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Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 12:45pm
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The “dog days” of Steeler Football are here but this may help pass that time until the Black and Gold retake the field

I still find myself sneaking into the Fan Post section of BTSC. Even with such great content on the front page, there are occasionally some solid articles still being written there. In the past, I have made a point to pass on some of those articles to our Senior Editor, and in return he has posted many of those articles on the front page. Not only does it provide exposure for someone interested in writing, but it can provide BTSC with potential future writers.

This particular idea is not my own, but one from Pin Stripe Alley, where the Editor poses a writing subject/question and the members that are interested write about that subject or question in a Fan Post. The winner gets their respective article posted on the front page.

Every Monday for the next six weeks I will provide a subject or question. The article must be submitted by Friday of the same week with plans for it to be published on Sunday. In the heading of the article make sure to add that it is for the Front Page Submission. also attach your own article heading.

Example: Front Page Submission - Pickett not Marino, Steelers refused to let another Pitt Panther QB slip by them

I shouldn’t have to remind everyone, but I will. Make sure all articles submitted follows the SB Nation/Vox/CORAL Guidelines. Those that don’t will not be considered.

This Weeks Subject/Question:

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a long lineage of super star players and there is mention that the Steelers have their own wing in Canton. If the latter isn’t true, it should be! With that said, this week’s subject is simply — who is your all time favorite player?

While there is really no wrong answers, the why and how well you wax poetic about your favorite player will get your submission placed on the front page.

Side Note : Thanks to the members that submitted articles for last weeks subject/question and as always stay safe and Go Steelers!

Rashard Mendenhall brings up a bad Steelers memory on his birthday

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 11:30am
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The former 1st round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers felt it necessary to drudge up a really bad memory Sunday.

Most Pittsburgh Steelers fans would be more than happy to never go down this road again, but here we are. On Sunday, June 19th, former 1st Round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall took to Twitter to give his thoughts and opinions about a play he most remembered for during his relatively brief stint in the NFL.

The play would be his fumble in Super Bowl 45 with the Steelers driving while trailing the Green Bay Packers 21-17.

Everyone remembers the play. Mendenhall gets blown up in the backfield by Clay Matthews and loses the ball. It was the Steelers’ third turnover in the game, and it ended a surge by the team to potentially come from behind and win what would have been their 7th Super Bowl.

Sunday, which was also Mendnhall’s 35th birthday, he took to Twitter to tell anyone who cares that he didn’t fumble the ball.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Check out his actual tweet below:

I never fumbled that ball… #SBXLV

My coaches would feel like assholes to say that I did, I never did.

I was SEPARATED from the ball, 4 yards into the backfield.

That’s the RB equivalent of a strip-sack.

There’s NOTHING I could’ve done about it.

Respect my career.#Free34

— Rashard Mendenhall (@R_Mendenhall) June 19, 2022

Want to re-live the play? Check it out in the player below:

(Note: If you can’t see the below video, click HERE)

To be honest, I can understand with what Mendenhall is saying about the play, although his delivery/explanation leaves something to be desired. Both Doug Legursky, but mainly David Johnson’s whiff of his block, equate to the Steelers’ running back being hit in the backfield.

But does that excuse a player for not securing the football?

Mendenhall gives a comparison to a quarterback strip-sack, this being when the quarterback isn’t aware of a pass rusher coming from his blind side and strips the ball out. It counts as a fumble, but the blame usually falls on the offensive line who failed to do their job.

However, even in that scenario, there are times when a quarterback doesn’t lose the football, and only surrenders a sack. In Mendenhall’s case, even though the offensive line didn’t do their jobs, he still could have held onto the football and only given up a negative rushing play, not a game-changing turnover.

This is the time we all re-live the play again, and you can let us know what you think 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 before reporting to Saint Vincent College for training camp on July 26th.

What position group is the greatest concern for the Steelers 2022 defense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 10:00am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are reasons to be optimistic, or concerned, about several positions on the Steelers defense.

Every offseason, almost every position group on the Steelers roster gets a little bit of a makeover. Sometimes there are additions which can give fans more hope going into the next season, while other times there are losses which can cause doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes there aren’t any changes in the position group, which could be viewed as either a positive or a negative.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense for 2022, there are not nearly as many changes as there was with the offense. If you are looking to answer the same question with the Steelers offense for 2022, check out the following article that was posted over the weekend:

With many changes coming in personnel, there are some position groups which appear to be improved while others have a lot to prove for the upcoming season. Whether it be a group with a lot of changes or none at all, what position are fans most concerned about going into the 2022 season?

Here is a breakdown, including key losses and gains, for each position group on the Steelers defense:

(NOTE: Only players signed with previous years of service in the NFL or players selected in the 2022 NFL draft will be considered additions, and players who were on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 will be considered losses.)

Defensive Line

Losses: Stephon Tuitt
Additions: DeMarvin Leal

While Stephon Tuitt only spent one day on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 before landing on the Reserve/Injured List, he is still considered a loss for the team when he announced his retirement on June 1. But Tuitt ultimately did not contribute to the 2021 Steelers. What seems more of a change would be considering Tyson Alualu as an addition as he played in less than two games in 2021 and looks to return to the Steelers at the age of 35. But with Tuitt out of the picture and the Steelers struggling to stop the run in 2021, questions about the unit returning to its 2020 greatness are warranted.

Outside Linebacker

Losses: Taco Charlton
Additions: Genard Avery

While the starting positions at this group are taken care of, especially with raining NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, it’s the reserve positions which enter into the rotation which can be concerning. With the Steelers shuffling various players to fill out the position group in 2021, considering Taco Charlton as a significant loss is up for debate. But exactly how the Steelers will implement Genard Avery remains to be seen, as well as if he can adequately fill in to be the needed depth at the position moving forward.

Inside Linebacker

Losses: Joe Schobert
Additions: Myles Jack, Mark Robinson

The million dollar question for 2022 when it comes to the inside linebacker position for the Steelers is if Myles Jack is a significant upgrade over Joe Schobert. Both linebackers struggled in their final season in Jacksonville, so whether or not there is an upgrade there depends on who you ask. Also, if Devin Bush cannot regain his speed he had prior to his knee injury in 2020, the plethora of players the Steelers have fighting for spots for the season could be more important than we realize at this time.

Cornerback

Losses: Joe Haden
Additions: Levi Wallace

With only a change of one player not returning (so far) and the addition of one other, it somehow feels more like it’s a completely different cornerback room. Joe Haden held down the top cornerback spot for the Steelers since 2017, so the uncertainty as to who is the top dog in the room has many fans worried the Steelers simply are not good enough. While having three quality cornerbacks is a good thing, not having any player deemed as the top guy at this point is why some feel the Steelers need to make another signing. More than anything else, this position group seems to have more of an ‘unknown’ factor heading into training camp.

Safety

Losses: None
Additions: Damontae Kazee

The Steelers locked in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick for the next five years in a rare early signing which may be signs of things to come from the new Steelers front office. Regardless of what it means to players in the future, it means that the Steelers know who their star in the secondary is going in the next season, and have added another piece to the puzzle to fit things together on the backend.

So which position group on the Steelers defense are you most concerned about heading into the 2022 season? While there may be multiple groups for there to be concern, which one is on top of the list? Make sure to vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Comparing the Steelers pass rush under Keith Butler to all of NFL history

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 8:30am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Where does the Steelers 5-year run leading the league in sacks rank them in NFL history?

In my first article on this subject, I compared Steelers defenses throughout franchise history to rank them for how successful they were at sacking the quarterback.

In this article I want to compare the Steelers to other teams in NFL History to see where they rank. The methodology is pretty simple, if you don’t care about it, or read about it in the previous article, feel free to skip it this time:

In order to compare teams across different eras of the NFL, we are going to compare that team’s sack production to the rest of the league that season. So we compare the team’s sacks to the NFL average sacks for a team in that season. The equation:

team sacks/(total NFL sacks that season/# of teams in NFL that season) = team percentage of average NFL sacks for that season.

