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The Steelers head back to the east coast with an injury at a position they cannot afford one

Behind the Steel Curtain - 1 hour 31 min ago
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 3, but they also lost Vance McDonald could spell trouble in the short term.

The Pittsburgh Steelers took a gamble heading into Week 1 of the 2019 regular season. The gamble? Heading into the regular season with a tight end depth chart of Vance McDonald, Xavier Grimble and Zach Gentry.

For some teams, heading into the season with your top three tight ends isn’t a risk at all, but knowing McDonald’s injury history makes your margin of error, from a personnel standpoint, paper thin.

In the Steelers’ Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Vance McDonald suffered a shoulder injury and was unable to return to the game. After the game Mike Tomlin stated there was no thorough update on McDonald’s shoulder, but he is being evaluated.

An injury to the team’s top player at the position is one thing, but an injury at a position as thin as tight end is downright frightening. If we take a minute to assume McDonald could be out at least for the Week 4 game on Monday Night Football vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, you are looking at a depth chart of Grimble and Gentry.

This is a risk the Steelers were clearly willing to take heading into the regular season. Yes, they did put in a waiver claim for a tight end prior to the start of the season, but you have to wonder how there isn’t anyone out there who could be considered an upgrade over what they currently have on the roster.

When looking back at the Week 3 24-20 loss, there is no reason to think this loss had anything to do with the tight end position, but when you don’t have any legitimate weapon at any position it only enhances the defense’s chances of shutting down the opposition.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for their first divisional game in Week 4, and hopefully their first win.

Podcast: 5 turnovers not enough as Steelers lose to 49ers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 2 hours 33 min ago

In the latest episode of “The Steelers Post-Game” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the most recent contest.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is here, and it has gotten off to a disastrous 0-3 start.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Post-Game Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Recap after the loss to the 49ers
  • Winners and Losers
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

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

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

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

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

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

Analyzing the Steelers Week 3 loss to the 49ers, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - 3 hours 34 min ago
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

This time, it was the offense who couldn’t stay on the field long enough to help out the defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell in defeat for the third straight time as they are currently 0-3 to start the 2019 season. Although they possessed the ball with less than five minutes remaining in the game with a three-point lead, a late turnover gave the ball back to the 49ers in field-goal range who punched it into the end zone to take a four point lead. Unable to move the sticks on their final position, the Steelers offense finished up in the same manner they did most of the day – without a first down.

Now that the Steelers have dug them selves into the worst hole possible after Week 3, perhaps they can dive deep into self-evaluation when viewing the tape from Sunday. While the Steelers have maintained a close game the last two weeks, they still have fallen short of victory and have many things they can look to fix in the upcoming weeks.

There were many things that contributed to the Steelers loss, and the numbers outlined here probably only scratch the surface. Unlike last week, the most glaring numbers were back to being with the offense in my opinion even though there was plenty of blame to go around. So here are some of the numbers which contributed to the Steelers loss in Week 3.

12:34

The time of possession was highly skewed in favor of the 49ers on Sunday. In fact, they possessed the football 12:34 longer than the Steelers which is the equivalent of almost an entire quarter difference. It also marked the second straight week in which the Steelers opponent ran more than 70 plays.

5:55

The Steelers final drive of the first half lasted 5:55 on 11 plays for only 34 yards. It resulted in a punt from 49ers 41-yard line. Shockingly, it was the longest drive in terms of clock usage by either team the entire game. In fact, the Steelers only had one other drive which lasted longer than two minutes which resulted in their second field goal after the Minkah Fitzpatrick interception. This means the Steelers had 11 drives during the game which only took 2:00 or less off of the clock.

168

The Steelers defense gave up 168 yards rushing on 40 attempts to the 49ers on Sunday. While this is a concerning statistic, it is largely from a result of the first two numbers which were mentioned. The Steelers defense spent entirely too much time on the field Sunday and gave up many rushing yards late in the game as defenders had been on the field for an uncharacteristically long time.

59

Other than the two long plays which scored touchdowns, the Steelers passing game was pretty much nonexistent. In fact, the Steelers only had 59 receiving yards which were not as a result of touchdowns. The 76-yard touchdown to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the 39-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson was pretty much the entire offense on the day.

+3

The Steelers forced five turnovers on Sunday and had a turnover margin of +3. It was the first time they had such a large margin in almost exactly one year when they did it in Week 3 of 2018 in Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football. The last time the Steelers had a +3 turnover margin and lost the game was by an identical score of 20-24 to the Miami Dolphins in Week 5 of 1985 when they intercepted Dan Marino three times. Sunday was also the first time the Steelers had five or more takeaways since Week 3 of 2010 when the Steelers defeated the Tennessee Titans 19–11 in a game where they had seven takeaways.

52.3

One bright spot for the day was Jordan Barry has seemed to straighten out his punting woes from 2018. Berry averaged 52.3 yards on six punts against the 49ers.

8-1

It’s important to put into perspective the quality of the opponents the Steelers have faced in 2019. After Week 3, the Patriots, Seahawks, and 49ers have a combined record of 8-1. The only team to suffer a loss so far in 2019 is the Seattle Seahawks who fell to the two 2-1 New Orleans Saints in Week 3. So while the Steelers could very easily be 2-1 at this moment, they are also playing teams who have had success (granted against the Steelers as well) for the 2019 season.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance in San Francisco. Do these numbers accurately describe what transpired Sunday? Were there any other numbers not listed which really stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.

