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2021 Steelers Top 10: Ahkello Witherspoon takes the final spot

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/03/2022 - 6:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

BTSC voters have chosen the most valuable Steelers from 2021.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue through the offseason, building 2022 roster, we took time to take a look back at 2021 again and rank the Top 10 Steelers players of the season. Today we finalize the list with our last addition, Akhello Witherspoon.

Ahkello Witherspoon joined the Steelers one week before the Steelers first game of 2021, when the Steelers traded a 5th round pick for the veteran corner. Witherspoon has had a roller coaster of a career with patches of great and terrible play intermixing throughout his first four years in the NFL. His tenure in Pittsburgh was no less chaotic.

Witherspoon’s first time in a Steeler uniform was in week 2, and it went about as bad as it could, giving up a 61-yard touchdown and getting benched after only 4 snaps, all of them bad. He would next see the field in week 11, and was much better. He wouldn’t give up another touchdown or even 50 receiving yards in any game the rest of the season.

In his 35 targets after the week 2 debacle Witherspoon allowed only 13 catches, while he recorded 9 pass defenses and 3 interceptions. Both numbers led the Steelers despite playing fewer games and far fewer snaps than most of his fellow defensive backs.

With Akhello Witherspoon winning the last spot on our list we now have a complete top ten:

Best Steelers of 2021:
1. T.J. Watt
2. Cameron Heyward
3. Najee Harris
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick
5. Chris Boswell
6. Pat Freiermuth
7. Diontae Johnson
8. Ben Roethlisberger
9. Alex Highsmith
10. Akhello Witherspoon

Our top ten list includes 5 defenders, 4 offensive players and Chris Boswell. A pretty good balance, although the top of the list is definitely headed by the defense.

This list is likely different from the top ten list most of us would make. I would have put Minkah Fitzpatrick ahead of Najee Harris and I would swap out the last two for Terrell Edmunds and Kevin Dotson, but this is a pretty solid list. What do you think?

Everyone knows the most important part of any top-10 list is arguing about what you disagree with. So make sure to give your arguments and superior lists in the comments, and also vote for the worst part of the BTSC Top Ten Steelers of 2021.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 07/03/2022 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, 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 website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest two 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 Steelers Retro Show Rebroadcast: Forget cat, Bradshaw spells win without being spotted the “w” and “i”

Lets go back to a time when The Deer Hunter, two months away from winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, was number one at the movies, Le Freak and Y.M.C.A. were burning up the radio air waves and gold was at an epic high. But just as big, the Steelers and Cowboys were vying for the Lombardi Trophy and to become the first team to earn three of them. Relive that awesome classic on the Steelers Retro Show.

Listen to the show below

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Connor Heyward makes a “mandatory” impression

Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. This week, Chris Pugh, Joe Frost and Paul Yanchek talk about Connor Heyward’s role on the team, the Steelers salary cap situation and Le’Veon Bell’s upcoming boxing debut.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Saturday Night Open Thread: Blame it on Canada

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Come and join this merry band of Steelers’ faithful for some lively debate about our Steelers, good food, music, and the merits of the odd cold beverage.

Another picture perfect day in my beautiful hometown that is just a little south of Detroit. In fact it is so beautiful that my northern neighbors will be celebrating this weekend. So nice of them to join in on the party we are throwing in honor of Canada’s birthday.

On Monday, the celebrations started with the annual Windsor Detroit Fireworks. I can honestly say that if you enjoy fireworks this would be worth the trip. The video gives you a feel but experiencing them in person, especially up close to literally feel the sound waves bounce off nearby buildings is worth the nuisance of the crowds.

This weekend every good Canadian will be at home bbq’ing something delicious. I am off to the store in a few minutes for a pork butt for tomorrow.

If you are reading this from your parents couch, your deck or even from work remember how lucky you are to live where you live and not in places that are literally the middle of a war zone for example... We are incredibly fortunate.

Enjoy your freedom folks.

  1. Which is more likely to occur this season: TJ beats his own sack record? Someone other than Mitch starts at least 2 games? We lead the league in team sacks? Najee rushes for over 1,300 yards? And, please support your answer
  2. We all know that the browns are well the browns... that being said, what specifically do you think they will do with Baker?
  3. With the Stanley Cup finally awarded will you be watching the draft live, follow on line, get some details by the weekend or don’t care at all?
  4. This ‘hack’ for teaching your youngster how to hit a ball blew up again on the internet... https://www.ksl.com/article/50432768/have-you-seen-this-a-great-dad-hack-for-kids-batting-practice. What is your most impressive or funniest life hack that involves kids
  5. Without going down the obvious rabbit hole... give us your thoughts on what the greatest movie sequel(s) are. NOTE: Anyone that even thinks to mention any of the Star Wars movies will be banned for life.

Here we go Steelers!

Going For Two: Justin Layne & DeMarvin Leal

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 2:30pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Day 21 of Going For Two, featuring Justin Layne and DeMarvin Leal

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Justin Layne Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Cornerback
Age: 24
Year: 4
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 192
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 83 2019
College: Michigan State
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

After three seasons of hanging around and playing special teams, Justin Layne finds himself on the bubble of the roster. With the Steelers having so many safeties that bring different attributes, they may be keeping less cornerbacks than in years past. If so, Justin Layne could be in a battle with James Pierre for a roster spot. But perhaps the Steelers want to keep more cornerbacks and Layne will find his way on the roster. Either way, it will be a very important preseason for the former third-round draft pick and his future in Pittsburgh.

DeMarvin Leal Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Defensive Tackle
Age: 22
Year: 1
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 290
Drafted: Round 3, Pick 84, 2022
College: Texas A&M
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Although the Steelers invest heavily on the defensive line through the NFL draft, it is not often that they do it in the first three rounds. Bringing some pedigree in his rookie season, DeMarvin Leal now has the luxury of not being pressed into action. With the Steeler signing Larry Ogunjobi following minicamp, Leal should be able to progress at a natural level according to his abilities and not the Steelers need. But in a position group where snaps are spread over a number of players, Leal should see the field right away in his rookie season. The only question is how much and how soon.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

Chris Oladokun ready to embrace whatever role the Steelers could have for him

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 7th round quarterback doesn’t lack confidence, and is ready for whatever the Steelers have in store for him in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed arms to fill out their quarterback room heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. After the tragic passing of Dwayne Haskins in April, the organization was left with just Mason Rudolph and free agent acquisition Mitch Trubisky on the roster.