Example: the 1980 Steelers recorded 18 sacks. There were 1031 total sacks in the NFL in the 1980 season. There were 28 teams in the NFL in 1980. So:

18 / (1031 / 28) = 18 / 36.8 = 48.9%

The 1980 Steelers recorded only 48.9% as many sacks as the average 1980 NFL team. Roughly half of what you would expect them to record.

The top teams by single season sacks in NFL history

I didn’t compute the numbers for every team in NFL history, but I did run the numbers for every league leader, and then ones below them if there was a chance they could make the top ten.

Here are the top single season defenses by sacks.

The 1974 Steelers just miss the top ten, so I listed the top 11. You can see how the fluctuation of total sacks affects the rankings. It is interesting to me that 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 are all represented on this list. Those seasons saw small groups of teams collecting a lot of sacks while other teams collected very few. It was a time of change across the NFL in a lot of ways and that opened the door for teams to rank very highly compared to their peers. The strange thing is these teams would have great sack numbers in one season, and then it dropped back down. I can’t explain it. The 1970’s were a weird time.

One of the interesting things that showed up in making this was the 1987 Bears. The mid-1980s was a crazy time for sacks. Here’s the 1983-1987 total NFL sacks, along with the number of teams that recorded at least 55 sacks.

1983: 1215 Five 55+ sack teams.
1984: 1313 Ten 55+ sack teams.
1985: 1306 Seven 55+ sack teams.
1986: 1198 Five 55+ sack teams.
1987: 1106 Three 55+ sack teams.

In the years following the 1982 strike season, the NFL saw some of the highest sack totals in league history, and also saw the disparity in sack totals between teams widen. By 1987 it had dropped back down and only 3 teams reached 55 sacks, while the Bears were the only team with 60+ sacks, recording 70. Second place was 57. The Bears recorded 72 sacks in 1984, but second place was 66 sacks, and a staggering ten teams that season had 55 sacks.

At that point the Steelers franchise record was still 52 sacks, and it would stay at 52 sacks until the 1994 season. Meaning 10 teams in 1984 recorded more sacks than any Steeler team had ever recorded, and even today, the Steelers record 56 sacks would have ranked 7th in the 1984 season. The NFL was a crazy place after the strike.

As you can see the top 11 teams all recorded over 160% of the average sacks for that season. The best season for the recent Steelers is 157.9%, they rank substantially lower. From from just the work I did making that list I can rule them out of the top 15. But the Steelers didn’t set any single-season records, what is impressive is their five-year streak leading the NFL in sacks. So the question I want to answer next is, where do they rank historically against other teams best five-year stretches.

The Best Five year runs of team sacks in NFL history.

The methodology for finding the best 5 year stretch for teams was pretty easy, I looked for any team with seasons close to each other that were at or above 150% and ran numbers for the surrounding seasons to find their best five-year stretch. I just added the percentage of average NFL team sacks together, added them together in five-year stretches and found the highest number.

The Steelers of 2017-2021 do not take the top spot in this metric either, but they move up quite a bit.

Here’s the top three 5-year stretches for sacks in NFL history:

  1. 1983-1987 Chicago Bears. 319 sacks. Average of 146.1% of NFL average team sacks.
  2. 1968-1972 Los Angeles Rams. 233 sacks. Average of 143.8% of NFL average team sacks.
  3. 2017-2021 Pittsburgh Steelers. 273 sacks. Average of 142.9% of NFL average team sacks.

Neither the Rams, nor the Steelers have a team in their top 5-year stretches in the top ten seasons, and neither would rank in the top 15. But both have consistently high percentages of NFL average team sacks. In fact, the Rams had a stretch of 10 straight seasons with at least 120% of NFL average team sacks from 1967-1976. They had a good number of different players reach 10+ sacks in those ten seasons. Deacon Jones led the team for most of the run, with Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer coming in to finish it, all with Merlin Olsen in the interior of the defensive line.

I think the Steelers have a chance to match or even beat that streak. Deacon Jones was 29 years old when the Rams streak started and was only there for half of it. T.J. Watt was 27 in 2021, and the Steelers are five years into their own streak and if the Steelers were to pull off a ten-year streak, he would be 32 at the end of it. In fact, if the Steelers keep up their production the next few seasons they will be in-line to be the top sack getting team over any 7 year stretch of NFL history.

Keith Butler is no longer the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he won’t be designing the Steelers pass rush schemes. It’s probable that we will see the Steelers make sacks less of a priority in 2022, and even if they don’t, no other defensive coordinator has done what Keith Butler has over the last five seasons. Both the Bears and Rams changed defensive coordinators during their runs, and it is worth questioning if the Steelers can continue the success like the Rams and Bears did, or if they, like most teams in NFL history, will not be the same team with a different coach.

No matter how the Steelers defense performs going forward, Keith Butler, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and the rest of the Steelers defense have pulled off one of the greatest stretches of pass rush success the NFL has ever seen.

Steelers fans need to hop on the Mason Rudolph bandwagon before it’s too late

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 7:15am
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

It’s time to hop aboard the Mason Rudolph bandwagon before tickets sell out.

I was never one to pick a “team” when it came to things involving choosing sides. Oh, who am I kidding? I do that all the time.

But I’ve never been one to do that when it comes to individual players on the Pittsburgh Steelers. I tend to accept the player that wins the starting job, and then I begin the journey of supporting him through thick and thin.

However, I just can’t do that when it comes to the current three-horse race for the right to become the new starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why? It just feels so cool to be on Team Mason, as in Mason Rudolph, the fifth-year man out of Oklahoma State whose 17-career appearances have been more than enough for his detractors to already determine that he just doesn’t have the talent, charisma, leadership skills and even the good teammate genes necessary to do the job. As for those detractors? They are many, and they are mean. Why, just the other day, I saw someone on social media refer to Rudolph as toe fungus.

How can you not root for a guy like that? It’s like when George Costanza fell in love with Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend because she just detested George so much that...he found her irresistible!

Anyway, if we’re going to play this “team” game, that means I have to totally tear down the other two participants: Mitch Trubisky, the veteran quarterback who Pittsburgh inked to a deal in the spring; and Kenny Pickett, the rookie from Pitt who the Steelers selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

First of all, Mitch Trubisky? Does that name even remind one of a quarterback? It sounds like the name of some secondary character in a 1980s John Hughes movie about high school. As for Kenny Pickett? Don’t you mean, Kenny Pickoff? Can’t you see how quickly that name could go sideways?

Now, if I were to write a script about a fictional football team, how could I do any better than Mason Rudolph? That just sounds like a hero to me.

As for accomplishments up to this point, sure, Trubisky had a decent run with the Bears after they drafted him second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Trubisky had a 29-21 record as a starter in four seasons in Chicago; he completed 64.1 percent of his passes, totaled 10,652 yards through the air and threw 64 touchdowns to 38 interceptions. That’s not bad, especially for a Bears quarterback. But Trubisky was slated to be the Bears’ starter from the beginning. He knew his role from the get-go.

Also, as decent as Trubisky’s numbers were in Chicago, isn’t decent a little underwhelming for the number two pick in the draft, which Trubisky was in 2017? Yes, Trubisky’s numbers were better than the stats Rudolph put up during his four seasons as Ben Roethlisberger’s understudy—61.5 completion percentage, 2,366 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions—but Rudolph never had a whole offseason where he was given a legitimate chance to compete for the starting job. Rudolph was thrust into the starting role in Week 2 of the 2019 season after Roethlisberger was lost for the year with an elbow injury. Rudolph was again thrust into the role last November in a game against the Lions at Heinz Field mere hours after Roethlisberger was declared “out” with COVID. And as far as being Roethlisberger’s understudy, I’m not so sure studying under Passive-Aggressive Ben and maybe even Big Bully Ben was the best way for Rudolph to learn anything.

As for Pickett’s experience? What’s the point of even including that since, you know, he’s a rookie?

What about toughness?

Trubisky is just so darn nice. If you’re a dude who drives a Dodge Ram pickup truck and likes to aggressively tailgate the person in front of you, you might fancy yourself as a tough guy. Do you want some nice guy, some pushover, some beta male, leading the Steelers?

