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POWER RANKINGS: Steelers continue to tumble down the rankings

Behind the Steel Curtain - 4 hours 27 sec ago
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Time to check the weekly NFL Power Rankings to see where the Steelers fall this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were losers in Week 3 of the 2022 regular season, and the loss was not pretty. In fact, through three weeks it has made it extremely difficult to gauge where the Steelers rank among their NFL peers.

How far did the team fall after the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns? Based on this week’s NFL Power Rankings, pretty far. Was the defensive performance enough to keep the team out of the bottom third of the league? Not after Thursday night...

All in all, the Steelers’ rankings this week were all over the map. The truth might be somewhere in the middle, but it’s that time of the week where we take a look at other outlets’ rankings after Week 3 of regular season action.

Let’s get to the rankings...

ESPN

1. Miami Dolphins
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Los Angeles Rams
6. Baltimore Ravens
7. Green Bay Packers
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Cincinnati Bengals
...
24. Pittsburgh Steelers

“The honeymoon period — if there ever was one — for Mitch Trubisky is over. Trubisky is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, the worst of any quarterback who has played three full games this season. He hasn’t been aggressive enough in his downfield throws and the offense lacks rhythm. But it falls on more than just Trubisky, and many of the offensive issues are also rooted in the playcalling and the work-in-progress offensive line. There was at least one sign of life for an otherwise disappointing offensive start: Trubisky completed 9-of-13 for 109 yards, including a 36-yard toss to rookie George Pickens, in the first half of the Thursday loss to the Browns.”

CBS Sports

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Miami Dolphins
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Jacksonville Jaguars
10. Los Angeles Chargers
...
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s almost Kenny Pickett time, even if the Steelers aren’t ready to admit it. The offense isn’t good right now, but the defense let them down against Cleveland as well.”

Yahoo! Sports

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Kansas City Chiefs
4. Miami Dolphins
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
...
25. Pittsburgh Steelers

“Maybe the Steelers know that Kenny Pickett isn’t ready and starting him now would set him back. But it didn’t look that way in preseason. Other than that, I can’t think of a single reason to not start Pickett right now. Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the answer. What’s the point in waiting?”

NFL.com

1. Philadelphia Eagles
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Kansas City Chiefs
6. Los Angeles Rams
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Cincinnati Bengals
...
26. Pittsburgh Steelers

“It’s not that Mitch Trubisky was bad on Thursday Night Football against the Browns. He really wasn’t. It’s just that the veteran’s ceiling is so low that it turns the Steelers’ offense into a sports car trying to win a race with a restrictor plate affixed to the engine. That’s a problem, because the Pittsburgh defense isn’t a difference-maker without T.J. Watt’s enormous presence. Trubisky’s ceiling and the torn pectoral that will keep Watt out for several more weeks is a bad combo that leaves a razor-thin margin for error every week for Mike Tomlin’s team.”

The Sporting News

1. Miami Dolphins
2. Buffalo Bills
3. Philadelphia Eagles
4. Green Bay Packers
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6. Kansas City Chiefs
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Baltimore Ravens
9. Denver Broncos
10. Minnesota Vikings
...
21. Pittsburgh Steelers

“The Steelers don’t have enough offensive juice with Mitchell Trubisky to compensate for their considerable defensive deficiencies without T.J. Watt. Matt Canada and Mike Tomlin will need to be creative and maybe make a big change to rookie Kenny Pickett.”

What do you think of these rankings? Should the Steelers be higher? Are they ranked too high? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the New York Jets in Week 4.

Steelers dealing with several key injuries heading into Week 4

Behind the Steel Curtain - 6 hours 15 min ago
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several key injuries, none larger than Minkah Fitzpatrick, heading into Week 4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets both enter Week 4 with a 1-2 record, but it’s Pittsburgh who is riding a two-game losing streak into the game at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers are coming off an extended break after their 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, and are hoping to right their ship, at least back to .500, for their first home win of the season.

Tuesday, Mike Tomlin addressed the media for the first time since his post-game press conference Thursday, and plenty of information was disseminated. While after the game Thursday Tomlin only listed one injury, that list has grown over the weekend.

Tomlin said there were several key injuries, none larger than an injury to Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Tomlin on injuries: Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) Minkah Fitzpatrick (concussion), Kevin Dotson (ankle) and Pressley Harvin (hip). Harvin and Fitzpatrick issues presented themselves post-game.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 27, 2022

As stated earlier, the biggest injury is to Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Fitzpatrick will now have to clear the proper steps to return to the field, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility he is available in Week 4, especially with the extended break following Thursday night.

Other injuries were to left guard Kevin Dotson, who suffered an ankle injury which Tomlin said might limit him early in the week during preparation. A hip injury to punter Pressley Harvin III leaves his availability in question, and is a reason why the Steelers hosted former punter Jordan Berry Tuesday and are prepared to sign him to the team’s practice squad.

Speaking of the hamstring injury to Ahkello Witherspoon, Tomlin said his availability will be dictated on how much he practices, but he could be limited early in the week.

Outside of those listed injuries, the Steelers enter Week 4 vs. the New York Jets with it not just being the next game on the schedule, but also the final game for some players to potentially return to the lineup off Injured Reserve (IR). Damontae Kazee (wrist) and Calvin Austin III (foot) would both be eligible to return following the game Sunday, but doesn’t mean their return is imminent.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4.

Steelers expected to sign Jordan Berry to the practice squad

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 2 min ago
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The former Steelers punter, and free agent, is expected to be signed to the team’s practice squad this week.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with some injuries heading into their Week 4 game vs. the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium, and one of those injuries is supposedly to punter Pressley Harvin III.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harvin is dealing with an injury which is going to force the team to make a move. If nothing more, at last to their 16-man practice squad.

As Dulac said on Twitter, the team is hosting former punter Jordan Berry and is expected to sign him to the practice squad in light of Harvin’s injury.

Clarify: Jordan Berry will be signed to practice squad for now. https://t.co/VlB4T60Jd5

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 27, 2022

Through three games of the 2022 season, Pressley Harvin is tied for leading the NFL in his number of punts with 17. With a long of 69 yards, Harvin currently has a yard per punt average of 47.4 which is almost 5 yards better than his 2021 average of 42.6 yards per punt. When compared to the rest of the NFL, Harvin is ranked 15th in his punting average.

As for Berry, he last played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings after losing to Harvin prior to the 2021 season in the punter position battle. In 17 games in 2021, Berry had a 46.5 yards per punt average. Berry lost out this preseason in the competition to win the punting job in Minnesota to undrafted rookie Ryan Wright.

Nothing has been made official with the signing of Berry, but it does seem imminent at this point. So, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 regular season action.

Updated depth chart shows a change of starter on the defensive line

Behind the Steel Curtain - 7 hours 14 min ago
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Montravius Adams is now listed as the Steelers starting nose tackle.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have put out their weekly press release as they head into their Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium. With a number of items available to Pittsburgh media such as the series history, player bios, statistics for both teams, and team rankings, another item of note is the Steelers’ depth chart. Going into Week 4, there has been a change to the listed starters on the Steelers defense.

According to the Steelers press release on September 27, Montravius Adams is now listed as the Steelers starting nose tackle with Tyson Alualu being second on the depth chart.

When it comes to Alualu, the 35-year-old defensive tackle, who was the 10th overall selection of the 2010 NFL draft for the Jacksonville Jaguars, is coming off a season in which only appeared in two games and was lost with an ankle injury. In 2022, Alualu has played 104 defensive snaps and 12 on special teams where he has amassed six tackles and one quarterback hit.

As for Montravius Adams, he has only seen 31 snaps on the Steelers defense so far in 2022. In those snaps, Adams has two tackles and a pass defensed.

