Steeler NFL Preseason Game 2

Steeler NFL Preseason Game 2


How lucky I was to play for the Pittsburgh Steeler fans.  A proud, hard working people, who love their football, and their players. ~ Jack Lambert

The Night of the Diontaes

So it was an hour delay because of lightning, but instead of a sloppy field we got a lot of sloppy play against the Kansas City Chiefs.  Back to back interceptions, fumbles, penalties yup, it’s preseason football.  And then without telling us until they finished their half-time show, the NFL Network left the game for another.  Lousy move NFL Network, could have told us before the end of half-time.

In general there really wasn’t anything super exciting to talk about from this game.  But there were definitely some encouraging positives, I think the two biggest were the play of the Diontaes.

Diontae Johnson


In the third round the Steelers picked Diontae Johnson, in my draft analysis, I talked about his route running ability and it was definitely on display in this game.  The other thing he highlighted was his ability to spot the ball in the air.  On both of his touchdowns, (the first was erased for an imaginary offensive pass interference call), he did a great job of locating the ball.  The first, a pass from Joshua Dobbs, was a bit behind him and he adjusted, made the catch and powered through a defender into the endzone.  The second, a beautiful early throw by Devlin Hodges while under pressure, was off to his right and he located it for a great catch.  This is definitely what the Steelers were hoping for when they drafted him.


Diontae Spencer


Diontae Spencer was a return specialist star in the CFL, well he showed off those abilities last night.  He had a really nice kick-off return and a spectacular move on a punt return that sprung him free for a nice gain.  Don’t know if he makes the roster, the receiving core is looking pretty deep, but if he does the Steelers might have their first consistent decent return man in awhile.  Antonio Brown was a monster punt returner but his overall value kept him out of that role for the most part.


Rudolph vs Dobbs

I wrote earlier this week about how important this game was for Mason Rudolph.  He started out shaky but calmed down and played a solid game.  Nothing spectacular, but played steady and led the Steelers on a long drive that resulted in a Samuel’s touchdown stroll.  He didn’t do a lot to increase his position in a tight battle for the number two quarterback position but he also didn’t hurt himself.

Dobbs came in and didn’t help himself, he throws a nice deep ball and he really effectively uses his legs.  He did throw a nice touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson that was called back due to an imaginary offensive pass interference call.  But what hurt Dobbs tonight was throwing a bad interception in the red zone, overthrew his receiver in the endzone and right into the arms of a defender.  Kudos to Dobbs for making a great tackle on the interception.  Not a horrible night but that interception hurts and gives Rudolph a slight leg up in this battle.


Sacks are the home run of NFL defense

A lot of Steeler fans have been down on Bud Dupree, I’m not one of them.  I think he’s been a good player, although he has to improve on finishing plays, I think he’s been disruptive and has contributed to budding superstar TJ Watts’ success.  This year Dupree, on a fifth year contract of $9 million, has to produce.  He might have shown tonight that this year is going to be very exciting.  He had two really nice saks and was frequently in the backfield.  My personal hope is that the Steelers will sign both Dupree and Hargrave to extensions before the season.

Generally the team looked good, Justin Layne got over his first game jitters and looked a little better.  Benny Snell was ok, Samuels ran well, happily Connor looked like Connor.  The starting offensive line looked good.  Unfortunately Okorafor didn’t look good, Marcus Allen was missing tackles and is making a case for being cut.  Skipper continues to look good in garbage time and I continue to love Devlin Hodges.  If Rudolph stays steady I say trade Dobbs and make Hodges the number three.

Next up, the Tennessee Titans!






The Most Important Game of Mason Rudolph’s Life

The Most Important Game of Mason Rudolph’s Life

mason rudolph

Give me a 6 pack, half-hour of rest and lets go play them again – We can beat them.                     ~ Jack Lambert

So tomorrow night the NFL preseason continues and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing the Kansas City Chiefs.  Now that camp has ended, the battle for the backup quarterback position for the Steelers fires off in earnest.  All reports from camp have been that Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph have both been having a good camp.  Rudolph perhaps has had a slight edge and looked like a better passer last week.  However Dobbs has an extra dimension, he showed that with his legs last week, and so even after the first preseason game there isn’t a ton of separation between the two.  That’s why tomorrow night is so important for both of them.