And don’t even get me started on Pickett’s baby hands. Who could ever take those tiny mittens seriously? He’s like the nameless henchman in Goldmember; he’s got no chance.

Mason Rudolph, on the other hand, was smacked in the head with his own helmet by Myles Garrett in 2019 but kept going after Garrett, kind of like the Terminator or Rocky. This was the same season that Rudolph was concussed by a vicious shot to the head by Earl Thomas and only missed a little time. And how could we forget the fact that Rudolph survived the year-long fetish the fans had for some guy named Duck?

Now, that’s toughness.

I believe I’ve made a strong enough case for Rudolph and why I will be firmly rooting for Team Mason during training camp this summer.

I’d advise you to get on board before it’s too late. Mason Rudolph will be the Steelers starting quarterback in 2022. If you want to root for the other two chumps, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Minkah Fitzpatrick “excited” to have Brian Flores on the staff

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 6:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Minkah Fitzpatrick knows plenty about Brian Flores, and he is excited to have his former coach on the Steelers’ staff.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made waves this winter when they decided to bring Brian Flores on staff as a linebackers/defensive assistant coach. At face value, it was a tremendous addition to the defensive coaching staff. His experience with the New England Patriots as everything from a scout to a defensive play caller, and the fact he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins shows the tremendous amount of input he can bring to the Steelers.

But there was a caveat to this move which some fans noticed right away. Some even saw this as a potential issue for the defense moving forward.

That would be none other than how the addition of Flores would impact Minkah Fitzpatrick. After all, it was reported there was a beef between the two former Miami employees, and it was this rift which equated in Fitzpatrick wanting a trade.

When the Steelers sent a 2020 first round pick to the Dolphins in 2019 for Fitzpatrick, no one ever thought the two would be reunited in Pittsburgh.

Yet here we are.

After Fitzpatrick signed his new 5-year contract last week, he was asked about his thoughts on the addition of Flores to the team’s defensive coaching staff. What Fitzpatrick said to the media makes it seem as if the issues the two might have had in Miami is water under the bridge.

“It’s been good.” Fitzpatrick said of Flores being added to the coaching staff. “Coach Flo, he’s a great coach. He’s a smart guy. He’s a guy that lives to a high standard. He’s a piece that I think we really needed. He’s a real detail-oriented guy, detail-oriented coach. He’s not a guy that’s gonna let things get brushed aside. He’s gonna address them.

When it comes to Flores’ style, Fitzpatrick knows all about it. Flores doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to addressing issues. In fact, he is the total opposite. Some might not like it, but Fitzpatrick has grown to appreciate it.

“He’s direct. He might not tell you exactly how you want to hear it, but he’s gonna tell you and I think that’s important to have in the locker room.” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s gonna get on you. He’s a great coach. I’m excited to have him. He’s focused and locked in on winning and that’s what his goal is. And I’m happy to have him here.”

Coaches who don’t care about your feelings as a player is something Fitzpatrick knows all too well. Coming from Nick Saban at Alabama to Flores in Miami, he knows about coaches who are labeled as “in your face”. Mike Tomlin doesn’t necessarily fall into that category, but Fitzpatrick giving Flores his seal of approval is certainly worth noting.

The feedback of Flores from both coaches and players in the early stages of the offseason have been glowing. Players love his intensity and approach, and coaches recognize his value to the staff. It seems like a win-win, and it will be intriguing to see how this will continue to develop at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA when players report to training camp and the real football begins.

In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they continue to prepare for the 2022 regular season.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 06/20/2022 - 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 three podcasts for your enjoyment. The reasoning behind this is to take up less space on the site for the great written content we have at BTSC.

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

We Run the North: Here We Go Fathers Day in the North

It’s Father’s Day and we celebrate all fathers with a spotlight on NFL dads and sons. Join BTSC’s Kevin Tate for the latest AFC North news on his signature show, We Run The North.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Note
  • Some Steelers NFL Father’s & Son’s
  • AFC North Updates
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!
The Steelers Sunday Night Q&A: Steelers Q&A: As summer heats up, the Steelers questions just get hotter

It’s another offseason Sunday in 2022 with no NFL football and no games scheduled. However, the Steelers drafting is complete. so is their minicamp for rookies, voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp. BTSC is continuing a question-and-answer free-for-all from you the loyal fans. This time, join BTSC’s Tony Defeo and Jeremy Betz as they team up to take questions from the live chat for some good Steelers discussion.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Let’s Ride: Can the 2022 Steelers be a better version of the 2019 team?

The Steelers have a new look for the 2022 season with the big change being at quarterback. Could they be a better version than the last time the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger. Join BTSC’s senior editor the morning flagship show in the Behind the Steel Curtain family of podcasts.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Can the 2022 Steelers be a better version of the 2019 team?
  • 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

Have a BAD Week: A look back at the Steelers week from a black-and-gold mind

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 3:30pm
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

BTSC’s random-thought renegade is back with his bizarre look at the Steelers week that was.

The Steelers’ season ended over four months ago, but there’s plenty of news coming out of the Steel City. BTSC continues their recap of the past week’s events for our readers. So, let’s all take a look at the week in the ‘burgh together.

Monday 6/13

The term "dynasty" is often thrown around lightly. But there's no doubt that Chuck Noll's @steelers were a true dynasty.

On the eight-year anniversary of Noll's passing, we honor the indelible mark he left on football. #HOFForever pic.twitter.com/y0LUL965Xr

— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) June 13, 2022

Bill Cowher was an incredible coach. Mike Tomlin is a tremendous coach as well. However, Chuck Noll took a moribund franchise and made it a champion and forged a culture that still stands today.

Tuesday 6/14

Wormley on replacing Ben: “Any time you lose a Hall of Fame quarterback, who has done so much in his career for the city, it is going to be hard to replace him. But I think Mitch is the guy for it. He has a lot of experience. He made the playoffs twice." #Steelers #NFL

— Blitzburgh✨ (@Blitz_Burgh) June 14, 2022

It’s understanding why veteran Steelers like Wormley are going to back Mitch Trubisky. The school of thought of the Steelers might be that No. 10 gives the black and gold the best shot to win in 2022.

Wednesday 6/15

Steelers and All-Pro S Minkah Fitzpatrick reached agreement on a massive four-year contract extension worth over $18.4 million per year, with $36M gtd at signing, per source. The deal, negotiated and confirmed by @WME_Sports, makes Fitzpatrick the highest paid S in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/Rnb0jJWGoM

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 15, 2022

Here we go!!!! The Steelers locked down a cornerstone of their defense for the next five years.

“George Pickens, to me, based purely on tape was overall the best receiving prospect in this draft class…”

High praise for the Steelers’ 2nd rounder from @GregCosell on latest @RossTuckerPod: pic.twitter.com/gnL2v1QpC9

— Ross Tucker Podcast (@RossTuckerPod) June 15, 2022

I’m getting worried about the hype surrounding the Steelers’ No. 2 selection in the Draft. Is it too much? But if he does live up to it, It’s going to be epic.

Thursday 6/16

Proud Momma https://t.co/YaKQac716b

— Momma Jones (@kieschaj) June 16, 2022

Former Steelers OL Jarron Jones made his mom proud. The USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandit may be the most decorated offensive lineman of any of the Steelers 2021 linemen. Oh, if anybody cares, Safety Bryce Torneden is the only Pittsburgh Mauler to make the All-USFL team.

Friday 6/17

Unfortunate, we couldn’t come to terms, but appreciate the @Saints for the opportunity! Journey to be continued …..#GodsHands

— David Johnson (@DavidJohnson31) June 17, 2022

In a reply from a Steelers fan, Johnson replied by saying, “That would be a great place to be at”. If the price is right, a healthy version of the former Cardinal and Texan would be a fantastic Plan B for the Steelers behind Najee Harris.