Exactly how this plays out with the Steelers on the field is yet to be determined. The Steelers do not employ their base defense for a huge number of players, and Alualu is also used at times as a defensive tackle when the Steelers only have two defensive lineman on the field.

The significance of this move may gain some more understanding from head coach Mike Tomlin’s press upcoming conference on Tuesday at noon. Additionally, the rotation on the defensive line as well as the snap counts will ultimately show if there’s anything significant to this move. Coach Tomlin ultimately does not put a lot of stock into depth charts. While some could wonder if this was merely another “clerical error” like what we seen heading into Week 1, the fact that it was a change from what the depth chart was before makes it much more unlikely.

It appears this was the only change on the depth chart over the last several games for the Pittsburgh Steelers outside of roster moves. If looking at the depth chart on Steelers.com, another item of note is that rookie defensive tackle DeMarvin Lieal is listed as the third string behind Isaiahh Loudermilk. If seeing this for the first time, it might be alarming to Steeler fans as Leal has been active for every game in 2022 while Loudermilk has been on the inactive list. It should also be noted that since Week 2, Loudermilk and Leal have appeared in these same positions even though it was Leal who was active for the games.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue their preparation to face the New York Jets this Sunday at Acrisure Stadium.

Stock Report: See whose stock is falling after the loss to the Browns

Behind the Steel Curtain - 8 hours 27 sec ago
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look at whose stock is falling after the Steelers road loss to the Browns on Thursday Night Football.

Thursday night games are brutal on the road team.

However, that was only one of the numerous reasons why I had extremely low expectations for the possibility of a Pittsburgh Steelers road victory Thursday night in Cleveland.

Ben Roethlisberger owned the Browns during his 18-year career with the Steelers, but since he has retired. T.J. Watt has destroyed the Browns offensive game plans throughout his career, but he is currently on injured reserve with a pec injury. The Steelers have yet to show they can win a game without him.

The Steelers team that took the field Thursday night was just what the doctor ordered for a Browns team coming off one of the worst losses in recent team history. The Steelers offense has struggled to convert third downs and control time of possession. The Steelers defense has struggled to get off the field on third downs, especially in the second half of games.

On paper, this was a terrible matchup for the Steelers, considering the fact that the Browns have the best running attack in the NFL, led by the best running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, plus a powerful run blocking offensive line.

The Browns inexplicably did the Steelers a favor by basically abandoning their running game in the first half, choosing instead to focus on exploiting the middle of the field. Who could blame them, because the Steelers continue to struggle mightily trying to defend the middle of the field.

As effective as that strategy was for the Browns, the Steelers held a one-point lead at halftime. However, the Browns were holding there own in time of possession, and their defense wasn't gassed. The Steelers lead and first half offensive success hardly felt secure or sustainable. Steelers fans have seen this song and dance before.

Second half offensive struggles and defensive fatigue has been a reoccurring theme for the Steelers, and Thursday night was more of the same. The Browns coaches were finally smart enough to feed Nick Chubb the rock and get out of the way. The Steelers, without Watt, continue to struggle for answers.

Stock Up: Alex Highsmith

Highsmith is an excellent complimentary running mate for his edge partner T.J. Watt. With the aforementioned Watt out with injury, Highsmith is being asked to attempt to pick up some of the slack in light of Watt's absence. He has also become more of a focal point of opposing offenses since his three sack performance in Week 1 of the season. After struggling to make an impact against the Patriots in Week 2, he rebounded with a strong all-around performance against the Browns.

Steelers defenders struggled throughout the game to wrap up and bring down the Browns powerful running backs. Highsmith did an excellent job setting the edge, and bringing down the ball carriers at first contact. He also finished the game with 1.5 QB sacks. Nice bounce back performance from Highsmith.

Stock Down: Tyson Alualu

One of the biggest issues with Thursday night games is the extremely short recovery time for your older starters. That was the case for Alualu Thursday, and it showed. Alualu struggled more against the Browns than in any game in recent memory. He struggled to anchor, regularly given ground against double teams. On one memorable short yardage play late in the third quarter, Alualu was blown back immediately after the snap and ended up flat on his back, looking up at the stars. I honestly have never seen that happen to Alualu in his Steelers tenure. Was that the byproduct of the short week, or his advanced age catching up with him? For the Steelers sake, let's all hope it was the first option, and definitely not both.

Stock Fluctuating: Jaylen Warren

Warren looks like a spark plug on a Steelers offense in desperate need of a positive charge. He is a instant change of pace back to established starter Najee Harris. Warren continues to show explosive quickness and phenomenal contact balance. He is a solid receiver and a punishing blocker in pass protection. He appears on the verge of a big play every time he gets his hands on the football. Warren's biggest challenge is earning the opportunities to get his hands on the football, and then holding on to the ball once he does. Warren was a difference maker against the Browns, but hardly saw the field after he fumbled the football yet again, a reoccurring theme of his early professional career. Warren can form a dynamic one two punch with Harris if he can learn to better protect the football.

Stock Down: Diontae Johnson

Johnson got paid this offseason. He was compensated like the really good receiver he is. Good, but not elite. He has been extremely inconsistent to start this season, alternating plays somewhere between the spectacular and absolutely head-scratching varieties. Johnson had a huge, drive killing drop on a key third down deep ball in the second half. A second half that desperately needed a big play to regain momentum. Your best, and did I mention highest paid, receiver has to make that play.

Another one of the reasons I was totally against paying Johnson 20+ million a year has been on full display already this season. Johnson has never met a sidelines he didn't like. He loves to lose his coverage in an instant, turn and catch the ball, and flow straight out of bounds without ever being touched. It's his favorite route. Forget about Johnson trying to utilize his quickness to maybe make a defender miss and pickup desperately needed yards after the catch. It's apparently against his personal code of conduct to ever even attempt to break a tackle.

I vividly remember Franco Harris gliding out of bounds at the end of various outside runs, but he was a workhorse running back who was trying to limit unnecessary punishment. That description doesn't apply to Johnson, besides the fact he is avoiding contact for personal protection. Bigger compensation means greater expectations.

Steelers Vertex: What happened on the three and out drives against the Browns?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 9 hours 30 min ago
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Steelers offense needed to answer the Browns as well as keep their own defense off the field, they failed to come through.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 regular season is underway. In their third game, the Steelers offense struggled to maintain drives in the second half particularly three-straight three and out’s through the third and fourth quarters. So what went wrong on these nine plays? This is the subject for this week’s Steelers Vertex.

Let’s get a quick reminder of where this nerdiness is coming from.

Vertex- a single point where two or more lines cross.

Sometimes to make a great point, it takes two different systems of analysis to come together and build off each other in order to drawl a proper conclusion. In this case, the two methods are statistical analysis and film breakdown. Enter Dave Schofield (the stat geek) and Geoffrey Benedict (the film guru) to come together to prove a single point based on our two lines of thinking.

Here comes the breakdown from two different lines of analysis.

The Stats Line:

To set up the three-straight drives where the Steelers went three and out in the third and fourth quarter, their first drive of the half lasted 5:27, was 10 plays, and moved the ball 43 yards. Ultimately, the drive was officially 38 yards as the Steelers intentionally took a delay of game to give their punter more room. On the drive the Steelers had both their only negative play on first down of -4 yards as well as a huge pass play to Jaylen Warren called back on a penalty.

On the Steelers next drive they possessed the ball for 1:27 where they gained 7 yards on three plays. All 7 yards were on rushing attempts as Najee Harris gained 1 yard on first down and Mitch Trubisky ran for 6 yards on second down. On the third down play, a deep pass to Diontae Johnson fell incomplete. The second drive the Steelers possessed the ball for 0:57 and had -5 yards on the drive as the Steelers had a rush for no gain, two incomplete passes, and a false start penalty on third down.