It was during the draft the team added two quarterbacks. Everyone knows Kenny Pickett 20th overall, but the second quarterback taken was 7th Round selection Chris Oladokun out of South Dakota State.

Oladokun represents the fourth, and final, arm in the quarterback room, and most aren’t giving him much of a shot to make the roster this season; however, the young signal caller has a lot of collegiate experience under his belt, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the final 53-man roster.

“I think it’s important for me to embrace my role in whatever capacity that is,” Oladokun told the Steelers official website. “Whether I’m thrown into a role this year where I’m starting on Sunday, whether it’s a role where we’re playing the Ravens and I have to act like Lamar Jackson for that week, or the Bengals and I am acting like Joe Burrow in practice. If I’m the guy on the sideline that Mitch, Kenny, or Mason comes to you and ask me for a certain look, I’ve got to know my stuff and give them those answers. Whatever my role is I have to do it to the best of my ability.”

When you look at the four signal callers on the Steelers’ 90-man offseason roster, you have to ask yourself what Oladokun might bring which the other quarterbacks don’t bring to the roster. Ask Oladokun what he brings, and believes his athleticism is what separates him from the rest of the quarterbacks.

“I think I bring a lot of athleticism with my feet and how I can extend plays outside the pocket, the different arm angles and slots I can throw in,” said Oladokun. “The quarterback position has definitely changed, and I don’t think there’s a better time to come into the National Football League. I bring that athletic component.

“All the guys in the quarterback room are mobile. I don’t think we have any statues back there in the pocket. But with my mobility, we see a lot of good defensive ends and defensive tackles in the league nowadays. It’s a challenge getting away from those guys and extending the plays. It’s something that gives me a leg up because of how mobile I am and how I can create.”

Throughout the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamps, both rookie and veteran, Oladokun was a sponge as it pertains to gaining as much knowledge as possible before the start of training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

“I took every single day and was a sponge, talking to vets and coaches and will keep doing that,” said Oladokun. “It’s definitely a lot they threw at us right away, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m getting to know the coaching staff and they’re also getting to know me and how I pick up things and how quickly I can learn.

“I am always studying film, studying the playbook. I love knowing exactly what everyone’s doing. I want to make sure I know my responsibility, and the other 10 guys responsibility on the field as well. As a quarterback you are ultimately responsible for all those guys. I think that’s the most important part.

“Anything I can do to help the team at the end of the year hoist that trophy, that’s what I want to do.”

Oladokun knows one thing, and that is the fact quarterbacks will be highly scrutinized no matter what. It comes with the position and is just part of the territory of being the focal point of every play.

“Being a quarterback, you have to be tough. You’re going to hear a lot, the highs, and the lows. You’re going to get praised and people are going to beat you down when you don’t do your job to the best, or what they think is the best. I’ve been through a lot of adversity. I think I’m built for any situation that’s been thrown at me. I’m just ready to see where this journey takes me.”

Will Oladokun be able to carve out a spot for himself on the active roster? That has yet to be seen, but he certainly has an uphill climb ahead of him. The hope could be finding his way to the practice squad and learning for a year, but clearing waivers might be something the Steelers don’t want to wait and see. Camp will be where players like Oladokun can make a name for themselves.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers run defense will finish in the top half of the NFL

Why it will happen: The Steelers finishing last against the run in 2021 was an anomaly. In 2020 they finished 11th in the NFL while in 2019 they finished 14th. With the Steelers expecting the return of Stephon Tuitt last season, which never happened, and the loss of Tyson Alualu in Week 2, it was too much on the inside linebackers to pick up the slack for what was lacking in front of them. Even so, it wasn’t that the Steelers run defense started off terrible as they were ninth in the NFL going into Week 6 and still tenth during their bye week. Giving up over 200 rushing yards in four different games in the second half of the season with another game coming up only two yards short is what did the Steelers in. Interesting enough, the Steelers went 2-1-1 in those games where they gave up more than 200 yards rushing mainly because they gave up less yardage in the air than on the ground. But with the return of Alualu in the Steelers signing Larry Ogunjobi to help fill the void of Stephon Tuitt, they are much better equipped to stop the run in 2022.

Why it won’t happen: Part of the reason the Steelers give up so many rushing yards is because of the teams on their schedule. Having four games each year against the Browns and the Ravens, these two teams were both in the top five in rushing the last two years with the Ravens being there in the last four. Because the Steelers are going up against strong rushing teams, they’re willing to give up some yards on the ground while keeping down the air yards. It’s not that it was a bad thing in 2021 as they went 4-0 in games against the Browns and Ravens. Even more interesting, the Steelers played four teams in the top six in rushing in 2021 (the Bills and Titans) for a total of six games and went 6–0. If the Steelers continue to get after the quarterback and have a strong secondary, they should be willing to concede some yardage on the ground as long as they’re ultimately getting victories.

Prediction: Changing course a little bit, I’m going to disagree with the scenario. While I think the Steelers will have an improved run defense in 2022, I’m not going to go so far as to put them in the top half of the league. If they end up somewhere 18th to 20th, it should be adequate enough for them with anything better than that truly an added bonus. What may be more important is to not see a drop off in pass defense where they finished ninth in the NFL in 2021. With it being a passing league, if a team is better at defending the pass they can still find success while giving up some rushing yards.

Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Steelers fans predict T.J. Watt’s sack total for the 2022 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

How many sacks will T.J. Watt have in 2022? Steelers fans chime in...

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers regular season is quickly approaching, but first is training camp with the players reporting to Saint Vincent College on July 26th. With it being less than a month before Steelers football returns to our lives on a regular basis, many are wondering what the upcoming season has in store for the black and gold?

Sure, we can debate win-loss totals and who will be the starting quarterback in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, but there was another question I wanted answered by the Steelers faithful.

How many sacks will T.J. Watt have in 2022?

This was the Steelers Burning Question last week, as a part of DraftKings Sportsbook and the DraftKings React survey, and when posed with the question the results were split.

Take a look at the breakdown of the poll which had 17-19 sacks for Watt in this upcoming 2022 regular season.