Saturday 6/18

There is more to this report than meets the eye. #Steelers

Report: NFL considering a full year suspension for Browns Deshaun Watson https://t.co/e6V2lX4aCn

— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) June 18, 2022

Didn’t Cleveland see this coming? Everyone else did. This is just Browns being Browns.

On Saturday, the @steelers staff handed out Terrible Towels to fans at the 2022 #Juneteenth Grand Jubilee Parade in Downtown Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/1uaAKJY5ct

— Steelers Community Relations (@SteelersCR) June 18, 2022

It’s nice to see the Steelers keeping in touch with the community.

Sunday 6/19

Happy Father's Day! pic.twitter.com/wW1Brgbkhy

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) June 19, 2022

Happy Father’s Day to everybody in Steelers Nation from all of us at BTSC and Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads here at BTSC.

This was the significant week that was for the Steelers, mixed-in with my black-and-gold loving life. I’m sure next week will be full of Steelers happenings as well, so we’ll have to do this again. Have a great week, but better yet have a BAD one.

Going For Two: Mataeo Durant & Terrell Edmunds

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 9 of Going For Two, featuring Mataeo Durant and Terrell Edmunds

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:

Mataeo Durant Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Running back
Age: 22
Year: 1
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 195
Drafted: UDFA 2022
College: Duke
Roster Outlook: Better than the typical UDFA
Analysis:

After rushing for over 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns as well as another 250 yards and two touchdowns receiving his final year at Duke, Mataeo Durrant is an interesting UDFA for the Steelers this season. With one player at the position off the 53-man roster from 2021 not returning, and the Steelers not addressing the position in the draft or in free agency at this point, there is an opportunity for somebody else to grab a roster spot. Even if the Steelers keep one less running back than they did in 2021, it’s not like the depth at the position is so strong that someone like Durant couldn’t step in. As with most young players, how quickly he picks up the Steelers offense in training camp and how he performs in preseason games will determine a lot. But he’s got a good opportunity with the Steelers.

Terrell Edmunds Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Position: Safety
Age: 25
Year: 5
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 217
Drafted: Round 1, Pick 28, 2018
College: Virginia Tech
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

After the safety market dried up for his level of player this past offseason, Terrell Edmunds returned to the Steelers under a special provision in the CBA which allows him to make more than twice as much money as what he will count against the salary cap. Coming back to a familiar system and setup, Edmunds has the opportunity to expand on his 89 tackle, 1.0 sack, six passes defensed, and two interception season from last year. If Edmunds can show he is worthy of a contract on the level of a starting safety in the league, he could cash in even better in 2023, whether it be with the Steelers or another NFL franchise.

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 More You Know: Random facts about your Steelers, Fathers Day edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 10:30am

Time to learn more about your favorite NFL team, and some trivia as well!

With today being Father’s Day, BTSC would like to honor all of the Dads of Steelers Nation and beyond with an Iron City. But since SB Nation won’t spring for it, the best I could do is run a special Dad’s Day edition of The More You Know.

It’s the offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers and there are so many topics to talk and write about. Free agents, the coordinator conundrum, the next quarterback, the NFL Draft, signings, retirements and breaking news will all be covered here at BTSC. But who’s going to give you little-known-facts out of the 500 Level?

Luckily, your one-stop, and non-stop, shop for everything Steelers employs a Steelers fan that was allegedly dropped on his head as a one-year-old during the Immaculate Reception. Useless and somewhat fascinating facts are his forte. So, here we are with off-the-wall thoughts from the dark side of a black-and-gold brain that nobody asked for. But the joke’s on you as you’ll be telling your peeps something you read here later.

412 Forever

When trying to highlight Steelers as dads, I remembered the perfect moment which featured Bill and Meghan Cowher moments after the Steelers loss to Dallas in Super Bowl XXX. As despondent as Coach Cowher seemed, he lit up when he saw his wife Kay and oldest daughter Meagan. Bill embraced Meg and said, “Sometimes you win, Sometimes you lose”. The coach’s nine-year old replied with a whisper that wasn’t audible in highlights, “Win or lose, you’ll always be my hero”. That was a Hall of Fame moment from a girl that made her father feel like a champion even though the scoreboard read differently.

Steel Dad Facts

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t originally have a present father figure in his life as he reportedly did not have a relationship with Baltimore Colt draftee and CFL’s Montreal Allouettes player, Ed Tomlin. But in 1980 at age 8, Julia, Tomlin’s mother, married Leslie Copeland. Copeland assumed the role of male role model and Mike always referred to Copeland as his dad. Coach T., who is a father figure to his players, embraces the responsibility of father to Dino (a WR for Boston College), Mason (a DB for Colombia) and Harlyn (a PA state champion gymnast) even more. At an All Pro Dads and Kids seminar, Tomlin shared his parenting philosophy in 2012. “Family comes first. Coaching is what I do but being a husband and father is who I am. I think that is the proper perspective to have. What we do for a living can consume us, but I think we need to keep our priorities in order. Sometimes we need reminders of that and I continually remind myself”. That’s a great reminder to us all.

BTSC Steelers Jeopardy

(Answer at bottom of article)

Middle Name Madness

We love citing the second name of members of the Men of Steel here at Behind the Steel Curtain. We always cite Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger, Christopher Lynn Boswell and Trent Jordan Watt, but who else? Hence, the “More You Know Middle Name of the Week”. This week we feature the founding father of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the man that started it all after he paid a $2,500 franchise fee in 1933 to fund an NFL franchise in his beloved Steel City.

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Arthur Joseph Rooney This Week’s Birthdays of Steel

6/20 Len Dawson (1935), Fred McAfee (1968)

6/21 Gene Breen (1951), Tex Holcomb (1913), Buster Mott (1909), Erwin Williams (1947)

6/22 Paul Martha (1942), Mark Royals (1965), Mike Wagner (1949)

6/23 Marv Kellum (1952)

6/24 Mitch Berger (1972), Duval Love (1963),

6/25 Dan Turk (1962)

6/26 Jace Sternberger (1996), Michael Vick (1980)

Steel Dads in Diverse Duds

The Steelers have six players with fathers that have “NFL Alumnus” on their resumes. Devin Bush Jr. (Devin Bush Sr.), Cameron and Connor Heyward (Craig “Ironhead” Heyward), Terrell and Trey Edmunds (Ferrell Edmunds), Cody White (Sheldon White). What did those pro dads look like in their work clothes?

Devin Bush Sr. - Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns (1995-2002) Craig Heyward - New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts (1988-1998) Ferrell Edmunds - Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins (1988-1994) Set Number: X40842 Sheldon White - New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals (1988-1993) Varsity Blues Black & Golds

Just because. Ironhead Heyward in a Pitt uniform

Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images Hypocycloids Gone Hollywood

Legendary Steelers Scout Bill Nunn Jr. was (deservedly so) posthumously enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021, His son, Bill Nunn III, carved out quite a career himself in Hollywood as an well-known actor in movies like Spike Lee’s (Nunn’s college roommate) Do The Right Thing (Radio Raheem) and New Jack City (Duh Duh Man’), Sister Act (Lieutenant Eddie Souther) (Duh Duh Man’) and The Spiderman Trilogy (Robbie Robertson) among others. In the 70s, the young Nunn was a ball boy for the Men of Steel, Bill and Art Rooney II actually stole Joe Greene’s green Lincoln Continental during training camp for a joy ride at Saint Vincent College. The duo eventually informed “Mean Joe” of the carnapping, but it was well after the statute of limitations expired sometimes in the 2000s. Two years after his father died at age 89, Bill Nunn III passed away in his hometown of Pittsburgh in 2016 at the age of 62.

Cliff Clavin Corner

It’s a little known fact that Steelers superstar Cameron Heyward was once fined $5,787 by the NFL in 2015 for writing his father’s nickname on his eye black in a month where players wore pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. Craig “Ironhead” Heyward died of bone cancer at the Age of 39 in 2006.

Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black. #Nevergiveup #CancerSucks pic.twitter.com/RTx988ijG9

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) October 14, 2015 Steelers Jeopardy Answer in the Form of a Question: Who is Dick Lebeau ?