Game 3 of the preseason will be the test run for the starters, so there will be limited time for Dobbs and Rudolph.  Game 4 will be the Hodge’s show, with the surprising number four quarterback getting to audition for the rest of the league with a bunch of guys doing the same, guys desperate for a special teams roster spot or just plain ending their NFL fantasy.  So that leaves tomorrow night’s game and the practice field and game play weighs a lot more in the coaching staff’s decision.

I predict that if Mason Rudolph has a great game tomorrow night he will be the backup for the Steelers this season.  I think it also means that Josh Dobbs becomes trade bait and gives Hodges a shot at being the number three quarterback for the Steelers.  However, if Rudolph doesn’t have a great game, or if he and Dobbs look to be on the same level, I believe Rudolph will once again be the number three quarterback and that’s really bad for his career.  Potentially leading to being a career backup with no hopes of becoming a starter, anywhere.

So while there will be a lot to watch for tomorrow night, particularly at outside linebacker, tight end and receiver, the real battle tomorrow night will be Rudolph and Dobbs.  I’ve made no secret that I think Rudolph is the better choice.  In my piece about the Tennessee Volunteer to the Steeler connection, I talk about how inconsistent Dobbs was at Tennessee, one series looking brilliant and the next three completely lost.  We’ve seen that a bit at the NFL level as well, which makes me think he doesn’t have what it takes to be a long-term (4 games or more) solution if Big Ben gets hurt during the season.  But it’s up to Mason Rudolph tomorrow night, he has to show he’s got the goods.

Preseason NFL: Steeler Game 1

Preseason NFL: Steelers Game 1

Steelers, nfl

Ahhhh, football is back!

Ok, sure it’s preseason, so we’re not talking about wins and loses. The big guns are on the bench. So it’s time to check out the young guns, the camp battles, the camp phenoms and the Cinderellas.

THE young gun is first round pick Devin Bush. He was absolutely as billed, fast, furious and flying to the ball, 7 solo and 3 assisted tackles, great start. Just missed a pick 6!

Benny Snell was a little slow, but kept coming all game, great start.  Justin Layne similarly improved,  he was terrible in the 1st quarter, way too much cushion.

For the receivers, James Washington played a great game. Horton can fly, Tevon Jones looked good in garbage time.

On the defense,  Big Dan continues to play well, but Dirty Red was wreaking havoc including a sack/fumble.

All of the QBs looked, no real separation between Rudolph and Dobbs. Rudolph is throwing a bit better but Dobbs’ legs bring an extra dimension.

Surprise of the night had to be Spillane, good in coverage,  caused a fumble on a kickoff and was around the ball a lot. Skipper looked good on the pass rush, should have been 2 sacks except for intentional grounding.

All in all a typical first pre-season game but it’s good to have football back.


Steeler Post Draft Analysis

Steeler Post Draft Analysis

devin bush, steelers, nfl

Give me a 6 pack, half-hour of rest and lets go play them again – We can beat them.                      ~ Jack Lambert

The NFL draft is over and it’s time to take a look at what the Steelers did and how it should impact the upcoming season.  Of course the roster is not completely set for camp, rookie mini-camp shook some things up and there still could be some other moves to come, although if history is any guide the roster is 99% set.

