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Week 3 Late Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - 2 hours 40 min ago

The Steelers don’t play until Monday night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but Sundays without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers slated to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 on Monday Night Football, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games today to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

Report: Steelers now listening to trade offers for Le’Veon Bell

Behind the Steel Curtain - 5 hours 25 min ago

Could the Steelers find someone to take the Le’Veon Bell saga off their hands?

The saga which surrounds the Pittsburgh Steelers and their All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell can truthfully be traced back two years when the two parties were unable to get a deal done before the franchise tag was placed on No. 26.

Things have escalated this year with Bell holding out well into the regular season, and with no end in sight.

The Steelers have always said they aren’t looking to trade their talented running back, but Adams Schefter of ESPN is reporting things are starting to change on this front.

Steelers now listening to trade offers for RB Le’Veon Bell, league sources tell ESPN.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2018

The Steelers’ players have been vocal about Bell not showing up when he said he was going to, and the team has made some slight gestures showing their displeasure of Bell’s absence. It started with them leaving Bell off the depth chart, and then the team not even putting his name on the roster.

Could the Steelers find a team willing to trade for Bell? A lot would need to take place before this would happen.

Bell hasn’t signed his franchise tag tender yet, and this would have to take place before a trade occurs. In other words, a deal would have to be done, approved by Bell and his team, and a sign-and-trade would then take place. Once Bell signed his tender, he would be traded to whichever team was willing to pony up the money for Bell.

The likelihood of this happening is rare, considering Bell’s asking price, but there might just be a team out there with salary cap space who doesn’t want to let Bell hit the open market and get outbid in free agency next season.

In the meantime, don’t fault the Steelers for trying to get something for Bell. His absence has been an issue all offseason, and now during the regular season. It is possible for the team to have reached its tipping point throughout this saga.

Stay tuned to BTSC as this story continues to unfold.

Week 3 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 12 min ago

The Steelers don’t play until Monday night, but we all will be watching on Sunday to see how things shake out in Week 3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t on their bye week, but Sundays without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers slated to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 on Monday Night Football, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games today to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

Le’Veon Bell is just waiting for you to say ‘thank you’ after taking him for granted

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 2 sec ago

Proving that nothing good can come from sharing your thought on social media at 4.21 a.m., the Steelers star running back was once again posting remarks that were probably best kept to himself

After a week of Antonio Brown grabbing all the headlines for the Pittsburgh Steelers for all of the wrong reasons, it would appear that Le’Veon Bell has been feeling a little bit left out. If anyone is going to be a distraction in 2018, it seems that Bell is determined to make sure it is him and the absentee running back put the spotlight back on himself with another aggravating social media post in the early hours of Sunday morning.

sometimes a simple “thank you” can go a long way...I feel like too many ppl take me for granted...

— Le'Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) September 23, 2018

Proving that nothing good can come of tweeting your thoughts at 4.21 a.m., Bell’s latest personal insight is likely to fall on deaf ears just as much as all of his previous efforts to portray himself as a sympathetic figure have done.

At the time of writing, there had been over a thousand responses to Bell’s comment and few of them included the two words he was looking for, even if several did include a two word statement beginning with the letters F and O. While it is unclear if he is looking for a thank you from the fans or his teammates, there seems to be little chance he will receive one from either.

Like millions of people the world over, few of us get a thank you for being paid to do our jobs, given that is generally what the money part is for. The Steelers are willing to offer Bell the equivalent of 855,000 thank yous a week if he would do his.

That being said, there are plenty of people Bell has helped this season and it is perhaps only fair that they show their gratitude - Every team that Pittsburgh will face in the games that he misses, their respective fans, and anyone else around the world who hates the Steelers all owe Bell a huge thank you.

Previewing the Steelers Enemy, Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 24 min ago

The early surprise of the NFL season will see a stumbling, but talented Steelers team. Who are the Buccaneers?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come off wins against two of the best teams in the NFL last season, the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles. How have they done it? Through high-powered offense and a bit of Fitzmagic to go along with it. They do not have a flashy defense, and it is not particularly good, but they get back a few key players this week, which could hinder the Steelers’ plans as a whole.

Quarterback

I simply do not know what to expect from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Is he a good QB? No. But he has some magical runs where he plays like a top tier QB. This seems to be one of those runs. If Fitzmagic shows up like he has the past two weeks, the Steelers are going to have a tough time stopping him through the air.

The secondary will be getting Joe Haden back, but CB2 is in turmoil with the uncertain nature of who will start there. The correct answer to start is Artie Burns, not Coty Sensabaugh.

As for Fitzpatrick, he has shown tremendous accuracy in the past two weeks, but has faltered under pressure. It will be up to the Steelers’ DL and OLBs to get pressure so Fitzpatrick can’t drive the ball at will.

Running Back

I wish I could describe how bad this backfield is. It is one of the worst in the NFL. Peyton Barber is an average RB who will get around 3 YPC all game, but has serious vision issues and offers very little out of the backfield in the receiving game. He, by Koetter’s estimates, is the best RB on the team.

Jacquizz Rodgers is a back who has some power in him and can grind out yards in the late game, but yet again, he is painfully average.

Solid run defense, which the Steelers lack at times, is the way to stop Rodgers, otherwise he can put up yardage.

As for Ronald Jones, I believe he is the Bucs’ best back, but he has shown nothing in his short time in Tampa Bay. Jones looked great at USC, and maybe it is just the issue of finding the correct ways to use him in this high powered offense, but if he gets going, watch out.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

This receiving core is a top five receiving core in the NFL. Led by top 10 receiver Mike Evans, Fitzpatrick has an array of options to throw to.

Evans himself can stretch the field and win on jump balls easily. He has one of the best releases off the line in the game, and over the past year has really improved as a route runner. Evans has polished his game and looks to be one of the biggest mismatches in the NFL. Whoever is covering him will have their hands full. Regardless of how well Evans is playing, he is always a factor due to his height and speed combination.

As for who is opposite of Evans, that would be DeSean Jackson. Jackson appears to be back after new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken has found out how to use him — get him deep. Jackson’s speed is always an issue in the screen game and on slants, but even more so on the streak. He may be getting older, but his down year last year was due to Dirk Koetter’s inability to scheme him correctly. This game, Jackson is going to be a force and a hard stop for the Steelers’ defense.

However, if that was not enough, one of the most promising young receivers in the game, Chris Godwin, will be playing as well. Godwin is a do it all WR, but where he really shines is as a chain mover who can gain serious yards after the catch. Godwin is also a premier deep threat, but is first and foremost a Golden Tate-like receiver how he works best out of quick breaking routes.

For the Buccaneers, he is their JuJu Smith-Schuster.

At Tight End, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate combine to make possibly the best TE duo in the NFL. Howard may only be in his second year, but he has finally blossomed into the receiver they hoped he would be. He is a virtual mismatch against anyone he faces. Brate is a chain moving tight end, but where he really comes in handy is the red zone. He has not been much of a factor so far, but he has gotten the snap count, so he could still be a factor.