Lebeau was such a dad to the Men of Steel who inspired his defense for years. The Steelers wore his Lions throwback before a January 1, 2006 game against Detroit, Troy Polamalu asked his former DC to induct him into Canton, the entire defense (led by Ryan Clark) stood up to Antonio Brown after a disrespectful act against the coach in practice and Lebeau even went as far as to read ”The Night Before Christmas” to his team every Christmas Eve. Well deserving of the title of “Coach Dad”.

So, there you have it. Anybody can spout out stat after stat, but not everybody can embrace the colorful and personal side of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the more you know, the more you can stupefy your friends, family and neighbors with your big, black-and-gold brain.

We’ll see you right here next week. Until then keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the hypocycloids.

A Letter From the Editor: How the Steelers’ defense and Father’s Day mesh

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 9:00am
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

How my father’s sailor-like language has made me realize what the Steelers’ defense should look like this year.

Were you intrigued by the headline of this article and had to check it out? Well, I’m glad you did. I want to take you on a trip back to my adolescent years, when I was really starting to fall in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The year is 1994, and the Blitzburgh era of Steelers defense is the trend in and around the Pittsburgh area. Wherever you go, people talk about the Steelers defense. It wasn’t like the offense wasn’t good, after all my favorite player was running back Barry Foster, but that defense was everyone’s favorite.

If you were alive for that era, you can rattle off the names with ease...

  • Greg Lloyd
  • Levon Kirkland
  • Kevin Greene
  • Carnell Lake
  • Rod Woodson
  • Chad Brown

I could go on, but if you know, you know.

During those seasons my time spent on Sunday was with my father, and often times some of his friends. Sundays became events, and if the playoffs were involved it was a big deal.

My jobs on game days were simple:

  • Stay in the same seat, unless things go south. Then move.
  • Try not to talk too much, gotta hear the game.
  • Get anyone who needs a beer a fresh one, I was even taught how to pour from a tap at a very young age.

That was about it.

My mother would stay upstairs and often be making food for the guys, but watching on a separate television. Downstairs was where the guys watched the game, and it was no holds barred when it came to the language used.

The offense got everyone fired up, but the defense turned these regular, everyday guys into lunatics. It didn’t take long for me to look at what I was seeing on the field, and immediately make it synonymous with what I was seeing, and especially hearing.

As Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd planned their meeting at the quarterback, the guys would rise from their seats. And when the sack was completed, crippling high fives went around the room.

And then the color commentary began...

“Go F— yourself (insert name of quarterback here)!!”

“Eat [feces] (insert name of quarterback here)!!

Or my all-time favorite...

“Rip his head off, and [defecate] in his neck!!”

Yes, that was actually said, and it got quite the reaction from the crowd of terrible towel waving fans who were in attendance.

It was quite the spectacle.

At this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with either Father’s Day, or the 2022 Steelers defense. Let me explain...

As for the Father’s Day portion, I will always remember those days with my dad. Whether it was sprinting to the basement refrigerator and back to try and beat the commercial break, or just the thrill of victory being celebrated with my dad, my brother and myself. They were very special moments, and still are.

As for the 2022 defense, when I think back to those days, the Blitzburgh era, those defenses had a nastiness about them. Same with the 2000s defenses. I feel as if that is something which is desperately needed in today’s group. You see streaks of it here and there from players like Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt, but the group as a whole needs to bring the nasty to be mentioned with those other defensive units.

I understand the game has changed since those mid-90s teams, but I am hoping not just for a great Steelers defense this season, but an intimidating group. A group who imposes their will on the opponent. It’s been a while since we’ve experienced one of those, and I would love nothing more than to sit down this season and watch a game with my dad just to hear those colorful comments come spewing out.

Because they still happen, and I still love it.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)

BTSC Top Ten: Alex Highsmith makes the list at 9th, who will be the last Steeler to join the list?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

BTSC voters are choosing the most valuable Steelers from 2021.

As the Steelers continue through the offseason, building 2022 roster, it is a good time to take a look back at 2021 again and rank the Top 10 Steelers players of the season. There are a good number of players who played well, and a lot who didn’t.

Alex Highsmith joins in the penultimate spot on our Top-10 list. Highsmith in his second season and first as a starter was a bright spot in run defense, recording the second most run defense tackles of any edge rusher and with an average tackle depth of 2.1 yards, he was much more effective than much of the Steelers defense that allowed an embarrassing 5 yards per rush over the season. Highsmith tied Cameron Heyward for second on the team with 15 tackles for a loss and ranked third in QB hits with 15 of those as well. In defending the run and pressuring the quarterback Highsmith ranks third on the Steelers defense, behind only T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward.

Highsmith also shows coverage ability to go with his smart and strong play defending the run and pressuring the quarterback. The one clear area for Alex Highsmith to improve on is in recording sacks. If you compare Highsmith’s pressure, hit and sack rates for his first two seasons to T.J. Watt’s first two seasons Highsmith only lags behind Watt significantly in his rate of recording sacks. While some of that is caused by Highsmith losing the race to the quarterback to T.J. Watt, he has shown he has room to grow in becoming a finisher on pass rush.

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

With Alex Highsmith joining the list, we add Chukwuma Okorafor to the candidates for the final spot in the top 10.

Let’s take a quick look at the candidates:
Bold = led Steelers in stat, * = led NFL in stat

Chase Claypool: Claypool’s 2021 season was considered a drop-off from his rookie season, but statistically that was only true in touchdowns scored, one of the most volatile stats for receivers. Claypool’s second season saw him improve slightly in yards per game, yards per target, broken tackles and drops. While the entire passing game was less efficient in 2021, Chase Claypool saw the least decline in efficiency.
Stat line: 105 targets, 59 receptions, 860 yards, 2 TDs.

Kevin Dotson: Dotson only appeared in 9 games for the Steelers, and it showed. With rookies starting on either side of him, Dotson was the anchor of the line, and that line was improving before he was hurt. The Steelers recorded 5 straight 100+ yard rushing games, a streak that ended with Dotson’s injury. That span of time involved the only two wins the Steelers recorded where their opponent scored 20 or more points.

Terrell Edmunds: Edmunds was labeled a reach when he was drafted, and while he has played in all but one game since then, and started all but 5, Edmunds has been more known for his weaknesses than his strengths. Edmunds has put in the work, improved every season, and in 2021 had his best coverage season, ranking in the top 20 in passer rating against when targeted, while still being a key player against the run for the Steelers.
Stat line: 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 sack, 8 tackles for a loss, 63 solo tackles.

Joe Haden: The veteran cornerback missed 5 games, but was still the Steelers best cornerback over the course of the season, and the Steelers defense continues to be a much better defense when he plays and the Steelers continue to win far more of their games with him than when he is out.
Stat line: 0 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 26 solo tackles.

Dan Moore Jr.: Dan Moore Jr. didn’t have the best rookie season, but he stepped in when he wasn’t supposed to play and solidified the left tackle position while providing a lot of value in the run game. Moore Jr. also had the disadvantage of playing with numerous different left guards lined up next to him and was left on an island to guard Miles Garrett a lot in the Steelers two games against the Browns, allowing 1 sack.

Chukwuma Okorafor: Okorafor finally was a full-season starter for the first time in his 4th season with the Steelers. While he isn’t a star player he is a very reliable player at a position that is one of the hardest to find quality play. Okorafor enters his fifth season with the Steelers with a new contract that makes him the highest plaid player on the Steelers offense and the 4th highest paid Steeler overall. Hopefully his play continues to improve as it has every season of his career so far.

Joe Schobert: Schobert joined the Steelers via a trade from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he helped hold down the inside linebacker position for the Steelers. He ended up second on the team in tackles, while playing the 5th most snaps on the Steelers defense. While not a long-term solution to the Steelers linebacker needs, Schobert was a solid player for the one season he was on the team.
Stat Line: 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 70 solo tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit.