Some might see 17-19 as the most popular prediction for Watt’s sack total and think it would be a step back from his 2021 statistics. After all, he tied the NFL record for sacks in a season with 22.5 last year. In case you forgot, here were Watt’s stats from last season:

2021
  • Games: 15
  • Pass Defenses: 7
  • Forced Fumbles: 5
  • Fumble Recoveries: 3
  • Sacks: 22.5
  • TFL: 21
  • QB Hits: 39

So, if you thought Watt only getting 17-19 sacks was a step back, you would be right, from a statistical standpoint. But when did some digging on players who have recorded 20+ sacks in a season, and how they did the following season, here’s what I found:

2001: Michael Strahan — 22.5 sacks
2002: Michael Strahan — 11 sacks in 16 games

2008: Demarcus Ware — 20 sacks
2009: Demarcus Ware — 11 sacks in 16 games

2011: Jared Allen — 22 sacks
2012: Jared Allen — 12 sacks in 16 games

2012: J.J. Watt — 20.5 sacks
2013: J.J. Watt — 10.5 in 16 games

2014: J.J. Watt — 20 sacks
2015: J.J. Watt — 17.5 in 16 games

2014: Justin Houston — 22 sacks
2015: Justin Houston — 7.5 in 11 games

2018: Aaron Donald — 20.5 sacks
2019: Aaron Donald — 12.5 in 16 games

When you put this into context, if Watt is able to get 17-19 sacks in 2022, it should be viewed as a tremendous feat considering the recent history of players who have been able to hit the 20 sack milestone during a season.

What do you think Watt’s season will look like this year? Do you see a small step back in sacks, or will he continue to dominate the competition every chance he gets and make a new single-season mark? 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 black and gold as they prepare for the remainder of this offseason.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.

Who is the most underrated player on the Steelers?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers could have several players labeled as underrated, but who would top the list?

When it comes to underrated players, the list can be long for many NFL organizations. Players are often overlooked for a multitude of reasons. Maybe they came from a smaller college/university, maybe they have a bigger star at the same, or similar, position, or maybe the player is just starting to come into his own on the team.

The reason doesn’t matter, the fact remains many players get overlooked during the yearly process in the NFL. In a recent ESPN article by Football Outsiders they diagnosed one underrated player for every NFL team. Before diving head-first into the topic, here is a list of who were making these decisions:

The staff of Football Outsiders — Scott Spratt (AFC East), Robert Weintraub (AFC North), J.P. Acosta (AFC South), Mike Tanier (AFC West), Rivers McCown (NFC East), Derrik Klassen (NFC North), Bryan Knowles (NFC South) and Vincent Verhei (NFC West) — highlight some of those underrated players, one from each NFL team, heading into the 2022 season. From a couple of fairly well-known quarterbacks to the linemen who make a quarterback’s job easier, we argue these 32 players deserve more recognition.

If you are like me, you probably would read the above names and ask the same question:

What do they consider underrated?

Football Outsiders explains their criteria, and you can read it below:

Now, underrated can mean a couple of things. It could refer to a good player conventional wisdom tells us is mediocre, or it could refer to a useful player who doesn’t receive the star treatment from NFL fans. Our list below includes both.

Of course Football Outsiders uses their unique tools for grading players, but when the rubber met the road, who was the Pittsburgh Steelers most underrated player?

Let’s take a look:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Levi Wallace, CB

Wallace was an under-the-radar signing from Buffalo, where he turned in a very strong 2021 season and allowed the Bills to survive the loss of Tre’Davious White to injury. Wallace was sixth in the NFL in yards per pass allowed, was 21st in coverage success rate and was a strong run defender as well. His numbers in a vacuum indicate an elite corner — so why was he available in free agency, and for just two years and $8 million?

Part of it is the perception that the Buffalo defense was so strong that Wallace went along for the ride. Part of it is that he played zone for the Bills and lacks man-scheme skills. And part of it is Wallace’s background — he walked on at Alabama and went undrafted. Buffalo has the players to replace him, while in Pittsburgh he immediately becomes the team’s top corner.

To be honest, the fact Wallace was chosen doesn’t surprise me at all; however, the fact he hasn’t played a snap in a black and gold uniform does make me question the validity of this exercise. On top of the fact Wallace is new to the team, and a rather unknown commodity, there were some strong statements regarding Wallace’s time in Buffalo in the above description.

“Wallace went along for the ride.”

“Lacks man-scheme skills.”

“Buffalo has the players to replace him, while in Pittsburgh he immediately becomes the team’s top corner.”

Talk about interesting remarks for Wallace after leaving Buffalo via free agency. Most of the time a player who was a walk-on at a school like Alabama, and contributes, then goes undrafted and turns into a big-time player for an NFL team is celebrated. Guess not by Football Outsiders.

On top of that, the assumption Wallace has no man-scheme skills and is immediately the Steelers’ top cornerback might be a bit hasty. After all, as stated earlier, he hasn’t even played a snap in the Teryl Austin scheme.

But what say you? Who is the Steelers’ most underrated player on the 2022 active roster? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.

It’s hard to believe Swann and Stallworth only made a combined six Pro Bowls

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 6:30am
Set Number: X155803 TK1 R1 F225

Sometimes a Hall of Fame player simply passes the eye test. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth are great examples of that.

It’s amazing how I continue to be amazed by sports things at this point in my life.

I’m 50. I’ve seen it all, or all that I could see, anyway.

Two people I saw a good bit of early in my sports fandom were Steelers receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Swann and Stallworth were both selected by Pittsburgh in the 1974 NFL Draft. They each played integral roles in the team’s four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s, with Swann earning MVP honors in Super Bowl X and Stallworth catching the game-winning touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV.

Also, they both made the Hall of Fame, with Swann finally receiving the honor in 2001—or 19 years after he retired. Stallworth got the call one year later—or 15 years after hanging up his cleats for good.

The two combined for 837 catches for 14,185 yards and 114 touchdowns.

None of what I have just mentioned about Swann and Stallworth surprised me one bit. It’s all been well-documented. It’s all well known.

But you know what else is well known, especially if you just visit a player’s Wikipedia Page? The number of Pro Bowls he was elected to during his career.

Judging by their storied careers, I would have guessed that each guy was named to the Pro Bowl countless times. That would have been a horrible guess.

Nope, Swann and Stallworth earned Pro Bowl honors three times each. What about All-Pro accolades? Swann was voted a First-team All-Pro in 1978 and a Second-team All-Pro in both 1975 and 1977. As for Stallworth, he was named a First-team All-Pro in 1979, the same year he was voted team MVP, and Second-team All-Pro in 1984, the same season that he set single-season franchise marks for both receptions (80) and yards (1,395).

How could this be? How could two future Hall of Fame receivers get overlooked so many times during their time in the league?

Yes, their numbers weren’t the greatest, but it was a different era, and relative to the era in which they played, they were two of the more explosive and dynamic playmakers at the position. They were arguably the best receiving duo of the 1970s.

