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There is finally some real Steelers football to talk about, and that’s quite a relief

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 6:00am
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to focus on the Steelers 2022 regular season and ditch their daunting offseason once and for all.

The Steelers are finally about to kick off their 2022 regular season against the defending AFC-champion Bengals at the newly-named Paycor Stadium this Sunday at 1 p.m.

Yay!

Actually, it’s less of a celebration and more of a relief. I’ve had it with the Steelers' 2022 offseason—the longest one in the history of the franchise. Am I making that up? Of course, but you have to admit these past eight months have been daunting.

Two months of talking about who the Steelers may draft. A week talking about the Combine. Two weeks discussing the free-agent frenzy. Another month of draft talk after that.

And we were just getting started.

Why isn’t so-and-so at OTAs? Should the Steelers pay Diontae Johnson $20 million? Should they sign Eric Fisher?

Why is Stephon Tuitt doing this to me?

Why didn’t they call it U.S. Steel Stadium at UPMC Field?

Give me some actual Steelers football to write about, to talk about, to do podcasts about.

It’s time to discuss results of games and end all of this tedious and useless offseason speculation. I want to argue about the Steelers' lack of offensive production in the Heinz Red Zone and not their supposed neglect of the offensive line in the Maalox Offseason.

I want to celebrate touchdowns instead of schedule reveals.

I’m tired of fluid hips and social media quips.

I’ve had enough of high motors and low characters.

Save the blue collar and give me the horse collar.

I want less talk about left tackles and more talk about gang tackles.

I’m sick of discussing important training camp dates and draft picks people hate.

I don’t want to hear any more about quarterbacks throwing off schedule or how the Steelers got screwed with their prime-time schedule.

Who will be the sixth receiver? Who cares? Who will be the fourth running back? Who cares? Why is Benny Snell Football still on the team? What’s it to you?

Why is Mason Rudolph the second-string quarterback--or at least was for a time thanks to clerical-gate? Newsflash: The Steelers quarterback depth chart will be a very fluid thing all throughout the 2022 campaign. Nothing is set in stone until the next Ben Roethlisberger comes along.

Who’s on the practice squad? I don’t know, but they won’t be playing this Sunday. I want to talk about what the members of the 53-man roster might do in Cincinnati. After those members do their thing in Cincinnati—good and/or bad—I want to talk about that.

I don’t care about anything else.

Seriously, you need to think about baseball a little more in the offseason instead of keeping your focus on all things Steelers—like they often suggest we do when we’re caught up in more provocative affairs...if you know what I mean?

Go play games! That’s right, take up a hobby. Tennis? Volleyball? Trivia? It’s all gold. It’s better than arguing about the Steelers' team captains.

Anyway, it's almost here.

I’m ready for some Steelers football that’s real.

Maybe even a play or two by DeMarvin Leal.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Wed, 09/07/2022 - 4:30am

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 and typed, enjoy the shows below with a brief description of each broadcasted episode.

The Steelers Fix: Predicting the Chaos That Is the 2022 NFL Season

The 2022 NFL season is upon us and, whether real or fantasy, the chaos is about to begin, This week, Jeremy Betz and Andrew Wilbar look at the 2022 Regular and Fantasy Seasons.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Predicting the Chaos That Is the 2022 NFL Season
  • and MUCH MORE!
Mike Tomlin Press Conference Recap: Week 1 at Cincinnati

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first week of regular season football, and on top of that their first AFC North game of the season. This is all surrounding the Week 1 matchup vs. the Bengals in Cincinnati this Sunday. Mike Tomlin took to the podium Tuesday, and Dave Schofield, editor of BTSC, gives you all the details on what Coach T had to say leading up to the game in the latest Mike Tomlin Recap podcast.

The Scho Bro Show: What a win in Week 1 would mean for the Steelers

The Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals as underdogs on Sunday. While a Week 1 win isn’t absolutely necessary for any team to have a successful season, a win would mean big things for the black and gold. This will be just one of the subjects that will be discussed in the latest installment of the BTSC family of podcasts.

As always, it sure is a good time to get on the airwaves and discuss the black-and-gold. On this show, Dave and Big Bro Scho break down all things Steelers, still talk stats, and also answer questions from fans!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • How big would a win in Week 1 be for the Steelers?

Dave and Rich walk you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Let’s Ride, Wednesday: Steelers are tripping all over themselves heading into Week 1

With various gaffes and circumstances, the Steelers don’t look like a team that’s got it together. In fact, the Steelers have been tripping all over themselves heading into Week 1. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts, “Let’s Ride” with BTSC Senior Editor Jeff Hartman. Join Jeff for this and more on the Wednesday episode of “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Steelers are tripping all over themselves heading into Week 1
  • The Mail Bag
  • 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

Analyzing the Steelers offensive PFF grades for the 2022 preseason

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

In the grades provided by PFF throughout the preseason, even players who were just acquired have been included.

The Pittsburgh Steelers concluded their 2022 NFL preseason and have establishedtheir 53-man roster. Although the Steelers came away with a 3-0 record, there are still areas of growth to work out leading up to Week 1. Both the offense and defense had their ups and downs over the three games.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for the Steelers entire preseason performance. Finally, these are the grades for the Steelers combined over all three games. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense, defense, and special teams. Next up is the offense. Included will be all the players on their current 53-man roster or are eligible to return from the Reserve/Injured List (IR) along with the total snap counts for each player. Players who were on other teams in the preseason will be noted (with a +), and players who had no snaps will be at the bottom of each section. Additionally, there are sections for the players currently on the practice squad as well as the top scores of players not currently on the team (or on IR and are not eligible to return).

Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

WR Diontae Johnson: 86.4 (32 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 83.2 (16 snaps)
QB Mitch Trubisky: 83.1 (61 snaps)
QB Kenny Pickett: 80.4 (67 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 79.4 (48 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

G Kevin Dotson: 50.7 (56 snaps)
+OT Jesse Davis (MIN): 49.5 (29 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 48.6 (27 snaps)
G Kendrick Green: 46.0 (100 snaps)
TE Connor Heyward: 43.1 (78 snaps)

Quarterback

QB Mitch Trubisky: 83.1 (61 snaps)
QB Kenny Pickett: 80.4 (67 snaps)
QB Mason Rudolph: 75.1 (61 snaps)

Having the second best PFF score for quarterback each game, it makes sense that the top overall performance went to Mitch Trubisky. In total, all three quarterbacks played well during the preseason.

Running Backs

RB Jaylen Warren: 73.5 (59 snaps)
RB Najee Harris: 61.3 (28 snaps)
RB Benny Snell Jr.: 48.6 (27 snaps)

FB Derek Watt: N/A (0 snaps)

Jaylen Warren lead the way at running back in all three games, so seeing him on top of the list is not surprising. It shows Warren deserves the RB2 spot he landed on the Steelers depth chart.

Receivers

WR Diontae Johnson: 86.4 (32 snaps)
WR Chase Claypool: 83.2 (16 snaps)
TE Pat Freiermuth: 79.4 (48 snaps)
WR George Pickens: 76.5 (75 snaps)
TE Zach Gentry: 67.7 (33 snaps)
WR Miles Boykin: 65.5 (66 snaps)
WR Steven Sims: 63.5 (75 snaps)
WR Gunner Olszewski: 61.8 (92 snaps)
TE Connor Heyward: 43.1 (78 snaps)

(IR) WR Calvin Austin III: N/A (0 snaps)

The Steelers preseason PFF rankings at receiver pretty much show where they likely will fall in terms of usage and targets in the regular season if all goes as planned. With the top four players being the three starting wide receivers and the tight end, it bodes well for the position group going forward.