The Trenches

This offensive line is tough to read. I like some pieces, but others really leave some substance to be desired. Ali Marpet is a pro bowl Guard and is one of the best in the NFL. He is easily the best guard the Steelers have seen all season and his matchup with Cameron Heyward is going to be one of the most enjoyable matchups of the game. Former Raven Ryan Jensen is a very good run blocker. He is not a great pass blocker, but he will reach the second level in run blocking. Donovan Smith is not particularly good, but he is not bad. He is an average LT, but he is facing Bud Dupree, so he is not getting a very tough assignment in pass protection. Demar Dotson has been one of the best pass blockers over the past five years but he faces T.J. Watt who currently is 3rd in the NFL in pressures. Caleb Beneoch will have his hands full, but he is so painfully average, and if Tuitt plays the way he can, Tuitt will have a big game.

The Bucs will be without Vita Vea and Beau Allen, which are two significant injuries along the defensvie line, but Gerald McCoy is still there. He is one of the best DTs in the game and will continue to do so as a dominant 3 technique. Only Aaron Donald, Cam Heyward, and Geno Atkins have a higher pass rush rate than McCoy. Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul will flank him to create a solid trio inside. While both are great run stoppers, their pass rush rate has been down to start the season, so it will be something to watch with Matt Feiler likely starting at RT.

Linebackers

With Kendall Beckwith on the sidelines for now, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander how some uncertainly around them as Adarius Taylor and Jack Cichy split time. David and Alexander are some of the best linebackers at their positions, although they are not the greatest duo in terms of coverage, which could mean more opportunities for JuJu Smith-Schuster. Cichy is a talented youngster who will fly all over the field, but he is not polished enough yet to truly be a force. Taylor is an average player, but has improved as his career has gone on, but Beckwith was their option and they are taking steps down from him with these two.

Secondary

A battered and bruised secondary could get back Brent Grimes and Chris Conte, but they are both questionable. Grimes is not fast enough to keep up with Antonio Brown, nor is he physical enough to beat James Washington at the line. If they trot out Carlton Davis, the physicality they would gain is a key factor in stopping the Steelers’ aerial attack. Davis is promising and has looked good so far. Ryan Smith has filled in admirably, but was picked apart by Nelson Agholor as the game went on last week. With that said, it leaves JuJu-Smith Schuster with another great matchup once again. MJ Stewart is a promising slot CB who is fast and tenacious, but is he quick enough to keep up with Antonio Brown? For a rookie, that is a tall task.

As for safety, Justin Evans continues to grow and show improvement as he plays more. He is developing into a truly nice cover safety over top for the Bucs. His backup Jordan Whitehead has shown his versatility in the slot and deep on numerous occasions this season, and should get some playing time if they want to maneuver Evans around. Isaiah Johnson seems likely to get the start even if Conte is active, but Johnson and Conte both have to be more disciplined in their instinctual reads on play action. That could be a key aspect in the gameplan of Randy Fichtner.

Player to Watch: OJ Howard

Really bad matchup for the Steelers this week to be facing such a lethal receiving tight end in OJ Howard yet again this week. Terrell Edmunds will have to be on his best game as the Steelers will likely employ man coverage as Fitzpatrick is the least mobile QB the Steelers have faced this season. Will it work? We will see what the rookie can do.

Matchup to watch: DeSean Jackson vs. Artie Burns / Coty Sensabaugh

The second corner spot is so hazy for the Steelers. However, if they want to stop these quick receivers, it is always best to play with Artie Burns. No matter how much you hate Burns, you can never deny that he is a good man coverage corner. That is what he is. You cannot play him in a largely zone scheme. Give him safety help, yes, but give him man assignments. Jackson will be the key cog in the deep play possibility of the Buccaneers offense, so it will be key for Burns or Sensabaugh to slow him down. My confidence increases greatly if Artie Burns is out there.

Prediction

The Steelers have looked bad the first two weeks. There is no denying it, but they did not go 13-3 last season for nothing. This team still has a ton of talent and at some time, especially with their backs against the wall, they have to wake up. If there is anything we know about Mike Tomlin led teams it is that when they are up against a wall, they come out with a vengeance. Last season they traveled to Kansas City and got a huge win to really propel the season forward after the loss to the Bears. I know the Bucs have played dang well these first two weeks, but I think the Steelers finally wake up and pull this one out.

Prediction: Steelers win 34-28

Maurice Jones-Drew suggests Todd Gurley’s new contract and teammates’ comments altered Le’Veon Bell’s return plans

Behind the Steel Curtain - 8 hours 27 min ago

As a friend of Le’Veon Bell who shares the same agent, Maurice Jones-Drew had some interesting insights to share about the Steelers’ star running back when appearing as a guest on the Rich Eisen Show

While there are many names within the national media who attempt to speak on behalf of Le’Veon Bell, few of them actually have any intimate knowledge of his situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, one exception to that statement might be NFL Network analyst and former Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Having had the same agent as Bell and also one of his friends with whom he speaks fairly regularly, Jones-Drew probably has had more contact with the Steelers’ absentee running back than anybody else in the organization in recent weeks. If we assume his insights have more value than most, then his appearance as a guest on the Rich Eisen Show revealed some telling information about Bell’s current thought processes.

They share an agent, so how does @nflnetwork analyst @MJD think the @LeVeonBell situation ends for everyone involved? pic.twitter.com/V5tfMSP3CN

— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) September 22, 2018

Perhaps his most interesting revelation was his take on why Bell didn’t show up for the start of the season. As Eisen observed in his opening question, his agent, Adisa Bakari, had always implied the plans for his client would closely follow the way he had approached the 2017 season when playing under the franchise tag, barring something exceptional happening. When it became obvious Bell wasn’t going to arrive in Pittsburgh for opening day, Bakari appeared on a radio show suggesting something out of the ordinary must have occurred to change his client’s mind, but no answer was ever given to questions about what that incident was.

Jones-Drew did his best to explain what this exceptional circumstance had been when speaking with Eisen, and it turns out Bell’s continued absence is not inspired by only one event.

“I think it was the Todd Gurley contract. I think it then was, after that, the players speaking out. I think it then was, after that, seeing David Johnson’s contract.”

With Johnson signing a three year deal that included a $30 million guarantee and Gurley a four year extension with potentially as much as $45 million guaranteed, Jones-Drew is clearly voicing Bell’s displeasure when he noted the level of guarantees the Steelers were offering.

“The Steelers were offering Le’Veon $19 million guaranteed. I don’t think that’s a real good number when you see David Johnson signing for a three year deal for $30 and Todd signs a $45 million deal. That becomes what we call disrespect.”

It’s worth noting that $19 million is a much lower figure than the $33 million in guarantees reported in July, when Pittsburgh made their last offer to Bell. But perhaps Jones-Drew is referring to the signing bonus amount the Steelers offered him and a number more in line with the figure expected.

Citing James Conner’s 37 touches in Week 1 as proof his friend was right to sit out, Jones-Drew was quick to explain Bell’s continual appearances on TMZ’s website as a consequence of being a “music artist” doing “other things.” Claiming Bell was still training, despite how he looked when last filmed in Miami, laughably, Eisen concurred, adding that he “looks great.”

Jones-Drew’s suggestion that he wouldn't show up until Week 11 if he was in Bell’s shoes gives a fairly strong indication that this is probably his friend’s intention too, but it seems clear that Pittsburgh should see their star runner return by then, if Jones-Drew really is repeating what Bell has already told him.