Cameron Sutton: Sutton moved from the Steelers dime back to the Steelers #2 cornerback for the 2021 season. He played well in that role, but struggled some when Joe Haden was out and Sutton needed to take over the role of the Steelers top cornerback. He was the Steelers most reliable cornerback though, starting 16 games, five more than any other Steeler cornerback in 2021 and played the second most snaps on defense of any Steeler.
Stat line: 2 interceptions, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 44 solo tackles, 4 tackles for a loss.

Ahkello Witherspoon: Ahkello Witherspoon only played in 9 games in 2021, and ranked 8th in snaps for defensive backs on the Steelers, but he also led the Steelers in interceptions and tied Cameron Heyward for the most passes defended. His shorter time on the field definitely limited his value to the team, and with his awful first game, justifiably so. But it is hard to overstate the impact Witherspoon had late in the season when the Steelers made their push to a playoff berth.
Stat Line: 3 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 14 solo tackles, 1 tackle for a loss.

Chris Wormley: Chris Wormley was put into a much bigger role than he had played before in 2021, when injuries moved him from the #4 defensive lineman on the team to #2. In that increased role Wormley nearly doubled the previous highest snap count of his career, and his production more than doubled. While Wormley was part of the defensive struggles in run defense, he was a major asset in pass defense, ending up third on the team in sacks and 4th in pressures.
Stat line: 7 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes defended, 51 total tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 10 QB hits.

There’s only one spot left in the BTSC 2022 Top Ten Steelers list, who will it be? It’s your last chance to vote for the best Steelers of 2021.

Retiring from fantasy football after 19 years isn’t easy, but I will do so as a Steeler

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 6:30am

It’s been a tolerable 19 years in fantasy football, but I’ve decided to finally retire from the sport.

I was at the bar the other night relaxing after a long run when the subject of fantasy football came up.

I immediately got this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Call it the Sunday scaries or whatever, but just the thought of having to go back in the lab late this summer and do the necessary research in order to be ready for the multiple fantasy leagues I would be invited to put me into an instant state of depression.

I was filled with anxiety and stress. I began to dread the online fantasy drafts and maybe even a trip to Applebee’s for a live one.

Something hit me as I walked home from the bar, however: I do not have to play fantasy football this year if I don’t want to. I don’t have to pay the price. I don’t have to know the players. I’ve put in my time. After all, it has been 19 years. I was a free agent last year, anyway. I turned down offers to join leagues because, as I told my friends, I was just so gosh darn busy.

But truth be told, my heart just wasn't in it. I had lost my passion for fantasy football long before—years before, I’d say.

I stayed with it for a number of years, but I always seemed to enjoy watching the NFL more during the rare seasons when I would skip fantasy football for one reason or another.

Oh, I enjoyed the heck out of it over the first few seasons, but I was also quite frustrated, especially during my first season—2003—when I drafted Adam Vinatieri in the fourth round.

Needless to say, my rookie season in fantasy football was a forgettable one. Just how forgettable? I lost a game in which Peyton Manning, my quarterback, threw six touchdown passes against the New Orleans Saints.

Anyway, it is with much relief—and just a hint of regret—that I am announcing my retirement from fantasy football after 19 seasons.

I’d like to say the memories were great, but I honestly can’t think of all that many. Although, as bad as I was during my rookie season—my record was 3 and something—I did sweep the eventual league champions. I also defeated my brother in the semifinals of the consolation round (I had such a bad team that he considered it to be a bye going in).

It actually took me four seasons to finally make the real playoffs, which also resulted in a first-round victory over my brother (2-0 against him all-time in postseason play). Unfortunately, my brother won the league title twice in like four seasons. And when he wasn’t winning it, my brother-in-law’s brother won it twice.

Not a lot of fun around the dinner table during the holidays for yours truly, that’s for sure.

As I’ve already alluded to, I never truly wanted to pay the price from a “constantly being on my computer/smartphone while at work” standpoint during my fantasy football career. Truth be told, I was limited by the kinds of jobs I had throughout my years in the sport, jobs that either denied me access to a computer or an optimal wifi connection. Oh, who am I kidding? I could have found a way to scour the waiver wire if I really wanted to. I just didn’t want it. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t have the desire. I was a 9 to 5 fantasy football coach. I didn’t study the players. I didn’t learn the backups of the starters, and I had no urge to research the backups of the backups.

I did manage to win a title one time. It actually happened late in my fantasy football career—2018, to be exact. I was co-owner of a team with my uncle. My biggest contribution to that title came during the draft—that’s right, it was one of those Applebee’s drafts—when I said, “They were saying on the radio that this new quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, might have a breakout year.” Other than that, I was just along for the ride (kind of like Daniel Sepulveda during the Super Bowl XLIII season).

While I will miss some things about my fantasy football days, I will not miss most of the things.

I won’t miss the 11th-hour player scratches after CBSSports/ESPN/Yahoo spends the entire week telling me that (insert player here) is expected to start or at least make an appearance in the upcoming game.

I will not miss those Tourettes-like outbursts while in the middle of a conversation about ceiling tiles because the person I am talking to happens to look down at their smartphone and discovers that Frank Gore was taken out at the goal line.

I will not miss being a fantasy football commissioner and spending the entire season begging people to pay me their league fee. “Aww, man, I can’t believe you’re keeping the money,” said my brother back in 2008 after he won the runner-up prize. That just so happened to be the same season in which he failed to pay the league fee. Yep, he lacks in both self-awareness and shame.

I will not miss donating a portion of my salary to the fantasy gods every season but one.

I will not miss this phrase: “I just couldn’t start him against the Pittsburgh Steelers.” It makes no differ....forget it.

I will not miss being slapped by Tommy Pham.

As the title suggests, I would like to sign a one-day contract and retire from fantasy football as a Pittsburgh Steeler. That’s why I’m sitting here today as “The Bubby Bristers,” the name of my first fantasy football team. If I manage to make it into the Fantasy Football Hall of Shame one day, I’d like Edmund Nelson to present me. Why? Because “The Edmund Nelsons” was the name of my second fantasy football team. Yes, sir, I sure was creative back then.

Finally, it has been a fun—or tolerable, at times—ride over the past 19 years, but it’s time to pursue other passions, such as writing about football.

I also look forward to spending time in my living room this fall and not worrying about who’s doing what other than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I realize some people will try to coax me out of retirement, even though, unlike Bill Cowher, I suck at evaluating talent.

But my mind is made up.

Keep reaching for the stars and stop sending me invites to your fantasy leagues.

Podcast Roundup: All the latest of the BTSC family podcasts

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 06/19/2022 - 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:

Steelers Touchdown Under: The off-season is the best time for optimism

Everybody is undefeated in the off-season, well maybe not the Cleveland Browns. But this is the time for football dreamers to be optimistic about their team’s Lombardi chances. With Matty Peverell on assignment, Mark Davison and Kyle Chrise will talk Steelers from an Aussie/L.A.Yinzer perspective. Here we go!

  • Steelers News and Notes
  • An off-season of optimism
  • Listen to the show below

Tune into the latest episode of Touchdown Under, the Australian sensation from the BTSC family of podcasts.

The Steelers Power Half Hour: Signing Minkah is a win-win for the Steelers and him

Minkah Fitzpatrick has signed an extension with the Steelers, seemingly a win for both the player and the franchise. Welcome to the Steelers Power Half Hour. This week, Joe Frost, Paul Yanchek and Chris Pugh discuss the latest Steelers news and 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

Saturday Night Open Thread: Happy Father’s Day Edition

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 6:00pm
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/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.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

I am sitting here trying to put into writing what Father’s Day means to me. It shouldn’t be just another weekend for any of us. We all have a ‘Father’. Some of us hit the jackpot while some get an early dose of ‘life isn’t fair’. Regardless of what your Dad did or didn’t do while you were growing up, you have the opportunity make it right for someone else.

Being a Father is in my humble opinion the most important job I will ever have. It is the job that should define us men best. We all need to teach our kids about integrity, humility, community, and most importantly about love.