The NFL Draft

First let’s get the facts out of the way, the following is a list of the NFL draft day picks for the Steelers:

  • No. 10: Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan
  • No. 66: Diontae Johnson, WR, Toledo
  • No. 83: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
  • No. 122: Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
  • No. 141: Zach Gentry, TE, Michigan
  • No. 175: Sutton Smith, OLB, Northern Illinois
  • No. 192: Isaiah Buggs, DT, Alabama
  • No. 207: Ulysees Gilbert, LB, Akron
  • No. 219: Derwin Gray, T, Maryland

As I posted before the draft, I was content to see the Steelers wait til 20 in round 1.  But I have to say I was really excited to see us move up and take Devin Bush at 10.  This guy is a three-down inside linebacking speed machine with a good head for the game.  He’s the inside linebacker replacement for Ryan Shazier that we’ve all been waiting for.  The cost was effectively a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick, hopefully, and I expect it, to be worth it.

Diontae Johnson was not a surprise to me when I heard the analysts say one thing on draft day.  One commentator stated that he thought Diontae Johnson may be the most complete route runner in the draft.  The reason this made me think the Steelers would pick him was that last year Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest complaint about receivers coming out of college was that they didn’t know the complete route tree.  Given this, I think there is a good chance we see Johnson on the field sooner than later.

Justin Layne was a great pick!  Likely they had a first or second round rating on him and he’s got size, speed and talent, he could be Joe Haden’s future replacement and his presence ups the competition for the DB’s on the roster.

Big Benny Snell, in my pre-draft piece I said the Steelers should take him and I’m so happy they did.  Snell will be a great addition to an already talented young running back room.  I’m very excited for hopefully a renewed focus on the run game this year.

Ok, let’s face it the rest of the picks are depth picks, you hope that some of these guys develop well enough to provide depth and special teams support and maybe even develop eventually into a starter, but not a lot of reason to talk about them until we see what they do in the actual training camp.

The Undrafted Free Agents

So here is the list of the Pittsburgh Steeler undrafted free agents


  • Jay Hayes, DE, Georgia
  • Chris Nelson, DL, Texas
  • Travon McMillian, RB, Colorado
  • Alex Myers, DB, Houston
  • Dravon Askew-Henry, S, West Virginia
  • Ian Berryman, P, Western Carolina
  • Matthew Wright, K, Central Florida
  • Trevor Wood, TE/LS, Texas A&M
  • Garrett Brumfield, G, LSU
  • Fred Johnson, G, Florida


The same thing applies to this list as the late round draft picks, not much of a reason discussing them until we see what happens in camp.


Pre Training Camp Roster Analysis

So an active year for the Steelers, some high profile departures in Bell and Brown and some free agent moves (Barron, Montcrief and Nelson).  I personally believe the organization did a good job of putting together a solid roster for the upcoming camp and season.

The “expert” NFL talking heads of course disagree, the Steelers are broadly being panned as done, the third best team in the AFC North with the Browns winning the division and by Peter King today as the 18th best team in the NFL.  My favorite is the discussion of how the Browns are the new AFC dynasty, not Patriot level, but the next AFC dynasty.  Google, Browns NFL dynasty, you’ll be shocked at how many people are writing about this.  Of course keep in mind these folks are paid to get clicks not necessarily be right.  But c’mon, a dynasty with a second year quarterback, a head coach with 2 months of in-season experience and absolutely no defensive depth.  Sure, lots of talent, but an injury or two on defense and this team will need to score 35 points a game to win.  As for the Ravens, well Jackson is the solution to all of the Raven’s ills, the only question I have is can he play inside linebacker?  The Ravens have revamped the defense after some free-agent losses and are really depending on some young receivers to take the target off of Jackson.  I think, after now having some tape on Jackson, he’ll still be good, but not quite the weapon he was last year.  As for the Bungles, well, basically every writer just bags on Andy Dalton, calls them the Bungles and moves on, hard to disagree.

Cleveland Brown dynasty aside, I think the Steelers will win the AFC North this year.  Why?

Well, first there will be less drama, secondly, we’re not replacing Bell and Brown.  We replaced Bell last year and yes, there is a whole lot of AB production to be replaced.  However, some of that production can be replaced in the running game.  Also, we don’t need someone to make 115 catches this year to replace AB.  We need more emphasis on the run, and then for MacDonald to up his production and for Washington, Johnson and Montcrief or a subset of them to have really solid year.  Then of course just let JuJu be JuJu.