Knee-Jerk Reactions after the Steelers 24-20 loss to the 49ers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 6:56pm
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his real-time, initial thoughts of the Steelers search for their initial win of 2019.

Here we go! The Steelers have had a September to remember if you are a masochist, Two losses, a monumental injury and a blockbuster trade are the headlines that are up front and center in the frontal lobe and throughout the Central Nervous System. Will the Steelers rebound with a win or regress even further? So without further ado, join me inside my cranium as I rehash the Week 3 desperation contest with San Fran.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later. I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steeler Nation. Here’s my real-time reactions during the Steelers’ chance at redemption as they look for their first win of the new season.

Quarter 1
  • Who do we see first, Mason or Minkah?
  • Steelers defer, so Mikah is up first
  • Picked off by Watt!!!
  • JuJu, Washington, and Johnson all on the field to start the game.
  • They were looking for a field goal all the way on that third and long.
  • Boswell looking much better in 2019
  • After two successful runs, Tuitt with the big sack
  • Ball out! Got to get on that. But it’s a big loss.
  • Made the stop on third and long this time so here comes the 49ers punt. Switzer back receiving to start.
  • 5 yard runs on first down – I’ll take them every time!
  • Two drives and no first downs. The Steelers offense needs to settle in quickly. Can’t expect the defense to hold them every time.
  • That is how you make a Steelers debut! Minkah with the pick after the pressure on Garoppolo by Dupree. Haden defended and Fitzpatrick cleaned it up.
  • Got to get this in the touchdown zone!
  • There’s a first down.
  • Rudolph has no time. The o-line has got to step up.
  • Six points on two first-quarter turnovers is not enough.
  • They send Fitzpatrick on a blitz which opens up the deep ball.
  • Ola on the field, but the quarter ends. Steelers up 6-0.
Quarter 2
  • 17 plays by the 49ers to the Steelers 11 to start the quarter. Not good enough. Defense needs a break.
  • Another turnover! Minkah knocks it out and Bush gets on it! This time it keeps points from being scored by the 49ers.
  • Nice screen to McDonald for a gain of 10.
  • Rudolph overthrew a wide-open McDonald on second down. Have to make those plays when you have the chance.
  • Still no third-down conversions.
  • Tight end and fullback killing the Steelers in the passing game.
  • That hit wasn’t late. Are they saying he hit his helmet?
  • If the Steelers had three turnovers and were only down 6-0 I’d be ecstatic. The offense isn’t helping the defense at all. Not getting in the end zone and not sustaining drives. They’re asking them to do all the work.
  • Another fumble!!! Defense is doing EVERYTHING in this game. Yes, it was a fumbled snap but they still got on it. What more can you ask?
  • The offense has to sustain a drive here. The defense has been out there a long time.
  • The defense gets the turnover, and the offense rewards them with a three and out.
  • The Steelers have four takeaways and only two first downs. They could have put this game away early. At least Rudolph isn’t having to match score for score yet.
  • The defense is hitting Garoppolo a lot. Even when they get big plays.
  • Bush got turned around and Kittle gets open for the conversion. He’s the 49ers best offensive player by far.
  • That shovel pass hit a lineman. It should have been a flag.
  • Steelers keep them out of the end zone and hold them to a field goal.
  • Come on offense, give your defense a break!
  • Johnson fought like crazy for that first down! Finally a third down conversion.
  • As soon as Holton was in the game, I thought something interesting was going to be coming to him.
  • Mason not afraid to tuck it and go when he has to. Took a big hit though.
  • 49ers edge rusher’s are the real deal.
  • Less than a minute to go. Defense needs to hold.
  • Haden with a great tackle for loss and kept them in bounds! That’s gonna be the half.
  • Steelers up 6-3 at half time and get the ball to start the second half.
Quarter 3
  • The coaches need to adjust and counter adjust if they’re going to have success in the second half. It’s been their biggest downfall in 2019.
  • There’s a nice first down play to Diontae Johnson on the end around.
  • The Steelers offense finally gets moving and here comes a penalty.
  • Mason avoids the sack but throws the pick. Not the way to start the half.
  • 22 yards on third and seven? Yikes!
  • Both sides of the ball struggling on third down now.
  • Now let’s see what the offense does playing from behind.
  • Holton was back and not Switzer on that kick off.
  • This offensive line is getting driven back. What was supposed to be a strength has become perhaps their greatest weakness.
  • If that time out allows the 49ers to challenge and it gets overturned, Steelers Nation is going to lose their mind! It’s bad enough to burn a second-half time out.
  • No challenge, so let’s play some defense!
  • The defense gets there first three and out in four quarters. But it’s hard to say too much when they’ forced four turnovers.
  • JUJU!!!! That’s the exact play the Steelers needed! 76 yards to the house!
  • The 49ers defense has been daring them to complete that ball all day. They’ve completely sold out for the run. The Steelers finally made them pay! And of course it was JuJu.
  • Even with the touchdown, the defense has been out there a lot. Getting gashed with the run now.
  • Steelers are still getting a lot of hits on the quarterback, but they’re on completions.
  • And just like that the 49ers have the lead back. They just ran it right down their throats.
  • The inability of the offense to get yards on first down has been a killer all day.
  • Another third down coming to start the fourth quarter. Steelers trail 13-17.
Quarter 4
  • Washington just short fighting for the first down. Yet another failed third down conversion.
  • That blindside block is a tough call. It’s usually stuff like that which goes against the Steelers. It was the right call though.
  • Switzer does catch the ball on punts, but actually getting yards just isn’t happening.
  • Got to have good yardage on first down. Let’s see if the Steelers can do it.
  • There’s a nice first down run! Conner gets 10.
  • There’s the shot deep. That’s a touchdown if they don’t interfere. I guess it was a smart defensive play.
  • There’s another deep shot to Johnson for the touchdown! That’s what they’ve needed! The 49ers have been daring them to do it and there it was.
  • That’s the first career touchdown for Diontae Johnson. Let’s watch them grow exponentially from here.
  • Even when the offense scores, they don’t give much time for the defense to rest. But you take points when you can take points.
  • Two plays and they are across midfield already. Come on!
  • The defense looks tired. They’ve got to dig deep here and keep them out of the end zone.
  • Another fumble recovery! The 49ers shoot themselves in the foot and the defense is taking advantage. That’s points off the board!
  • And they give it right back. Once again the defense is back on the field
  • And on third and long they give them the automatic first down on a hold. And lose Cam Heyward. All on a play that should have been a sack
  • And a 5-yard penalty turns into a touchdown. The Steelers have 1:15 to get to the end zone.
  • Good job throwing it away and not taking that sack.
  • And just like that, Rudolph doesn’t throw it away and takes the sack. Now it’s fourth and 12 with no timeouts. About the worst thing that could happen.
  • And that’s the ball game. Was that five defenders around that pass?
  • Defense gets five turnovers in a losing effort.
  • So the Steelers fall to 0-3. They have a lot of work to do to salvage the season. Next week against Cincinnati they HAVE to get it done.