Offensive Line

OT Chuks Okorafor: 77.8 (77 snaps)
C J.C. Hassenauer: 72.5 (105 snaps)
G James Daniels: 66.4 (77 snaps)
OT Trent Scott: 64.6 (96 snaps)
OT Dan Moore Jr.: 62.8 (107 snaps)
C Mason Cole : 59.0 (77 snaps)
G Kevin Dotson: 50.7 (56 snaps)
+OT Jesse Davis (MIN): 49.5 (29 snaps)
G Kendrick Green: 46.0 (100 snaps)

Despite what some fans believe as they continue to base their opinions of offensive line play on things that could be seasons old, Chuks Okorafor was the most solid offensive lineman for the Steelers throughout the preseason. With that in mind, being the top lineman would be more beneficial if both his and everyone’s scores were higher. James Daniels rebounded well with his third performance. Unfortunately, it appears Jesse Davis fits right in with the Steelers offensive line, at least in terms of his PFF score.

Offensive Practice Squad

WR Cody White: 65.0 (57 snaps)
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.: 62.7 (40 snaps)
G William Dunkle (PIT & PHI): 61.6 (43 snaps)
G John Leglue: 61.5 (112 snaps)
+TE Justin Rigg (CIN): 60.5 (33 snaps)
C Ryan McCollum (PIT & DET): 59.0 (36 snaps)

Top Scores of Players not on the 53 or Practice Squad

WR Tyler Vaughns: 85.6 (43 snaps)
T Joe Haeg: 70.4 (49 snaps)
T Adrian Ealy: 61.4 (4 snaps)
WR Tyler Snead: 60.5 (36 snaps)
T Chaz Green: 54.4 (64 snaps)

So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ offensive grades in the comments below.

Steelers to retire Franco Harris’ No. 32 jersey

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 1:14pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Harris will be only the third player to have their number retired by the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a special announcement on Tuesday by team president Art Rooney II where they announced the team will be retiring the number 32 jersey of Steelers running back Franco Harris. The ceremony to retire the number will be during halftime of the Steelers matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Eve when they will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception.

#Steelers President Art Rooney II just announced that @francoharrishof's No. 32 will be retired by the team at halftime of our Week 16 game against the Raiders. pic.twitter.com/5KYLOxVLsR

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 6, 2022

Franco Harris will be only the third player in Steelers history to have their number retired by the team. The first number retired was that of defensive tackle Ernie Stautner in 1964, five years before he was elected to the pro football Hall of Fame. The other member the Pittsburgh Steelers to have their number retired was defensive tackle Joe Greene when he was bestowed the honor in 2014.

The Steelers first-round pick in the 1972 NFL draft out of Penn State, Franco Harris played 12 years in Pittsburgh where he was selected to nine Pro Bowls and one First Team All-Pro in 1977. Harris also was the 1972 Offense of Rookie of the Year as well as 1976 NFL Man of the Year, now named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. In 12 seasons in Pittsburgh, Harris had eight years in which he rushed for more than 1,000 yards with his top yardage coming in 1975 with 1,246 yards. In all, Harris had 91 rushing touchdowns and nine receiving touchdowns in his regular season career with Pittsburgh as well as 16 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in the postseason.

The retirement ceremony during halftime of the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Las Vegas Raiders on December 24, 2022, will be the final event of several planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. Per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there will also be a special ceremony held at the exact location and the exact time of the reception on Friday, December 23.

As part of the celebration, the Steelers will hold a ceremony the day before the 12/24 game at a marker that sits outside Acrisure Stadium commemorating the exact spot where Harris caught the deflected pass. The ceremony will be held at 3:29 p.m., the exact time Harris scored.

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 6, 2022

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 season.

Mike Tomlin labels the Steelers depth chart snafu as a “clerical error”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 11:32am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the regular season, and Mike Tomlin answered plenty of question leading up to the season opener.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio for their regular season opener, and leading up to the game there were plenty of questions which needed answered.

Mike Tomlin, as he does during the regular season, held court with media Tuesday for his weekly press conference. It was here where he outlined everything from the injury report to the depth chart.

However, the topic which had the entire fan base riled up prior to Tomlin taking to the podium was the updated depth chart which was released just an hour before Tomlin’s press conference.

In the updated chart, the Steelers moved rookie Kenny Pickett from QB3 to QB2, pushing Rudolph to the QB3 on the most updated depth chart. For roughly 24 hours the team had the depth chart of Trubisky as QB1, Rudolph as QB2 and Pickett as QB3. So, what happened? What caused the change?

According to Tomlin, it was a “clerical error”. This per Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:

Coach Tomlin said the error on the depth chart at quarterback on Monday was a 'clerical error.' He called it the 'cut and paste' element.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 6, 2022

Citing the “cut and paste” element of the depth chart might seem like a stretch, but Tomlin did finally provide some clarity at the quarterback position.

Mitch Trubisky was finally named the starting quarterback, which should shock no one, and Kenny Pickett was named the genuine No. 2 quarterback. So, will the Steelers be dressing three quarterbacks on game day, or will Rudolph or Pickett not get a helmet.

According to Tomlin, Rudolph won’t be dressed on game days.

Tomlin said Kenny Pickett will serve as the No. 2 QB against the Bengals and take the second-team reps in practice. He said Mason Rudolph will not dress for the Bengals, a demotion for a five-year veteran who has spent the majority of his career as Roethlisberger’s top backup

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 6, 2022

With all eyes on the quarterbacks, the other news from Tomlin’s press conference surrounded injured players. Tomlin wasn’t willing to say whether Diontae Johnson’s shoulder is healthy enough to have him in the lineup, but he did say he is expecting Alex Highsmith (ribs) to return to the field Sunday.

Coach Tomlin expects linebacker Alex Highsmith to be ready on Sunday.

As far as Diontae Johnson he did not indicate whether or not he would be available. He said to watch the injury report.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 6, 2022

Tomlin pointed all other injury questions to the Steelers official injury report, which will be coming out after Wednesday’s practice.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday in Ohio for the regular season opener.

Steelers update depth chart, make changes to QB hierarchy 

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 10:33am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

A new depth chart was released by the Steelers with only one change at one position.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released an updated depth chart for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season ahead of head coach Mike Tomlin’s press conference on Tuesday. This per Steelers Senior Director of Communication Burt Lauten:

Updated #Steelers Depth Chart for Week 1 at CIN. HC Mike Tomlin will address this version as well as other depth chart positions (previously announced) during his Noon press conference today. It will be streamed live on https://t.co/w2jW1ahowX & on all of the team's platforms. pic.twitter.com/9JKzgjYZJ7

— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) September 6, 2022

When comparing this depth chart to the one that was issued at 4 PM on Monday, the only change comes at the quarterback position. Yesterday’s depth chart showed no change from the first one Mike Tomlin was required to give early in training camp. In the latest rendition of the depth chart, the only apparent change is the movement of Kenny Pickett to the second quarterback position with Mason Rudolph listed with the third team.