The third drive began at the Steelers 6-yard line as compared to the first two drivers which began at their 25. The Steelers possessed the ball for 1:11 and gained 4 yards. The Steelers gained 7 yards on first time on a pass to Chase Claypool followed by an incompletion. On third down Mitch Trubisky was sacked the only time of the game for -3 yards.

During those 3 drives in the third and fourth quarter, The Steelers ran 9 offensive plays and gained a total of 6 yards. The Steelers had 7 yards in rushing on 3 carries, 4 yards in passing on one completion on five passes as well as a sack, and 5 yards in penalties.

Let’s check out the film on these drives. Since this a little different this week, I’m going to throw a few notes on some of the clips.

The Film Line:

After the Steelers first drive of the second half stalled at midfield, the Browns answered with a field goal to take a two-point lead. The Steelers offense then had the chance to take the lead back.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 2:31, First and 10

Najee Harris is the running back.

On a day the Steelers offensive line was playing pretty well, this play struggles when defensive end Isaac Rochell (#98) crashes inside and disrupts what looks like an attempted combo block from Pat Freiermuith and Zach Gentry. Gentry can’t get over to help and Rochell is too much for Freiermuth to block one on one. The first play of the drive gains one yard.

Dave’s Notes: Look at Connor Heyward all the way to the left of the screen. I don’t know if he was supposed to take that block himself of if Gentry was to help, but he can’t slow down the crash down by #42 who makes the play.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 1:54, Second and 9

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end to the left side of the screen.

On second down the Steelers throw out an option run with multiple choices for Trubisky. His first read is Myles Garrett. If Garrett stays wide, he gives the ball to Najee Harris. He sees Myles Garrett crashing inside and pulls the ball to take it outside of Garrett.

After that it’s Trubisky and Pat Freiermuth. I love Freiermuth’s part of this play. He looks like he is coming to put a backside block on Myles Garrett, and fakes that he will block, but slips past and into the flat. #44 is far enough outside for Trubisky to turn up field, and the play gains 6 yards.

The Steelers have run this play a few times, but it has mostly been a handoff to Harris. Garrett bites on the run this time, so Matt Canada and Mitchell Trubisky make him pay for it.

Steelers at Browns, 3rd quarter, 1:23, Third and 3

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the bottom of the screen.

The important read for Trubisky here is the safeties. With the middle of the field so open, if the safeties both stay deep his throw is to Chase Claypool on his slant from the slot. The safeties don’t stay in 2-high, and Trubisky attacks the single-high coverage with this throw to Diontae Johnson.

Johnson can’t secure the catch, and with Najee Harris and Dan Moore Jr. failing to block Myles Garrett, Trubisky takes a shot to go with the drop, and it’s time to punt.

A long pass to Amari Cooper led to a Nick Chubb touchdown for the Browns and the Steelers offense came out needing to put points on the board to stay in the game in their first drive of the fourth quarter.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 9:29, First and 10

Najee Harris is the running back.

This slanted attack from the Browns defensive line gave the Steelers problems on both of these first downs. It is something the Steelers are going to have to figure out how to counter, because teams are going to see what the Browns are seeing. Whether it is a tell giving away the run play or a predictable formation, whatever it is, the Steelers need to deal with it. They don’t have it figured out yet here, and it leads to 2nd and 10.

Dave’s Notes: Who made the tackle on this play? It looks to me that Najee Harris stumbled on his cut and fell in front of the defender. Looking at it from a side view during the game, he likely gains a few yards if not for the stumble.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 8:52, Second and 10

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver.

Chase Claypool can’t haul in this pass in traffic. It’s tempting to say the other receivers were open, but the deep safety only commits after the throw is in the air. It is likely that Trubisky would have a shot at George Pickens deep, but Diontae Johnson is only open after the deep safety sees the throw to Claypool and reacts.

The problem on this play is Trubisky can’t hit Claypool in the small window he has available. Look at the play from a different angle.

The timing of Trubisky’s throw has two defenders on Claypool when the ball gets there. It’s also clear that Trubisky was reading Claypool’s route the entire time. He saw the defense, knew where his window was, and it still ended up in a tight spot.

This is where you want Claypool to be catching the ball. That’s how tight window’s are in the NFL. To be a really good quarterback you have to be able to hit that window, and that is why before the draft teams obsess about things like processing speed, throw mechanics and arm strength. Because every tenth of a second matters.

Trubisky can’t get it into that window. His processing is a hair too late, his release a bit too slow. That gives Chase Claypool a tough contested catch to make, and the ball gets knocked away from him.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 8:46, Third and 15

Pat Freiermuth is the tight end.

After a false start it’s third and 15, and Trubisky overthrows Pat Freiermuth on a ten-yard curl.

The overthrow is a problem, but even if he hits Freiermuth in the chest this isn’t likely to be a conversion. The previous clip was an example of a route running through a window, on this play, the ball is late and instead of that causing the ball to be thrown toward defenders, it allows the defenders time to better defend the pass. This is a throw the quarterback needs to make before the receiver makes his break. You can see Freiermuth get his head around before his body, he does that so he can locate a ball already in the air.

Compare these two moments:

When Freiermuth breaks off his route to stop, the defense sees and immediately starts to collapse on him. That’s why you want the ball to arrive as soon as the receiver makes his break. If the ball arrives at this point Pat Freiermuth has a chance to split the defenders and pick up the first down. The Steelers have been victimized by several throws like this that were in rhythm and on target and the tight end turned and picked up the first. Freiermuth likely does that on this play if the ball in on time and accurate.

Even if this throw is accurate, Freiermuth is going to be hit as soon as he makes the catch and is highly unlikely to convert this. While the first three and out saw good play by Trubisky wasted, the second three and out saw Trubisky’s shortcomings stall the drive out.

This time the Steelers defense would hold, and get the ball back to the offense with five and a half minutes left needing two scores to take the lead.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:29, First and 10

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver to the bottom of the screen.

The Steelers go to one of Trubisky’s strengths to try and get something going here, rolling him out and attacking one side of the defense with multiple layers of receivers. The space the defense is giving Chase Claypool makes this an easy decision and throw to bring up Second and 3.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:10, Second and 3

Diontae Johnson is the receiver to the top of the screen.

This throw to Diontae Johnson is underthrown and falls incomplete. You can see Myles Garrett throws Dan Moore Jr. to the ground to put pressure on Trubisky, and if you look closely, you can see he is leaning back when he makes this throw.

Mitchell Trubisky has a bad habit of throwing off his back foot when he’s moving or under pressure. That lean back pulls the ball short and outside. It’s unfortunate, but third and 3 isn’t a terrible situation.

Steelers at Browns, 4th quarter, 5:04, Third and 3

Chase Claypool is the slot receiver to the top of the screen.

As this play breaks down you can see Chase Claypool move to get open and raise his arm. Mitchell Trubisky isn’t able to get him the ball and takes a sack to bring up fourth down and a third straight drive without a first down.

First watch the blocking to the right side of the line. The Steelers pick up rushers from the outside in under Pat Meyer, and the running back takes the middle. Here both Chukwuma Okorafor (#76) and James Daniels (#78) are expecting a normal rush. But #98 drops and the inside linebacker blitzes, and that gives the Browns a 4-man rush with Najee Harris blocking instead of James Daniels. It’s a good plan for the Browns as Harris continues to struggle in pass protection and they get a sack for their effort.

Beyond that watch Mitchell Trubisky’s eyes on this play. He’s trying to get the ball to George Pickens to his right on a deep route. Looking that way as he runs out of the pocket causes him to miss Chase Claypool open for what would have been a first down. By the time he sees Claypool it is too late to make a throw and the drive is over.

The Point:

The Steelers offense was in a rhythm and doing well in the second quarter and the first drive of the second half, but a few things going wrong in the second drive of the half brought out the bad parts of Mitchell Trubisky’s game. That and Myles Garrett stepping up to make a few plays in key spots helped doom the Steelers in the second half.