Once again, I just shot first and I’ll apologize later. All reactions were in real time. Basically, it is the equivalent of watching me do the highlights if I hadn’t been blacklisted by the major networks. Now time to watch it again and see what really happened. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

On a side note, Bryan was away this weekend and had to watch the game on delay. Therefore Dave Schofield had to be tapped in to help out. If things seemed a little off that is why. Bryan will be back next week for Monday Night Football.

Steelers can’t turn 5 turnovers into a win, lose to 49ers 24-20

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 6:23pm
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their record to 0-3 after losing 24-20 in Week 3.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Week 3 a battered and bruised team. There was no Ben Roethlisberger under center for the first time since 2016, and there was a certain unknown surrounding the start of the Mason Rudolph era. Nonetheless, off to San Francisco went into Levi Stadium to play the 2-0 49ers in hopes of claiming their first win of the 2019 regular season.

To start the game, the Steelers won the coin toss and decided to defer their possession to the second half, putting their defense on the field to start the game. After Jimmy Garappolo hit George Kittle for a first down, a screen pass was tipped and intercepted by T.J. Watt giving the Steelers the football deep in 49ers territory.

The Steelers’ offense didn’t do much with the free possession, and had to settle for a Chris Boswell 46-yard field goal to give them an early 3-0 lead. Still, points off of turnovers is a huge win for a Steelers team who has struggled in that area so far in 2019.

After both teams exchanged punts, Garoppolo was pressured on second down and another tipped pass sailed into the hands of a Pittsburgh defender. This time it was recently acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick who came down with the pass and set up the offense with tremendous field position for the second time during the opening quarter.

.@minkfitz_21 making his presence known. pic.twitter.com/lM5kxfAJaN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2019

Rudolph and company were able to move the ball to the 5 yard line, but failed on third down when the offensive line wasn’t able to give Rudolph a clean pocket long enough to find an open receiver. The result was another Boswell field goal to make the score 6-0 with 1:29 left in the opening quarter.

On the ensuing San Francisco possession they moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory for the first time, but the drive resulted in their third turnover of the game when Minkah Fitzpatrick forced a fumble which was recovered by Devin Bush. However, Mason Rudolph and company couldn’t turn this turnover into points, and Jordan Berry was called onto duty after just one first down.

For the second straight possession, the 49ers moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory with ease, this time to the 7-yard line, but coming out of a timeout Garoppolo fumbled the snap and Bush recovered for Pittsburgh’s fourth turnover of the half. A bad trend for the Steelers’ offense was another three-and-out, giving the ball right back to the 49ers offense.

With their best starting field position of the game, Jimmy Garoppolo was able to move the offense deep into Pittsburgh territory, again, they were forced to settle for a Robbie Gould chip shot field goal to make the score 6-3 with 6:45 left in the half.

Pittsburgh’s 3rd down offense was dreadful throughout the majority of the first half, but on their final possession of the first half the Steelers were able to find their footing. After three straight conversions, Pittsburgh threatened to move into field goal territory, but a Dee Ford sack on third down pushed them out of field goal range, forcing another punt.

After halftime, Pittsburgh started with the football, but after stringing together a couple first downs Rudolph made his first big mistake as a starter and was intercepted after being flushed out of the pocket to register the first turnover for Pittsburgh of the game. What ensued was a Garoppolo drive that ended in a Jeffrey Wilson Jr. one yard touchdown plunge to give the 49ers a 10-6 lead that felt insurmountable at the time.

On the next drive, it looked like more of the same for Rudolph and company. Painful runs of 3 yards, and it set up a 3rd and 4. A critical moment in the third quarter, but Rudolph hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crossing route and Smith-Schuster took it to the house for a 76-yard touchdown.

.@TeamJuJu taking it ALL THE WAY TO THE ! pic.twitter.com/T7lYfrUJuF

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2019

The Boswell point after made the score 13-10 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.

