiable desire to prove he was as good or better than his teammate lined up across the field from him. He played with this unmatched competitiveness always smoldering just below the surface. Few people noticed that, back when the Oakland Raiders secondary would physically assault Swann in an attempt to throw him off his game, they basically steered clear of Stallworth with these rough-house tactics. They knew it would have the opposite effect on John. He possessed a laser like focus and he played his best football when he was angry.

Brown appears to have this focus as well. I believe it was on full display during last season’s playoff loss to Jacksonville.

During an era of football when players have never been more aware of their so-called “brand” and the business side of the game, how easy would it have been for Brown to sit out that playoff game?

It was well documented that Brown had worked his tail off doing everything he could to get back on the field with his teammates for the playoff game against not only the best defense in the league last season but the best cornerback tandem as well.

The networks showed him limping around the field during warm ups and it was clear he was nowhere near 100% in his recovery. He could have easily informed the team he wasn’t ready yet and opted to protect his image. What if he had tried to play through the injury and been shutdown by a superior defense?

The network’s talking heads would still be raving about how great Ramsey and Bouye are and they both would be bragging they had stopped him. This could have negatively affected his image and his brand. Would he still have been doing his Destroy Doubt tour this summer? Would he still have been ranked so highly on the top-100 player list? We’ll never know because he went out and played a marvelous game and left no doubt he’s the best player, not just receiver, in the game today.

Now his name is being mentioned in the same breath as Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver in NFL history. They already have one thing in common — Rice was also driven by the fear of failure.

Rice commented during his Hall of Fame speech that he was always driven by fear, throughout his entire career. At first it was the fear of dropping the ball or being caught from behind. Later it was the fear of a younger player taking his position and, finally, during the latter part of his career, it was the fear of someone breaking his records one day and affecting his legacy.

That drove him to work harder and play longer than any player the game has ever seen.

I don't believe that’s simply a fear of failure. I believe it’s the fear of not living up to your own expectations. To be able to look back over one's career without regrets.

Antonio Brown is well on his way.

Report: Eli Rogers slated to workout for the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 10:16am

Will Eli Rogers be signing with the Chiefs soon?

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a wealth of talent at the wide receiver position, so naturally other teams will look for opportunities to bring in former black-and-gold pass catchers to help their own receiving corps.

When Pittsburgh chose not to tender Eli Rogers, the former Louisville receiver, he was set to hit the free agent market. The only caveat in this situation is how he is coming off a torn ACL in his knee during the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last postseason.

Rogers is now healthy, and stated this week he is ready to choose his next team. A report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggests the first stop on his comeback tour might just be in Kansas City with the Chiefs.

Former Steelers’ WR Eli Rogers, who tore his ACL in January during the postseason and has made a strong and quicker-than-expected comeback from his injury, is scheduled to work out Sunday for the KC Chiefs, per source.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 21, 2018

Many Steelers fans were hoping Rogers would return to Pittsburgh to compete for the spot as the slot receiver, a job he held for the past two seasons, but Rogers might be looking at it differently. The Steelers’ receiving depth chart is already pretty full, and there would be no guarantee Rogers would play while behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie James Washington.

In Kansas City, he might view it as a chance to actually play, and not just wait for an opportunity. While this is just a workout, likely to determine how healthy his knee is, if he decides to sign with the Chiefs he will be catching passes from Patrick Mahomes, which certainly won’t be the same as Ben Roethlisberger from his time in Pittsburgh.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this developing story, as well as other news as the team heads to training camp on the 25th.

The Steelers’ tackling last season was an absolute disaster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 9:26am

Thought the Steelers’ tackling in 2017 was horrendous? You were right.

There were moments last season when viewers watching the Pittsburgh Steelers defense had to feel the same way I did. As the ball carrier approached a player donning black-and-gold, you knew the first would-be tackler was not going to do the job.

Sure, there were times when the team surprised us all with a solo tackle, or even one for a loss, but so many big plays were a product of poor tackling. After all, there is a reason Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler have already stressed how tackling will be a huge factor in the upcoming training camp this year.

That reason being it was atrocious last season.