There was much taken from the depth chart released on Monday, especially when it came to the quarterback position. With many in Steelers’ Nation voicing their frustration that Kenny Pickett was still third on the depth chart despite a successful preseason campaign, there were justifications for having the three quarterbacks in any of the three positions. Ultimately, it is up to head coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers organization to decide what is best for the Steelers moving into the first week of the season.

Exactly why there was a change has yet to be revealed. Perhaps it was just an oversight from the release the previous day, but waiting almost 20 hours to make the correction seems a bit extreme. Perhaps the Steelers were not wanting to make any formal announcement about the quarterback position until Coach Tomlin‘s press conference. If that was the case, perhaps the depth chart release would have been done either at a later time or simply listing all three quarterbacks with the first team. Yet another theory could be disagreements within the organization as to exactly where each quarterback should land on the depth chart.

Regardless of the reason, Mike Tomlin is set to take the stage for his first regular season press conference of the 2022 NFL season at approximately noon Pittsburgh time. While there is hope there could be some more clarity brought to the subject, when it comes to Mike Tomlin Steelers fan should know better than to have high expectations of finding out more of the inner workings of the organization as he usually likes to play his cards close to his chest.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to face the Bengals in Cincinnati this Sunday to kick off their 2022 NFL season.

After defying the odds, Jaylen Warren is living the dream with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 9:45am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The undrafted rookie running back hasn’t just made a name for himself, he made the team’s 53-man roster.

Sunday I wrote a story about Malik Reed and the whirlwind experience he had when being traded from the Denver Broncos to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There certainly is a sense of shock when you get a call saying the team you just practiced with has traded you to an AFC competitor.

A noteworthy story, but what might be an even sweeter story for the Steelers is that of Jaylen Warren, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Oklahoma State. Warren turned a stellar training camp and preseason into a spot on the 53-man roster.

But that didn’t mean Warren wasn’t nervous as the 4pm ET deadline came on Tuesday wondering if his name was going to be called as a roster cut.

“I was keeping my head on a swivel, hoping nobody came up to me and asked me for my iPad,” admitted Warren.

It wasn’t until the roster cut deadline came and went that he was finally able to breathe.

“When it hit four, when it hit four o’clock,” said Warren. “I was relieved. But I still have work to do.”

Warren had family and friends reaching out prior to the 4pm deadline, and it mad sure to remind them he hadn’t made anything yet.

“As soon as it four,” said Warren of when he called. “People were congratulating me at 3:55. I was like I still have five minutes. I was over there hiding in the corner.

“It was like a dream came true. That is what I was working for, and it finally happened. It was like a moment of silence. I was too shocked to react to anything. I called my family and said I really made it. It’s true, I made it.”

For Warren, and so many players like him who are considered long shots to make NFL rosters, entering the organization is not something to take lightly. In fact, Warren still has to pinch himself whenever he enters the Steelers facility.

“Every day I come to the Steelers facility I see the Steelers logo and I am like, really. I am going to the Steelers facility,” said Warren. “I still get the same high from the first time I walked in here.

“It’s still surreal at this point. I feel like I have to tone it down, still be focused. I can’t be too hyped, too star struck. I’ve got to control it and realize I am playing the game I have been playing since I was eight.”

Warren might feel as if he is the new guy, but the question of whether he belongs should have been answered now. In fact, the Steelers official Week 1 depth chart has Warren as the backup to Najee Harris, ahead of Benny Snell Jr.

It may be hard for some to fathom, but Warren very well could be called upon in spot duty in 2022, and the question of whether or not he’ll be ready won’t be answered until he steps on the field during a regular season game. If the preseason is any indicator, Warren will be ready when called upon, and it will continue one heck of a story for the undrafted rookie.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio.

FILM ROOM: Jesse Davis is an interesting acquisition for the Steelers OLine

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 8:15am
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

While he’s unlikely to start, Davis has some traits the Steelers could use.

The Steelers offensive line is going through a major transition. Two years ago It was largely still the same line Ben Roethlisberger had played behind for the previous six seasons. A group that had grown into one of the best pass blocking lines in the NFL. The line today only has one player that played for the Steelers in 2019. A lot of turnover after a long period of stability.

Not only is it an almost completely new group of players since 2019, there are plenty of new players and players new to the team. Add in a new offensive line coach and changes in offensive focus and you have a recipe for difficulty. The preseason games put the line’s lack of experience with the system and each other under a microscope, and the results weren’t good.

The Steelers didn’t make any major moves to shake up the starting linemen either, and it appears they believe that inexperience and unfamiliarity are much bigger problems than any deficiencies in personnel.

The one move the Steelers did make was to trade for Jesse Davis, a starting tackle who has played every position but center in the NFL. Davis may be a 5-year starter in the NFL, but he isn’t considered a quality starter by most, and is likely to be a backup in Pittsburgh.

The question is, what does he bring to the roster?

2019 Dolphins vs. Steelers, 2nd quarter, 11:30

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the top of the screen.

The 2019 matchup between the Steelers and Dolphins didn’t start well for the Steelers, but the Steelers defense took over and dominated the rest of the game, and a big part of that was how dominant T.J. Watt was while facing Davis. Here you can see how little time Ryan Fitzpatrick had in the pocket, as Watt was able to beat Davis almost instantly.

The Dolphins survived for a while with a steady diet of screen passes and quick throws. But those weren’t getting them points and when they fell behind and needed something more.

2019 Dolphins vs. Steelers, 4th quarter, 7:23

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Yeah. That’s a pretty good reminder of how good T.J. Watt was in 2019. He ended this play with possession of the football too. Jesse Davis had no answer for Watt, and the Steelers got a win.

PFF’s grades consider this game to be Jesse Davis’s worst by a large margin, and I agree. Davis shows struggles against twitchy athletes and against polished rushers that have a good arsenal of pass rush moves. Facing T.J. Watt, who excels at both, was the worst-case scenario.

I wanted to get that out of the way, because that is the bad. When Jesse Davis is going one on one with athletic and skilled edge rushers, he’s going to lose.

2020 Dolphins vs. Rams, 1st quarter, 9:42

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Here is where Jess Davis shows up better. The Rams run a stunt to get Aaron Donald outside. Davis handles the stunt well, driving the first rusher into the guard before coming off and getting enough of a push on Aaron Donald to drive his arc wide enough the quarterback was safe. He’s not athletic enough to get out and block Aaron Donald well here, but he gets enough to keep his quarterback clean.

2020 Dolphins vs. Rams, 3rd quarter, 9:51

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

Davis isn’t a people mover either, but he consistently looks good on combo blocks. He does a very good job of making sure Aaron Donald is taken care of before moving off to get a linebacker, and does a good job of landing the second level block.

When Davis is working with his teammates, like blocking stunts and combo blocks are strengths of Jesse Davis.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 1st quarter, 9:48

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the top of the screen.

In 2021 he’s on the right side of the line and still showing good execution on combo blocks. He helps drive the tackle back and peels off at the right point to keep the linebacker out of the play.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 0:51

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

You can see here Jesse Davis still struggling with talented athletic edge rushers, this time giving up a pressure and hit to Baltimore’s 2021 1st round pick, Odafe Owey. He wasn’t as bad as he was against T.J. Watt, but he isn’t going to lock down the edge against quality opponents.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 0:41

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

But he still picks up stunts well, and against Calais Campbell, does much better.