Over the past few days I have read a few ‘stories’ on social media about Fathers that weren’t birth Fathers. Men that either adopted or served as mentors to children that didn’t have the good fortune of having a ‘stand up Dad’ in their lives. Everyone of those stories pulls at my heart strings. To any of you that match this description I salute you! You are what the world needs more of. Please take a minute this weekend and be extra proud of what you have done. You are the living, breathing definition of integrity, humility, community and love.

  1. This week we read about the naming rights for Heinz Field. If you were in charge of naming the place the Steelers call home - money be damned! - what would it be?
  2. Kevin Colbert in now retired. Regardless of your current work status, what does or will retirement look like for you?
  3. Two part question... Steph Curry just finished leading the Warriors to another NBA title. A) Where does he rank as an NBA great all time? B) Is he the greatest point guard ever?
  4. What is the most important lesson your dad or any other father figure taught you?
  5. What are your plans this weekend in honour of Father’s Day?

Going For Two: Jake Dixon & Kevin Dotson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 2:30pm
Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s Day 8 of Going For Two, featuring Jake Dixon and Kevin Dotson

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:

Jake Dixon Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Position: Offensive Tackle
Age: 24
Year: 1
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 290
Drafted: UDFA 2022
College: Duquesne
Roster Outlook: Long shot
Analysis:

Although the story of the local kid getting signed as a UDFA with the Steelers is great, his chances of making the 53-man roster in 2022 are not. It’s great to see Jake Dixon getting a shot to play in the NFL, but his best path to stick around would be to impress enough and show the potential to land on the practice squad as a developmental tackle. If Dixon could manage to do that, he would get a season of NFL training to make a push to show what he can do in 2023.

Kevin Dotson Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Position: Offensive Line
Age: 25
Year: 3
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 321
Drafted: Round 4, Pick 135, 2020
College: Louisiana
Roster Outlook: Lock
Analysis:

Things just haven’t seemed right over the last year when it comes to Kevin Dotson. After coming onto the scene as a rookie, it seemed like he had to fight extra hard to land in the starting lineup for 2022. Being put on the Reserve/Injured List following Week 10, Dotson began practicing in order to return but his 21-day window expired without much being said. And now Dotson admits that he’s in a battle with Kendrick Green at left guard. While many in Steelers’ Nation see Dotson as the next generation of tough offensive lineman in the Steel City, circumstances have prevented him from even locking in a starting position. But like with so many players, 2022 brings a new season and lots of opportunity.

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.

How should the Steelers handle their 3-game preseason?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 12:00pm
Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images

For the first time the Steelers will only have three preseason games. How should they handle player usage?

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t just returning to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this July for training camp, they will also be preparing for something they never have before — a three-game preseason schedule.

If you recall, last season the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys faced off in the Hall of Fame game, giving them four total preseason games. While the other 30 NFL teams had to adjust to a 3-game slate of preseason games, the Steelers and Cowboys had their traditional allotment.

In the past, here is how the Steelers would handle their 4-game preseason:

Game 1: Very few starters play

Game 2: Starters will see minimal playing time

Game 3: The final dress rehearsal

Game 4: Most starters sit as backups fight for final roster spots

This begs the question how the Steelers, and Mike Tomlin, will utilize these games? On top of the fact they have one less preseason game, how will Tomlin handle the Steelers’ quarterback battle during these exhibition games?

If Ben Roethlisberger were still at the helm, outlining just how the team will deploy their starters would be much simpler; however, with Roethlisberger retired every and any thought is on the table.

To get a glimpse of what other teams did last season, when the NFL increased the regular season to 17-games and cut the preseason to three games, look at the Steelers’ fourth, and final, preseason game a year ago. It was a trio to Charlotte, NC to play the Carolina Panthers. The Steelers’ third string players were blown out 34-9, and that was mostly due to the Panthers using the third game as their final dress rehearsal.

In the game, Sam Darnold finished 19/25 for 162 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT and a 119.1 rating. Meanwhile, the two backup quarterbacks just accounted for just 17 attempts once Darnold left the game. Compare that to the Steelers playing just two quarterbacks, Joshua Dobbs, who finished the day 6/11 for 35 yards before leaving with injury, and the late Dwayne Haskins, who finished 9/16 for 105 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.

Yes, these games are meaningless, but coaches value these games. On top of that, for teams like the Steelers who have plenty to figure out with their lineup, it does make you wonder what the plan will be when the preseason rolls around.

So, what do you think? Let us know how you would handle the 3-game preseason in the comment section below, and, in case you forgot, below is the team’s preseason schedule:

Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 2: at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 3: vs. Detroit Lions

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 get ready to report to training camp on July 26th.

What position group is the greatest concern for the Steelers 2022 offense?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 10:30am
Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are reasons to be optimistic, or concerned, about several positions on the Steelers offense.

Every offseason, almost every position group on the Steelers roster gets a little bit of a makeover. Sometimes there are additions which can give fans more hope going into the next season, while other times there are losses which can cause doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes there aren’t any changes in the position group, which could be viewed as either a positive or a negative.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers offense for 2022, it’s safe to say improvements need to be made at a number of positions based on their 2021 performance. With the defense leading the way as the team squeezed its way into the postseason, there were many times throughout the season where the offense didn’t offer much support at all to their teammates on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

With many changes coming in personnel, there are some position groups which appear to be improved while others have a lot to prove for the upcoming season. Whether it be a group with a lot of changes or none at all, what position are fans most concerned about going into the 2022 season?

Here is a breakdown, including key losses and gains, for each position group on the Steelers offense:

(NOTE: Only players signed with previous years of service in the NFL or players selected in the 2022 NFL draft will be considered additions, and players who were on the Steelers 53-man roster in 2021 will be considered losses.)

Quarterback

Losses: Ben Roethlisberger, Dwayne Haskins
Additions: Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, Chris Oladokun

While it’s easy to look and see the loss of a two-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Fame quarterback, many Steelers fans saw the physical limitations of Ben Roethlisberger over the last two seasons as his career was coming to an end. Whether or not the new quarterbacks on the roster will be able to match Roethlisberger’s experience and ‘it’ factor when it came to end of game heroics with mobility and being able to push the ball down the field remains to be seen.

Running Back

Losses: Kalen Ballage
Additions: None

While there was some fluctuation in personnel within this group, a player with only 14 touches on the season for the Steelers departing while only addressing the position with undrafted free agents, there isn’t really any net change to the group that is apparent at this time. With Najee Harris coming off a record-setting season, concerns are mainly not about his production but of those who follow him on the depth chart.

Tight End

Losses: Eric Ebron
Additions: Connor Heyward

With Eric Ebron missing a large portion of the 2021 season, the Steelers adapted to what they wanted to do at the position with their young players emerging. Whether or not Connor Hayward makes the roster and contributes as a sixth-round draft pick is something fans will have to wait until training camp to try to determine.

Wide Receiver

Losses: JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
Additions: George Pickens, Calvin Austin III, Miles Boykin, Gunner Olszewski

While the Steelers lost three of their five receivers who initially made the roster in 2021, they were the three least productive of the group. JuJu Smith-Schuster missed most of the season due to injury, James Washington never really emerged as the second-round draft pick he was hoped to be, and Ray-Ray McCloud was mainly called on because of the absence of Smith-Schuster. With their top two receivers back in 2022, the biggest question is how quickly the rookies at newcomers can step in to fill the void left by those who departed.

Offensive Line

Losses: Trai Turner, B.J. Finney, Zach Banner
Additions: James Daniels, Mason Cole, Trenton Scott

While it looks on paper that the Pittsburgh Steelers have gained much more quality than they lost on the offensive line over the last season, the biggest question is if the additions are enough. Whenever starters from the previous season have to fight for a job, it generally means an improvement should be on the horizon, but being an improved unit still doesn’t mean that it’s not a weakness of the offense.

So which position group on the Steelers offense are you most concerned about heading into the 2022 season? While there may be multiple groups for there to be concern, which one is on top of the list? Make sure to vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Gone but not forgotten: Chuck Noll has had a lasting impact on the Steelers organization

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 9:00am
SetNumber: X19240

No person in the history of the Steelers franchise has had a bigger impact than the late, great Chuck Noll.