Pittsburgh’s lead didn’t last long after Garoppolo moved the ball with ease into Pittsburgh territory, but it was on the ground where the Steelers’ defense was getting gashed. In that fashion, it was appropriate the Steelers defense gave up another touchdown run by Wilson Jr., this time for 4 yards. The score gave the 49ers a 17-13 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

After both teams exchanged possessions, it was the Steelers who struck next. As Jason Verrett was inserted into the game for the 49ers defense, Rudolph attacked him immediately. First on a deep pass to James Washington, where Verrett was flagged for defensive pass interference, the next on a 39-yard bomb to Diontae Johnson for the Steelers touchdown.

Solid first NFL touchdown for @Juiceup__3! pic.twitter.com/pLgGC5JG62

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2019

The Chris Boswell point after made the score 20-17 with 10:22 left in regulation.

Clinging to a 3-point lead, the Steelers defense couldn’t stop the San Francisco ground game, and watched them march down the field into a first and goal situation. Trailing by three, and on third down, the 49ers fumbled the football and T.J. Watt recovered giving the ball back to Pittsburgh with a chance to ice the game.

However, football is a strange game and after getting a first down to open the series after the turnover, James Conner was stripped from behind giving the ball right back to San Francisco. After what appeared to be a 3rd down stop, Mark Barron was flagged for defensive holding, giving the 49ers a 1st and goal situation from the 9 yard line. On second down Garoppolo hit Dante Pettis for the go-ahead score.

Trailing 24-20, the Steelers had two timeouts and 1:15 left in regulation the task was too tall for Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh offense as they failed to even convert one first down and turned the ball over on downs.

It iced the game for the 49ers, giving the Steelers their third straight loss to the 2019 regular season, moving their record to 0-3. They now have to prepare for a Monday Night Football game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4.

Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 5:38pm
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

After halftime, Pittsburgh started with the football, but after stringing together a couple first downs Rudolph made his first big mistake as a starter and was intercepted after being flushed out of the pocket to register the first turnover for Pittsburgh of the game. What ensued was a Garoppolo drive that ended in a Wilson Jr. one yard touchdown plunge to give the 49ers a 10-6 lead that felt insurmountable at the time.

On the next drive, it looked like more of the same for Rudolph and company. Painful runs of 3 yards, and it set up a 3rd and 4. A critical moment in the third quarter, but Rudolph hit JuJu Smith-Schuster on a crossing route and Smith-Schuster took it to the house for a 76-yard touchdown. The Boswell point after made the score 13-10 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.

Pittsburgh’s lead didn’t last long after Garoppolo moved the ball with ease into Pittsburgh territory, but it was on the ground where the Steelers’ defense was getting gashed. In that fashion, it was appropriate the Steelers defense gave up another touchdown run by Wilson Jr., this time for 4 yards. The score gave the 49ers a 17-13 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

The score would hold heading into the final quarter of regulation.

Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3: Second-half live updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 4:53pm
Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and 49ers locking horns in Week 3. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the third time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 at Heinz Field.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 4:42pm
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

The 49ers started the second quarter deep in Pittsburgh territory, but the drive resulted in their third turnover of the game when Minkah Fitzpatrick forced a fumble which was recovered by Devin Bush. However, Mason Rudolph and company couldn’t turn this turnover into points, and Jordan Berry was called onto duty after just one first down.

For the second straight possession, the 49ers moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory with ease, this time to the 7-yard line, but coming out of a timeout Garoppolo fumbled the snap and Bush recovered for Pittsburgh’s fourth turnover of the half. A bad trend for the Steelers’ offense was another three-and-out, giving the ball right back to the 49ers offense.

With their best starting field position of the game, Jimmy Garoppolo was able to move the offense deep into Pittsburgh territory, again, they were forced to settle for a Robbie Gould chip shot field goal to make the score 6-3 with 6:45 left in the half.

With their best starting field position of the game, Jimmy Garoppolo was able to move the offense deep into Pittsburgh territory, again, they were forced to settle for a Robbie Gould chip shot field goal to make the score 6-3 with 6:45 left in the half.

Pittsburgh’s 3rd down offense was dreadful throughout the majority of the first half, but on their final possession of the first half the Steelers were able to find their footing. After three straight conversions, Pittsburgh threatened to move into field goal territory, but a Dee Ford sack on third down pushed them out of field goal range, forcing another punt.

The 6-3 score would hold as the two teams headed into halftime, with Pittsburgh scheduled to receive the kick to start the second half.

Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 3:59pm
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Week 3 a battered and bruised team. There was no Ben Roethlisberger under center for the first time since 2016, and there was a certain unknown surrounding the start of the Mason Rudolph era. Nonetheless, off to San Francisco went into Levi Stadium to play the 2-0 49ers in hopes of claiming their first win of the 2019 regular season.

To start the game, the Steelers won the coin toss and decided to defer their possession to the second half, putting their defense on the field to start the game. After Jimmy Garappolo hit George Kittle for a first down, a screen pass was tipped and intercepted by T.J. Watt giving the Steelers the football deep in 49ers territory.

The Steelers’ offense didn’t do much with the free possession, and had to settle for a Chris Boswell 46-yard field goal to give them an early 3-0 lead. Still, points off of turnovers is a huge win for a Steelers team who has struggled in that area so far in 2019.

After both teams exchanged punts, Garoppolo was pressured on second down and another tipped pass sailed into the hands of a Pittsburgh defender. This time it was recently acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick who came down with the pass and set up the offense with tremendous field position for the second time during the opening quarter.

Rudolph and company were able to move the ball to the 5 yard line, but failed on third down when the offensive line wasn’t able to give Rudolph a clean pocket long enough to find an open receiver. The result was another Boswell field goal to make the score 6-0 with 1:29 left in the opening quarter.