Anyway, despite the incredulous tone I’ve presented in the article up to this point, I actually think it’s kind of neat that Swann and Stallworth weren’t highly-decorated receivers during their time. Why do I say that? Because being a Hall of Fame player is more than just about Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. It’s more than just about stats.

There is something to be said for passing the eye test. There’s something to be said for knowing a Hall of Fame player when you see one.

Swann and Stallworth may not have been First-ballot Hall of Famers, and it may have taken them longer to be enshrined than they would have liked, but when they eventually made it in the early 2000s, it just felt right.

Obviously, playing in so many important postseason games, and actually coming through with clutch contributions, helped the cause. It also didn’t hurt to be on four Lombardi winners—to say otherwise would be disingenuous. But I think that further proves my point.

Today, more than at any other point in the history of sports and Halls of Fame, we seem to be too preoccupied with numbers. If a player didn’t reach a certain statistical threshold relative to his position during his playing days, he just doesn’t deserve to get in.

Hines Ward falls into that category. Yes, he caught 1,000 passes during his career. True, he had over 12,000 receiving yards. Yes, he played on two Super Bowl winners and was voted MVP for one of them, but these things may never help his cause.

Ward was voted to the Pro Bowl four times and was named a Second-team All-Pro three times, but he was never considered to be the best receiver of his era.

But he did pass the eye test.

The same can be said for Antonio Brown, who actually was the best receiver on the planet from 2013 through 2018—only the greatest six-year statistical run for a receiver in the history of the NFL. Brown may or may not be done with the NFL, but if he is, he’ll leave the game with 928 receptions for 12,291 yards and 83 touchdowns. Brown has been to seven Pro Bowls, and he’s been named an All-Pro five times—including four First-team honors. He even won a Super Bowl as a member of the Buccaneers in 2020.

Many say that’s not enough, that Brown is both a victim of the statistically-potent passing era in which he’s played and a victim of his own off-the-field circumstances.

But Brown has more than passed the eye test. In fact, I’d say anything he does from this point on is extra credit.

Antonio Brown, like Hines Ward, is a Hall of Fame football player.

A Hall of Fame player is a Hall of Fame player. You know one when you see one, regardless of numbers, Pro Bowl honors or circumstances.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 07/02/2022 - 5:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, 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 two 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.

Nonetheless, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

Here We Go, The Steelers Show: It’s time for the Steelers Pre-camp Physical

Every team goes through physical evaluations before the start of their seasons. Just what is the state of readiness for the Pittsburgh Steelers? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Kevin Smith for Here We Go, The Steelers Show. The BTSC duo breaks down the Steelers like no one else does.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The checkup before the Steelers go to camp
  • and MUCH MORE!
Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under: Which of the Steelers offensive players might be an odd man out?

The offseason rolls on, with training camp around the corner, and Steelers fans can feel excited about the 2022 season. With yet another key acquisition the team is starting to really take shape, which begs the question - who is starting to become the odd man out on the offense? And at which positions? How shaky is their spot on the roster? Can they make the final cut? These are just some of the many questions that Matty Peverell and Mark Davison will address On Pittsburgh Steelers Touchdown Under. Matty P. and Marky P. bring a global perspective to how the Steelers can achieve success in 2022 and beyond, as they chase a seventh Lombardi.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Possible players on the outside looking in
  • 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

Friday Night Steelers Six Pack of questions and open thread: Offseason Vol. 19

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 5:45pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is always something to talk about when it comes to the Black & Gold!

It’s Friday again, so it’s time for the six pack of questions. It seems as if Jeff and Dave come to a consensus in cutting to the chase...

This week, I, Jeff, will be tasked with the questions up for discussion.

The rules are still the same...

Quick rundown of the ground rules.

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

Procedural Note: Since the title feature has gone away, please feel free to leave your usual title as the first line of your response and even bold it if you can for the ease of others.

So here we go! With the formalities out of the way, it’s time to jump on in. Hopefully this party is exactly what you’re looking for on a Friday night. Here goes:

1. Everyone wants to talk about the Steelers quarterbacks, and rightfully so. The question is simple: What would need to take place for Chris Oladokun to make the 53-man roster?

2. With the addition of Larry Ogunjobi, how do you foresee the Steelers’ run defense being in 2022?

3. OVER/UNDER: 10 — Pat Freiermuth receiving touchdowns. You taking the over or under?

4. When you think about the Pittsburgh Steelers, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? It can be a player, a moment, a unit...anything...

5. No one is giving the Steelers a shot in 2022. Do you like when the pundits are talking all about the Steelers as favorites, or do you love the team being underdogs? Explain your answer...

6. This is a holiday weekend in the United States, 4th of July weekend. I am a big griller of meat. What is your favorite thing to throw on the grill that isn’t the usual burgers and hot dogs? I’m always looking for recommendations...

BONUS: On top of that, what is your favorite thing to smoke? I have an offset smoker, but am looking for some unique things to throw in the smoker. It is a traditional smoker, not one of those cheating pellet grills which does all the work for you. So, if you have a favorite, let me know what you smoke and what wood you use!!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Stay safe out there!

And it wouldn’t be a Friday night unless we said...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

PODCASTS

We added some new shows and a new platform to our podcasts...if you haven’t checked out our full lineup of morning, noon, and evening shows, give them a try by listening below!

Going For Two: Miles Killebrew & Christian Kuntz

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s Day 20 of Going For Two, featuring Miles Killebrew and Christian Kuntz

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Miles Killebrew Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 29
Year: 7
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 222
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 111, 2016 (Detroit Lions)
College: Southern Utah State
Roster Outlook: Highly Likely
Analysis:

After joining the Steelers in 2021, Miles Killebrew was a valuable assets on the Steelers special teams units. Despite only playing 44 snaps on defense, Killebrew had 335 special team snaps. With only eight teams blocking a punt in the NFL last season, the Steelers were one of three who had multiple punt blocks. In both cases, it was Miles Killebrew who got his hands on the ball, and the first instance lead to a Ulysees Gilbert touchdown in Week 1. Bringing this value to special teams, along with being an adequate reserve in the secondary, it would be a surprise if Miles Killebrew was not on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2022.

Christian Kuntz Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Long Snapper
Age: 28
Year: 2
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 227
Drafted: UDFA, 2017 (New England Patriots)
College: Duquesne
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

While last year it looked like Kuntz was a long shot to make the roster, I believe he had a chance as he was both adequate at snapping and gave another option on the coverage team as his first stint in Steelers training camp in 2019 was primarily as a linebacker. But by winning the job last year, it is unlikely that Kuntz will surrender the role after one season.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

The Steelers’ quarterback “it” factor may be the biggest factor for 2022

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For those down on the Steelers winning games in 2022, it might be the closing moments each week that make the difference.