While we’re wary of putting too much stock in the words of an analyst from the NFL Network, much of what Jones-Drew said appears to fit with decisions Bell has made to this point. And if the Steelers’ running back is listening to the advice coming for the former NFL back, it seems obvious his holdout will not be ending anytime soon either.

Mike Tomlin’s current rite of passage might just be his greatest challenge yet

Behind the Steel Curtain - 9 hours 25 min ago

If Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin manages to lead this team through a brutal first-place schedule into the playoffs with all these distractions, it’ll be his greatest achievement and it may finally get the Bill Cowher monkey off of his back.

I remember as a young man having to take a management training program. I’d been a team captain on various sports teams and I thought I had a handle on what true leadership entailed. So you can imagine my surprise when many of my ideals were shot down that first day. The one statement that disturbed me the most was “Management cannot maintain the same type of relationship with the individuals they are responsible for.” I was shocked and flabbergasted to say the least. What do you mean I can’t still hang out with the fellas and just be one of the guys? Nothing has changed. I’m still the same person. I’m only accepting the position for the financial benefits and what it will mean for my family. I’ll be the best boss ever. I’ll be the the kind of individual that I always wanted to work for.

Fast-forward quite a few years, with multiple employers and employees, plus many valued relationships that started as work colleagues. With age hopefully comes wisdom, and my experiences taught me a valuable lesson. When attempting to lead a group of individuals, no matter how big or small it may be, you’ll always end up sounding more like a parent than you will a fishing buddy.

Your relationships with your employees has to be developed on an individual basis because it depends on the character of the individual. Some employees have a strong work ethic and a get-it-done attitude. These employees need little supervision and appreciate recognition for a job well done. Other employees are not self-starters, but they’ll follow your instructions to the letter with a modicum of supervision and encouragement.

This brings us to our last type of employee and the place where a superior manager really earns their salary. This type of individual will do just enough to get by — just enough to keep their job and still collect a paycheck. They require constant supervision, and then complain that management is always on their tail. When you try to reach out to this type of individual on a mentoring level, some view your overture as an opportunity to exploit your kindness. They’ll mistake your compassion for weakness until you set the record straight.

Mike Tomlin has been accused of being more cheerleader than coach by some in the media, most famously by Steelers’ legend Terry Bradshaw. James Harrison spoke out about a lack of team discipline after being released last season and then signing on for a Super Bowl run with the hated rival New England Patriots. He should know, as reports of him sleeping through meetings and being an overall poor teammate surfaced not long after his release. Deebo even name dropped All-World WR Antonio Brown as being perpetually tardy to meetings. Silly Deebo, nobody likes a tattletale.

Others have proclaimed Tomlin won his Super Bowl with Cowher’s players, which is partly true, but how is that Tomlin’s fault? You play with the hand you’re dealt. Following that line of thinking, the true common denominator through all this success has been Mr. Ben Roethlisberger. Make no mistake about it, this year’s roster is all Mike Tomlin’s.

I want to make one thing crystal clear. I believe Mike Tomlin is a good man. I believe he wants to win each game as much or more than anybody reading this article. I don’t know the man personally, but his character and competitiveness should never be questioned. I totally understood when he almost stepped out on to the field to stop Jacoby Jones from returning that kick for a touchdown against the Steelers in the Ravens’ victory back in 2013, because I would have wanted to do exactly the same thing. It took every bit of constraint he possessed to not only stop himself from tripping the man, but from tackling him outright. You could see the look on his face. He wanted to win. Nobody ever achieves greatness in life without passion. Maybe that’s why Tomlin appears compassionate toward passionate players like Antonio Brown, because he can relate. Maybe we should be happy he hasn’t planted a big kiss on him like Coach Cowher did to Kordell Stewart back in the day.

Tomlin has tried to stay true to his personality as a players coach because that’s who he really is. His greatest attributes as a coach are his relatability and enthusiasm. Players from all over the league have stated they would love to play for the man. Sadly, this has yet to benefit the team as most high-profile free agents abhor the Steelers hard-line stance toward guaranteed contracts. This years collection of talent at Tomlin’s disposal may force him from his familiar perch as a players’ coach and, instead, require him to sprinkle in copious amounts of tough love. It’s impossible to command true respect without a certain amount of fear. Not fear of the individual, but fear of the consequences to come.

Tomlin is still a relatively young man and far from a finished product. He isn't yet what he will eventually be. The Steelers have had a tough start to the season to say the least, but tough times don't last. Tough people do. I believe that the Rooneys, Tomlin, and the leaders in the locker room can still rally together as a team and turn this season around. But it’s imperative that journey starts in earnest this Monday night against the Buccaneers.

We should all be rooting for Tomlin to succeed and get this season back on track. That would mean the Steelers were back to their winning ways, and that should be everyone’s goal. We’re all one family — each one a valued member of Steelers Nation.

Together we are strong. Go Steelers!

Steelers ranked as the 15th most valuable team in the NFL by Forbes magazine

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 39 min ago

Worth an estimated $2.585 billion according to Forbes, the Steelers saw more relative growth in the value of their franchises than all but two teams in the NFL from 2017 to 2018

For those that argue NFL players make too much money, the annual list of the league’s most valuable franchises puts the wage demands of players like Le’Veon Bell into perspective. With the Pittsburgh Steelers star running back sitting at home wondering what he needs to do to garner the paycheck he believes he deserves, the latest release of Forbes NFL valuations will do little to convince Bell he is not worth more than the Steelers are offering.

In their update list for 2018, Forbes rank Pittsburgh as the 15th most valuable team in the league with a worth of 2.585 billion, up one place from their 2017 position when they were valued at $2.45 billion. An increase in value of 5-percent is the third highest change of any NFL team over last year, with only the Seattle Seahawks (6 percent) and Los Angeles Rams (7 percent) seeing more growth. A rise that is even more noteworthy when you realise that 17 teams saw no increase in their valuation at all.

For the 12th year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys top the list with a value of $5 billion, while the Baltimore Ravens retain their title as the AFC North’s most valuable team at $2.59 billion and just one spot higher on the list than Pittsburgh at No.14. The Cleveland Browns come in third in the division and 29th overall at $1.95 billion and Cincinnati Bengals are one place behind, ranked 30th overall with a valuation of $1.8 billion.

Holding a debt equivalent to 8 percent of the value of the team is relatively small for the Steelers when compared to many of the other teams in the league. At the top end, there are franchises like the Rams carrying as much as 45% of their value in debt and there are currently 17 teams with a higher percentage of liabilities on the books than Pittsburgh.

Annual revenue of $415 million places the Steelers an impressive 14th among their peers, and an operating income of $85 million ranks 16th. As per Forbes, the operating income represents earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Founded by Art Rooney in 1933 for a cost of just $2500, $47,000 in today’s money, the franchise has increased in value by over 1 million percent since it was first established. Not a bad investment by The Chief then.

In the NFL, times may have changed but it’s still the same game

Behind the Steel Curtain - 11 hours 41 min ago

We might disagree on how changes have impacted the game over the years — or how championship teams of the past might match-up with today’s contenders — but at kickoff time, Steelers Nation is all on the same page.