Just check out this statistic, via Pro Football Focus’ Steelers Twitter page:

Last season, the #Steelers missed a tackle on 16.1% of run plays (31st in NFL).

They added sure tackling veterans this offseason in S Morgan Burnett and LB Jon Bostic, who ranked 1st and 8th respectively at their positions in tackling efficiency. https://t.co/R2sUJejvPY

— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) July 19, 2018

It is good to see the Steelers’ added players like Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic, who ranked very high in the tackling category, per PFF, but my goodness how bad was the tackling in 2017?!

Let’s take a look at one of the gems from the season that was:

I know you can’t really hit anymore in the NFL, but is tackling banned too?#Steelers #Colts pic.twitter.com/YIL7GhrT7i

— Noah Coslov (@NoahCoslov) November 12, 2017

As you can see, Mike Mitchell is no longer on the team, but he was not the only member of the defense who failed to bring down ball carriers. You could talk about Artie Burns’ failed opportunities, Ryan Shazier over-shooting the ball and even Bud Dupree’s inability to tackle efficiently, but all this equates to the decisions which were made this offseason.

The additions of players who communicate well, and tackle well. The focus on the skill in training camp. All in an attempt to turn the defense from a band of miscues, to a tackling machine.

Tracking the Steelers’ spending compared to the rest of the NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 7:28am

How does the Black-and-gold stack up salary-wise with the NFL as a whole? We’ve got the answers.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans lament how much their beloved team spends on the offensive side of the ball, while skimping on the defense. According to Over the Cap, Pittsburgh currently spends $107.6 million on offense and $77.7 million on defense. This is to be expected considering JuJu Smith-Schuster is the lone starter still on a rookie deal (including Roosevelt Nix as a starter, not as a third wide receiver). At tight end, Vance McDonald over Jesse James based solely on McDonald’s hefty contract, which suggests he should be on the field more, if healthy. Defensively, only six starters (included Jon Bostic as a starter) are on their second contracts.

How do the Steelers compare with the rest of the NFL? How does the Black-and-gold compare to the rest of the league on a positional breakdown?

OTC came out with a positional breakdown before the draft, showcasing spending on the five offensive and five defensive positions based on average annual value (AAV) of the most recent contract. Below is a breakdown of the positional spending for the Steelers along with their rank at each position. Also included is the NFL average at each position OTC used.

Steelers’ Offensive Spending Quarterback: $24,789,781 QB rank: 10 NFL Avg: $19,311,683 Running Back: $18,661,572 RB rank: 1 NFL Avg: $7,151,272 Wide Receiver: $20,850,417 WR rank: 13 NFL Avg: $19,544,910 O-line: $35,374,947 O-line rank: 6 NFL Avg: $30,748,874 Tight End: $7,752,228 TE rank: 18 NFL Avg: $8,153,829 Total: $107,428,945 Total Rank: 2 NFL Avg: $84,910,567 Total (w/o QB): $82,639,164 W/O QB rank: 2 NFL Avg: $65,598,885

Steelers’ Defensive Spending Cornerback: $14,789,575 CB Rank: 20 NFL Avg: $16,470,437 Edge Rush: $7,143,782 Edge Rank: 31 NFL Avg: $17,957,852 Interior DL: $27,713,996 DL rank: 7 NFL Avg: $16,011,854 Linebacker: $8,387,564 LB rank: 25 NFL Avg: $13,070,528 Safety: $11,140,0751 Safety rank: 3 NFL Avg: $11,026,052 Total: $69,174,992 Total rank: 2 NFL Avg: $74,536,722

Until the Steelers hit more home runs in the draft, or land some high-priced free agents, the defense will continue to lag behind the offense in salary allocation. The 2017 Steelers’ defense finished seventh in points allowed and fifth in total yards. If the 2018 squad can come close to repeating those figures — they would be a massive bargain. On the flipside, Pittsburgh’s offense tallied the eighth-most points and were third in total yards.

Does the imbalance between offensive and defensive spending mean the Steelers’ offense will have to improve? Will the defense put up comparable numbers against healthy teams and keep their costly offense on the field while bringing some value of their own to the table? The answer to those questions might not be fully answered until after the clock reads all zeros on February 2, 2019.