Secondly, we should have a much better defense this year.  We’re better in the middle, we’re better at corner and have depth at both.  Barring injuries, this should be a very good defense this year.  I agree with the over/under of 9 wins for the season, it’s a solid prediction. And then, a guy like Bush, when he starts flying around, much like Shazier did, can energize a defense.  That of course would mean the offense needs to put up less points to win.  Most importantly, when you have a future hall of fame quarterback you’re never out of a game.

If a few things happen, a lack of significant serious injuries, Bush playing as advertised, Washington making a good second year leap and Neslon being a solid starting corner on the outside, then this could be a Super Bowl team.  And a Super Bowl team that looks a lot more like the Steelers of old, more of a pounding running game and a voracious defense.  Let’s hope so.


A Running Back, AB and Thoughts on the Draft

A Running Back, AB and Thoughts on the Draft


Everyone’s job is important, no one is indispensable. ~ Chuck Noll

Hello Everyone,

Seems like the drama will continue through the off-season.

Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster

I’m sure by now you saw that AB is running his mouth about JuJu and he decided to return fire.  A lot of folks have come out to condemn AB’s classless behavior including former Steeler Ryan Clark.  It’s a shame that someone who was so adored by Steeler Nation has turned into such a giant asshat.  I speculated in a recent Bell and Brown post that jealousy over the attention JuJu has been getting was part of the problem, looks like I was right on the money.  It’s a damn shame someone as talented as Brown has such a fragile ego and honestly, although I wish we’d gotten more for it, it’s a good thing he’s gone.

Another Running Back

I think it’s pretty clear that the Steelers will be in the market for another running back before the start of camp.  And I don’t mean just a camp body but someone who could be a third string back and provide some meaningful help if there’s an injury to James Connor or Jaylen Samuels.  This would be similar, but perhaps even a more limited role than DeAngelo Williams had a few years back.  By the way, in scouting the web for this quick piece I bumped into an interesting ranked list of all Steeler running backs, what do you think?

In looking around the league and the now defunct AAF, I can’t get one name out of my head, Trent Richardson.  I know, the Browns drafted him – strike one, he flopped with the Browns – strike two then flopped with Indy, strike three – bust.   However, you don’t get drafted number one without talent, he played behind a Browns offensive line and then for Indy and he was leading the AAF in rushing touchdowns.  Although he didn’t make it in the NFL on his first try, his career rushing average is 3.3+ yards per carry and his receiving average was 8.1 yards per catch.  Absolutely not number one pick numbers, maybe not starting numbers but pretty good for a number three back.  He’s desperate to get back to the NFL so he’s highly motivated to perform, so I say sign him to a one year league minimum and see what he can do in camp.  Along with of course a late round draft pick.  I’ve seen a couple of mock drafts that suggest Benny Snell might be available in the fifth round, if so that would be a bargain draft price for a really good running back.  Playing at Kentucky he was under the radar, but Benny Snell can ball.

The NFL Draft

We all love NFL Draft Day and we all hate NFL Draft Day.  That first round is either the joy of watching David DeCastro drop in our laps or watching our team fail to trade up or get an inside linebacker and instead picking Terrell Edmunds.  Not kicking Edmunds here, I thought he did a good job in his first season and showed some flashes that he could take a nice first year jump into a very solid piece of the defense.  This year’s draft is all about the Devins, will we trade up, will Devin Bush fall in our laps?  I read an interesting piece that suggested if we want Devin Bush to fall, we need to see trades for quarterbacks and both bigtime tight ends to get chosen up high, sounds about right.