There are a lot of varying opinions when it comes to the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers. Although the team has yet to put on pads in preparation for the season, it doesn’t keep the discussion and opinions from flowing freely. And it’s not that discussion and opinions are bad, it’s just very interesting to see how they go at times.

In looking at the Steelers 2022 roster, it’s easy to see where things should be improved for the season. The Steelers added two key components to the offensive line. The Steelers also have the return of Tyson Alualu for the upcoming year, and Larry Ogunjobi was added to the mix recently to help cover for the loss of Stephon Tuitt who didn’t even play last season. They swapped out Myles Jack for Joe Schobert at linebacker. Whether or not exchanging Levi Wallace for Joe Haden in the secondary will be a plus or minus is yet to be seen, but it doesn’t appear at this time to be a move that would change the Steelers record by multiple games.

One area of concern could be at wide receiver as the Steelers lost three players from last year‘s team. But the Steelers also used two of their top four draft picks on the position in 2022, and the three players who were lost all fell behind the Steelers running back and tight end in receiving yards last season, making the highest-ranked player who was lost fifth on the list.

So when others look for the Steelers to have a poor season in 2022, the biggest change and unknown factor centers around the quarterback position.

Just to give an example of some of the feelings about how the Steelers will finish in 2022, the current over/under for Steelers wins on the season is set at 7.5 games. Additionally, in a recent article by ESPN where they mocked the first round of the 2023 NFL draft, they had the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting sixth overall.

If the Steelers have worked on making improvements at so many of their positions and aren’t dealing with aging players in very many spots, the biggest factor has to be at the quarterback position. But what is it about the position which makes these so-called “experts” feel the Steelers are going to see a significant reduction in wins?

Even as the most avid Ben Roethlisberger fan, it would be foolish not to admit that he was not the same player in 2021 that he was earlier in his career. Neither his arm nor his legs were what they were even four seasons prior. With teams not respecting Roethlisberger’s deep ball, the Steelers offense was limited in things they could do. Additionally, with mobility not being a factor with Roethlisberger, it is believed the offensive schemes the Steelers wanted to institute were simply not in the cards.

So if the Steelers now have options at quarterback who can fit their system, push the ball down the field, and can possibly make plays with their legs, why is there projected to be so much of a drop off for 2022?

To me, it’s the Ben Roethlisberger ‘it’ factor.

What is ‘it’? Simple. Ben Roethlisberger, even in his final seasons with the Steelers, when the moment called for it could put the team on his back and lead them to victory. In 2021, Roethlisberger had seven game-winning drives. With the Steelers only having nine wins, that’s pretty impressive. Roethlisberger did what he had to do to win.

As the Steelers move from minicamp towards training camp later this month, a lot is going to be made of the play of the quarterbacks. Seeing how they command the huddle, find receivers, push the ball down the field, and do all the things that Steelers fans want to see, what fans won’t be able to see is the ‘it’ factor I was just describing.

Even in a preseason game, it’s just not the same to see if the quarterback is going to come through and win the game at the end. Chances are, the quarterback who’s going to lead the Steelers to start off in 2022 won’t be in the game at the end in order to win it. So what might be the biggest factor for the Steelers 2022 quarterbacks is not something fans are going to get a chance to see until September. When the game is on the line and the team needs a score, will he be able to come through?

Whether you call it the ‘it’ factor or ‘clutch’ or something else, this is what will ultimately separate the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers from a team pushing to make the postseason or one who is getting a higher draft pick than they have seen in a long time. Ultimately, it would be great if games don’t come down to the wire for the Steelers because they have a little breathing room and don’t have to call on their quarterback to win it for them. But this is the NFL, and every franchise employs 53 professionals, not including the practice squad, to go out and keep this from happening.

The Steelers are going to be in close games in 2022. Are they going to be able to pull them out? This may be the single biggest question heading into and during the season.

Calvin Austin lll needs to be the Steelers highly visible secret weapon

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 11:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers rookie WR Calvin Austin lll can't be the type of secret weapon that opponents see coming from miles away.

The 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers skill position players lacked game changing speed, especially by current NFL standards. The majority were quicker than fast.

However, this glaring shortcoming was by no means responsible for what became a mind-numbingly predictable and extremely limited offensive attack, with offensive being the most accurate description. It actually caused physical pain for many Steelers fans to watch the Steelers offense, particularly the first three quarters of each contest.

Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger was damaged goods going into the season, especially his knees, and it went down hill from there. He needed a strong running game, and a clean pocket, with time to survey the field. Those must haves were common knowledge prior to the season, but they never came to fruition.

The Steelers revamped offensive line was a collection of newcomers; starting two rookies, a veteran cast off on the backside of his career, an athletic but underwhelming youngster that lacks intensity, and Kevin Dotson. First the first time in recent memory, the Steelers offensive line didn't excel at any phase of the game.

It amounted to the worst line in the league. It handcuffed every aspect of the offense, but negatively impacted both sides of the ball. Combined with the worst run defense in the NFL, the Steelers as a team couldn't stay on the field when they possessed the football, or get off the field when they didn't. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Well, that's about enough living in the past, which accomplishes nothing. But we must never forget as those that forget the past are bound to repeat it. Based on the coaching changes and offseason additions, I strongly believe that the Steelers have now learned that valuable lesson, albeit the hard way.

The Steelers have restocked their talent reserves, across the roster, but we will focus on the offense for this article. Improvements have been made, especially in the speed department.

When you think about speedy additions, rookie receiver Calvin Austin lll immediately comes to mind. Not only is he blazingly fast, but he has elite quickness as well. It's been many years since the Steelers have enjoyed the services of a weapon with Austin's elite-level skill set where a slip, stumble, or missed tackle by a defender means six points for the good guys wearing black and gold. If and when that happens, as "Dandy" Don Meredith used to say, "Turn out the lights, because the party's over!"

Here's the gist of this article. If the Steelers are going to be able to utilize Calvin Austin lll to the full extent of his abilities, the opposition must get accustomed to seeing him on the field. It makes sense that he has to see the field to make an impact, right? It's not that simple.