In the comment section of a recent piece I wrote, an argument broke out. Weird, huh? The debate was over whether the Patriots, at their best, could beat the Steelers from the glory years. I don’t know the answer to that question, but what interested me was the difficulty of trying to envision such an encounter. Various points were made about the way the game has changed, which rule book we’d use and how that would impact the outcome. Others pointed out the physical differences in the players from differing eras. Players are bigger, faster and stronger than they were back in the day. Don’t forget that Jack Lambert, in his rookie year, weighed less as our middle linebacker than Chris Collinsworth weighed his rookie year as a wide receiver.

Then our illustrious editor posted an account of Big Ben’s learning curve on the RPO and its part in the evolution of the game. And of course, we’ve seen countless takes on the impact on the new rules designed to better protect the heads of players. That’s a great deal of change in not such a long time.

But the good news is — the game is still the game. I consider myself a purist and a traditionalist. Like a charter member of the Flat-earth Society, I’m not only deeply irked by the mere existence of designated hitters in baseball, but I pull out what’s left of my hair over inter-league games. At the end of the day, even with sub-packages and specialists for this and for that, the object of the game of football is still to get the ball to pay-dirt and to keep the enemy from doing the same. It’s still two armies seeking to impose their will on each other. And it’s still the best spectator sport in the world.

Also, we shouldn’t forget that spectating has evolved. The Steelers’ first playoff victory, capped off by the Immaculate Reception, wasn’t even telecast live in the Pittsburgh market because the game hadn’t sold out. That, I believe, was the last time this ever happened. Living 60 miles from former Three Rivers Stadium, I watched the games on a 19-inch console equipped with rabbit ears — no NFL Ticket, no Gamepass, no smartphones, and no 60-inch, high-def televisions. There were no 24-hour sports channels, let alone an NFL network. There were no VCRs or DVRs to time-shift our experience of the game. You watched it when it aired or not at all. There was also no Internet, and you waited until Monday morning to read any analysis in the newspaper, devouring Vito Stellino, Bob Musick and John Steigerwald.

I don’t miss the paucity of information we had back then, but I’m grateful that, at its core, it’s still the same game, and I get to see more of it, more often and more clearly. I’m grateful that the “Stillers” are still the “Stillers,” still under the Rooney family’s control and still winning. I don’t know who would win a battle between the Steelers of yore and the Patriots of today. My hope is that the Steelers of today will do well enough to face them in the post-season, and win — plus finishing the season with a victory in an inter-league game.

Steelers News: Right side of offensive line could be very ‘green’ on Monday night

Behind the Steel Curtain - 12 hours 37 min ago

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with disappointment for the second week in a row after the Kansas City Chiefs came into Heinz Field and dismantled the home team. Heading into Week 3, the team must slowly turn its attention away from the embarrassing loss and solely focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week-3, prime-time matchup. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we focus on the fact the Steelers could have B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler, at guard and tackle respectively, on the right side of the offensive line. Not really an ideal situation for the offensive front as they head into a game many consider a must-win on Monday night.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers’ Matt Feiler ready if called upon at tackle

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The most recent time Matt Feiler started a game – any game, at any level, meaningful or not – at offensive tackle came Nov. 30, 2013.

It was in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship game. Feiler and Bloomsburg lost, 40-38, to rival West Chester and failed in an attempt to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Since then? Well, there were nine late-game snaps at right tackle during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win at Detroit last October.

Other than that…

“I honestly don’t know,” Feiler said, pondering his experience at tackle since college. “I don’t think (any).”

It could come in a few days on Monday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“It’s just something you have to be ready for at all times,” Feiler said after completing a practice in which he said he was taking reps in place of starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert. “If they call my number, they call my number. I have to be ready to play.”

Gilbert has not practiced yet this week because of a hamstring injury. Despite the presence of rookie Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner on the 53-man roster, the Steelers in practice thus far have been turning to Feiler instead of those two young pure tackles.

Mark Madden: Steelers ‘D’ too putrid to let offense bail team out

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Whenever the topic of Antonio Brown and whatever negative impact his shenanigans have on the Pittsburgh Steelers comes up, it’s often dismissed by saying, “He doesn’t play defense.”

That triggers discussion and dissection of the defense.

Legitimate nausea soon sinks in.

Brown is selfish and frustrating. Thursday’s meet with the media was amazing. He admitted no wrongdoing, contradicted himself constantly and berated the media with (in so many words) cries of “fake news!”

If Brown keeps that up, he might be President someday.

But Brown can play. (Just not as well as JuJu Smith-Schuster right now.) Brown will top 100 catches. (Unless, at 30, he can’t get open like he used to.)

The Steelers defense can’t play. It has potential to be ruinous. Its problems are many, and they are great.

The Steelers missed 17 tackles in last Sunday’s home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s mind-boggling. That’s a failing grade in Football 101. If that doesn’t resolve itself organically, it won’t resolve itself. NFL teams barely wear pads in practice anymore, let alone work on tackling. Tackling can’t be fine-tuned.

The defense doesn’t have many (any) strengths. A 3-4 base relies on solid linebackers. That’s been a Steelers strength since adopting the 3-4.

It’s far from being a strong point now.

Vince Williams is average (or worse) now that he’s not partnered inside with Ryan Shazier. T.J. Watt has potential but needs consistency. If Bud Dupree isn’t yet a bust, he’s staking his claim.

The linebackers are bad. That’s a big reason the defense is bad.

Perhaps if the Steelers had drafted more backup quarterbacks …

Underdog mentality still motivates Steelers’ Vince Williams

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Vince Williams doesn’t know how his stall ended up in the far corner of the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room a few years back. It’s prime real estate: a coveted “corner lot,” close to an exit and away from the heavy foot traffic in those busy times after practice.

But to Williams, what made the positioning most fortuitous wasn’t the view of the whole room, nor the ability to stretch his legs onto a makeshift folding-chair ottoman.

“I was blessed by my locker position because I am by a guy like AB,” Williams said, referring of course to Antonio Brown, “and I was next to a guy like James Harrison. So all we ever talked about was all of us had similar paths finding success.”

Harrison went from an undrafted rookie to an All-Pro linebacker. Brown became a likely future Hall of Fame receiver from humble beginnings as a sixth-round pick.

Also a sixth-round pick, Williams isn’t quite on Brown’s Hall of Fame track. But he has come a long way as his career with the Steelers has evolved.

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Williams has always been a well-respected and liked teammate, as well as a favorite of coach Mike Tomlin and his staff. But as recently as two years ago during his fourth NFL season, Williams’ role was that of core special-teams player and backup to Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier.

Now, he’s the Steelers’ longest-tenured linebacker and has become an indispensible part of their defense. He calls out the signals, plays in all situations and almost never comes off the field.

Williams has missed just one of the Steelers’ 147 defensive snaps this season. Through two weeks, just three linebackers across the league played more.

“I never had to prove to anybody what my role was; I always knew what my role was on this team — now my role is just expanded,” Williams said.

“We all what I was capable of — we just had Ryan Shazier. If it’s who do you want on the field, Ryan or Vince, you’re picking Ryan.”