You might think this is one of those “Must be a slow news day” articles. After all, it is the middle of June, and the Steelers are in the quiet portion of their offseason.

But the middle of June—June 13, to be precise—was when Chuck Noll, the Steelers’ legendary head coach who changed the fortunes of the franchise, passed away in 2014 at the age of 82.

I’d like to think someone would occasionally take the time to acknowledge Noll’s passing and contributions to the organization even if the date of his death fell right in the middle of a Steelers’ Super Bowl run. In fact, that would be quite appropriate since Noll was perhaps the most responsible for giving the organization a reason to actually build a trophy case.

One was never needed during the first 36 years of the organization’s existence. The Chief, the late Art Rooney, probably had one erected somewhere at his team’s headquarters, but it was like the broiling door at the bottom of an oven: Was there ever a reason to open it?

Most astute and diehard Steelers fans know the story after Noll was hired in 1969. He came in with a vision like no other coach had ever had before him. Noll built the team up from the very foundation, and by his sixth season, he finally gave the Chief something to put in his trophy case. Five years later, after a victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XIV, the Chief was the proud owner of a fourth Lombardi. The Steelers went from pathetic losers who would be laughed at on the Tonight Show, to the mecca of the football world, all within a decade.

That was all because of Chuck Noll. Yes, Dan Rooney, Art’s son and the man who convinced Dad to hire Noll, was in many ways the heart and soul of the organization—and the entire NFL—during his many years as the Steelers president and then majority owner, but Noll gave the Steelers’ their blueprint on how to win.

Dan Rooney said as much after Noll’s passing back in 2014. Noll taught the Steelers how to win.

It was Noll who made building through the draft a Steelers’ philosophy. It was Noll who created an environment within the locker room where players had to be self-starters and had to hold one another accountable. “If I have to motivate you, I will fire you,” Andy Russell once said of Noll’s philosophy on fiery pre-game speeches. But it was Noll who had the vision and just the right timing to give perhaps the most important speech in the history of the franchise in the days before Pittsburgh traveled to Oakland to take on the Raiders in the 1974 AFC Championship Game: “The best damn team is in this room.”

It worked like a charm.

It was Chuck Noll who taught the Steelers about staying the course, even through adversity, and not overreacting to every little thing. This is what Mike Tomlin means when he says, “Don’t blink!”

It was Noll who believed that, before you can win a game, you have to first not lose it.

Noll believed in a ball-control offense and moving the chains years before Bill Cowher called it “Smash mouth football.”

Noll also knew defense was important—this goes back to not losing the game before you can win it. He believed that you won by outhitting your opponent.

Obviously, Cowher subscribed to that theory during his time, and Tomlin does today.

But as conservative as Noll was, he knew how special Terry Bradshaw and his stable of offensive weapons were, and he let them fly by the late-70s. This just so happened to be right when the game of football was changing into an aerial circus. Wouldn’t you know it, Noll had the Greatest Show on Earth.

Years later, Cowher reluctantly took the reins off of his young stud, Ben Roethlisberger, and it led to the team’s first Super Bowl trophy in 26 years. In a perfect world, Tomlin will have to do the same with Kenny Pickett, one day.

Noll certainly had his flaws as a head coach, and these were more noticeable over the latter stages of his career when Pittsburgh was trying to transition from the Super ‘70s into a new era that would bring about more championship success. Noll made several unsuccessful attempts to recreate the magic of the Steel Curtain defenses of the 1970s by using multiple first-round picks on underwhelming to worse defensive linemen in the 1980s. Noll was quite lackadaisical about hiring assistant coaches, but he was also extremely loyal to them when it was obvious that they weren’t getting the job done.

Noll’s philosophy of not overreacting and staying the course seemed to become a negative in his last years as head coach, as the game of football appeared to pass him by.

Yet, despite the organization’s struggles over the last seven years of Noll’s tenure—the Steelers only made the playoffs once between 1985-1991—he still managed to leave the cupboard quite full for Cowher when he was named head coach in 1992.

People often talk about Tomlin winning Super Bowl XLIII with Cowher’s players, but take a look at this list of names: Rod Woodson, Dermontti Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Carnell Lake, Neil O’ Donnell, John Jackson, David Little, Ernie Mills, Merril Hoge, Tunch Ilkin, Eric Green and Barry Foster. That’s quite the roster of talent for a young head coach to inherit.

Many of those players managed to stick around for the entirety of Cowher’s initial postseason run of the 1990s and were instrumental in the team’s march to Super Bowl XXX.

Noll coached 23 seasons in Pittsburgh and racked up 209 victories. Needless to say, he’s the greatest head coach in franchise history.

It’s kind of a shame that he’s not celebrated as much as he probably should be, but that was mostly his doing. Again, he wasn’t a motivator—at least not verbally. No, Noll believed that the best way to motivate someone was to show them how to get the job done. In other words, he loved to teach. The fun was in the doing.

You know how folks like to circulate memes with quotes they falsely attribute to famous people? You never see one with Noll’s likeness, because that would be ridiculous.

Noll didn’t crave the spotlight. He probably didn’t care that people often got him mixed up with Chuck Knox, a fellow head coach and a contemporary. He probably didn’t even care that many spelled his surname with a K—something a lot of fans still do to this day. Noll wasn’t a personality. He wasn’t a fire and brimstone guy. He didn’t do commercials. He didn’t work for the networks when his team was out of the playoffs.

Noll may not have cared about fame, but he sure made the Pittsburgh Steelers famous.

Dare I say, this is why millions of people own a yellow towel. It’s probably why I’m sitting here about to finish this article about my favorite sports team.

Noll is probably why the Steelers are my favorite sports team.

Perhaps nobody in the history of professional sports had a greater impact on an organization than Chuck Noll had on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rest in peace, Emperor.

Report: NFL considering a full year suspension for Browns Deshaun Watson

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sat, 06/18/2022 - 7:30am
Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns new quarterback could be lost for the entire 2022 regular season, per reports.

The AFC North has gone through an overhaul recently. Gone is Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Deshaun Watson becomes the latest quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. While the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens remain contenders within the division, the Browns’ 2022 season hinges on the future of their quarterback.

As every NFL fan knows, Deshaun Watson faces a suspension from the league, and the question is how many games he could miss in 2022. Everyone has their estimations and guesses, but a recent Washington Post report suggests Watson could be suspended for an entire year.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports the NFL will argue that Watson should receive a “significant” suspension, and that the league “probably” will ask for a one-year banishment.

This per ProFootballTalk:

Per Maske, NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler has become involved in the case. The league reportedly is concerned that Kessler will push for no discipline at all.

Maske confirms our report that, in defending Watson, the NFLPA will point to the punishments imposed (or not) on Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to support the argument that Watson’s punishment, if any, should reflect the consequences those owners received — especially since the Personal Conduct Policy warns that owners are held to a higher standard than players.

Maske adds that the league would like to have the situation fully resolved before training camp opens, but that the approach taken by Watson and the NFLPA could delay the outcome. Don’t blame Watson if that happens, NFL. You’ve had months to investigate the situation and to make a decision. When the time comes for Watson and the NFLPA to present a defense, it should take whatever amount of time it needs to take. And that should have been factored into the timing of the initiation of the process.

Per Maske, the league could impose discipline against Watson based on currently available information, with the understanding that further discipline could be imposed if new information surfaces. That could get tricky for the league. If, for example, he’s suspended eight games and proceeds to lose any, some, or all of the 24 (soon to be 26) lawsuits pending against him, the NFL surely wouldn’t be able to suspend him again simply because juries believe the testimony of the plaintiffs and impose verdicts against Watson. There would have to be something truly new — new claims, new evidence. Something that the league didn’t already know or that it shouldn’t have known, through reasonable investigative steps.

At this point, all of this is purely speculation, but you can expect more news on this to heat up as summer, and training camps, approach in the month of July. In the meantime, the rest of the AFC North will be looking at this situation closely, knowing how it will impact their favorite teams in 2022.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they prepare for their return to Saint Vincent College for training camp starting July 26th.

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