In the past, the Steelers have employed certain players that they liked to use in the occasional gadget plays. Since those plays are usually run sparingly and out of limited formations, they quickly lose the element of surprise needed for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

A recent example would be current Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. The Steelers tried to use the speedy McFarland in a variety of ways during the 2020 season. They wanted to utilize his speed to work the outside edges in the running game, and create mismatches in the passing game. While the ineffective offensive line was the primary factor in the offenses ineptitude, there was another determining factor.

Everybody in the building could see him coming from a mile away.

You could hear opposing defensive signal callers screaming out his number, paying special attention to his presence on the field. He was quickly noticed and easily defended because he played so infrequently, therefore defenses knew something was up when he did see the field.

Now consider the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers offense for comparison. That offense was both talented and efficient, and also very adept at the perfect timed trick play. Truthfully, it's always easier to successfully utilize trick plays from a well-balanced and productive offensive attack. However, there was another underappreciated factor in the success of the 2005 squads trick plays. The main participants were always on the field.

The Steelers were blessed with not one, but two, extremely versatile former collegiate quarterbacks that just happened to be NFL starting wide receivers in Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El. Although that Steelers offense was loaded with current and future Hall of Fame talent, the ball handling skills and versatility of these two gentlemen allowed the Steelers to be extremely creative and aggressive. The opposition never saw it coming. It culminated with the Randle El to Ward touchdown pass in Super Bowl XL, still the only receiver touchdown pass in Super Bowl history.

At least on paper, the 2021 Steelers offense appears substantially more talented and versatile than last season. Matt Canada's offense now has the components necessary to be successful; mobility at the quarterback position, strengthened interior offensive line, and increased talent and versatile at the skill positions. Although it will obviously take time to figure out the optimal lineup, and then get everybody on the same page, the foundation of a markedly improved offense appears to be forming.

With all the aforementioned notable additions at the skill positions, it could be extremely difficult for talented youngsters like Calvin Austin lll and Connor Heyward to see the field. That would be an huge mistake for Matt Canada and company in my opinion.

Both newcomers need to see the field, early and often, and in multiple formations. That will not only speed up their learning curve, but it will make their usage far less predictable, both in type and frequency.

If so, 2022 may just be the year that the element of surprise for the Steelers offense makes it's triumphant return to the Steel City.

Many will never see if coming. You can't say I didn't try to warn you. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

30 Scenarios in 30 Days: The Steelers rush offense will be in the top half of the league

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In the “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” series, we break down situations which could take place for the Steelers in 2022.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at Saint Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.

It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.

Let’s get to the scenario...

Scenario: The Steelers rush offense will be in the top half of the league

Why it will happen: The Steelers have spent a lot of assets to improve their running game. Not only a top draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft taking Najee Harris, but how they’ve handled this past offseason. The organization brought in Mason Cole and James Daniels to help fortify the interior of the offensive line. The hope is 4th round pick in 2021 Dan Moore Jr. and re-signed Chuks Okorafor will anchor the tackle positions. Throw in the addition of Pat Meyer as the new offensive line coach, and Matt Canada seems to have all he needs to resurrect the Steelers’ dead running game.

Why it won’t happen: Despite the aforementioned moves which were made, you can’t completely change a running game as poorly as the Steelers in one offseason. Could it be better? Absolutely it could be better, but to the point where they are in the top half of the league? That seems like a pipe dream. While the interior of the offensive line certainly is stronger, the tackles give fans plenty of pause heading into the 2022 regular season. To have a dominant running attack, you need to have a dominant line. Even though it will be improved, expecting dramatic results might be too much for the organization.

Prediction: Last year the Steelers averaged 93.1 yards per game on the ground. This ranked 29th in the league. For them to get into the top half of the league, based on 2021 results, they’d have to average 115.0 yards per game. Gaining an extra 22 yards per game seems simple, but in real life it’s a different story. When you look deeper into the stats, you see the team’s 3.9 yards per game as the main culprit. But there is more to it than just the average. The Steelers’ 411 attempts on the ground ranked 27th in the league.

If the Steelers want to improve their ground game, they have to be willing to commit to the run, not abandon the run if things go south. When I think about the Steelers having a running attack in the top half of the league, I absolutely think the fact Matt Canada has a roster which better suits his philosophy has the team on the right track. Throw in a more mobile quarterback, whoever becomes the starter, and the team has the making of an improved running attack.

But will they finish in the top half of the league? Call it a hunch, but my prediction is they will finish in the top half of the league. Will they be dominant, they might have their moments, but it will be tough sledding at times. Nonetheless, I see the Steelers improving their running game to the point where the team does finish in the top half in 2022.

Check out yesterday’s prediction in the link below:

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Can Pat Freiermuth make the Pro Bowl in 2022?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

One NFL.com writer thinks Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth could be a Pro-Bowler in year two.

Pat Freiermuth has quickly become a fan favorite in Steelers’ Nation, and for good reason. He displayed a ton of promise in his rookie season, both as a receiver and as a blocker. In the 2021 NFL Draft, he was by far my favorite selection by the Steelers as I could not help but fall in love with his college tape. I love tight ends who can do the dirty work and make explosive plays, and there are very few tight ends in the modern NFL who can do both.

After a rookie year with 60 receptions and nearly 500 receiving yards, the expectations could not be higher for the former Nittany Lion. Ben Roethlisberger, as good as he was at throwing to tight ends, was a shell of his former self in 2021, leading one to believe that Freiermuth can achieve new heights in his second season with a new quarterback.

One pundit who believes in Freiermuth’s potential is NFL.com’s Nick Shook, who recently came out with an article discussing potential first-time pro-bowlers for every AFC team. When looking at the Steelers’ roster, Shook came to the conclusion that Pat Freiermuth was the most likely player to make the Pro Bowl for the first time. Here is what he had to say about Pittsburgh’s tight end.

Najee Harris made the Pro Bowl after shouldering a heavy offensive load in his first season, so the next-best option on the Steelers’ roster is Freiermuth, who fit in seamlessly as a rookie and looks to be on a path toward becoming the franchise’s next beloved tight end. A new quarterback will make the going a little rougher, at least initially, but a reliable tight end is often a young passer’s best friend. I expect Freiermuth to see a ton of targets, no matter who plays quarterback for Pittsburgh in 2022, and to be in the conversation for the Pro Bowl, even with some stiff competition (including Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce) awaiting him.

Shook concluded by mentioning the competition he would face to make it in. Typically, there are two tight ends from each conference who make the Pro Bowl. In the AFC, Freiermuth will have to battle the likes of Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller, while players such as Mike Gesicki and Dawson Knox are also on the verge of emerging into elite tight end status.