Steelers Week 3 injury report: David DeCastro, Marcus Gilbert and Morgan Burnett all doubtful vs. Buccaneers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 2:08pm

The Steelers are likely to be without at least one of their starting offensive linemen on Monday and could possibly be forced to play without both of their protectors on the right hand side

The final injury report of the week for the Pittsburgh Steelers has officially listed two key offensive lineman as doubtful for the game against the Tampa Buccaneers and it seems very likely that at least one of them is all but guaranteed to miss the contest. With David DeCastro sitting out the last three days of practice and all of the week before, there is almost no chance he will be cleared to play on Monday given how much time he has missed and the nature of his injury.

Morgan Burnett DNP for second day in a row. David DeCastro missed all practices this week. Marcus Gilbert was limited Saturday after being out Thursday and Friday. Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster are no longer on injury report.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 22, 2018

Marcus Gilbert has also been listed as doubtful after being limited on Saturday and sitting out the rest of the week, and it would be safe to say the starting right tackle is a game time decision at best as well.

The status of Moran Burnett remains up in the air following a second missed day of practice while he deals with a groin injury. Like Gilbert, he has been listed a doubtful for Week 3 and fans should prepare for both players to be on the sidelines in Tampa.

When speaking to reporters, although Gilbert was hopeful he might still recover in time, he could not commit to playing quite yet. Despite taking some reps in what he described as a “casual practice”, it was clear he needed to wait until Monday to see how his hamstring felt during warm ups before he would know for sure.

“I will see where I am Monday before the game and see how I feel. ... I very hopeful of where I’m at now, but like I said, I don’t want to jinx myself, I want to keep rehabbing and see how things go before the game.”

Gilbert would be covered by Matt Feiler on the day if he cannot go, while B.J. Finney would replace DeCastro at right guard and a combination of Nat Berhe and Terrell Edmunds should see snaps in place of Burnett.

There was better news for four other names battling back from issues that had sidelined two of them in Week 2 after Joe Haden, Tyson Alualu, Ramon Foster and Stephon Tuitt were all full participants again for the team’s final practice. Haden and Alualu should both be available on Monday despite missing the game against the Kansas City Chiefs, while Foster seems to be coping well with a knee injury that has been causing him problems as of late. Thankfully, the illness that kept Tuitt out of practice on Friday does not seem like it will prevent him from paying against the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers Week 3 injury report:

#Buccaneers Injury Report:

Vea, Allen, Williams OUT

Chris Conte & Brent Grimes questionable#GoBucs #PITvsTB

— WDAE (@620wdae) September 22, 2018

Hines Ward ‘embarrassed’ by Antonio Brown’s actions - ‘That’s not the Steelers culture’

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 1:35pm

The Steelers all-time leading receiver had some harsh words for the man who hopes to replace him in the record books one day

Antonio Brown normally does a good job of avoiding contact during a game, but he just cannot seem to escape the off field hits as of late. After being vilified in the press earlier in the week, a former teammate and a Pittsburgh Steelers legend was the latest to call him out in the media when discussing the beleaguered wide receiver on Saturday.

Speaking as a guest on The Zach Gelb Show on CBS Sports, Hines Ward had some strong words to share about Brown’s recent antics when asked for his opinion by the host.

“I’m a little embarrassed, in the sense that, you know, that’s not the Steelers’ culture. We’re not really big on kinda having off-the-field issues with a lot of different guys. But Antonio Brown, listen, I understand he’s a passionate guy and he wants to win more than anybody in the world, but, in this case, I kind of think he’s wrong for the outburst. When things aren’t going good, a lot of people look at your leaders on the team, the players, the guys who are doing it, they want to see how you respond to adversity. So it’s something I wouldn’t have done. I get it. You’re frustrated. You want to win. But at the same time, having an outburst like that doesn’t do anyone any justice.”

That being said, Ward knows a win can cure all ills, but he has concerns about what might happen should Pittsburgh drop their third game of their year to a surprisingly challenging opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“The Steelers can’t afford to lose that game [vs. Tampa Bay] or things can really get bad in Pittsburgh. ... Winning solves everything. You get back on the winning track, all this other stuff is just outside noise, but if they don’t win down there, I don’t know, I’ll be shocked to see. You’ll have some more issues down there.”

Ward blames social media for much of Brown’s problems, suggesting his former teammate would better served staying off the platform altogether, or at least by not responding to the comments .

“He’s fun, he’s energetic, he wants this connection with his fans, but like I say, there’s a time and a place for everything and I would like for him to just focus on football, find a way to get this thing back on track in Pittsburgh. Like I said, it’s all about winning football games, and that should be the main priority in all the players’ careers.”

As someone who knows Mike Tomlin and the culture of the locker room under his leadership, Ward takes exception to those who blame the head coach for all of the issues surrounding the team.

“A lot of that stuff is really out of his hands. ... I don’t know if that is as much on Mike Tomlin or as much on the leaders of the football team.”

Ward is not wrong in his assessment of Brown behavior, nor are his remarks about the leaders on the team sharing some responsibilities for the issues that have dogged them. Given his somewhat sensitive nature, it is unlikely that AB will take too kindly to Ward’s words, but as the franchise’s all-time leading receiver (for now), he has more than earned the right to say his piece.

The full 20 minute interview can be found here.

Artie Burns unsure of starting spot heading into Buccaneers game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:37pm

The Steelers might be shaking up their starting cornerback across from Joe Haden.

There are times when a scapegoat is used. A player who is used as an example for a poor performance.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football it looks like the team might have found their scapegoat following a poor performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2.

Who is the player? CB Artie Burns.

Artie Burns said he did not know if he would start Monday night. Coty Sensabaugh confirmed he has first team reps in practice Saturday. Burns said his toe injury from last week is not an issue.

— Ray Fittipaldo (@rayfitt1) September 22, 2018

Burns popped up on the injury report last week with a toe injury, but Burns isn’t using that as an excuse. It also should be noted Burns hasn’t been listed on the team’s injury report this week.

Nonetheless, Coty Sensabaugh has been splitting reps with Burns this week, and the former first round pick is unsure if he will be across from Joe Haden on Monday night, or relegated to backup duties.

Burns hasn’t played well throughout this young season, but he is hardly alone. The entire secondary collapsed last week, and it is difficult to pin the performance just on Burns, but it seems if the Steelers make a change it will be at the cornerback position.

What might surprise some is how it is Sensabaugh, not Cameron Sutton, who would be filling in if Burns is indeed benched.

Maybe this speaks more to the state of development for both Burns and Sutton, combined with the solid play by Sensabaugh.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding this story.

Pittsburgh Steelers fans’ confidence plummets as team prepares for Monday Night Football

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 11:20am

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team on the ropes, and the fan base doesn’t know what to think.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and their 0-1-1 record have their fan base in a fit. After a horrendous tie in Week 1 vs. the Cleveland Browns, they followed that up in Week 2 by wasting a 37-point output by the offense and surrendering 42-points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at home.

The players feel they can right the ship, and there are a lot of games left on the schedule, but the fans’ outlook is very short-sighted. In other words, all they see is the misery they find themselves in currently.

For those who participate in the BTSC FanPulse questionnaire every week, you are consistently asked about your confidence level heading into that particular week’s game. Needless to say, there has been a steady decline each week. Well, to be honest, some might just call this a free-fall.

Want to be a part of the SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across the NFL powered by SurveyMonkey. Each week, we send 32 polls to 100+ plugged in fans from each team. Steelers fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.