In thinking about the draft, I’ve been all in on the idea of dropping whatever picks we need to go up to number nine and get Devin Bush.  However, the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I don’t like that idea.  We tried that last year and failed, as Bob Labriola always reminds us, it takes two to make a trade and the Bills might not be looking to move down, and anything higher might be too rich for our blood.  Given the signing of both cornerback, Steven Nelson and linebacker, Mark Barron our starting lineup is in pretty good shape.  We desperately need someone with youth and range at both positions as backups or even starters but we could survive a year without it, it’s still better than last year with Burns and Bostic.  Joe Haden is also likely gone after the next season or so and it would be nice to get his heir in place.

For all of these reasons I’ve come around to this position.  We have 10 draft picks.  Sit and wait for the 20th pick.  If Devin Bush is available pounce, if by some miracle Devin White should be available at 8 or 9, trade the house for him.  But if neither are there at 20, take the best corner available (I know we’ve sucked at picking corners in the draft) or if again some super stud DL or edge guy is there pick them, don’t pick a wide-receiver, there are plenty in the later rounds.  Then in the second or third grab an ILB for depth as well as grabbing an edge guy, find a receiver, add an OL depth guy and late in the 5th, 6th or 7th a running back.

The fact is, I’m pretty excited about the Steelers possibilities for next year, but Spring, on the NFL calendar, is always a time for hope.


The Tennessee Vol – Pittsburgh Steeler Connection

The Tennessee Vol – Pittsburgh Steeler Connection

pittsburgh Steelers, logo, latrobe

I attended the Universe of Tennessee for some of my graduate studies.  Had the pleasure to have been attending while Peyton Manning was the quarterback.  Got to watch Tee Martin take the Volunteers to a national championship.  As a lifelong Steeler fan I also pay a lot of attention to Tennessee players who I think would be good fits for the Steelers.  Unfortunately, and often, the Steelers, when they do dip into the Tennessee player pool end up drafting players I really don’t think should play for the Steelers.  Here are some of my thoughts on the ones we’ve drafted and one who joined the team later.

The first thing that I want to say is pretty much every player we’ve drafted from Tennessee has been a really good guy.  A few I’ve interacted with, most I haven’t, but all from all reports are high quality good people.

Justin Hunter

justin hunter, tennessee volunteers, nfl

So let’s start out with the guy we didn’t draft.  Justin Hunter was a great college player, fluid, fast, contested catches.  But also someone who had a tendency for drops.  I didn’t really seem him as a Steeler coming out of college and obviously, neither did the Steelers.  But in the eternal quest for Big Ben’s tall, fast outside receiver Hunter has ended up on the roster for a couple of seasons and seems to follow the same pattern each year.  Looks great in camp, makes some big catches in the pre-season, early in the season there are flashes that he and Ben have some chemistry.  Then some drops, and then little PT, then a non-factor for the rest of the season.  Honestly, I hope they don’t end up re-signing him this year.

Cameron Sutton

cam sutton, pittsburgh steelers, latrobe, nfl
Cam Sutton giving me an autograph

Cam Sutton is a guy I really hoped would end up in Pittsburgh and was excited when he did.  He was fantastic at Tennessee, solid player and a ballhawk with incredible speed and a threat to go to the house whenever there was a turnover in his hands.  Things have been bumpy in the NFL for Cam, first a big injury and then difficulty finding his place.  Having Mike Hilton turn into a surprise star hasn’t helped him get on the field.  It looks like for Cam this is likely a make or break camp and season for him and I’m pulling for him to make an impact.

cam sutton, tennessee volunteeers, sec

Joshua Dobbs

Ok, my assessment of Josh Dobbs is going to piss some people off because I know there is a big Josh Dobbs fan club out there.  I was disgusted when the Steelers selected Josh Dobbs.  First, to echo my initial statement above, Josh Dobbs is an amazing and great guy.  Brilliant, nice, totally an above the neck kind of guy.  He’s got a good arm, great athletic talent and can kill a defense when he breaks the pocket and runs.  Unfortunately, I watched him play quarterback and Tennessee and the dude is infuriating as a quarterback.