The Steelers defense isn’t going to be as dominant with T.J. Watt out, and the offense needs to score points and control the ball more if this team is going to win even a single game before T.J. Watt returns. The Steelers need better play across the board from the offense, but especially from their quarterback.

The Steelers need the spark that only a top quarterback can provide

Behind the Steel Curtain - 10 hours 45 min ago
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

In this age of NFL parity, excellence at quarterback is a must.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowl championships — each and every one of them with an offense led by a stellar quarterback. Terry Bradshaw and Ben Roethlisberger have plenty in common in the way they played the game. As young players, both No. 12 and No. 7 had the ability to make blitzing linebackers look silly, whether juking them to the turf or tossing them casually off of their backs. Not only were Terry and Ben tough dudes revered in the Steel City and throughout the NFL, but each possessed a rocket arm and the kind of accuracy that yielded some of the most spectacular plays in Steelers history.

In the wake of the black-and-gold’s second consecutive loss to middling teams unlikely to be found anywhere close to a Super Bowl this season, fans have been given unwelcome reminders of the overwhelming importance of the quarterback position. Quite simply, without a QB who consistently converts third downs and red zone opportunities, an NFL team cannot be a contender. In the job description, it’s not enough merely to be competent as a quarterback — you must be an extraordinary player.

So far in 2022, we haven’t seen anything extraordinary about the play of Mitch Trubisky. And even giving Mitch the benefit of some rising doubt, it should be obvious that Pittsburgh won’t beat anyone when converting only a single third down situation in nine attempts, as they did in losing to Cleveland.

If not for narrowly escaping defeat on opening day in Cincinnati, the Steelers easily might have been winless heading into Week 4. Because it’s a parity league, every NFL team today is loaded with talented players. What sets a team apart is whether they’ve got the trigger-man to consistently bring out the best in their offensive talent. And because Bradshaw and Big Ben each commanded this rare capability, six Super Bowl trophies are on display at Steelers headquarters.

Following the Steelers’ dismal defeat in Cleveland, Mike Tomlin mainly talked about the defense giving up big chunks of rushing yardage and allowing the Browns to possess the ball. While that’s true, it hardly absolves the offense from failing to move the sticks and giving the ball back to Cleveland throughout most of the second half. Disregarding the fluke Browns’ touchdown at the end of the game, they scored only 23 points. But all the Steelers offense could do with their opportunities during the final 30 minutes was a solitary field goal.

Some might prefer blaming the Steelers’ defense, the coaching staff or the absence of T.J. Watt, but what this team most lacks is a quarterback who can reliably put points on the scoreboard. If the Steelers don’t find that guy fairly soon, the other excuses for losing will be irrelevant.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Steelers have as much raw talent as any team in the league. But the one key player who hasn’t made an appearance on the field yet is the quarterback who looks like he can lead this team to a championship. In the few weeks ahead, we’ll need to see either far better performances by Trubisky or the much-awaited debut of Kenny Pickett. While we’ve already seen some substandard play in Weeks 1-3, the only truly unacceptable failure would be for the Steelers to go through the entire 2022 season without establishing any certainty at the quarterback position.

Is the Steelers offense really close to being complete?

Behind the Steel Curtain - 12 hours 27 sec ago
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense isn’t about to throw up the white flag of surrender, not when they believe they are close to being complete.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-2 through three weeks of the 2022 regular season, and the fan base doesn’t need reminded of this simple fact. Something else they don’t need reminded of is the team’s inability to put up points.

When you look at offensive points scored, this wouldn’t count plays like Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six in the Week 1 overtime win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, here is how they have done thus far:

Week 1: 17 points
Week 2: 14 points
Week 3: 17 points

In an era where NFL teams are scoring points at a ridiculous clip, the Steelers have been stuck in the slow lane for the past several years. Take this simple statistic as an example: In their first three games the Philadelphia Eagles have scored 24 points...in the first half.

The Steelers have yet to even break the 24-point plateau in a full 4 quarter game, and including the defense putting points on the board.

With all of that said, you’d understand if fans don’t want to hear players say they are “close” to being a very good, complete offense. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what Mason Cole said on Monday as the team prepares for Week 4.

“I think we’re really close. I don’t think it’s as bad as a lot of people think it is,” Cole said. “It’s still not good enough, but it really comes down to 11 guys doing their job. That’s football. If one guy is not doing his job, it’s not going to look the way it’s meant to be.”

You have to love, and appreciate Cole’s optimism, and there will be plenty of skeptics who absolutely annihilate his comments. But, in Cole’s defense, he continued to talk about how the team still has work to do — no excuses.

“This league is tough. There are no excuses. We have to be better to win these games, these tight games, we’re going to have to be better and play a complete game,” Cole added. “So that’s what we’re striving to do, play a complete game on offense.”

To be completely fair, in the first half of the Week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers offense looked great. They were moving the ball well, using tempo to keep the defense off balance and maximizing the strengths of their offensive line and their quarterback.

“I think our tempo helped us a little bit and kind of sticking to it in the first half kind of helped us,” Cole said of the running game. “We’ve just got to keep getting better there and moving forward there.”

Unfortunately, the second half vs. Cleveland didn’t have the same kind of positive outlook on it, as the team was only able to add three points to their total in the final half. Nonetheless, Kevin Dotson is using the ever-dangerous ‘P’ word when talking about the offense.

Potential.

This is what he told Brooke Pryor of ESPN:

Kevin Dotson: "Potential is one of those things that, it's a good thing and it can drag you down. ... I feel like we just know how good we can be. And that's the thing that's frustrating us, that we are not clicking how we could be really -- that's about the only thing."

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 26, 2022

Will the Steelers, both offensively and defensively, live up to their potential? Will they ever be the team many know they are capable of being? Well, if there is one player who can help get the team mentally back on track, it’s captain Cam Heyward. Heyward knows what needs to be done, and it’s turning the page. Getting ready for the next opponent.

“Get ready for Wednesday. We have practice. Focus on the little things. Control what you can control,” Heyward said when asked what the team needs to do. “Do your job. Get ready to play football again.

“The weekend was nice to get a quick reset. We have work to do. It was nice to get a couple extra hours of rest. Hopefully it benefits us. Now we get back to the task at hand.”

The Steelers host the New York Jets at Acrisure Stadium Sunday for a 1pm ET kickoff, and it would be great to see them get their first home win of the season to even their record at 2-2. With the slate of games they have coming up, it could be viewed as a huge game for the home team. Lose this game, falling to 1-3, could be disastrous for the team’s psyche and overall development.

Let’s hope that latter scenario doesn’t play out.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets this Sunday in Week 4 action.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - 13 hours 30 min ago

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Steelers 2022 is ongoing and we here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the BTSC website, but we’ve decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said or typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

BAD Language: Could Mike Tomlin’s Stubbornness Work?

Mike Tomlin sticks to his ways and refuses to blink in the face of adversity. This policy of defiance has never produced a losing season. Could that trend continue and does that mean that the Steelers will be okay? So, BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis decided to make no apologies and share his black-and-gold brand of enlightenment. Join BAD preaching his own gospel of the hypocycloids on the new show, BAD Language.

  • News and Notes
  • Mike Tomlin and his refusal to blink
  • Prediction Accountability
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: Shouldn’t Steeler Nation Be Used to Starting Slow?

The Steelers are starting off slow, but it’s not like that hasn’t happened before. Join BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis, Tony Defeo and Shannon White for another Steelers Hangover in the 2022 season.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • The Steelers starting slow is not new
  • and MUCH MORE!
From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Steelers that are and are not meeting expectations

The first three contests of the 2022 campaign for the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t gone great for the black and gold. Some players are meeting expectations while disappointment defines some of the others Geoffrey Benedict examines this and more on the latest episode of BTSC’s “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Expectations, those met and those not
  • and MUCH MORE!