The 2018 Steelers are an anomaly from what everyone thought coming into the season. Was the 13-3 season of 2017 a mirage? Or will the Steelers be able to right the ship and get back to their winning ways?

Only time will tell, but with every passing week it is proving you truly never know what will happen in the NFL. As the Steelers search for a consistent winning equation, the fan base just longs for consistency across the board. Coaching, executing and overall performance. Just consistency.

The Pittsburgh offense is talented enough to win a championship, and have put up nearly 30-points a game early in the season without Le’Veon Bell, but the defensive side of the football resembles a mixed bag of goods more than a Steel Curtain. Fans, rightfully so, feel if the defense can just hold a team to 21-points, the offense should be able to handle their business.

Where this team goes from here is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure, the Steelers are a team brimming with potential in many areas. Desperately in need of a win, and a signature win against a red-hot team at that, beating the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football just might be the springboard the team needs to propel them to bigger and better things this season.

Steelers Draft Prospects: College Game Day and Open Thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:39am

Time to check in on the NCAA slate of games for Saturday!

Welcome to Week 4 of the college football season. There are a couple of Top 25 match ups this week.

No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama at 3:30 on CBS

No. 7 Stanford at No. 20 Oregon at 8:00 on ABC

Taking a look at the weekly college schedule in an effort to give you your money’s worth for potential Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks in the 2019 season. In other words what games give you the best chance to check out the most draft-able players.

This weeks highlight game:

No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama - 3:30 on CBS Alabama

Ross Pierschbacher #71 C 6’4” 309

Lester Cotton #66 Lester Cotton G 6’4” 325

Jonah Williams #73 OL 6’5” 301

Irv Smith Jr. #82 TE 6’4” 241

Damien Harris #34 RB 5’11” 213

Terrell Lewis #24 LB 6’5” 256

Isaiah Buggs #49 DL 6’5” 286

Raekwon Davis #99 6’7” 316

Anfernee Jennings #33 6’3” 266

Mack Wilson #30 LB 6’2” 239

Deionte Thompson #14 S 6’2’ 196

Texas A&M

Erik McCoy #64 OL 6’4” 315

Trayveon Williams #5 RB 5’9’ 200

Daylon Mack #34 NT 6’1” 320

Kingsley Keke #8 DL 6’4”305

Use the comment section to tell us what game and what players you have your eyes on, and who you would love to see in the Black and Gold next year.

NFL Odds and Predictions: Picking the full Week 3 slate against the spread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 9:21am

We make our picks against the spread and versus the game totals for every game on the NFL schedule in Week 3

While the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to disappoint this season, so do we with our weekly picks. Despite Editor Jeff Hartman making a slight amends for his underwhelming efforts on opening weekend, my results in Week 2 were shocking after I failed to post a positive record against either the spreads or the totals.

With several home favorites in Week 3, only four travelling teams are expected to win their matchups on Sunday and only one double digit spread on the day suggests the bookmakers are predicting a number of close contest this weekend. Six games feature a spread of less than a field goal.

After picking many of the same winners from most of Sunday's action, it is hard to separate our selections with so many solid favorites on offer. As much as it pains us to acknowledge them, the Cincinnati Bengals not only look great value to cover the spread, but also to win the game outight against the Carolina Panthers and may be one of the more attractive bets of the weekend.

Selections have been made using the consensus Las Vegas odds from VegasInsider.com as per Friday night and we encourage you to play along with us by adding your picks below.

Crunching the Numbers: The Steelers on MNF, and running without Le’Veon Bell

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 8:26am

How difficult has it been for the Steelers to replace the production of No. 26 in the games he’s missed?

Are You Ready For Some Football?

There’s something special about playing on Monday Night Football. For those of us who live outside the Pittsburgh area, it’s the excitement of definitely being able to see the game on television. After enduring a Sunday with no Steelers, the upcoming work week is a little easier to start off with the all-day anticipation of the game under the lights.

It’s also very helpful knowing the Steelers are one of the most successful franchises on Monday Night Football. Most fans are familiar with the Steelers’ 31-11 record dating back to 1990, but that wasn’t always the case. After going 10-5 on Mondays during the 70s, the Steelers had a bit of a rough run during the 80s. With a 4–8 record from 1980 to 1986, the team was excluded from this particular prime-time slot for the final three years of the decade.

Over the course of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career, the question wasn’t if the team would be playing on Monday Night Football, but when and how often. In fact, the Steelers have played at least one Monday night game every season since Ben‘s rookie year in 2004. As a starter, Rothlisberger is 14-4 when playing on Monday (including last year‘s Christmas Day game), with 26 passing touchdowns, 2 more rushing TD’s, and 17 interceptions.

Monday night’s game will only be the second time Ben Roethlisberger has played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. His only other appearance was during the 2008 season with a 27–23 victory in Super Bowl XLIII over the Arizona Cardinals, where Ben was 21–30 for 256 yards with one TD and one INT. The Steelers last game in Tampa was in 2010 with a Charlie Batch-led 38-13 victory in Week 3 during Ben Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension. Overall, the Steelers are 4-1 at Raymond James Stadium with the only loss coming on their first trip in 1998.

Consistency, Thou Art A Jewel

It’s fair to say that the inconsistency of the Steelers’ kicking game has been a major concern after two weeks. Chris Boswell is 0/2 in FG attempts and 3/4 on PAT’s. After going 4/4 on game-winning attempts in 2017, Boswell is 0/1 this season. Luckily, the miss only created a tie instead of a loss.

The truly inconsistent kicking has come in the punting category. In 12 punts this season, Jordan Berry has a 42.3 yard average which ranks him 28th in the NFL. But NFL ranking has not been a very strong point for Berry, with his last three years being ranked 32nd, 18th, and 30th.

Distance isn’t always the deciding factor in the quality of a punt. Almost any punt inside the 20-yard line is deemed a success, while punts inside the 10-yard line are more highly coveted. So far this season, Berry has four punts inside the 20, one of which was a 59-yard punt inside the 10 which was downed at the 1-yard line and led to a Steelers’ safety. The trouble is, out of the eight punts not downed inside the 20-yard line, five of them traveled less than 40-yards. This means 62.5% of punts not downed inside the 20 were of the 30-some-yards variety. And it doesn’t even count Berry’s last punt which was officially 56-yards but netted only 36 because it was a touchback.

The kicking game hasn’t been the only inconsistent aspect for the Steelers. The Steelers’ defense only gave up 21-points and 197 passing yards while registering seven sacks and eight passes defended in Week 1. But in Week 2, they surrendered 42-points and 326 passing yards with only one sack and one pass defended. The most consistent part of the defense has been that they’ve surrender more than 125 rushing yards in each game.

The offense has been inconsistent as well. Week 1 brought 159 rushing yards while Week 2 netted only 33. A lot of this was because the Steelers were playing from behind, but even when they did attempt to run the ball, it wasn’t very successful. Additionally, the Steelers improved on their six-turnover performance to have no turnovers the following game. So at least the inconsistency in offensive output (minus the rushing attack) is with an upward trend.

Life Without Le’Veon

In the 85 games the Steelers have played since drafting Le’Veon Bell in 2013, he has started and played in 66 of them. During those games, Bell has averaged 87.3 yards per game with 0.697 touchdowns per contest. Add on his 41.7 receiving yards a game, and Bell has accounted for an average of 129 total yards in each game he’s played.