2021 Dolphins vs. Ravens, 2nd quarter, 10:22

Jesse Davis is the tackle to the bottom of the screen.

This is a good sample of Jesse Davis, he opens this play well, he has no one rushing right off, and he gets a hand in to help his guard while keeping his eyes open for delayed rushers. When one comes, the quarterback is out of the pocket and Davis can’t get to the wider rush lane quick enough to help.

Davis is an interesting addition to me because the Steelers struggled with their communication a good bit in the preseason, and that is a strength of Jesse Davis’s game. It stands out that Davis played for Brian Flores for three seasons so the Steelers have good insight into his value to the team beyond his play on the field. We will see how the Steelers end up using him, and how the offensive line progresses over the course of the 2022 season, but for now, there are valid questions about what the Steelers think they are getting in Jesse Davis.

How it’s going for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 6:30am

After an offseason like Steelers’ fans hadn’t seen before, let’s check on how things are going ahead of the 2022 NFL season.

There was so much buzz among the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base going into the start of the 2022 NFL league year. The Steelers found themselves in unfamiliar, but not unwelcome, territory as they were searching for a new quarterback, a new general manager, and had a number of changes both in the coaching staff and players in the locker room.

After navigating through some very ‘‘make or break” situations, the Steelers have arrived on the cusp of the 2022 regular season with much more hope than many were expecting. With DraftKings Sportsbook having early odds of the Steelers only winning 7.5 games in 2022, the excitement of a large portion of Steelers’ Nation is completely ready to pound the over and continue with Mike Tomlin’s streak of consecutive non-losing seasons.

When moving on from a future Hall of Fame quarterback who owns a plethora of Steelers records — including those for games played — seeing a quarterback that brings some different attributes is a welcome sight. Regardless of who is taking the snap for the Steelers this season, any one of the quarterbacks can navigate the pocket and elude pass rushers in order to buy the needed time for things to develop and not have to set NFL records for the smallest time interval from snap to release. And with all three of the Steelers’ quarterbacks competing for playing time giving quality performances, the hope of those who merely wanted “just one of them to work out” are being blown out of the water.

Between quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph, the Steelers have options when it comes to who they ultimately want to command of the huddle. All three players have shown they can adequately move the football and can put the Steelers in a position to win.

One of the most pleasant surprises, although maybe not as big of a surprise to some as it is to others, is the emergence of second-round draft pick wide receiver George Pickens. With three main boxes to check, Pickens has already crossed off the first two and is merely waiting for his third opportunity in September:

Perform well in training camp … Check.
Perform well in the preseason … Check
Perform well in the regular season … TBD

All indications show that Pickens will be yet another of the young offensive weapons the Steelers will have in their arsenal for the 2022 season. With Pro Bowlers Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson leading the group that also includes Chase Claypool and tight end Pat Freiermuth, the Steelers have the necessary pieces to create offensive splash as long as their offensive line can slow down defenses in order to succeed.

As for the Steelers defense, T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick will continue to lead this group as they push towards greatness. It’s not a secret the Pittsburgh Steelers have been very successful rushing the passer over the last five seasons as they have notched at least 50 sacks every year since T.J. Watt joined the team in 2017. With Minkah Fitzpatrick holding things down on the back end with a number of solid pieces in the secondary, the Steelers defense may very well be defined by their weakest link coming into 2022.

After starting the year in the top 10 in rushing defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their NFL ranking plummet to the bottom of the league as they gave up the most rushing yards in franchise history in 2021. Even though key injuries on the defensive line to Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu last season can be attributed to some of the problem, the “next man up,” as head coach Mike Tomlin likes to call them, needs to show the standard is the standard. With the return of Tyson Alualu, but the loss of Tuitt to retirement, it will be up to the newly added pieces of the Larry Ogunjobi on the defensive line and linebacker Myles Jack in the middle of the field who will help bring this defense back to an adequate level when it comes to stopping the run. But while improvement is hopeful, it has yet to be proven.

When it comes to how it’s ultimately going for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they head into the 2022 season, former general manager Kevin Colbert along with new general manager Omar Khan have put together a lot of great pieces in order for this team to find success. But pieces can only go so far. What will ultimately determine the outcome of the Steelers season is getting those pieces to fit together properly on both sides of the ball in order to bring the best success on the field.

How it started for the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 6:30am

The Steelers have had a memorable offseason with a lot of change at every level. Let’s go back and take a look at what happened.

Throughout the vast majority of Ben Roethlisberger’s career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, every offseason was more of the same: not a lot of cap space, minimal moves made, and a focus on building through the NFL Draft.

It is safe to say the 2022 offseason did not follow the aforementioned pattern. In fact, this past offseason was filled with news, reports, rumors and signings that certainly rocked the boat.

How it started? Well, let’s go back and take a look ...

The start of the 2022 offseason began with the ending of the 2021 regular season, when the Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round of the AFC Playoffs. Following that loss, several retirements were expected, while others were surprising.

The biggest — and expected — retirements were both Ben Roethlisberger and general manager Kevin Colbert. Another retirement that wasn’t a shock to the fan base was that of defensive coordinator Keith Butler. The shock came with the news of Stephon Tuitt’s retirement. Tuitt sat out all of the 2021 season, and stepped away from the game rather than keep the team in a state of limbo as he weighed his options for the future.

After these decisions were made, the team started to find replacements, in some way. Teryl Austin, who was a defensive assistant and secondary coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator. But that wasn’t the biggest news in the coaching staff this past offseason. The big news came this past winter when it was announced former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores was joining the coaching staff. This news was impactful not just because of his lawsuit against the NFL, but because of his football mind and how he could help improve the Steelers’ defense.

The Steelers approached the offseason not just without Roethlisberger returning, but also with new-found salary cap space. For once the Steelers were in position to be buyers and not just spectators. And spend they did. Here is a list of the outside free agents who were signed this past offseason:

The sheer number of moves that were made were staggering for the Steelers’ fan base, but also gave fans a massive amount of hope moving into the 2022 season. No longer was the cabinet bare at several positions, but the shelves were stocked with experienced players new to the organization.

When talking about free agents, the Steelers didn’t just target players outside the organization; they also chose to keep several of their own free agents. Here are the players who were retained by the Steelers front office this past offseason:

  • Ahkello Witherspoon, CB
  • Chuks Okorafor, OT
  • Montravius Adams, NT
  • Arthur Maulet, CB
  • Terrell Edmunds, SS
  • Miles Killebrew, S/LB
  • Karl Joseph, S (injured reserve

Not all moves were celebrated by the fans, mainly the three-year contract given to Okorafor, but the Steelers were able to retain players Edmunds and Joseph on very team-friendly contracts. In fact, most of the players the Steelers kept within their system would fit the description of a contract which was fair to both the player and the organization.

With all the news circulating regarding the team’s free agent pickups, there were players who were lost in free agency — players who chose to take their talents elsewhere. While these departures won’t come close to giving the organization a compensatory selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, here are the free agents which were lost:

Just as the news of the active free agency period began calming down, the 2022 NFL Draft was just ramping up. What would the Steelers do with the 20th overall pick? Oh, not much — just take the first quarterback off the board, a player many are hoping will be the next quarterback of the franchise for over a decade, like Roethlisberger was when his career began back in 2004.