The score came to a close with the score 6-0 with the 49ers threatening.

Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3: First-half live updates and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 3:02pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2019 regular season continues with the Steelers and 49ers locking horns in Week 3. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the third time in the 2019 regular season as they prepare to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 at Heinz Field.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 2:17pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. 49ers in Week 3 at Levi Stadium.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team desperately in need of a victory, and it won’t be easy in Week 3. Not only are the Steelers traveling to the west coast, somewhere Mike Tomlin hasn’t been successful since taking over the team in 2007, but they will be taking on the San Francisco 49ers (2-0) without their franchise quarterback.

After Ben Roethlisberger left the Week 2 game vs. the Seattle Seahawks with an elbow injury, it has been the Mason Rudolph show. Roethlisberger’s season will be over after having to undergo season-ending surgery this week, and Rudolph will get his first start of his young career against a very good 49ers team.

If the Steelers are to complete the upset, they will not just need Rudolph to play well, but they will need some help from the running game and defense. If you think back to the recipe for success deployed when Roethlisberger was a rookie, it should look similar for the current Steelers.

Run the ball, control the clock, and play a brand of defense that keeps points off the board.

Easier said than done, but if the Steelers can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball they absolutely will have every opportunity to win this game, despite what the ‘experts’ might say.

The fact of the matter is no one really knows what the Steelers’ offense, or defense with Minkah Fitzpatrick, will look like in Week 3. This makes picking the game difficult.

This week I was fortunate enough to ask Niners Nation editor Kyle Posey some questions, and of course I asked him what his prediction for the game was, and you can check out his response below:

I’ve seen blowout predictions, but I expect the Steelers defensive line to have an impact on this game. That said, Shanahan has pressed all of the right buttons so far, and I think he is able to scheme open receivers and generate big plays, while Rudolph makes a costly mistake that puts the game out of reach. The 49ers offense is held under 30 points for the first time this season but win 24-16.

You can call me an eternal optimist, which I am, but I just see this Steelers team rallying on the road with everything going against them. On the west coast, backup quarterback, 0-2 start to the season, no one expects them to win. I always felt this is like a team playing with house money, or playing with nothing to lose.

With that in mind I like the Steelers to actually claim their first victory of the season Sundy afternoon. I think the Steelers will have to come from behind, but a late Chris Boswell field goal will put them ahead for good 30-28.

What is your prediction for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold leading up to kickoff.

Donte Moncrief inactive for Steelers vs. 49ers in Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 2:03pm
Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In his place, rookies Zach Gentry and Justin Layne dress for the first time in 2019

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a statement with their inactive list against the San Francisco 49ers as Donte Moncrief is a healthy scratch on Sunday.

Inactives for #Steelers vs. 49ers: WR Donte Moncrief, FB Rosie Nix, OLB Anthony Chickillo, G Fred Johnson, OT Chuks Okorafor, DE Isaiah Buggs, ILB Vince Williams

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 22, 2019

Having Moncrief inactive is quite a surprising move as the Steelers already had three players ruled out due to injury. Roosevelt Nix, Vince Williams, and Anthony Chickillo were three inactives already announced on Friday. With so many players injured and not enough players at their positions to fill in their spots, there was really no need to sit a wide receiver. Instead, the Steelers chose to dress both TE Zach Gentry and CB Justin Layne.

Joining these four players on the inactive list are several of the usual suspects. Not getting a helmet for Week 3 are rookies DL Isaiah Buggs, and G Fred Johnson. Second-year OT Chukwuma Okorafor once again is on the inactive list.

Active for the first in 2019 is OLB Jayrone Elliott. Leading the AAF is sacks this past spring, Elliott previously spent three years in Green Bay from 2014-2016 before being traded to the Cowboys and then released in 20017.

As for the 49ers, their inactives can be seen below. Although questionable for the game, both DE Dee Ford and DE Nick Bosa are active.

49ers inactives include QB C.J. Beathard, WR Jalen Hurd, DB Jimmie Ward, RB Tevin Coleman, OT Sam Young, OT Joe Staley, DL Jullian Taylor #Steelers #dkps

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 22, 2019

Identifying the X-Factors for the Steelers in Week 3 vs. the 49ers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 1:46pm
Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

There are several players for the Steelers who could be viewed as ‘X-Factors’ leading up to the game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 at Levi Stadium. It is the home opener for the 49ers, and hopefully the first of many wins for the Steelers during the 2019 regular season.

When looking at the matchup between AFC and NFC, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.

What is an ‘X-Factor’?

I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.

As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 1 game vs. New England?

Let’s take a look...

Defensive X-Factor: Defensive End, Cameron Heyward

Through two games Cameron Heyward has been pretty much extinct. The Steelers’ defensive captain has been getting more attention along the defensive line, but is a player who usually is able to make plays regardless of how many players the opposition sends to stop him. If the Steelers want to win on the road in Week 3, they will need Heyward to dominate both in the run game, and as a pass rusher.

Offensive X-Factor: Quarterback, Mason Rudolph

This might seem obvious, but it is the truth. Mason Rudolph is going to have to play a great game for the Steelers to win the game. You can talk about James Conner, Vance McDonald or JuJu Smith-Schuster, but the success of this team will be predicated on Rudolph finding the open receiver when the opportunity presents itself. If Rudolph plays well, and doesn’t turn the ball over, the Steelers should have a chance at upsetting the home 49ers.