Dan Rooney’s 4 Keys to success the Steelers must follow to reach the pinnacle

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 6:01am

When he passed away in April of last year, the outstanding legacy of Dan Rooney included the keys to a seventh NFL title.

More than any other person, it was Dan Rooney who put the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation on the map. After decades of futility for the team founded in 1933 by his father, Arthur J. Rooney Sr., Dan’s efforts were chiefly responsible for lifting the Steelers out of obscurity and turning them into winners. Hiring the immortal Chuck Noll in 1969, followed by Bill Cowher in 1992 and Mike Tomlin in 2007, Dan Rooney paved the way for the Steelers to become the most successful franchise in NFL history, capturing six Super Bowl titles.

As the 2018 edition of the Black-and-gold prepares to kick off its training camp on July 26th, the main thing on the minds of Steelers Nation is the question of how this talented, perennial contender might find the key to that elusive “Stairway to Seven.” While the Steelers’ fan base often is accused of being spoiled by previous success, the explanation for this bravado has everything to do with already having “been there and done that.” Knowing the requirements for winning NFL championships, and having substantial experience in the winner’s circle, play key roles in building these great expectations.

In his 2007 book, Dan Rooney: My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL, the team’s late owner left behind a clear roadmap incorporating all of the principal elements comprising what otherwise is known as “the Steeler Way.” As someone with ample experience both in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, Mr. Rooney identifies the following, four essentials which he believed every championship team must have:

  1. Talented players
  2. Excellent coaching
  3. Team closeness
  4. Good management

While anyone can and will argue the point, it appears that the 2018 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is already well equipped in three of these four departments. Beyond the obvious need to compensate for the huge loss of Ryan Shazier on the defense, it’s apparent that the Steelers possess the sheer athletic talent to compete with any NFL opponent.

Despite Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s persistent critics, his overall coaching record (including postseason games) of 124-67 (.649) currently places him 19th on the all-time list of NFL head coaches according to Athlon Sports — only two slots behind former Steelers’ head coach Bill Cowher. Furthermore, if Tomlin is able to maintain roughly the same winning pace in the future as he has during his first decade as the Steelers’ head coach, he will wind up near the top of the all-time list by the time he retires, eclipsing even Chuck Noll’s Hall of Fame record (Noll currently is ranked No. 9 all-time).

Additionally, the Steelers are known throughout the NFL as having one of the most competent and stable management groups of any team. With the Rooney family remaining largely in control of day-to-day operations, you won’t find too many people faulting the team’s front-office chops.

By the process of elimination, this brings us to the intangible factor which Dan Rooney described as “team closeness.” Sheer athletic talent often is given so much attention and weight in team rankings that crucial factors involving player psychology and team culture might be overlooked. Yet this difficult-to-quantify factor is precisely what Dan Rooney cited as indispensable to the Steelers’ championship teams.

Team closeness is a combination of factors involving both the caliber of players’ personalities and a team’s particular social culture. Herein, the key requirement is finding players who share a true passion for the game, plus a desire to be the best, both individually and as a team. For example, the great 1970s Steelers teams that won four Super Bowl titles within a 6-year span had several players whose leadership qualities were nothing short of outstanding.

In his book, Dan Rooney places Joe Greene at the top of this list. “Joe Greene could not abide losing,” wrote Rooney. “He took it personally. It’s what made him great, both as a player and as a team leader.” About Greene, his teammate Andy Russell said, “Joe was extremely strong in his attitudes, his opinions, and he wasn’t afraid to voice them in the locker room. He was a very positive influence in the locker room.” At one point in 1974, after the Steelers lost a game to the Houston Oilers which they had expected to win, Greene was so angry about what he viewed as a lack of passion for the game on the part of his teammates that he cleaned out his locker and was prepared to leave the team. If the Steelers’ former receivers coach Lionel Taylor hadn’t interceded to calm Greene down, Pittsburgh might have lost the very foundation of the Steel Curtain defense before ever winning its first Super Bowl.