Geoffrey walks you through everything you need to know regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Giants vs. Cowboys: Monday Night Football picks, odds and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 7:00pm
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Monday Night Football is here! Check out the latest odds, picks and more.

The 2022 NFL regular season is in full swing, and it’s an NFC East battle in Week 3. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants go head-to-head. When it comes to storylines, there are plenty surrounding this game.

As for the game itself, below you’ll see some vital information for you to enjoy the contest. You’ll get odds for the game, check out our staff picks for the game and to use this comment section as an open thread for the game.

Let’s take a closer look...

How to Watch:

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Date: Monday, Sept. 26
Venue: MetLife Stadium
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Streaming: ESPN App, ESPN+

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

NYG: -1
O/U: 39
Moneyline:
NYG: -115
DAL: -105

Staff Picks:

While the game doesn’t feature Daniel Jones vs. Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush and the Cowboys are hoping to get a very necessary Monday night win over their division rivals in New Jersey. It will hopefully be a highly contested games and fun to watch. Let us know your picks in the comment section below. On top of that, follow along with other Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the comment section below as the open thread.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold. And continue counting down the days until the Steelers play the New York Jets in Week 4 of the regular season.

AFC North Recap: Steelers two-game skid doesn’t have them in last place

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 2:00pm
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The AFC North had a bounce back week, except for the team from Pittsburgh.

The second week of NFL football is behind us, and it was quite the week in the AFC North division. With that said, it is time to see how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns all did in the week that was.

Time to take a look...

Cleveland Browns - 29
Pittsburgh Steelers - 17

Not to dig up old bones, but the one thing which should be noted is how the final score was certainly not a real indication of the outcome. In reality, not withstanding the lateral play which resulted in a Browns touchdown as time expired, the final score would have been 23-17. A one score game. Come to think of it, I find it hard to believe the Steelers were within a score with how slanted the play was in Cleveland’s direction in the second half. Not much else needs to be said about this game...on to Week 4.

Cincinnati Bengals - 27
New York Jets - 12

Joe Flacco couldn’t provide another AFC North magic victory when the Jets visited Cincinnati. The game was close early, but eventually the Bengals were able to manage their mistakes and make enough plays to win. Nonetheless, the offensive line for Cincinnati was under duress, again, and you have to wonder their plan to keep Joe Burrow upright for the rest of the season.

Baltimore Ravens - 37
New England Patriots - 26

This game was a fun game to watch, with many twists and turns throughout the contest, but the Ravens offense was too much for the Patriots. Mac Jones showed some big play ability, but nothing near what Lamar Jackson provided for the Ravens. Once again, Jackson is the one-man-show in Baltimore, and is a force to be reckoned with. Can the Steelers match up with the Ravens? Fans won’t have to discuss that until their first regular season meeting in Week 14.

AFC North Standings

Cleveland Browns - 2-1
Baltimore Ravens - 2-1
Pittsburgh Steelers - 1-2
Cincinnati Bengals - 1-2

Week 4 AFC North Schedule:

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins — 8:15pm ET, Thursday Night Football
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets — 1:00pm ET, Sunday
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cleveland Browns — 1:00pm ET, Sunday
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills — 1:00pm ET, Sunday

A look ahead...

The next four opponents for all AFC North teams:

Baltimore Ravens: vs. Bills, vs. Bengals, at NY Giants, vs. Browns
Cleveland Browns: at Falcons, vs. Chargers, vs. Patriots, at Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers: vs. Jets, at Bills, vs. Buccaneers, at Dolphins
Cincinnati Bengals: vs. Dolphins, at Ravens, at Saints, vs. Falcons

The NFL announces changes to the Pro Bowl beginning this season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 12:30pm
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The game, as well as the days heading up to it, will look much different this February.

Since the 1950 NFL season, the league has held the Pro Bowl each year with the exception of 2020 when it was canceled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Over the years, there have been a number of tweaks to how the game has been played. From occurring before the Super Bowl versus after the game, years where the teams were chosen by captains, or the location in which the game was played has changed during recent years years.

On Monday, the NFL announced what looks to be the biggest change in the game, outside of canceling it altogether, in it’s more than 70 year history. With constantly evolving rules in order to reduce player injury, and the effort given by the players becoming more in question, the NFL has decided to replace the game with a multi-day skills competition culminating in a flag football game. This per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

NFL is replacing the Pro Bowl with a multi-day skills competition and flag football game that will be played in Las Vegas the Sunday before the Super Bowl.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2022

With the NFL still wanting to showcase the skills of their elite players, various competitions have been involved as part of Pro Bowl week which was televised beginning in 2017. Under the new format, these skills challenges will likely take a much more increased role in the event.

Additionally, the NFL is tapping into one of its most marketable former players as Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions will help out with the various events of this year‘s Pro Bowl.

Peyton Manning and Omaha Productions will help shape the skills competition programming throughout Pro Bowl week in Las Vegas. Manning also will be a key part of the coaching staff for the AFC vs NFC flag football game.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 26, 2022

So how will these changes effect the Pro Bowl rosters? According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the selection process for players will be the same when it comes to how many are chosen as well as the decision coming from both fan and player voting.

The Pro Bowl game has been replaced by "The Pro Bowl Games," but I'm told full rosters (44 per conference) will still be selected through fan and player voting. So, no impact on incentives, etc.

Details still to come on format of the flag football game, which won't be 11-on-11.

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 26, 2022

With players having incentives built into their contract when it comes to Pro Bowl appearances, the NFL changing how they make the selection would likely get more pushback from the NFLPA had they not kept with the same standards which players have negotiated their contracts.

One thing that has not been addressed at this time will be how the NFL handles replacement players. Since the NFL moved the game to before the Super Bowl in the 2014 season, players selected from teams represented by each conference in the championship game obviously could not be a part of the Pro Bowl festivities. Additionally, players who were injured and unable to participate, or declined the invitation, needed to be replaced in order for teams to have full squads to play the game. Whether or not this will be necessary to the same degree is unknown at this time.

For anyone who has tuned in to the Pro Bowl in recent years, the product on the field only somewhat resembles the game they see throughout the regular season. Since putting the players in pads but having the game be so far removed from actual football has gone to such a magnified level, the NFL likely deemed it was better to embrace the fact that it wasn’t an actual football game than to try to continue to pawn it off as such.

The Pro Bowl Games following the 2022 NFL season are scheduled to take place the week following Conference Championship Weekend on January 27, 2023. The exact dates for the competitions have yet to be officially announced, but the final game, now a flag football game, is scheduled for February 5, 2023 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

So what are your thoughts on that NFL changing the format for the Pro Bowl following the 2022 NFL season? Is it a good idea for the NFL to make a change, should they have kept the game the same, or should they do away with any activities altogether? Will this change reflect your viewership in any way? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Don’t look now, but the Steelers offensive line is headed in the right direction

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 11:30am

It may be hard for some to believe, but the 2022 Steelers offensive line is starting to show signs of improvement.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone through plenty of changes since the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. There have been multiple offensive coordinators, offensive line coaches, position coaches, quarterbacks, running backs, and skill position players. There have been substantial changes to the offensive line as well, both in personnel and scheme.

Even through all those changes, one thing remains the same — the Steelers offense is subpar. It's ineffective, both in sustaining drives needed for optimal time of possession, and putting points on the scoreboard. The Steelers struggle to consistently run or pass the football. A huge culprit in these struggles is the offensive line, the foundation of any offense.

As you can imagine, I believe that the Steelers offensive line deserves the majority of the blame for the Steelers ineffective and lackluster offensive performance in recent years. Simply put, the Steelers offensive success moving forward will mirror the growth and improvement of their offensive line. They go hand in hand.