This week I asked Niners Nation editor Kyle Posey a series of questions leading up to the game, and I asked him who he thought the 49ers’ ‘X-Factor’ would be. Here was his response:

Matt Breida will be the X-factor, and ultimately the difference-maker in this game. Seattle had five runs go over ten yards against the Steelers. What I can see is the 49ers trying to get to the edge and force the Steelers to make tackles in the open field, an area where Breida excels. I saw a few missed tackles from the Steelers last week. That’s the downfall to blitzing and playing man coverage. If you miss a tackle, there’s a lot of room to run for the ball-carrier. If Shanahan catches the Steelers on a blitz and gets Breida in space, lookout.

Who would be your ‘X-Factor’ for the game? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the upcoming game!

2019 Week 3 Early Games: Updates, news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 11:45am
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Steelers don’t play until Sunday afternoon, 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 having all day Sunday without the Steelers certainly feel like it. With the Steelers slated to play the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3, the Steelers Nation fan base will be watching games throughout the day to see how things shake out.

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

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

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

GO STEELERS!

A 49ers player no one is talking about that could impact the Steelers game

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 10:26am
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have to deal with Marquise Goodwin in their Week 3 matchup.

When looking at a potential matchups the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base might not know, there are plenty to find when talking about the NFC West San Francisco 49ers.

As a team who resides in the AFC North, news on the NFC West isn’t considered the most discussed news when it comes to the black-and-gold. So, with the Steelers facing an already unfamiliar foe in Week 3, I asked Niners Nation, SB Nation’s San Francisco 49ers website, editor Kyle Posey if he could list one player who he thought could impact the game, but isn’t being talked about much.

Check out his answer below:

Everyone knows about Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, but this could be a Marquise Goodwin game. Goodwin caught a 38-yard touchdown that was schemed open for him last week. Against man coverage, Goodwin is excellent on comeback routes, since cornerbacks need to respect his deep speed. I’d imagine plenty of timing routes like comebacks and curl routes with Goodwin. Him being a big-play threat makes Goodwin dangerous against the Steelers.

When looking at Goodwin as a player, it is no surprise Kyle chose him as the under radar player for the 49ers. Goodwin’s speed is his greatest asset, and the Pittsburgh secondary will have to have him accounted for on every play to ensure he doesn’t get behind the defense and make big plays.

One bright spot thus far for the Steelers defense has been the play of their cornerbacks. Joe Haden has been his usual veteran self, and Steven Nelson has been tremendous through two weeks of the regular season, proving his hefty contract via free agency wasn’t money wasted by the Steelers organization.

When thinking about a Steelers player who might be considered an under the radar type player, who would you consider to fall into that category? While difficult to put him in this category I would lean towards wide receiver James Washington. With Washington’s connect with Mason Rudolph it is tough to not expect big things from the Oklahoma State wide receiver.

Who would you put in that category? Let us know in the comment section below! And be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold heading into Week 3.

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. 49ers, Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 9:30am

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ return to the road to visit the Niners.

The Steelers travel to San Fran as they try to drown out the noise and win for the first time in 2019.. Many questions arose after the crazy occurrences of the last week. With that being said...Will James Conner jump start the running game? What early return comes from the Minkah Fitzpatrick deal? Will Donte Moncrief ever see the field again? How will Mason Rudolph do with a full week of practice? Will Diontae Johnson be KR1/PR1 over Ryan Switzer. Will the Steelers give us all a San Francisco treat?

With these questions, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this preseason contest:

  • Steelers fans wonder why Levi’s gets a stadium when everybody knows that Rustlers and Toughskins are much better blue jeans at a thrifty price.
  • James Conner rushes 24 times for 90 yards on the day.
  • Mason Rudolph throws for under 250 yards on the day, but records two TDs on the afternoon.
  • Listening to Yinzers say “Rude-aff” all afternoon proves to be quality entertainment.
  • The Steelers record three sacks on the day and Minkah Fitzpatrick records a Steelers interception.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster scores a TD and celebrates Joan Jett’s 60th birthday by stuffing dimes in Ramon Foster’s chinstrap. The Big Ragu responds by belting out “I Love Rock and Roll” in true jukebox fashion.
  • Since the Jets play has been dead as of late, Le’Veon Bell hires Terry Kiser to reprise his role as Bernie Lomax in 1989’s Weekend At Bernie’s. Kiser, in a Jets 26 jersey, gets toted around the field by Jets’ linemen as the RB jets off to San Fran to perform his rap version of “I’m Still Standing” to confused commuters and tourists on a Frisco cable car.
  • The Steelers and Niners go to OT where Chris Boswell wins it for the road dogs.
  • Coach Mike Tomlin unveils a new catch-phrase during the post-game presser. In other news, Jeff Hartman copyrights the phrase in hopes of turning it into another best-selling t-shirt in the BTSC online store.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

With Ben Roethlisberger out for the year, the Steelers are unquestionably Mike Tomlin’s team now

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 8:35am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin has always been a great leader of men, even when his team included some of the biggest superstars in the NFL. With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for the year, we will now get to see how he handles a team without a superstar he must placate to.

Of course, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is a man who demands and commands respect. Regardless of who is on his team, how much cachet they have, and what their salary is, it’s universally known that Tomlin is and has always been a great leader of men.

But politics are as much a part of an NFL locker room as they are any workplace across America. And when it comes to an NFL team with a franchise quarterback who has the status of a Ben Roethlisberger, it’s probably a little trickier to make blanket rules and mandates that all must follow.