Kelce’s age is beginning to show, but based on the fact that Tyreek Hill is now out of the picture, it can only be assumed Patrick Mahomes will heavily target the one primary receiving entity he has chemistry with. Mark Andrews is also in line for a large target share, as wide receiver Marquise Brown is no longer with the team. Rashod Bateman is the presumed number one receiver in Baltimore, but after being relatively ineffective due to injuries in 2021, there are too many unknowns to put much stock into his projected status.

Waller may lose a few targets to Davante Adams, who is reuniting with college teammate Derek Carr. However, Waller’s presence across the middle of the field will still get Carr’s attention in crunch-time situations, which is why fans should expect another productive year from the Raider tight end.

As for the Steelers, it is a complete unknown. How often will Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett target tight ends? Will the additions of George Pickens and Calvin Austin III give the Steelers reason to employ four-receiver sets and use a tight end less often? How often will Pat Freiermuth be asked to assist an inexperienced offensive line and block in-line?

All of the above questions are valid concerns, but at the end of the day, Freiermuth was just touching the surface last year. Everyone could see the potential he was oozing with, as he made the most of the opportunities he was given. I, along with the vast majority of this great fan base, cannot wait to see what is in store for him in the future, and it would not shock me at all if he is voted into his first Pro Bowl this season.

What do you think of Pat Freiermuth’s year-two outlook? Do you think he can make the Pro Bowl? What is a reasonable stat line for him? Be sure to share your thoughts on this topic and all things Pittsburgh Steelers in the comment section below!

Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review, Part 9: Cornerbacks

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 7:15am
Levi Wallace | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over and the Steelers have added many new faces to the roster. In this series, we’ll take a look at each position and what you need to know as the offseason rolls on. In Part Nine, we’ll break down the Cornerbacks.

The Pittsburgh Steelers head into 2022 with a solid, if unspectacular, group of Cornerbacks (CB) anchoring down the back end of the Defense. At first glance, it appears the team doesn’t boast a true number one CB with the ability to be a consistent lockdown coverage defender. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll see a group with real upside, with a couple of names ready to take that next step as top-notch defenders in the secondary.

The Players

Note: position labels are pulled directly from the team’s official roster on Steelers.com

CB: Ahkello Witherspoon, Levi Wallace, Cam Sutton, Justin Layne, James Pierre, Arthur Maulet

DB: Carlins Platel, Chris Steele, Linden Stephens

Group Breakdown

I’m leading off with a player the Steelers made a priority to re-sign this offseason, and if you look at the 2021 film, it’s easy to see why. Ahkello Witherspoon showed a real nose for the football with 3 interceptions (INT) over the last 5 regular season contests, including 2 picks in the Steelers epic near-comeback versus the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14. Witherspoon does a lot of things well, however, he did show vulnerability at times in man coverage. While the ball skills are clear, Witherspoon will need to make strides as a pure coverage corner to make the jump from good number CB2 to true CB1.

The Steelers made a splash in Free Agency to acquire Levi Wallace from the Buffalo Bills, likely seeing him as having a real shot to be the team’s CB1. Wallace has good size and college pedigree (Alabama), and some really good tape in Buffalo, where he grew as a cover man opposite All-Pro Tre’Davious White. Wallace displays fluidity in coverage and can handle a variety of techniques and schemes. He knows how to get his hands on the football as well, with 25 passes defensed and 6 interceptions since 2019 (3 seasons).

The next group of players were drafted by the team with varying degrees of success. The best of the bunch is Cam Sutton, who has been the Steelers’ best draft selection at CB in some time. You can take that however you want to, but the truth is that Sutton is a valuable CB3 with in-game experience and versatility. Teryl Austin’s promotion from DB Coach to Defensive Coordinator could be a big deal for a guy like Sutton, whose role could grow in the coach’s secondary-minded schemes.

Justin Layne is a former 3rd Round pick by the Steelers, but he has yet to live up to his billing as a raw but athletic prospect with big upside. We haven’t seen the upside kick in yet, and as a result, Layne’s status on the roster is in question. James Pierre was an Undrafted Free Agent acquisition by Pittsburgh in 2020, and produced well enough in practice and on the field to merit in season work. However, the team will look for Pierre to make strides as well in order to secure a roster spot come Training Camp.

Arthur Maulet was the Steelers go-to slot CB in 2021, for better and for worse. While looking for a suitable replacement for former Steeler and current Cincinnati Bengal, Mike Hilton, Maulet was given the role of coverage man from the slot, where he was regularly taken advantage of by dynamic slot receivers and smart Quarterbacks who knew to look his way. Maulet’s coverage issues need serious improvement if he wants to retain a spot on this roster.

The remainder of the group is a list of practice squad hopefuls with designs on taking advantage of their opportunity to compete. Carlins Platel and Chris Steele are 2022 UDFAs looking to prove they belong on the big stage, while Linden Stephens continues his journeyman route with a stop in Pittsburgh. Stephens has 16 games of NFL experience with the Dolphins and the Seahawks as a fill-in player, but took no reps in 2021. It is worth mentioning he would have played for Brian Flores in Miami in 2019.

I did want to note that Tre Norwood, listed as a DB on Steelers.com, has a real chance to be the team’s best slot defender, although his traditional role is that of safety. We will discuss Norwood more in depth on the final Roster Review article covering the safety group.

Depth Chart Prediction

Count me in as a believer in the Steelers current group of guys being a strong point of the roster and not a liability. Specifically at the top, where I have faith in Teryl Austin to put together a competent and competitive group, led by Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon. Both of these guys have what it takes to be the team’s CB1, and a true number 1 cover guy. My money is on Wallace really making the leap coming over from Buffalo, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Witherspoons ability to create splash plays put him over the top.

Behind these two, you could do way worse than Cam Sutton who has quality starting experience on the outside and in the nickel. He rounds out a solid top 3 squad. After those guys it gets dicey, however. Arthur Maulet, Justin Layne, and James Pierre are probably going to make the roster, due more to the fact that there just isn’t really anyone pushing these guys than the actual worthiness of each one. If Pierre and Layne can continue their growth and Arthur Maulet can clean up his act a little, there is hope that this group has good depth by the start of the season.

CB1: Levi Wallace, James Pierre

CB2: Ahkello Witherspoon, Justin Layne

Nickel: Cam Sutton, Arthur Maulet

Practice Squad: Carlins Platel, Chris Steele

It’s officially Pittsburgh Steelers month!