The reasoning behind the Steelers offensive line struggles are plentiful, as are the suggested solutions. One common belief is how the Steelers haven't invested enough financial and draft capital on improving the unit. There is evidence that would seem to support that theory, when you consider the Steelers have the least expensive starting offensive line in the league, and the fact they don't have a single first round selection in the starting unit or on the depth chart.

That sounds like a sound theory, especially when you consider the fact that the last standout Steelers offensive line was constructed on the All Pro talents of Maurkice Pouncey and David Decastro; two first rounds draft picks, but I don't believe that is the answer.

The Steelers have always constructed their offensive lines from the inside out. The Hall of Fame is full of Steelers legends, including some of the greatest interior linemen in NFL history. That being said, the Steelers don't have an offensive tackle in the Hall of Fame, nobody even close actually. The Steelers actually have been more successful converting tight ends into tackles than drafting and developing first round picks at the position.

The Steelers went the free agency route in trying to rebuild their offensive line for 2022. The Steelers signed former third rounder Mason Cole to solidify their center position, and they signed former second round selection James Daniels to strengthen the right guard spot. Finally, they re-signed their own free agent right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor. All three have proven NFL experience, but are still young enough for one to assume they haven't reached their full potential. Left guard Kevin Dotson and left tackle Dan Moore Jr. round out the starting five.

The Steelers new-look offensive line started out the preseason looking too much like last year's version. Missed assignments, subpar communication, and a lack of chemistry invoked unpleasant memories of recent past. With that being said, the offensive line has shown slight improvement over the first few games of this season. You know what they say, beggars can't be choosers.

Okorafor has enjoyed the best start to a season in his young career. He is playing like he suddenly experienced an epiphany when he signed his new-three year contract to stay in the Steel City. I have honestly been intrigued by Okorafor's potential ever since the Steelers utilized a third round pick on him. He had the length and mobility of a left tackle on film, but his lack of intensity and physicality thus far in his four year career has been infuriating. Suddenly, he looks like a new man, a talent who finally feels comfortable in his own skin. He has been adequate run blocking, but exceptional in pass protection. He has been the Steelers best, and most consistent, lineman.

Daniels was arguably the Steelers’ biggest free agent target. Daniels is young, talented, and loaded with potential. His versatility had been both a blessing and a curse during his tenure with the Chicago Bears. He was moved around the interior early and often, willing to be utilized wherever he was needed. The lack of positional stability stunted his development. The Steelers immediately named him their starting right guard, and are hoping the familiarity gained at a single position will accelerate his professional growth. Daniels appears to be getting more comfortable and confident by the week.

Cole has been everything the Steelers were hoping for when they signed him in free agency: a stabilizing veteran presence in the interior offensive line. Cole is a fundamentally sound tactician, who looks spectacularly solid in comparison to last year's starters at the position. I have been impressed by Cole's leadership and communication skills, coupled with his underrated functional strength and mobility.

The left side of the Steelers offensive line consists of Kevin Dotson at left guard, and Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle. The left side of the line is slightly behind the right in terms of execution and development, but that is completely understandable considering the circumstances. The Steelers staged an ill-advised position battle between Dotson and Kendrick Green during training camp. The competition, coupled with a nagging injury, hindered Dotson gaining chemistry with his new linemates and blocking scheme.

Dotson has looked lost on multiple occasions thus far this season, especially during his limited preseason action. He appears to be finding his footing finally, slowly but surely. Dotson is not an ideal fit for the Steelers new outside zone concepts, as he is more of a power dependent people mover, but he appears willing and able. He remains more effective against power than speed. His pass protection is a work in progress.

Dan Moore Jr. has been a mixed bag of good and not so good plays thus far this season. He worked hard during the offseason focusing on his functional strength and hand placement. There has been noticeable improvement in both areas. He is handling bull rush attempts in pass protection much better, which was an issue in 2021. He has struggled at times with his balance and footwork, mainly due to the Steelers new blocking requirements stressing aggressiveness and first contact, even in pass protection. He seems to be improving by the week.

The Steelers offensive line improvement in the early stages of the season appears to have went unnoticed by the national sports media, and with many in the fan base. This offensive line was constructed in typical Steelers fashion with all five members being young, experienced, and talented. Each player is 26 or younger, and under contract with the Steelers for the foreseeable future. If the Steelers can turn all that potential into production, they may find themselves in a very financially favorable situation. Low risk with potentially high reward.

The Steelers have numerous issues on offense presently. Surprisingly, the line isn't the biggest one.

Betting Preview: Steelers currently 3.5-point favorites vs. the Jets

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 10:00am
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers are favored for the first time in the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some extra time to prepare for the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets after playing on Thursday night last week. When it comes to the betting lines for Sunday’s game, the following information is the current consensus spread and over/under for the Steelers this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Game Info: Week 4 Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Jets Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Betting line: -3.5

Over/under: 41.5

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 16-10 vs Jets

Win streak: 1 game NYJ

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 1 - 2 NYJ

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 6 - 4 NYJ

The opening line on the game was at -3.5 after the schedule was announced in May. Throughout the preseason games and the first three weeks of the NFL season the line has held steady.

Being the favorites on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of -170 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 10/17 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Jets would have a payout of $31.76 ($11.76 plus the original $20 bet). The Jets have a current moneyline of +145, or 29/20 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on New York to win straight up would have a payout of $49 ($29 plus the original $20 bet).

The Steelers are 12-3-1 against the spread in their last 16 games played in October and are 10-1 straight up in their last 11 games at home against the Jets. The Steelers also have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 home games and have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 games against the Jets.

If looking at the futures bets at DraftKings.com, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl are at 100/1 after Week 3. The Steelers odds to win the AFC Championship are 75/1 odds. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are currently at 16/1 odds behind the Bengals at 7/2 odds, the Browns at 3/1, and the Ravens as the favorite at 4/5 odds.

Betting Preview: Steelers currently 3.5-point favorites vs. the Jets

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 10:00am
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Steelers are favored for the first time in the 2022 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some extra time to prepare for the Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets after playing on Thursday night last week. When it comes to the betting lines for Sunday’s game, the following information is the current consensus spread and over/under for the Steelers this week as reported by DraftKings Sportsbook.

Game Info: Week 4 Pittsburgh Steelers vs New York Jets Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Betting line: -3.5

Over/under: 41.5

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 16-10 vs Jets

Win streak: 1 game NYJ

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 1 - 2 NYJ

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 6 - 4 NYJ

The opening line on the game was at -3.5 after the schedule was announced in May. Throughout the preseason games and the first three weeks of the NFL season the line has held steady.

Being the favorites on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of -170 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 10/17 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Jets would have a payout of $31.76 ($11.76 plus the original $20 bet). The Jets have a current moneyline of +145, or 29/20 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on New York to win straight up would have a payout of $49 ($29 plus the original $20 bet).

The Steelers are 12-3-1 against the spread in their last 16 games played in October and are 10-1 straight up in their last 11 games at home against the Jets. The Steelers also have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 home games and have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 5 games against the Jets.

If looking at the futures bets at DraftKings.com, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl are at 100/1 after Week 3. The Steelers odds to win the AFC Championship are 75/1 odds. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are currently at 16/1 odds behind the Bengals at 7/2 odds, the Browns at 3/1, and the Ravens as the favorite at 4/5 odds.

TURNING POINT: Steelers’ can’t overcome 2nd half mistakes in loss to Browns

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers struggled in the second half against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, and it was the turning point in the game.

Following each game this season, I’m writing an article that takes one play, or a small sequence of plays, and examines how it became the “turning point” in each Steelers contest. This week, the focus is on a pair of mistakes the Steelers made in the 3rd quarter that killed drives on offense and swung momentum towards Cleveland in a 29-17 Browns victory.