This anecdote is significant because, although we hear plenty about NFL players these days openly wishing to receive one-way tickets out of town, when is the last time you heard about a team’s star player deciding to pack it in because his teammates weren’t performing up to his standards? Chuck Noll always said that the best way for players to lead is by the example of their own play on the field. And according to Dan Rooney’s account in the book, Greene’s example was a key element in forging the cohesion of those great Steelers teams.

That’s the thing about committing to an unwavering standard — it’s contagious. Similarly, Jack Lambert was no slouch when it came to sticking up for his teammates on the field or, on the other hand, letting them know when they weren’t making the grade. On offense, Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris were both solid team leaders despite their sharply contrasting personal styles. Likewise, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth were team leaders whose influence was comparable to that wielded by Antonio Brown today.

The fact is, over the years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had multiple players who were leaders both on and off of the field. That’s why, when he emceed the Steelers’ 50 Seasons banquet in Pittsburgh in 1982, famed sportscaster Howard Cosell said, “When you play Pittsburgh, you play the whole city. Yes, it’s still the City of Champions. It has nothing to do with victories. Pittsburgh has a winning character.”

This character which binds a team and an organization together isn’t always apparent in younger players. This is where head coaches in the NFL can play an especially valuable role as mentors. Just imagine how difficult the young, volatile Joe Greene must have seemed from a coaching perspective. Yet Chuck Noll was successful in channeling Greene’s high performance standard in a constructive direction, and Greene became not only one of the league’s best players, but also one of his team’s most effective leaders.

Quite plainly, “the book” according to Dan Rooney holds that, regardless of the talent on your roster or the solidity of coaching and management, you won’t win a Super Bowl if your team is divided, distracted or lacks leadership. So when we discuss the “Steeler way” and what it truly means, let’s keep in mind that Dan left us the roadmap. All we need to do is follow it.

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Edition, Vol. 26

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 7:04pm

The LAST offseason Friday night of the year!! YAHOOO!

Several people have asked if we could bring back the Friday Night Open Thread. I had moved the event to Saturday morning, but after minimal success, I decided to bring it back to Friday night — with a slight twist.

I liked the Saturday Six-Pack theme, so I decided to just take the six questions and move them to Friday night. Say hello to Friday Night Six-Pack of Steelers Questions and open thread!

The rules haven’t changed...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

  • I’ll ask at least four questions strictly related to the Steelers.
  • The rest of the questions could be about anything.
  • Be respectful.
  • Have fun talking about the Black-and-gold.

That’s it! With that out of the way, it’s time to get this party started. Hey, don’t act like you’ve never done a little Friday night drinking. Here goes:

1. James Harrison added another layer to his legacy in Pittsburgh with his comments about Mike Tomlin recently. How do you view Harrison now that he is gone and retired?

2. With Le’Veon Bell likely gone after this season, it will free up around $15M in salary cap space next season. If you are the GM, what positions are you targeting next season?

3. Name one dark horse, someone who hasn’t been on an NFL roster before and no one is talking about, who has a legitimate shot at making the 53-man roster.

4. Name a player, or two, who aren’t starters, yet you are excited about seeing what they are doing in training camp.

5. Training camp scuffles...two competitors battling, or just plain dumb?

6. Which training camp battle are you most excited to see pan out?

No matter what, always remember...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

Browns DE Myles Garrett puts a picture of Ben Roethlisberger through a shredder

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 2:45pm

The Browns’ top draft pick from a year ago just cannot get Ben Roethlisberger out of his head as he prepares for the 2018 season

Younger members of Steelers Nation might not be aware that the Pittsburgh Steelers once had a fierce rivalry with a team called the Browns based in Cleveland. Sadly, when it was announced on November 6, 1995, the team would be moving to Baltimore, football effectively died in Cleveland.

Granted an expansion franchise by the NFL in 1999, the modern-day version of the “Browns” bears little resemblance to the team that once resided in the city. While efforts to renew the rivalry the original Browns organization used to enjoy with the Steelers have generally fallen flat, that hasn’t stopped this new Cleveland team from trying. On Wednesday, the flagging franchise which has lost 33 of their 39 games played against Pittsburgh tried to spice up the offseason by taking another little jab at the Steelers with a post on social media.