Here is the Steelers’ 2022 NFL Draft class, in case you forgot:

  • Round 1 - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
  • Round 2 - George Pickens, WR, Georgia
  • Round 3 - DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
  • Round 4 - Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis (injured reserve, foot)
  • Round 6 - Connor Heyward, TE/FB, Michigan State
  • Round 7 - Mark Robinson, LB, Ole Miss
  • Round 7 - Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State

The conclusion of the draft meant the official end for GM Kevin Colbert. Colbert was emotional in the post-draft press conference, and after 22 years on the job that’s expected. Once again, the Steelers’ global fan base wanted to know who would take over the title of GM?

Art Rooney II and the rest of the front office staff took their time, hosted several rounds of interviews, but ultimately decided on an in-house hire. No, not Brandon Hunt, but Omar Khan was named as the new GM.

Khan, who has been with the Steelers for 20 years himself, has always been the man behind the contracts and salary cap construction. Fans wanted to know how this would work, considering the GM is also to oversee the player management/acquisition aspect of the job.

Khan brought in an almost entirely new scouting department, headed by former Philadelphia Eagles’ vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl and several others. But while that aspect of the job won’t be noticed until this upcoming offseason and the next draft cycle, Khan has been active in the short amount of time he has held the title of GM.

It was Khan who orchestrated the acquisitions of Ogunjobi and handed out new contracts to several current players on the roster. The biggest contract given was to All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. His four-year extension made him the highest paid safety in the NFL.

After Fitzpatrick’s deal was done, Khan targeted placekicker Chris Boswell for a new deal. The two sides got a four-year extension done. The last player who was looking for a new contract was wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Johnson was entering the final year of his contract, and his overall value was tough when compared to his NFL counterparts. Nonetheless, Khan and Johnson were able to come to terms on a two-year extension, keeping Johnson in black-and-gold for the next three seasons.

All of that news, and such a crazy offseason, was capped off by a return to Saint Vincent College for training camp in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Due to protocols, the Steelers hadn’t been back to Saint Vincent since 2019. The return to Latrobe marked a sense of normalcy returning the Steelers. While many familiar faces weren’t there, it marked a new era in Steelers history.

Yeah, that’s how it started, but how it’s going is something that is still being written ...

Betting Preview: Steelers currently 6.5-point underdogs at the Bengals

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Facing Cincinnati to start the season for the first time ever, the Steelers are underdogs to the reining AFC champs.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into uncharted territory with a new starting quarterback for the first time under head coach Mike Tomlin. Going on the road against a division rival who reached the Super Bowl last season is no easy task. But being the first game of the season, anything is possible.

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 1 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022 at 1:00 PM

Betting line: +6.5

Over/under: 44

Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers (L) 41-10 vs Bengals

Win streak: 3 games CIN

Last 3 Meetings: PIT 0 - 3 CIN

Last 10 Meetings: PIT 7 - 3 CIN

The opening line on the game was at +6.5 after the schedule was announced in May. Throughout the offseason and preseason games, the line has held steady.

Being the underdog on Sunday, the Steelers have a current moneyline of +240 to win the game straight up, which is the equivalent of 12/5 odds. So a $20 bet placed on the Steelers over the Bengals would have a payout of $68 ($48 plus the original $20 bet). The Bengals have a current moneyline of -285, or 20/57 odds. Therefore the same $20 bet placed on Cincinnati to win straight up would have a payout of $27.02 ($7.02 plus the original $20 bet).

The Steelers are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 games against AFC opponents and are 16-4 straight up in their last 20 games in Cincinnati. The Steelers also have gone UNDER in 6 of their last 8 games in September and have gone UNDER in 5 of their last 6 games against AFC North opponents.

If looking at the futures bets at DraftKings.com, the Steelers odds to win the Super Bowl are at 90/1 to start the season. The Steelers odds to win the AFC Championship are 50/1 odds. As for winning the AFC North, the Steelers are currently at 10/1 odds behind the Browns at 19/5 odds, the Bengals at 17/10, and the Ravens as the favorite at 7/5 odds.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/06/2022 - 4:30am

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: For better or worse, these are your 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are +9000 to win the Super Bowl in 2022. The odds are against them, but they’ve overcome high statistical probability before. Like it or not and for better or worse, these are your 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers. BTSC podcast producer Bryan Anthony Davis discusses on another episode of BAD Language.

  • News and Notes
  • Your ‘22 Steelers are who they are
  • and MUCH MORE!
Steelers Hangover: In Our Steelers’ Feelings

With the 2022 regular season six days and counting away, Bryan Anthony Davis, Shannon White, and Tony Defeo share their gut feelings about the Pittsburgh Steelers chances.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • How we feel about the 2022 Steelers
  • and MUCH MORE!
BREAKING NEWS: Steelers release their depth chart going into Week 1

The Steelers released their first depth chart of the 2022 regular season ahead of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. Join BTSC Editors Dave Schofield and Jeff Hartman as they break down the depth chart and stick with Behind the Steel Curtain for everything Steelers.

BREAKING NEWS: Steelers fill their practice squad and announce captains

The Pittsburgh Steelers had plenty of news as the players returned to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for a bonus practice on Monday in order to prepare for their Week 1 matchup in Cincinnati. Between new jersey numbers, practice squad additions, and the team naming their captains, it was a very newsworthy day. Join BTSC Editor Dave Schofield as he reports what we know for news on Monday and stick with Behind the Steel Curtain for everything Steelers.

From the Steelers’ Cutting Room Floor: Digging into the Steelers Depth chart

The Steelers released their depth chart on Monday and there was a surprise or two. Let’s dig in. 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:

  • Lessons from the depth chart
  • 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

Steelers release updated depth chart heading into Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 3:19pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Week 1 preparation officially here, the Steelers released their first depth chart before the Bengals game.

With the Pittsburgh Steelers returning to practice on Monday, there has been plenty of news in regards to the team as they prepare for the regular season. After announcing team captains earlier in the day, the Pittsburgh Steelers have released an updated depth chart heading into their Week 1 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

We have released our first depth chart of the 2022 season.https://t.co/MLfDUbotqE

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 5, 2022

There are several key notes within the depth chart when it comes to this weekend’s game. Let’s break it down into offense, defense, and special teams.

Offense

The quarterback position is something many were keeping their eye on throughout the preseason. Even with no official announcement, the depth chart for the quarterbacks has not changed since training camp where it still is Mitch Trubisky with the first team, Mason Rudolph with the second team, followed by Kenny Pickett in the third spot.

There were no big surprises on the Steelers depth chart on the offensive line. Dan Moore Jr. is the left tackle with Trent Scott listed as the backup. Kevin Dotson appears to have won the left guard starting position as many expected and he has Kendrick Green listed as his reserve. Mason Cole is the first team center followed by J.C. Hassenauer. James Daniels is listed as the only player at right guard while Chuks Okorafor is the right tackle with Jesse Davis with the second team.

At running back, Najee Harris is listed as the starter with Derek Watt is the only player listed at fullback. In a move many Steelers fans believe was coming, Jaylen Warren is listed as the second running back on the depth chart followed by Benny Snell Jr. in the third spot.