Heading into Thursday night’s contest at Cleveland in Week 3, the Steelers had two major concerns. The first was they needed to improve their anemic offense and score some points. The second was they had to find a way to slow down Cleveland’s league-leading rushing attack, which would be no small feat given the absence of T.J. Watt and the struggles the Steelers were experiencing in that department that had carried over from 2021. These two issues were intertwined, as one of the best ways for Pittsburgh to limit the Cleveland run game was to possess the ball on offense, score points and keep the defense, which had played more snaps than any unit in the NFL so far in 2022, off the field as much as possible.

For one half on Thursday, the Steelers did just that. Over the first 30 minutes, their offense looked like the one many fans had envisioned when Matt Canada became its coordinator. Canada came to Pittsburgh with a reputation as an architect of creative play designs, deceptive shifts and motions, quarterback runs and pocket movement. Through his first 20 games as play-caller, however, little of those features, other than some bells and whistles in the shifts-and-motions department, had been on display.

Then, suddenly, on a short week, all that seemed to change. Pittsburgh gained 209 yards on 30 plays in the 1st half against Cleveland. They scored two touchdowns, or as many as they’d amassed in the previous two games combined, and had moved into field goal range on another drive that ended in a missed attempt by Chris Boswell. They used deception well, running a series of bootlegs off of jet motion that fooled the Cleveland defense. They blocked well up front in both the run and pass game. And they pushed the football down the field, showing a willingness to throw deep that they’d avoided the first two weeks. On one such deep ball, rookie receiver George Pickens made one of the great catches in recent memory, doing his best Odell Beckham Jr. impersonation by reaching behind him with one hand to make this near-impossible snare:

The Steelers finished that drive by pounding the ball into the end zone on three straight runs, the first two from Jaylen Warren and the finisher by Najee Harris. Both backs ran angry, looked for contact and punished Cleveland defenders when it came. Pittsburgh led 14-13 at the half, had zero three-and-outs, and was protecting the defense with their offense. Their performance inspired hope.

Then came the second half. The Steelers could not match their early success, as a series of mistakes doomed their possessions in the 3rd and early-4th quarters. An opening drive that started well was derailed by a huge penalty and ended with a punt. Then, on three straight series, they went three-and-out, amassing a total of 6 yards on 9 plays. Those possessions used a combined 3:35 of game clock. By giving the ball back to Cleveland so quickly, the Browns were able to get their run game going, wear down Pittsburgh’s defensive front and take control of the contest. They asserted their will on consecutive drives, running 25 plays for 150 yards and holding the ball for 13:37 of game clock. Their 14-13 deficit became a 23-14 advantage, and the Steelers were toast.

How did Pittsburgh’s promising 1st half on offense fall apart after the break? The answer is simple: self-inflicted wounds. For the second week in a row, the contest turned in favor of an opponent as the Steelers shot themselves in the foot. Last week, against New England, it was a dropped interception followed by a mental error on special teams that resulted in having ten men on the field for a Patriots’ punt that ended in a turnover and a quick New England touchdown. Against Cleveland, the mistakes were on the offensive side of the ball. In both games, they allowed the opponent to seize momentum and then salt the game away by pounding the football at Pittsburgh’s shaky run defense. The Steelers aren’t good enough to overcome their own errors. The last two weeks have proven that in the cruelest of ways.

Pittsburgh’s first self-inflicted wound against the Browns came on its opening drive of the 2nd half. Initially, it looked like they would pick up where they’d left off. They mixed the run and the pass, moved Trubisky about the pocket and varied their tempo to advance the ball from their own 16-yard line into Cleveland territory. On 1st and 10 from the Browns’ 46-yard line, a screen pass to Harris lost four yards. Facing 2nd and 14 from the 50, the Steelers ran a nicely executed shovel pass to Warren that hit big. The rookie back caught the inside toss from Trubisky and did what he’s been doing since the early stages of training camp: he ran hard, broke tackles and finished aggressively:

Warren’s run was aided by the play of the offensive line, who executed their assignments well. Right guard James Daniels, who played physically all game, wiped out the defensive tackle to his side of the ball. Center Mason Cole sealed the backside tackle, and left guard Kevin Dotson pulled and wrapped around to run interference. With Cleveland’s left defensive end so far upfield in pursuit of Trubisky, Warren had ample room to run once he caught the pitch.

But right tackle Chuks Okorafor drew a penalty for being illegally downfield before the ball was released. At the point Trubisky pitched it, Okorafor was two yards beyond the line of scrimmage. You can see him circled in the photo below, working up to the linebacker level as Trubisky let the ball go:

The league rule on an illegal downfield pass states that a player is ineligible if he is covered by an outside player and is more than one yard down the field before the pass is released. Technically, the officials made the right call here. In most instances, however, this is not enforced. Informally, and especially given the leniency the league allows on RPO-type passes, penalties of this nature are only called if an ineligible player is at least three yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The “three yard zone” is the bane of the existence of many defensive coordinators, who see it as another protection for the offense by a league that bends the rules in their favor to appease fans who prefer high-scoring games (that’s a direct quote from a former NFL defensive coordinator I spoke with who, to put it mildly, hates the way the game is officiated these days).

Unfortunately for the Steelers, Thursday night’s crew enforced the rule to the letter of its law. Okorafor got flagged, and a 35-yard gain that would have set the Steelers up in the red zone was wiped out. Two plays later, Pittsburgh punted. Cleveland proceeded to drive 70 yards and kick a field goal to give them a lead they would not relinquish.

On the Steelers’ next possession, a more egregious unforced error doomed them. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32, Trubisky read press cover-1 from Cleveland with a five-man pressure and a “rat” sitting in the high hole to disrupt slants and crossing routes. The Steelers aligned in an 11 personnel empty set with Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth on the wings, but kept both in to chip Cleveland’s edge rushers before they released into the pattern. Meanwhile, slot receiver Chase Claypool ran a slant, which was bracketed by the alley defender and the rat, and Pickens and Diontae Johnson went vertical outside the numbers.

Trubisky made the smart play by choosing one of the verticals. While he essentially threw up a 50/50 ball, it was the right decision given the coverage Cleveland presented. It was also a good choice considering Myles Garrett, who was coming off the edge to Trubisky’s left, beat both the chip by Harris and the block of left tackle Dan Moore to apply near-immediate pressure. Trubisky stood his ground and absorbed the hit, but not before lofting a perfect ball 30 yards down field to Johnson, who promptly dropped it:

At first glance it looked like cornerback Denzel Ward had gotten a piece of the throw to break it up. But from the angle below, you can see it was a clear drop. Trubisky could not have walked the ball down the field and handed it to Johnson in a better spot. Johnson was just late in tracking it, and got his elbows too far away from his body, allowing the throw to escape him. Pittsburgh was forced to punt, and Cleveland again drove the field, this time scoring a touchdown to extend their lead and essentially put the game away.

Trubisky has received a fair amount of criticism for his play so far this season, and much of it is justified. But it is hard to pinpoint him as the culprit for Pittsburgh’s failures in the second half against Cleveland. Blame him if you want, but it’s an act of confirmation bias. The truth is this: had the Steelers avoided their unforced errors on either of their first two drives, they would have been set up nicely with 1st downs inside Cleveland’s 20 and 30-yard lines, respectively. Who knows what would have happened from there, but points on one or both possessions would have changed the game in their favor. That, and the fact they couldn’t get a stop on defense, were the true culprits, not Trubisky.

One more note about Johnson’s drop, which bothers me for reasons beyond the obvious. Earlier in the game, Johnson displayed his frustration with a throw Trubisky made just before halftime that sailed over the heads of both Johnson and Claypool along the sideline. Johnson was open, and Trubisky, who was fleeing pressure, appeared to heave the ball out of bounds to take an incompletion. Johnson threw up his hands, which, while it may not be an overt way to show up a quarterback, has that effect.