The Office (2018) pic.twitter.com/1BCB97Lkuj

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) July 19, 2018

In a short video that copies the opening credits of the once-popular TV show “The Office”, several of the Browns’ players display their limited acting skills to the world. Many of the faces included in the video will be a mystery to both Browns and Steelers fans alike, given the rotating-door policy Cleveland employs with its roster each year, but the final name to feature does ring some bells.

One of the few Cleveland players Pittsburgh fans might have heard of, defensive end Myles Garrett, finishes the video by passing a photograph of Ben Roethlisberger through a paper shredder. This might be the closest Garrett has ever come to laying a hand on the Steelers’ star quarterback in real life.

Some within Steelers Nation will remember Garrett as an over-hyped defensive end coming out of Texas A&M taken with the first overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft. Others might remember him as the man who has spent the last year or so talking about how much he wants to sack Roethlisberger.

The OVER/UNDER Game: The betting odds on Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 11:24am

Odds on several players, and statistical categories have been released. Time to place your bet.

The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers season is less than a week away from kicking off with another trip to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, and with that comes odds on the upcoming season.

Sure, everyone has seen the odds for the team’s chances of making the playoffs, winning the division and even winning the Super Bowl, but what about individual players?

Welcome to ‘The OVER/UNDER Game’!

Just to clarify, these odds were not created by myself, or any member of the BTSC team, but are actual betting odds placed on players by BetOnline.ag. So, how do you play the game? Take a look at the OVER/UNDER bets below, and vote in the poll below each bet! Simple, easy and a fun way to gauge what fans expect from individual players this season.

Today’s Player: RB Le’Veon Bell Rushing Yards: Over/Under 1,325 Total Touchdowns: Over/Under 12.5

There you have it! Take a look at the bets above, and place your proverbial bet by voting in the polls! Feel free to explain yourself in the comment section below to explain your votes! Hurry up! Windows are closing...

Did you miss another segment of our game? Check out the links below for more OVER/UNDER fun!

The OVER/UNDER Game: Ben Roethlisberger
The OVER/UNDER Game: Antonio Brown

NFL Insider believes Mason Rudolph is in the best position for long-term success

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 9:15am

Of all the rookie quarterbacks, some suggest Rudolph has the best chance to succeed in the long-term.

Seems crazy, but after the Le’Veon Bell contract negotiations, and the James Harrison comments regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff, Mason Rudolph-mania has certainly died down throughout the offseason.

For those longing for some good news, and optimistic outlooks, on the Steelers’ third round draft pick out of Oklahoma State — look no further.

In a recent ESPN Insiders article, NFL Insiders were asked which NFL rookie is in the best position for long-term success. You’ll never guess who was selected by one of the panel.

Mason Rudolph.

See what KC Joyner had to say about Rudolph, and why he was the pick over other rookie quarterbacks around the league:

Unlike every other team that has one of the star rookie quarterbacks, the Steelers don’t ask their field general to be a savior. They know how to surround their passer with top-flight skill position talent and know how to build strong offensive blocking walls. Rudolph also should have the luxury of time before he ends up taking over for Ben Roethlisberger.

The key statement in the above paragraph is when Joyner speaks about time. Barring something catastrophic, Rudolph should have plenty of time to develop under center, study the nuances of the NFL game and learn from one of the best quarterbacks of his generation in Ben Roethlisberger.

However, you have to wonder just what the Steelers team as a whole might resemble if/when Rudolph does take the helm at quarterback. With Roethlisberger out of the picture, an aging, and expensive, offensive line will have new faces, Le’Veon Bell almost certainly will be gone and Antonio Brown will be at, or near, the end of his current contract. Needless to say, the offense will have a much different look to it than what fans are witnessing every game currently.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away the fact Rudolph will have pieces around him to succeed. Young players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, and former college teammate James Washington will be weapons at his disposal, and it isn’t as if the Steelers will suddenly lose their ability to draft quality offensive players.

I believe I speak for most Steelers fans when I say the excitement around the Mason Rudolph era in the Steel City is real, but hopefully not for a few more years. Ben Roethlisberger gives the team the best chance to win, and while it will be a sad day when No. 7 hangs up the cleats for good, for the first time since 2004 there might just be something to look forward to at the quarterback position.