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It might be 90 degrees in the air, but the autumn wind is blowing in my soul. Steelers season is almost here!

It’s July! You know what that means, right?

No, it doesn’t mean that summer is half over. I know this is a popular saying around this time of year, but unless fall begins on like July 10th or whatever (the first day of summer was June 21), the math just doesn’t add up.

For the purposes of this article, let’s just say that the beginning of July marks the start of Steelers Month. Why do I say that? Because July is the month that training camp begins, which will be on July 26.

After that, all the news about the Steelers will come organically. You won’t have to go on YouTube and satisfy your cravings with highlights from Steelers games of yesteryear. You won’t have to pretend to worry about soccer or baseball.

You won’t have to make irreverent comments such as, “Gee, must be a slow news day,” in response to articles...like this one. (BTW, why do you say that when you know darn right well that it’s a slow news day?)

Once training camp starts, everything else will flow naturally.

Before you know it, it will be August 13. The Steelers will play their first preseason game that evening, an event that will cause many fans to proclaim that it feels like Christmas morning (they may even put up a fake tree just to commemorate the special day).

Not long after that, on September 11, it will be the Steelers' first regular-season game against the not-so-bungly Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

Then, we’ll all be in the throes of the Steelers 2022 season. Who is doing well? Should Mike Tomlin be held accountable? Why doesn’t he ever have his team ready to play? Clock management. Left tackle!

Yes, the BTSC gameday threads will be rockin!

I’m so happy it is July, and the reason is simple: It happened again. It happens just about every summer around this time. What? Something triggered my excitement for the upcoming football season. As always, I was caught off guard, but, as always, in the most pleasant of ways. I was listening to some podcast (don’t even remember which one) just the other day and the intro included a score from the NFL Films' very famous and extensive music library. I could suddenly smell football in the air. I could feel those butterflies begin to fly around in the pit of my stomach. Despite the fact that it was over 90 degrees out and humid as heck, I could feel the chill of the, well, the autumn wind in the air as those mythical brown leaves began to swirl around in my backyard.

Some relationship guru recently said that I should never date a woman who is so self-centered that she considers her birthday month to be her BIRTHDAY MONTH!

Maybe that’s a huge red flag in the relationship world, but not in the Steelers world. I’ll be counting down the days until July 26. I won’t even have to be subtle about it and drop hints like we often have to do when our birthday is upcoming. Why? Because everyone else will be celebrating Steelers Month, too.

It’s almost here. The autumn wind might be a Raider, but it also includes the Steelers and football, so that’s just fine by me.

Happy Steelers Month!

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 07/01/2022 - 4:30am

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers seasons come and go with no real offseason, at least not for those diehard fans. For those fans, the preseason bleeds into the regular season, the regular season into the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.

Nonetheless, 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 website but have decided to go with a ‘Podcast Roundup’ article which has the latest four 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 typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each show.

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout: All-Time Roster Redeux

What Yinz Talkin’ Bout is the conversation about the Steelers social media conversation. Hosts Kyle Chrise (@KyleChrise) & Greg Benevent (@GregBenevent) expose the hottest and most toxic takes on the internet. This week, we look back at the 40th anniversary of the Steelers 50th anniversary, and see if we would make any changes to the All-Time Roster. Plus, the latest in the search for a QB1, why fans shouldn’t really care how much DJ’s next contract is worth, and what Vince Williams podcast appearance can teach us about Devin Bush.

Rundown of the show:

  • Toxic Takes
  • A look at the
  • Much, Much More

Take a deep dive into the world of Steelers social media from a yinzer perspective as BTSC proudly presents a very unique show that highlights “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout”.

The Steelers Preview: Is Mike Tomlin’s coaching tree ready to flourish?

Through the course of history, we’ve learned about various coaching trees like the Bill Walsh Tree, the Tony Dungy Tree and the Bill Belichick Tree. But how fruitful is the Mike Tomlin tree after 15 seasons? This is just one of the subjects that will be discussed and speculated on in the latest edition in the flagship show of the BTSC family of podcasts, The Steelers Preview with Jeff Hartman, Bryan Anthony Davis, and Dave Schofield. Join the triumphant trio as they combine all things Steelers with shenanigans galore.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News of the Week
  • The Mike Tomlin Coaching Tree, is it more promising than ever?
  • Trivia
Let’s Ride Friday: There is no Steelers hype train, and that’s fine

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a dark horse for the first time in a long time. Should that concern fans? Absolutely not, and BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman outlines why the Steelers not being talked about isn’t a bad thing on the latest episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The glory of not being expected to do anything
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

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

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

Going For Two: Karl Joseph & Damontae Kazee

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 06/30/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It’s Day 19 of Going For Two, featuring Karl Joseph and Damontae Kazee

Welcome to Going For Two! Over the 45 days leading up to the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 training camp, we will be highlighting two players every day in order to cover the entire 90-man offseason roster. So without further ado, here are today’s two players:

Karl Joseph Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 28
Year: 6
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 200
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 14, 2016 (Oakland Raiders)
College: West Virginia
Roster Outlook: Bubble
Analysis:

On the Steelers practice squad in 2021, Karl Joseph appeared in two games when he was elevated to the 53-man roster. Only seeing 17 snaps on defense and 14 on special teams, Joseph had two tackles and one pass defensed on the year. Signed to a Veteran Salary Benefit contract, meaning some of the money he is paid does not count against the salary cap, Joseph is fighting to keep a spot in the NFL as a former first-round pick. Although he has the pedigree associated with his draft status, Joseph also has to beat out others at the safety position in order to earn a spot on the Steelers 53-man roster. While this wouldn’t be unheard of, it’s also not a guarantee.

Damontae Kazee Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 29
Year: 6
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 174
Drafted: Round 5, Pick 149
College: San Diego State
Roster Outlook: Highly likely
Analysis:

Signing with Steelers for a Veteran Salary Benefit contract, Demontae Kazee seems to have a leg up on others in the position group. Starting 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys last season, Kazee had 52 tackles, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and two interceptions. Based on his résumé, which includes leading the NFL in interceptions in 2018 with 7, Kazee is almost a lock to make the roster. But not carrying a big contract, and having a very low dead money hit, if Kazee appears to not be a good fit for the Steelers it wouldn’t be completely out of the question if the two sides parted ways. But this seems highly unlikely, therefore making Kazee a ‘highly likely’ candidate for the Steelers 53-man roster in 2022.

Be sure to check back everyday for another two players for the Steelers, and as we go along click back on previous articles listed below so you don’t miss a thing.

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