As for the receivers, three players are listed on the first team with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and George Pickens. The other three receivers on the roster, Gunner Olszewski, Steven Simms, and Miles Boykin, are all listed on the second team. As for tight end Pat Freiermuth is listed with the first team with Zach Gentry next on the depth chart followed by Connor Heyward.

Defense

On the defensive line, Cameron Heyward is listed as the starting defensive tackle followed by Isaiahh Loudermilk and DeMarvin Leal as the second team. The defensive end position has Larry Ogunjobi with the first team followed by Chris Wormley. Finally, Tyson Alualu is the starting nose tackle with Montravius Adams in reserve.

To the surprise of none, T.J. Watt is still listed as the starting outside linebacker on the left side followed by Malik Reed. Despite missing the entire preseason, Alex Highsmith is listed as the starter on the right with Jamir Jones next on the list.

Myles Jack is the main man at the inside linebacker spot with Devin Bush ultimately getting the other starting spot. Robert Spillane and rookie Mark Robinson are listed as the next two backups. Marcus Allen is listed as the third team linebacker after missing all of the 2022 preseason.

The cornerback position was one position battle to look for. At the left cornerback position, Ahkello Witherspoon is listed as the starter with James Pierre with the second team. On the right side, it is Cam Sutton with the first team followed by a Levi Wallace. Arthur Maulet is listed as the only cornerback under the nickel position.

There are no surprises at the safety position as Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds have the starting spots at free and strong safety respectively. Tre Norwood is backing up Fitzpatrick with Miles Killebrew the reserve at strong safety.

Special Teams

The three specialists for the Steelers are listed as expected with Chris Boswell as the kicker, Pressley Harvin III as the punter and holder, and Christian Kuntz as the long snapper. Ginner Olszewski is listed as both the punt returner and kick returner. As for the reserve, it is Steven Sims for both positions.

Diontae Johnson not a full participant in the Steelers first practice prior to Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 2:33pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver only worked off to the side on Monday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL regular season, and the hope is they will have all their weapons available in this big AFC North rivalry game.

Going back to the Week 3 preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions, the Steelers were dealing with a couple key injuries which forced players to leave the game. One injury was a knee injury to T.J. Watt when he was cut low by tight end T.J. Hockenson, and the other was a shoulder injury to Diontae Johnson.

After hauling in a beautiful throw by Mitch Trubisky down the sideline, Johnson left the game and didn’t return.

WHAT A CATCH FROM @Juiceup__3

#DETvsPIT on CBS | NFL+: https://t.co/C6T9f39EAk pic.twitter.com/8MNUaW1Ed3

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 28, 2022

After the play, it was announced Johnson was out of the game with a shoulder injury, but after the game Mike Tomlin labeled the injury as minor. He even went as far as saying the injuries to both Watt and Johnson could have had the starters return to the game had it been the regular season.

Over a week later, and the Steelers taking advantage of the extra work day Monday, Johnson was not a full participant in the team’s practice.

This according to Nick Farabaugh of SteelersNow:

“On Monday, he worked off to the side away from the rest of the wide receivers during individual drills. The receivers ran routes while Johnson took it lightly and worked out his shoulder.”

As you can see from the tweeted photo from Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Johnson was not fully dressed during the individual portion of practice.

Diontae Johnson looking on during warmups in today’s practice pic.twitter.com/VUPHqKn69F

— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) September 5, 2022

While some fans might see this as a cause for concern, the real concern will be if he isn’t a full participant on the first reported workout Wednesday. In the meantime, Tomlin will address this injury, among others, in his first weekly press conference Tuesday. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Bengals this Sunday in Cincinnati, OH.

The Steelers announce their captains for the 2022 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 12:09pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers have a new face as captain on offense with familiar ones on defense.

On Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers players voted for their captains for the 2022 NFL season. Having two players each for offense and defense as well as one for special teams, the Steelers captains for the 2022 season are Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, Najee Harris, Mitch Trubisky, and Miles Killebrew.

Our 2⃣0⃣2⃣2⃣ team captains:@ohthatsNajee22@CamHeyward
Miles Killebrew@Mtrubisky10@_TJWatt

: https://t.co/vyUjtrr6Qt pic.twitter.com/EV4wIgcivI

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 5, 2022

The 2022 season will become the eighth-straight year for Cam Heyward as a captain. The only defensive captain in 2021, Heyward is joined once again by T.J. Watt for 2022. Watt was also a captain in 2020 for the Steelers defense.

On offense, running back Najee Harris was selected as a captain in only his second NFL season. Additionally, quarterback Mitch Trubisky was selected captain in his first year with the Steelers.

When it comes to special teams, Miles Killebrew receives the honor after joining the Steelers in 2021. Not having a special teams captain for the Steelers in 2017, a different player has been selected each season since with Chris Boswell in 2018, Roosevelt Nix in 2019, Jordan Dangerfield in 2020, and Derek Watt in 2021

In 2021, the Steelers only had three captains as they had one for offense, defense, and special teams. Ben Roethlisberger was the offensive captain for the 13th time in his final season along with Cam Heyward on the defense and Derek Watt for special teams. During the 2020 season, the Steelers had five captains as they had two players each on offense and defense. Maurkice Pouncey served as an offensive captain in 2020 which was his third consecutive season and fourth overall for the Steelers. The other player who was a defensive captain in 2020 was linebacker T.J. Watt.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL regular season against the Bengals in Cincinnati at 1 PM this Sunday.

For more on the news from today in regards to captains, practice squad additions, and jersey numbers, check out BTSC’s breaking news podcast:

Stat scientist on “Renegade” Effect: “This is the thing everyone wants”

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 10:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A Point Park University study shows Styx song’s statistical advantage.

Football fans pour over stats and figures, trying to find the advantage that explains why a team wins or loses. But so much of the game comes down to intangibles: heart, fatigue, momentum, concentration. The playing of “Renegade” in the fourth quarter has become a tradition, if not a superstition, that’s now ingrained into the Pittsburgh Steelers home game experience.

But does “Renegade” actually make a difference during the games? The scientist with the answer may be the person you’d least expect to be tasked with the job.

“It’s interesting, because I’m actually not a football fan,” says Dr Matt Pascal, professor of Mathematics and Chair of Point Park University’s Department of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology. “I’m a Pittsburgh native through and through. Every Sunday during the Steelers season my entire family gathers for games, and I’m the only one not there. When this came to me, I think my entire family was excited and nervous that I would screw it up.”

Pascal is a graduate of Duquense and Pitt, and was once on staff at WVU, but never got the black and gold bug. He says that worked to his advantage on this project.

“It actually kind of gave me this unbiased thing,” Pascal says. “I’m just looking at numbers. I’m not in love with the Steelers like everybody else. I have, however, been to home games. I have experienced “Renegade” live, so I did know what I was getting into.”

Pascal and his students worked directly with the team to gather their research. There’s not exactly a public record of every time “Renegade” has been played. TV footage wasn’t always reliable because the song was played during commercials.

“We simply asked the Steelers, and they they were able to give us some data,” Pascal says. “But, it was more like scratch work on a note they had from the games. We had to correct a lot of the data, but that enabled us to get all the way back to 2014 through this this past season, and we’ve got every single game.”

Pascal found the power of “Renegade” was strongest when the Steelers had to protect the lead. They are 33-8 for an 80.5 win percentage. When the Steelers were trailing in the 4th, “Renegade” led the team to a record of 6-7.