Looking deeper into Le’Veon Bell’s slow start in 2017 and the potential reasons for it (Part 2)

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 7:37am

How much of Bell’s supposedly slow start last season was perception, and how much was reality?

The first part of this 3-part series showed the struggles the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense had against the seventh-ranked Cleveland run defense in Week 1. Barely escaping with a win, the Steelers’ Week-2 opponent was tougher yet. Week 2 saw the Black-and-gold host the Minnesota Vikings. This is another game in which Le’Veon Bell gets chastised for his slow start. Fans claim the slow start was due to him skipping offseason team workouts, training camp, and preseason games.

Would Bell still be rusty after two full weeks of practice?

Was Bell bothered by his offseason groin surgery that occurred in March?

Where are the kudos for the stout Vikings’ second-ranked run defense?

That’s up to the fans here at BTSC to squabble over.

This is where this 3-part series comes in. I went back and took video of each one of Bell’s carries and receptions during the first three weeks of the 2017 season for you to watch, and dissect.

Second up: Week 2 vs. Minnesota Vikings

The matchup was seen as a tough one on paper. The 2016 third-ranked defense struggled against the run which can be chalked up to a down year or one marred by injuries. That wasn’t the case in 2016 when the Vikings gave up 100 yards to only one running back. (Jonathan Stewart)

Bell had a workmanlike day with 27 carries for 87 yards. (3.2 YPC) This was well off Bell’s career average of 4.3 YPC. The vaunted Vikings’ rush defense gave up those yards to Bell but held 10 teams below that total for the season.

How did the Vikings defense hold up against top running backs in 2017?

Week 17: Jeremy Howard 9-9 one reception for five yards. Terek Cohen 3-13 six receptions 14 yards.

Week 11: Todd Gurley 15-37 three receptions for 19 yards.

Week 1: Alvin Kamara 7-18 and four receptions for 20 yards. Mark Ingram 6-17

Divisional playoffs: Kamara 11-43 and 4 receptions for 62 yards. Mark Ingram 10-25 and one receptions for three yards.

These were some of the best running backs in the NFL in 2016. Clamps were applied and they had limited success.

Is your memory of games skewed by father time, media and/or fellow fans? Or has that photographic memory survived for 10 months? The only thing asked of you is to set aside your perceptions and be objective. The below video is all of the plays Bell was involved in rushing and receiving. (I believe a couple of plays called back via penalty are included.)

Disclaimer: Turn your volume down on your computer as it recorded audio from my computer. I sure like to use disclaimers, HA! I’m not an editing guru and this was my first attempt with brand new software. You’re all guinea pigs for future projects to come. I would like feedback on how to make the videos better.

A few notes about Bell’s actions during the game.

  • 3.2 YPC was his fourth-worst output of the season.
  • 22.2% of Bell’s plays resulted in a first down.
  • Nine of Bell’s carries came in the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead.
  • One rush was for negative yards while six others were for one yard or no gain.

After watching the video, how rusty did Bell appear? What specific plays stood out to you indicating he left yardage on the field? Did your perspective on the Browns’ run defense change? Pittsburgh starts off their season again with the Browns, so what would a disappointing stat-line look like? What would a successful one resemble? If Bell lights up the Browns in Week 1, will this put his 2017 Vikings game out of your mind?

Let us know in the comment section below!

Steelers ranked as the 31st most valuable sports team in the world by Forbes

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 6:03am

Among all professional sports teams, the Steelers ranked in the Top-50 worldwide.

The Pittsburgh Steelers might not have been able to come to terms on an extension with Le’Veon Bell, but it wasn't because the franchise lacks the funds to pay him. After Forbes released their latest list of the world’s 50 most valuable sports teams on Wednesday, the Steelers' ranking shows just how wide the the money gap really is between ownership and their employees.

Although Pittsburgh has seen a drop in its position on the list from No.28 last year to No.31 in 2018, the Steelers' value has still increased from $2.25 billion to $2.45 billion on the year. The Dallas Cowboys retained the No.1 spot on the list valued at $4.8 billion, with soccer teams Manchester United ($4.123 billion) at No.2, Real Madrid ($4.09 billion) at No.3 and Barcelona ($4.064 billion) No.4. Rounding out the top-5 was the New York Yankees with a projected value of $4 billion.