But what about the other 23 games since 2013 where the Steelers had to find an alternative at running back? It’s definitely been a mixed bag of results. The Steelers have had nine different running backs lead the team in rushing in the games they’ve played without Bell. In the four games Bell missed in 2013 and 2014, a different running back led the team in rushing each game: LaRod Stephens-Howling, Felix Jones, Johnathan Dwyer, and Josh Harris. In those four games, no running back registered more than 40-yards rushing or managed to find the end zone.

In 2015, the Steelers invested in DeAngelo Williams as a quality reserve running back. Williams played 13 games out of the 23 where Bell was not in uniform. During those games, Williams averaged 85.5 yards rushing per game with an average of 1.23 TD/G. He added 29.3 receiving yards per game for a total of 114.8 yards per contest.

In 2015, Williams was also injured and the Steelers had to rely on Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman for the final regular-season game, as well as in two playoff contests. Neither back rushed for more than 65-yards (although combined, the two rushed for 123 yards in the wild-card win) but only had one total touchdown.

In Week 17 last season, Stevan Ridley rushed for 80-yards with a touchdown when Bell was given the game off before the playoffs.

So far this season, James Connor has rushed for an average of 76 yards per game with 1.5 TD’s. Connor has also managed to average 52.5 receiving yards for a total of 128.5 yards per game.

Another standard of measurement is the percentage of games a running back rushes for 100 yards or more. In that category, Le’Veon Bell has rushed for at least 100 yards in 30.3% (20 of 66) of his games. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 100 or more yards in 38.5% of the games he started for the Steelers (5 of 13). James Conner has eclipsed the century mark in 50% of his starts (1 of 2).

When comparing the stats, James Connor has maintained the standards set by Le’Veon Bell for the most part. Could this be because he’s not deemed as much of a threat when other teams game plan against the Steelers? Perhaps. The biggest thing is he doesn’t have a very large body of work. But with every week Bell refuses to show, it allows Conner to put up more stats as the Steelers’ starting running back.

Random Thoughts from a Black-and-gold Mind: Jesse James, Walter White and Absent Antonio edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 7:08am

BTSC’s meteor-minded madman’s meanderings manage to massively maneuver to your medulla.

Oh the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers, Dysfunction’s Darlings. With the defenseless disaster against the Chiefs, the star receiver’s allegedly-excused absence, the runaway RB riding rotundly on a jet ski in a Miami, storm clouds surrounding the quarterback’s alleged affiliation with the president and a porn star in her upcoming literary debut and the media going more batty than Adam West’s closet — my black-and-gold brain is lobotomy bound. So as always, I pass the ravings on to you.

But first a Lobester-fest of lament goes out to and for the follow transgressions from a week ago.

  • Labeling (plagiarism at its’ finest) my @btscbad Twitter followers as my #minyinz. Still only 38, if we got to 300...there’s a prize drawing. (Sorry, It’s not an autographed 8x10 of Tony Defeo),
  • Mentioning Manson followers with no Squeaky.
  • Not enough Necessary Roughness references.
  • Hall and Oates
  • Leaving Danny Devito out of the War of the Roses reference
  • Completely butchering the plot of a Family Ties episode for the sole purpose of including a photo of Gina Davis and Michael J. Fox.
  • Plugging books of non-Steelers.
  • James Conner’s hair stylist
  • The Road Warrior
  • Bruno Mars

Now the latest edition of Random Thoughts from a Black-and-gold Mind.

  • Like Bryan Cranston’s Walter White in the legendary A&E series Breaking Bad, I fear that Antonio Brown is slowly drifting into a level of madness that he may never recover from. His Thursday meeting with the media was evidence of that.
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • I had no problem with AB’s response to a former team-staffer’s douchey tweet that was nothing but bait for No. 84. It had nothing to with wanting traded. I’m not going to give this clown any more publicity by electronically printing his name, but I feel like he caused a lot of unneeded drama. And he was wrong, to boot. Way to hide behind your keyboard pal.
  • Seriously though. I’m not concerned about AB at all. He’s still going to perform. It’s the Defense/ST that have me back in the Burger King Drive-thru with a vengeance.
  • I don’t know if it was the elbow, but despite his stats, Ben Roethlisberger overthrew a lot of open guys. This team needs a sharper BB for it to succeed.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • A future president, an NFL quarterback and a porn star walk in a bar. I have a feeling that no one will be laughing at the punchline of this one. I’m going to try to abstain from commenting any further on this story.
  • I’m not a sports agent, but I’ve seen most of Arliss and Ballers on HBO and I’ve been to the theater multiple times to see Jerry McGuire (I had a lot of one-and-done first dates in 1996-97). That still doesn’t make me an authority on how to counsel athletes. But I think that if I did have a client currently withholding his services from an NFL franchise, I’d advise him not to appear on social media looking like Ving Rhames on a jet ski. I’m definitely starting to think that Week 10 might not even happen for a Peaches and Herb-style reunion between Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers.
  • I think, at this point, Steelers Nation is becoming more and more okay with the prospect of the above scenario.
  • Terrell Edmunds is a rookie with a mere two games of NFL experience in the regular season, but he looks exposed out there. Maybe he’s been thrown to the wolves too early and needs to incubate more at this level, but don’t label him yet. Remember a guy named Troy and another named Cam needed some seasoning before they ultimately flourished. Tom Bradley needs to work some magic with No. 34.
  • When it comes to the Tight End position in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, they are searching for something that they don’t think that they possess. Jesse James has the smarts, the hearts and no fear. Like Frank Morgan’s Wizard character said, “Everything you were looking for was right there with you all along.” The same could be said about No. 81.
  • Just like against the Chiefs, I would take the over this week for MNF in Tampa.
  • Speaking of MNF, not having to listen to Jon Gruden has my Monday made already.
  • We know about “the Killer Bees”. How about a new stable label for a trio on the offense. Jesse, Conner and Washington should be known as “the James Gang.” I’ll work up the t-shirt tonight.
  • The Steelers are pretty happy with their top-reserve on the offensive line, B.J. Finney. While Josh Dobbs is an actual rocket scientist, No. 67’s full name suggests that he should be the one with the big degree...Benjamin Isaac J Finney II.
  • I was in the crowd at Heinz Field on Sunday and I might possibly have been the only person rooting for Pittsburgh in attendance who wasn’t booing Jordan Berry. Not sure how the tryouts will shake out this week, but if Berry makes it onto the charter flight to Florida, he’ll need the punting performance of his life, or else those Disney angels that help down-and-out players survive and thrive. If you happen to see a couple of orphans following No. 4 around on the sidelines, then you’ll know that everything will be just fine.
  • Oh no! Just checked my local listings and the reboot of Magnum PI is on opposite the Steelers this week. Football wins out, but it’s going to be tough to have to wait until Tuesday.

And finally,

Until next time, I ask you to ponder the significance of the lyrics to Pink’s rambunctious single So What? and just how this might pertain to the 2018 Steelers:

So, so what?

I’m still a rock star

I got my rock moves

And I don’t need you

And guess what

I’m having more fun

And now that we’re done

I’m gonna show you tonight

I’m alright, I’m just fine

And you’re a tool

So, so what?