But the most interesting stat, and maybe the most convincing proof of a “Renegade” Effect, is the fact that opposing teams are 7 times more likely to fumble on the very next play after the song, than on any other given play. Is that because the Steelers defense is feeding off the energy, or are the opponents distracted by the crowd? Pascal can’t say.

“I can’t pretend to know what it’s from,” Pascal says. “We need psychologists or sociologists or somebody to tell us what they’re doing right. This is totally organic and a perfectly timed moment, where it’s the right song, the right highlight reel of defensive plays, in the right moment in the game, and it just it works.”

According to Pascal, much of professional sports is aware of the “Renegade” Effect in Pittsburgh, but it remains out of their reach.

“This is just the thing that everybody wants, and nobody can explain how we got it,” Pascal says. “This is known apparently in the industry. People want their own version of ‘Renegade’ and nobody’s got It.”

Pascal and his students will be watching closely this season to see if the Steelers can make “Renegade” history. No Pittsburgh defender has yet to intercept a pass on the first play after the song plays.

“This new field of research, we might have to start calling it ‘Styx’-tistics.”

Kyle Chrise is the host of the BTSC podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout” and the upcoming live post-game show “What Yinz Talkin’ Live,” premiering on September 22.

Steelers finalize their 2022 practice squad

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 9:26am
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

With the Steelers signing half of their practice squad yesterday, they added three more players today.

NFL cut down day has become something highly anticipated by fans across the league. Seeing if their “diamond in the rough” makes the roster or if their team parted ways with a particular player many feel should have been cut loose years ago, dissecting the initial 53-man roster feels like a true start to the regular season. But for those players who were left go on Tuesday, Wednesday brings a new day and perhaps a new opportunity to continue their NFL dream.

Welcome to the NFL practice squad.

After players with 4 or less accrued seasons clear waivers, each team can sign players to their official practice squad. For three seasons now, the practice squad was expanded to 16 players and 6 of those players can be of unlimited accrued seasons (and therefore are players who were not subject to waivers). The players on the practice squad can be promoted by the Steelers or signed by other NFL teams, but once again for 2022 each team can protect up to 4 players from Tuesday on each week who can’t be claimed by another team until after their game. And don’t forget, each week a team can promote up to 2 players from the practice squad to the active roster without having to remove another player.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they announced 8 players of their 2022 16-man practice squad last Wednesday, and the list of players is below:

RB Anthony McFarland
OL William Dunkle
OL John Leglue
OL Ryan McCollum
WR Cody White
OLB Hamilcar Rashed
DT Carlos Davis
DB Elijah Riley

On Thursday, the Steelers then added the following three players to the practice squad:

DB Mark Gilbert
TE Justin Rigg
LB Chapelle Russell

The three players added on Thursday were not a part of the 2022 Steelers preseason. Defensive back Mark Gilbert was on the Steelers 2021 practice squad before being signed to the Detroit Lions. The breakdown now comes as 6 players on offense and 5 on defense. Obviously there will be 5 more players to come.

On September 2nd the Steelers added two more players to their practice squad:

RB Jason Huntley
DL Renell Wren

Huntly was a draft pick of the Detroit Lions and played previously with the Philadelphia Eagles. Wren was formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals.

This left just three spots remaining on the team’s 16-man practice squad, and they were filled by the following trio of players.

S Andrew Adams
CB Josh Jackson
LB Delontae Scott

We have signed S Andrew Adams, CB Josh Jackson and LB Delontae Scott to the practice squad. @BordasLawhttps://t.co/5nzGCvpX9Q

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 5, 2022

Safety Andrew Adams was an undrafted free agent out of UConn in 2016 when he signed with the New York Giants. Spending two seasons in New York, Adams appeared in 30 games with 17 starts with one interception and seven passes defensed. After failing to win the starting job in 2018, Adams did not make the 53-man roster and landed in Tampa Bay a couple weeks into the season. After a season of appearing in 13 games with four starts where Adams had four interceptions and nine passes defensed, he signed with the Detroit Lions for the 2019 season. Failing to make the roster out of training camp, Adam‘s headed back to Tampa Bay for two more seasons before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. Once again failing to make the Eagles squad, Adam was back in Tampa Bay for 2021. In his four years in Tampa, Adams played in 57 games with 18 starts and six interceptions with 16 passes defensed. In 2022, Adams was in the New York Giants training camp but failed to make the team.

Cornerback Josh Jackson was a second-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Iowa in the 2018 NFL draft. After three years in Green Bay where Jackson played in 42 games with 15 starts with 86 tackles and 12 passes defense, he was traded to the New York Giants in exchange for cornerback Isaac Yiadom. Released by the Giants in October after not appearing in a game, Jackson landed on the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad where he was elevated for two games and had four tackles. Jackson spent the 2022 preseason with the Arizona Cardinals but did not make the team.

Linebacker Delonte Scott was on the Steelers 2022 preseason roster after spending 2021 on the Steeles practice squad.

The practice squad can change, just like the team’s 53-man roster can certainly change between now and the Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. For this reason, stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for any updates on any roster moves and all Steelers news as they prepare for the kickoff of the 2022 season.

To hear more on this half of the Steelers’ 2022 practice squad, check out the breaking news podcast below when available...

Steelers players set their jersey numbers for the 2022 season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 8:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Two members of the Steelers 53-man roster have reportedly changed their jersey numbers from the preseason.

It’s game week! The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the 2022 regular season. With the team getting a ‘bonus practice’ in on Monday after not having played in more than a week, there are several players with new jersey numbers for the 2022 season which have been reported.

There were obviously going to be at least some changes in jersey numbers coming as the Steelers had a pair of players who made the 53-man roster and had duplicate numbers. These players were offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. and defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi who were both wearing No. 65 throughout the preseason. With Dan Moore wearing number 65 his rookie season with the Steelers in 2021, it has been reported Ogunjobi will be wearing number 99, which was previously used by Henry Mondeaux.

Pittsburgh Steelers DT Larry Ogunjobi (@Mr_Ogunjobi) is now wearing number 99. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/xHSez7tWou

— NFL Jersey Numbers (@nfl_jersey_num) September 5, 2022

There was also another member of the Steelers who has changed his number since returning to the roster. Trent Scott was not on the Steelers first 53-man roster but returned to the team when two players went onto the Reserve/Injured List (IR) on Thursday. Despite wearing number 64 throughout the preseason for the Steelers, Scott is reportedly changing to number 72 which was already in use when he arrived to the Steelers in mid May by UDFA Jordan Tucker. More recently, number 72 was also worn in the preseason for the Steelers by Adrian Ealy.

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Trent Scott (@_tscott78) is now wearing number 72. #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/b567Q2HRQv

— NFL Jersey Numbers (@nfl_jersey_num) September 5, 2022

The Steelers also added three new players to the roster last week who were not with the team during the 2022 preseason. According to the Steelers Media Website, outside linebacker Malik Reed, who the Steelers acquired via trade last Tuesday, will wear number 50 which was used this preseason by Delontae Scott. Offensive tackle Jesse Davis, who was also acquired via trade on Tuesday, is wearing number 77 which was utilized by John Leglue who landed on the Steelers practice squad the next day. The final new player for the Steelers was Jamir Jones, who they claimed off waivers on Thursday. Jones will return to his number 40 he wore for three games in Pittsburgh in 2021.