Overall, the list is dominated by NFL teams, with the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills being the only three clubs in the league failing to make the top-50. Forbes ranks Pittsburgh as the 16th most valuable NFL franchise, two places below the Baltimore Ravens ($2.5 billion) and far ahead of the Cleveland Browns ($1.95 billion), the last ranked team on the entire list.

While NFL franchises might not enjoy the global audience that some other sports enjoy, it's clear that the revenue generated from NFL TV contracts dwarfs the amounts earned in other leagues. As Kurt Badenhausen observed.

TV networks pay billions to satisfy viewers wanting NFL action. NFL teams evenly divvied up $8.2 billion, or $255 million per team, last season from shared league revenue, with TV rights deals from CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN and DirecTV the bulk of the money.

A payment also noted by ESPN reporter Darren Rovell recently when the Green Bay Packers' accounts for 2017 became public record.

JUST IN: Green Bay Packers financial report reveals that each NFL team was given $255 million for a national revenue check this past season.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 16, 2018

With the current CBA due to expire after the 2020 season, the NFLPA might want to highlight the league’s dominance among the world’s richest sports teams during negotiations. Someone is clearly making big money from football and it isn't the players.

Podcast: James Harrison’s comments and a wicked game of True or False

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 5:34am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are just under a week away from starting their 2018 season when they report to training camp. With a surge of Steelers news just around the bend, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers, including a fun game of “True or False!”

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Le’Veon Bell: foolish for turning down the deal?
  • James Harrison’s comments on Mike Tomlin
  • True or False!
  • Do you believe in the Madden curse?
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, walks 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 our BlogTalkRadio page. If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below. Be sure to follow us on iTunes by searching The Standard is the Standard.

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 check out 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.

James Harrison unleashes on Mike Tomlin, says Bill Belichick is by far the better coach

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 07/19/2018 - 2:49pm

The former Steeler, turned Patriot, sounds off about Mike Tomlin, and the comparisons between Tomlin and Bill Belichick.

Well, you knew it was only a matter of time, right?

A few weeks ago when James Harrison finally stepped away from the gridiron, we are assuming for good, when he would be in front of a microphone and asked about his departure from Pittsburgh.

The next question would be none other than: Mike Tomlin or Bill Belichick?

This is exactly the scene which took place on the show “The Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.

I’ll just let Harrison do the talking...check out the clip below:

Better coach: Mike Tomlin or Bill Belichick?

"Belichick. Tomlin needs to be a little bit more disciplined. ... Man, I've seen Tom Brady running to a meeting scared to be late." — @jharrison9292 pic.twitter.com/9oA0lZ3XHM

— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) July 19, 2018

If you can’t watch the video, you can see several segments Harrison provided for the show on their official Twitter page, but while praising Belichick he is throwing some serious shade on his former employer.

I have a feeling there won’t be a ton of Pittsburgh Steelers fans who will come to bat for Tomlin. After all, many see him as nothing more than a figure head, or a cheerleader as Terry Bradshaw put it, than they do a cerebral X’s and O’s coach.

However, you have to take Harrison’s words seriously considering the way he speaks about Tomlin’s handling of players. Without saying it, Harrison paints a picture where Tomlin plays favorites to the superstars, and handles everyone else differently. You could certainly connect the dots between Harrison’s comments and situations like Le’Veon Bell missing practice prior to the Jacksonville Jaguars playoff game.

Either way, this will just be another chapter not only in James Harrison’s sorted history with the black-and-gold, but also another chapter in the Steelers vs. Patriots rivalry.

If you want to check out more of what Harrison had to say on the show, here is a clip below where he talks about getting to know, and liking, Tom Brady:

"I'm a Brady fan now; I'm not going to lie. I wanted to hate this dude. He's the ultimate teammate. ... Tom is a great QB -- the best ever. I've never seen anyone with his study habits, his preparation. He's filling up a whole notebook of notes with each game." — @jharrison9292 pic.twitter.com/awpILGJYP7

— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) July 19, 2018

As I’m sure you will, let us know what you think of all this in the comment section below!

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