I am a rock star

I got my rock moves

And I don’t want you tonight

Uh, check my flow, uh

.................

Take that for what it’s worth, Go Steelers and Don’t Stop Shalievin’.

Steelers’ Injury Report: Marcus Gilbert and David DeCastro miss practice again on Friday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 6:05am

The Steelers were missing two of their starting offensive lineman for a second consecutive day on Friday, and their availability for Monday is very much in doubt.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ second official injury report of the week was something of a mixed bag on Friday with four players held out of practice for the team’s penultimate training session of the week.

Official Steelers injury report lists Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and Tyson Alualu as full participants. Morgan Burnett (groin), David DeCastro (hand), Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) did not practice. Stephon Tuitt (illness) was added to report as DNP. #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 21, 2018

The continued absence of starting offensive lineman David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert is the most troubling aspect of this latest update, as both were sidelined for the second day in a row. With just one day of practice remaining for both players to prove they’re healthy enough to play in Week 3, it’s looking increasingly like the Steelers will be forced to go without them.

Although rookie Chukwuma Okorafor is officially listed as the backup to Gilbert, it would appear that Matt Feiler has been preparing to start at right tackle in training. When speaking to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, Feiler confirmed he had been getting all the reps with the first team.

“You have to prepare the best you can and practice like you are playing, I keep working the craft. I feel pretty comfortable. I have been getting reps all week.”

Consecutive days as full participants at practice for Joe Haden, Tyson Alualu and Ramon Foster bodes well for their inclusion on Monday and Haden sounded like he might be close to a full recovery when talking to Varley.

“It feels a whole lot better. This week it feels a whole lot better. I am able to run. It’s a whole lot better. We are progressing.”

Unfortunately, Morgan Burnett seems to be regressing with a groin injury that caused him to be limited on Thursday, and he was held out practice altogether on Friday. Hopefully, the illness Stephon Tuitt is currently battling will have cleared up by game day. Rookie Terrell Edmunds would start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers if Burnett cannot go, while Alualu would replace Tuitt.

The Buccaneers Friday injury report can be read on our sister site Bucs Nation.

Black and Gold Links: How to fix the defensive communication issues plaguing the defense

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 5:03am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with disappointment for the second week in a row after the Kansas City Chiefs came into Heinz Field and dismantled the home team. Heading into Week 3, the team must slowly turn its attention away from the embarrassing loss and solely focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their Week-3, prime-time matchup. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we focus on the glaring need for the Steelers’ defense to fix the communication issues which seem to be surrounding Keith Butler’s unit, and we look at how these issues might be rectified.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers attempt to address communication issues on defense

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Receivers running wide open down the field — not just once, but on multiple occasions.

Confused players sprinting onto the field, getting into alignment just before the ball was snapped. Other times, a similar frantic run was stopped as an annoyed teammate shooed him back to the sideline.

Communication issues, by the defensive coordinator’s own admission, not just among the secondary but within the front seven as well.

To put it bluntly: It wasn’t just the final score that was ugly for the Pittsburgh Steelers defense in last week’s 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

It’s difficult to pin down a worst moment for coordinator Keith Butler’s crew last Sunday. But when half of the defense was running one scheme and another half was in a different set during a first-quarter snap deep in Steelers territory, the result was an easy Travis Kelce 19-yard touchdown.

“We have a quarterback on the (defense), and we always have to play what he is playing,” Butler said. “Even if he is wrong, we all have to be wrong. We all have to be ‘wrong,’ and we will be right if we do that.

“I know that doesn’t make sense to y’all, but it makes sense to our guys.”

Steelers fans watching some of the carnage might think the defensive calls weren’t making sense.

The defense was facing one of the NFL’s better offenses in the Chiefs, and its issues ranged well beyond communication. But the players and coaches on the unit themselves acknowledged confusion was a significant factor in allowing three times as many touchdowns (six) as punts (two) during Kansas City’s 11 meaningful drives.

It’s an issue that must be addressed by Monday when the Steelers face a Tampa Bay team that leads the league in total yards (482.5) and passing yards (405.0) per game and is second in scoring at 37.5.

“Everybody needs to be talking, linebackers and safeties, making sure the linebackers and the D-linemen hear it,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “So it’s just echoing the calls. I think that’s about it (to fix the issues).”

Kevin Gorman: Steelers star Antonio Brown wants to win, but business isn’t booming

By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Antonio Brown is accountable for his actions and took full responsibility for causing distractions for the Pittsburgh Steelers, even if he mostly blamed it on the media for magnifying his life under a microscope.

The All-Pro wide receiver spoke publicly Thursday at Steelers headquarters for the first time since his “trade me” tweet, explaining his emotions are tied directly to being in the business of winning.

And business is anything but booming.

So, as Brown tells it, the heated sideline exchanges between Brown and assistant coaches Randy Fichtner and Darryl Drake in the 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday was merely a misunderstanding.

Simply, the Steelers were losing, and Brown wants to win.

“We haven’t won a game yet. For me, as a Steeler, that’s unacceptable,” Brown said. “I’m not on the sideline begging for the ball or making statements like you guys make. I’m (angry). We’re losing. We (stink).”

If you were expecting a public apology, you’ve got the wrong guy.

Brown did offer a mea culpa for forcing his teammates to answer questions about his tweet, which he called “a stupid remark online.” But he was otherwise defiant, a trait one teammate called “that dog in him” that carried Brown from sixth-round draft pick to NFL superstardom.

“You guys make assumptions about my emotions. You don’t know me at all,” Brown said. “Everyone in this locker room knows what I stand for, knows what I’m about.”

Steelers might just benefit from Antonio Brown’s defiance

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

On the offensive, an unapologetic and defiant Antonio Brown replaced his signature ear-to-ear smile with tense, sometimes combative words.

His Thursday session with the media was an extension of frustrations he expressed about the media back in the spring, offering a hint of contrition about his turbulent 72 hours -- mainly, his “trade me” tweet that he called a “stupid remark” and a distraction for his Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brown is on edge, and has been for a while. He’s hot. And it’s still hard to believe what’s real, like what did Steelers coach Mike Tomlin really know about Brown’s Monday absence before it happened?

But Brown’s broad message -- being “pissed off” the team’s not winning -- resonates in the Steelers’ locker room as just the edge this team needs after an 0-1-1 start.

”That’s what you want the team to be thinking -- to be pissed off,” running back Stevan Ridley said.

Brown and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner are cool, with Fichtner calling the sideline exchange a nonissue. And teammates expect Brown to go off on Monday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Coming off Brown’s previous two controversies -- the Facebook Live broadcast in the locker room during the playoff two years ago and the flipped Gatorade cooler early last season -- Brown produced a combined 17 catches for 234 yards in the following games. In the Jacksonville game, Brown got 19 targets, or 25 percent of the Steelers’ offense.

Guard Ramon Foster acknowledges Brown was rattled Sunday but dominates when the focus stays intact.

”It’s more mental than anything,” Foster said of Brown’s game. “The physical part is just what he does. The mental part is when his mind is made up, that’s what makes him great. He’s not a weak guy. He’s a guy who understands and laughs at this stuff because he knows the end of this is going to be something great for him. I look forward to him bouncing up big time.”

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