There are more duplicate numbers from the Steelers preseason when taking into account the practice squad and players on injured reserve. Damonate Kazee was placed on IR this week and had a duplicate number with running back Benny Snell Jr. In an unconfirmed report, Kazee is set to wear number 23 when he hopefully returns to action later this season. As for the practice squad, these are the reported numbers at this time for new players as well as those who made a change:

31: Mark Gilbert
33: Jason Huntley
45: Hamilcar Rashed Jr. (was #46)
49: Chapelle Russell
74: John Leglue (was #77)
87: Justin Rigg
96: Renell Wren

So there you have it, Steelers fans, the jersey numbers for the 2022 season appear to be locked in. If you were ready to rush out to get your Jamir Jones, Larry Ogunjobi, Trent Scott, Malik Reed, or Jesse Davis jerseys, you now have a number to go along with the name.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL regular season against the Bengals in Cincinnati at 1 PM this Sunday.

2022 Isaac Redman Award winner: Mark Robinson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 7:30am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations to Steelers rookie inside linebacker Mark Robinson for winning the 2022 Isaac Redman Award.

Everybody loves a great backstory. The Steelers have been blessed with plenty of success stories about players who have overcome seemingly overwhelming odds to turn their NFL dreams into reality throughout their illustrious franchise history. The subject of this article is merely the latest in a long line.

Congratulations to Steelers rookie inside linebacker Mark Robinson for winning the 2022 Isaac Redman Award in what amounted to easily the closest vote in Redman Award history.

Most vested contributors realized that it was a two man competition between Mark Robinson and offensive training camp sensation Jaylen Warren, an undrafted rookie running back from Oklahoma State.

Both young men exceeded all realistic expectations throughout camp and carried that success into their preseason game performances. Both were also directly impacted by the limitations of their colleagues on multiple occasions, but still managed to showcase their NFL caliber abilities regularly.

In the end, after our passionate BTSC community accumulated over 1500 total votes, Robinson edged Warren by a single vote, 691 to 690. When it was all said and done, they accounted for over 90% of the total vote. I believe that qualifies as a two man race.

The Redman Award is truly a special distinction for Behind the Steel Curtain, solely decided by the majority vote of the BTSC community, and totally unique to the site. The yearly winner encompasses the spirit of it's namesake; a diamond in the rough upstart who has exceeded expectations enough to capture the imagination of the Steelers ravenous fan base.

Many of the previous winners have went on to establish admirable NFL careers, if by nothing more than the longevity of said career. Daniel McCullers carved out an impressive 6 years, mainly standing on the sidelines with the Steelers, where he offered an impressive source of shade for anyone lucky enough to be standing in his shadow.

If Big Dan McCullers was the Shade Tree, then former Steelers standout Mike Hilton is Mighty Mouse. What Hilton lacks in size he makes up for with toughness and heart. He enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2021 with the Cincinnati Bengals, after 5 standout seasons as a slot corner for the Steelers. He remains the most accomplished Redman Award winner to date.

Now Mark Robinson gets the opportunity to follow in those footsteps. The young man has an incredible story of his own, having only played a single collegiate season at linebacker, after beginning his career as a running back. Thankfully, that single season was a successful one, playing for the Ole Miss Rebels out of the prestigious SEC, universally accepted as the best Power 5 conference in college football. Successful enough to garner the attention of Steelers scouts, Robinson turned his one season into being a seventh-round draft selection for the franchise.

As expected based on his limited experience, Robinson is an extremely raw prospect, but the youngster is brimming with potential. He has the athleticism, physicality, intensity, and instincts reserved for a NFL starter at the position.

Robinson still has to prove he has the work ethic necessary to maximize his potential, but his already successful transition from running back to linebacker would lead one to believe he does. His fearless and relentless assaults on opposing ball carriers at or near the line of scrimmage offer further confirmation. You either have that burning desire to make every play when the opportunity arises, or you don't. I believe last year's overall performance at the position for the Steelers, or lack thereof, clarified that statement perfectly.

Hopefully Robinson will begin his NFL career as a special teams standout, flying down the field as a contact seeking human version of a runaway freight train. Get off the tracks, because the Mark Robinson hype train is coming through.

In order for Robinson to make an impact, he first has to have the opportunity which means getting a helmet on game days so he can gain the NFL experience he desperately needs to improve. That journey begins on special teams.

I just wanted to say; Congratulations, young man! Great job earning a roster spot and keeping your NFL dreams alive. Good health, good luck, and best wishes.

Outlining the Pittsburgh Steelers weekly schedule during the regular season

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/05/2022 - 6:30am

As the Steelers prepare for their first game of the 2022 regular season, here is a reminder of what fans can expect each day.

It’s finally here! The Pittsburgh Steelers are officially in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season.

Since it’s been almost nine months since the Steelers have been preparing for a game in their typical manner, we here at BTSC thought it would be helpful to remind fans how the Steelers generally operate during a game week. The following schedule is based on the Steelers playing a game on Sunday with the next game also being on a Sunday.

Monday

This is typically a day off for the Steelers players. Just because they don’t practice does not mean players are not at the facility. Normally being the day after a game, players often come to the facility for treatment and film. If the Steelers did not play the previous week, this is often a day where the team has a bonus practice.

Tuesday

The second day in the week is more affectionately known as ‘Tomlin Tuesday’ to Steelers fans. Typically the Steelers head coach gives his weekly press conference at approximately 12 PM ET. Otherwise, it is a day off for the players as they get ready to begin practice the following day. If the Steelers have a Thursday night game, they generally have some sort of practice this day, usually in the form of a walk through. This is also the day where the Steelers must announce which four players on the practice squad, if any, they would like to protect for the week so they cannot be signed by another team until after the game.

Wednesday

This is typically the day the Steelers have their first practice of the week to prepare for their upcoming opponent. Following practice, at approximately 4 PM ET, the Steelers release their first injury report for the week. If the Steelers have an opponent in a different time zone, they can hold off on the injury report if they choose. In previous seasons, it was also known as ‘Ben’s Day’ as the quarterback generally has his time with the media. Whether or not the Steelers will follow this same routine has yet to be officially established.

Thursday

The Steelers continue chugging through with their preparation for their game with their second practice of the week and the release of their second injury report. It is also usually ‘Coordinator Thursday’ where the media has time with the Steelers offensive, defensive, and special teams coordinators.

Friday

The Steelers have their final practice of the week on Friday and release their injury/status report for the week. It’s at this time where we have the best indication if any players will be missing for the upcoming matchup.

Saturday

Depending on if the Steelers are home or away will determine exactly how Saturday plays out during a game week based if they are traveling. Either way, the Steelers have some sort of walk-through to prepare for the game the next day. Additionally, the Steelers have until 4 PM ET to make any roster moves ahead of the game including an elevation from the practice squad.

Sunday

It’s game day! About 90 minutes before kickoff, the Steelers must announce their inactives for the game. After this, all that’s left is taking the field and leaving with a victory. After the game, Coach Tomlin and various players speak to the media.

So there is the typical weekly schedule for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their game week. As always, Behind The Steel Curtain will be there for all the coverage as the Steelers prepare to take on their various opponents each week.

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