We found that out when it came to Tomlin’s handling of Antonio Brown; shortly after the 2018 season came to a screeching halt, it was reported that Brown had his own set of rules— for example, he was repeatedly late for meetings without consequence and even had his own living quarters at training camp.

Different rules for different players.

There’s no question Roethlisberger has his own set of rules—he may even have his own Air BnB out in Latrobe. This may come as a surprise to those who don’t think Tomlin is disciplined enough, but it’s probably like that in most places. Anyone who doesn’t think superstar athletes don’t have great influence over what they get to do, what players get to stick around on the roster with them (Ryan Switzer) and even who the assistant coaches are (“Not Todd Haley or I’ll retire”) is fooling themselves.

Different rules for different players, but only if those players happen to be invaluable superstars.

If we are to look for silver linings in this, a year in-which the Steelers will have to play the vast-majority of their games without the one player everyone from layman to expert agrees is the one no team can win without—the franchise quarterback—one of them is that Tomlin will get to call all the shots and won’t have to compromise when it comes to a superstar.

Are there active superstars on the Pittsburgh Steelers right now? Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is certainly a superstar, but he has yet to prove he’s invaluable without Brown lining up on the other side.

Maurkice Pouncey, Cameron Heyward, David DeCastro, Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams and even Alejandro Villanueva are stars on the team, but even if they were of the superstar variety, they’ve long-since proven to be team-first guys who will do whatever is best to help pull the rope in the right direction.

There’s currently nobody on this team who can challenge Tomlin in any way, not with his cachet and/or superstar status. You know what that means? We finally, truly get to see the Tomlin Way. We get to see what happens when all 53 men on his roster have to answer to him equally.

He doesn’t have to worry about Mason Rudolph’s ego and whether or not he will like the game-plan put together by offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner when Rudolph makes his first career start at quarterback on Sunday afternoon against the 49ers. Who is Rudolph? He’s just a young quarterback looking to make his mark. He wouldn’t dare audible out of a play. He wouldn’t dare insist that Switzer be out there if his coaches felt differently. Even if Rudolph hates play-action as much as Roethlisberger reportedly does, oh well. Tough.

Politics (at least office politics) aside—and this article isn’t meant to demonize Roethlisberger in any way—we also get to see how well Tomlin can navigate his team through a difficult situation.

And, make no mistake, this is a difficult situation.

Thankfully, Tomlin has never lost his team. I know what you’re going to say, “Oh, great, now he’s going to point out the lack of a losing record.” Yeah, that, and the fact that Big Ben was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season. Yet, the team still managed to go 3-1 to start the year on the way to an AFC Championship and berth in Super Bowl XLV.

For my money, 2010 was Tomlin’s greatest coaching job. A close second was 2013, when the Steelers started out 0-4, 2-6 and 5-8. At any point in that season, his players could have given up and resigned themselves to their fate. But they never did. Tomlin wouldn’t let them. Despite the longest of odds to reach the postseason, Pittsburgh rebounded to finish 8-8 and was a missed field goal from a kicker in another game away from making it.

After the unfortunate passing of receivers coach Darryl Drake over the summer, many reporters pointed out that Tomlin was the perfect man to keep the team together and get the players through such a difficult time.

They were correct. Regardless of how you may feel about Tomlin’s football acumen, you can’t deny his ability to reach his players and keep them engaged.

You always wanted to see what Tomlin could do without his franchise quarterback. Now, you get to see it. You get to see what his true strengths are as a coach. For my money, something like this is at the top of the list when it comes to his best attributes.

I’m guessing the Steelers will be okay despite their 0-2 start and the loss of their best player. Why? They have the perfect man leading the way.

Report: Ben Roethlisberger seeking a second opinion on his injured elbow

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 7:44am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise quarterback is seeking a second opinion on his elbow in search for options which might not be surgery.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for life without Ben Roethlisberger for the remainder of the regular season, and while fans are excited to see Mason Rudolph take over, Roethlisberger is looking for a second opinion on his injured elbow.

This per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Ben Roethlisberger received a second opinion from a well-known Los Angeles-based orthopedic surgeon with local ties on his injured elbow, sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Roethlisberger met with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who specializes in sports medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, on Thursday to further evaluate the extent of his injury. ElAttrache, a Mount Pleasant native who earned his medical doctorate at Pitt, was in Pittsburgh and met with Roethlisberger at a private location.

Roethlisberger has been very open about his desire to not have surgery throughout his NFL career, and this is likely just another attempt to see if he could potentially avoid going under the knife to allow his elbow to heal properly.

The Steelers have still not confirmed the extent of Roethlisberger’s injury. Most assume it is a Tommy John surgery awaiting him, but it is nothing more than speculation until the Steelers officially announce the injury, the success of the surgery and the eventual timeline for his recovery.

In the meantime, it looks as if Roethlisberger hasn’t completely decided on his course of action when it comes to his elbow, and the treatment/recovery it will require before he returns for the 2020 season.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news on this story, as well as other news surrounding the Steelers’ Week 3 matchup vs. the San Francisco 49ers.

How the 49ers defense will try to stop the Steelers offense in Week 3

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 6:28am
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Taking a look at how the San Francisco defense will try to stop the Steelers’ offense.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are gearing up for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 of the 2019 regular season. After dropping back to back games to start the season, they face a 49ers team who has won their first two games of the season.

Since this is a unique matchup for the Steelers, playing an NFC West team, there is a lot fans don’t know about these type of teams. And that is okay, but what I wanted to do was to get a lowdown on what the 49ers might have in store for the Steelers by talking with Niners Nation, SB Nation’s 49ers website, editor Kyle Posey to pick his brain on the upcoming matchup.