A player who is willing to call out what he perceives are the shortcomings of his teammates needs to pick those teammates up when they do make plays, like Trubisky did with his throw on the vertical route. That drop by Johnson, and a lazy illegal shift penalty he took near the end of the game when he failed to get set quickly as the Steelers ran their hurry-up tempo, were both costly. The former squandered a big-play opportunity and the latter wiped out a pass interference call in the end zone against Cleveland that would have given the Steelers possession at the 1-yard line. They were down 23-14 at the time, so a touchdown there, instead of the field goal for which they ultimately settled, would not have changed the outcome. Still, by not displaying the proper sense of urgency in getting lined up, Johnson made a mental error that could have been costly. The criticism of Trubisky he showed by throwing up his hands in front of the cameras was not warranted considering his own shortcomings.

For the second week in a row, the Steelers coughed up a winnable football game by making crucial mistakes in the second half that handed their opponents opportunities on which they capitalized. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a theme for the 2022 Steelers. If it does, it will be a long season for the black-and-gold.

The Steelers defense is merely average without T.J. Watt

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers defense, despite being the highest paid in the NFL in 2022, is merely average (at best) without T.J. Watt.

If you’re scoring at home, the Steelers are now 0-6-1 in their last seven games where T.J. Watt has either been inactive or compromised because of injury.

Thursday night’s 29-17 loss to the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium added to the tally, as Teryl Austin’s Watt-less charges allowed Cleveland’s offensive crew, led by quarterback Jacoby Brissett, to effectively control the tempo of the game from beginning to end.

Speaking of Brissett, he wasn’t necessarily as free from the wrath of Pittsburgh’s normally potent pass rush as Mac Jones was just a few days earlier, but he did mostly find comfort in the pocket and was hit just four times and sacked twice on the night.

In case you’re counting at home, that’s seven quarterback hits and two sacks in the two games that Watt has been out of action after injuring his pectoral muscle in a Week 1 overtime win over the Bengals in Cincinnati.

Speaking of action, the Browns had their share of fun times on the ground on Thursday night, rushing for 171 yards—including 113 yards and a score on 23 carries by the mostly always awesome Nick Chubb.

If you’re still at home and counting stats, that’s a combined 295 rushing yards by the Patriots and Browns, respectively, in the two games that Watt has been out of action due to a pectoral injury.

The Steelers defense didn’t register a takeaway on Thursday—it may have been too preoccupied with chasing down Chubb, along with receiver Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku.

If you’re sitting at home and only know how to count to one, you’re in luck. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted a Mac Jones pass early in Week 2’s loss to the Patriots at Acrisure Stadium, marking the only takeaway the Steelers defense has generated in the two games that Watt has been on the shelf with a pectoral injury.

If the Steelers continue at the current sack and takeaway pace they’ve been on in Watt’s absence, they won’t finish with many sacks or takeaways.

That's rather unfortunate, considering the defense was on pace for 119 sacks and 85 takeaways after that exciting and crazy Week 1 victory at Paycor Stadium.

Watt dominated that game until he left late in regulation with the aforementioned pec injury.

He’ll likely dominate again once he returns to the lineup and is at full strength.

Watt will also probably make the Steelers' defense effective again and not just average—or “mid,” as the kids say.

What’s it say about the Steelers’ defense, the highest paid in the NFL in 2022, that it is merely average—mid—without Watt’s services? I realize he’s arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, but while I knew the unit would be hugely impacted by Watt’s absence, I didn’t expect it to be so benign.

I didn’t expect it to totally lose its ability to bite and tear. I didn’t expect it to be declawed by opposing offenses. I didn’t anticipate it having to be “helped” by a Steelers offense that’s clearly not able to do that at the moment.

“The defense played well enough to win!” is a common refrain from Steelers fans who love to treat that side of the ball as if it’s the gifted but unfocused son who just needs some direction. (Btw, the offense is the red-headed stepchild who can never seem to chop an adequate amount of firewood—even back in the days when it would chop 42 points worth.)

While the offense is certainly a liability for the Steelers in 2022, didn’t we kind of know that going in? I don’t think anyone anticipated that Matt Canada, with a resume that included many college OC jobs and the title of “Steelers Secret 2020 Offensive Coordinator and Motion Wizard,” would be able to mold this outfit into a well-oiled machine right out of the gate.

The defense would have to carry the weaker unit.

It hasn’t, and that’s with Cam Heyward, Tyson Alualu, Larry Ogunjobi, Alex Highsmith and Fitzpatrick all perfectly fine and healthy.

That doesn’t speak well for the defense.

I know what you’re going to say next, “The defense needs help from the offense. JUST STOP!”

It’s not my job to stop anyone, but I’ll bet I can do as well as the Steelers' defense has been doing without T.J. Watt in the lineup.

Jets expecting to have Zach Wilson in the lineup vs. the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 6:00am
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers is expected to face former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson in Week 4.

While the Pittsburgh Steelers have their own quarterback issues, the team they play in Week 4 at Acrisure Stadium is hopeful to have their starter back in the lineup. When the New York Jets come to Pittsburgh this Sunday for a 1pm ET kickoff they are hoping to have second year quarterback Zach Wilson under center.

Wilson, who injured his knee during the preseason, has been working his way back, and was expected to be ready near the Week 4 mark of the regular season. While he hasn’t been medically cleared yet, Jets head coach Robert Salah said after the team’s Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals they are expecting to have Wilson back in the lineup vs. the Steelers.

However, Salah also said he has to be cleared before he can return to the lineup, but the Jets are expecting to have Wilson cleared prior to the team’s departure for Pittsburgh.

The #Jets have gone from wanting Zach Wilson back … to desperately needing him to return vs the #Steelers.

For @SNYtv: pic.twitter.com/bKtPzTnk2J

— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) September 25, 2022

Meanwhile, the Steelers have a young quarterback themselves who is waiting for his chance to enter a regular season game. Mitchell Trubisky has been far from excellent in his first three starts with the Steelers, and many fans are hoping for Kenny Pickett to get his shot at the starting job in the near future.

With that said, the Steelers are hoping their mini-bye week will give them the rest needed to snap their two-game losing streak and get them back to their winning ways. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Jets in Week 4.

Get the latest BTSC gear for the Steelers’ rookie WR, George Pickens

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 5:30am

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a stud wide receiver in George Pickens. Get the latest BTSC shirt featuring “The Catch”

The 2022 regular season is in full swing, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have found a stud wide receiver in George Pickens.

Pickens slid to the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft, and has already proven he is worthy of that pick. Either way, fans are excited, and rightfully so, about what Pickens brings to the team, so why not get some new gear to show off your Steelers pride?! Of course, this could be the perfect gift for the Steelers fan in your life!

The new design is simple, and is officially licensed by the NFLPA.

It doesn’t say anything, but just shows off Pickens’ incredible one-handed sideline catch vs. the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football in Week 3.

The image shows Pickens snagging the ball out of the air...

Check out the design below:

By now, you might be wondering how to order yours? Just click the link below, and get yours today!!

Did you know we have a BTSC Apparel store? You can get this design, and many others including the classing BTSC design shirt, in the link below!

BTSC Apparel Store

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/26/2022 - 4:30am

Get the latest BTSC podcast content in the ‘Podcast Roundup’.

Here at BTSC, and our podcast platform, we are here with you every step of the way. In the past we have given you the podcasts in individual articles on the website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

With that being said and written, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show:

The BTSC Sunday Night Q&A: What’s It Gonna Take?

The Steelers are a disappointing 1-2, and Steeler Nation has a lot of questions. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Geoffrey Benedict and Big Bro Scho as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Let’s Ride, Monday: The change Steelers fans want can only come from one place

The Steelers fanbase wants change and it only one party has the say and power to do so. BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman gives his thoughts on the topic and more on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • and MUCH MORE!

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

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