In this second of many installments, I asked Kyle what he thinks the 49ers will do when on defense to try and stop the Steelers’ offense. Check out his response:

We’re hearing all about how Mason Rudolph is poised and prepared. How poised can a person be when 300-pound men are repeatedly chasing after you play after play? Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh only blitzed ten times last week against the Bengals. It’s not really in his nature to consistently blitz. What we’re more likely to see is different coverage looks. Rudolph might see one look before the snap, and get an entirely different look post-snap. Defensive backs coach Joe Woods has done a great job early on in the season with confusing quarterbacks, and that should continue on Sunday.

The Steelers have done a good job of avoiding sacks early on in the year. The 49ers are fifth in adjusted sack rate and have consistently gotten after opposing quarterbacks. Dee Ford will be a game-time decision. Not having Ford will be a big loss, but Arik Armstead and Ronald Blair have been very good when they’ve been on the field. A young quarterback might lead the 49ers to give Ford the afternoon off. We know the Steelers are going to take their shots down the field, it’s just a matter of where. I’d guess plenty of play-action, and use the intermediate part of the field. The Steelers’ biggest advantage probably comes in the slot, Juju vs. K’Waun Williams is a matchup Pittsburgh can take advantage of. If I’m Saleh, this is the first game I activate Jason Verrett and slide him inside at the slot. Saleh did say Thursday that he wouldn’t rule out Verrett playing in the Nickel.

The defense stepped it up when the Bengals had a short field last week, and that will need to continue. The Steelers will probably move the ball, but if they have to settle for field goals, the 49ers will be fine. Stop Pittsburgh in the red zone, limit JuJu after the catch, and force Rudolph to consistently put together long drives.

I then responded to Kyle’s question as to how the Steelers offense will try and move the ball on the 49ers defense who stuffed the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.

Just like the defense needs to stop the run, the offense needs to run the football to sustain drives and keep the 49ers offense on the sideline. The past two weeks the Steelers have had one of the worst third down conversion rates in the NFL, and this has to change for them to stand a chance on the road. Throw in the fact Mason Rudolph is getting his first career start and suddenly this feels like a very daunting task.

However, if the Steelers have one thing going for them, it is what Kyle Shanahan said about the game to the Pittsburgh media. No one has any clue what this Steelers offense is going to look like. Will they be run dominant? Will they throw the ball even more? Will they use play action? Or will they try and spread out the 49ers defense? No one knows except the players. This element of surprise could benefit the Steelers when it comes to having a legitimate shot at winning this game on the road.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to keep tabs on BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the 49ers in Week 3.

Steelers Fact or Fiction: Starting Anew Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 09/22/2019 - 6:01am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Steelers have so many more questions that have arisen since the Steelers stumbled to an 0-2 start to 2019, Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury that led to Mason Rudolph’s promotion to QB1 and the daring trade of a No. 1 pick in 2020 for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Because of all of this, BTSC anticipates the storylines and issues bold statements regarding each one of them. Let’s take a look and deem them as fact or fiction.

The Steelers can not win with any quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger. Fiction

Way before Ben’s injury, and I’m talking years, the sentiment has been that all would be lost for the Steelers should anything happen to No. 7. While losing their future HOF passer is less than ideal, the Steelers are 5-3 in games in which Big Ben hasn’t started since the 2014 season and 12-9 in his career. That’s not exactly Armageddon. There are 53 professionals on the active roster who are tasked with trying to right this ship. I’m interested to see how they respond.

The play-action pass will make a welcome return under Mason Rudolph. Fact

Roethlisberger employed the play-action 15% of the time in 2014, that was the most in the past two seasons. Rudolph used it 30% of the time in two quarters of play against Seattle. While Ben is comfortable running his offense out of the shotgun formation and running the spread, MR2 will benefit from faking the defense into thinking a running play is occurring. It will help the receivers get more separation.

Rudolph essentially has two WR1 at his disposal. Fact

To say that Mason Rudolph and James Washington didn’t compliment one another in an epic manner in college would be a flat-out lie. Over the course of four seasons and 42 games, the Oklahoma State duo combined for 4,188 yards, 206 receptions and 35 touchdowns. These numbers made the tandem the most prolific QB and WR in school lore respectively. They’ve also collaborated comfortably in preseason affairs. The two have such of an on-field rapport that less attention will have to be paid to JuJu Smith-Schuster...giving both of the receivers the opportunity to get open and run wild.

The Steelers players would rather have Minkah Fitzpatrick over a potential top-five pick in 2020. Fact

For the same reason that Fitzpatrick wanted out of a Miami because of tanking, the players in Pittsburgh don’t want to give up on the season. In fact, there are those that want to secure their position and legacy for 2020 and beyond. They don’t want the stigma of not getting the job done and they surely don’t want to lose so the team can draft their replacement. Plus, Minkah could help to solidify the secondary now. It’s like Christmas coming early.

Starting in Week 3, the Steelers have a new Offensive Coordinator at the helm. Fiction, but in theory...Fact

It’s no surprise that I have attested in the past that Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, not Randy Fichtner, was the OC in the 412. When Mason Rudolph sauntered to the line of scrimmage at the start of the second half against Seattle, the scheme seemed to change dramatically. Of course, you need to adapt to who is behind center. However, the game plan seemed more innovative and less predictable. It definitely had Fichtner’s fingerprints all over it. Maybe we finally get to see the man’s plans in action.

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

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