You may recall this year, Dobbs comes off the bench after Ben goes down.  Jumps in throws a huge completion for a first down.  It was a tough and huge third down throw and he looked like a damn hall of famer.  Of course the next series that he came in for, he looked like a rookie.  That’s Dobbs, that was Dobbs in Tennessee and that is Dobbs in the NFL.  On one series he can look like the second coming of Randall Cunningham and the next the second coming of Ryan Leaf.  I know some folks don’t want to hear it, but Josh Dobbs is not the future.  My best bet for camp this year is that when it’s over, Mason Rudolph is the number two quarterback on this team.

Dan McCullers

dan mccullers

Dan McCullers, if ever a man deserved the nickname “big” he certainly does, a mountain of a man.  But not just big, big and strong, nimble as hell for a man the size of an SUV.  Sort of a megasized defensive version of the Bus.  He was also the most frustrating player I’ve ever watched in college.  At some point in the game, he would explode off of the line, knock someone back five yards, dance around a second blocker and destroy a quarterback or running back.  Then, nothing for huge stretches.  I wanted the Steelers to take a flyer on him, and they did.  And although he’s improved and is back on smaller contract as depth, McCullers has never developed into the kind of defensive line beast everyone hoped for.  It seems from everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve read that he’s just too freakin nice.  He doesn’t have that angry, nasty edge that makes for a great defensive lineman.  Too bad for us as fans, good for him.

Ramon Foster

ramon foster

Probably the greatest Tennessee Volunteer to Pittsburgh Steeler success story.  Ramon Foster was a great lineman in TN and a great lineman for the Steelers.  Sure, he’s not winning pro bowl nominations, but he’s been a solid and dependable guard on a great line for years.  He’s talented, hard working, dependable and doesn’t get injured.  I was happy he found common ground with the Steelers this year and is coming back on a new contract.

Tee Martin

pittsburgh steelers, nfl

A quick nod to Tee Martin, like Dobbs, someone I like but never wanted to see come to the Steelers.  As it proved out in the NFL, Tee Martin just wasn’t a starting level quarterback in the NFL.  And that’s a great thing for college football, as Martin is turning into someone who has the potential to be a great offensive coordinator and maybe even a  big time college  head  coach.

Alvin Camara

alvin kamara, nfl, new orleans saints, tennessee volunteers, vols

Finally, the one that got away.  I knew there was never any chance that the Steelers would use the draft pick needed to pick up Kamara given we had Le’Veon Bell.  But I wanted it to happen, and now, with the whole Bell saga I look prophetic and damn it would have been great.  Alvin Kamara was the draft equivalent of a quarter horse I once liked at Los Alamitos.  I bet this horse one night, only to watched it pull the 4 hole and get bounced around coming out of the gate, once it steadied this horse ran like lightning, but in quarter horse racing if you don’t get out clean there just isn’t enough time to make up ground.  The next week I bet it again, same thing.  The next week I bet it again the same thing.  The first week it had been 3 to 1 odds to win, now in the fourth week, it was going off at 10 to 1, but it finally drew the outside post, which meant it would get away clean.  I was in Reno and went to every sportsbook and not one had wagering on Los Alamitos.  The horse came out of the gate clean, destroyed the field, paid 11 to 1, the exacta was $70, I would have made a ton of money on that horse.

I felt the same way I did that night, when the New Orleans Saints drafted Kamara.  He didn’t have the greatest stats at Tennessee, but like the horse at Los Amatios it wasn’t his fault.  He had guys in front of him, bad lines, a bad team but when he got his shots man he was spectacular.  Once he got to the NFL, on a decent team it was the Kamara show all of the time.  Personally, over the length of his career I think he’ll pan out to be on par or better than Bell.

2019 NFL Draft

Tennessee has had some rough years and literally had zero invites to the combine for this year’s draft.  In fact, it’s so bad that the only Tennessee Volunteer football player worth talking about quit the program in mid-season as a running back only to re-emerge as a wide receiver draft prospect out of Baylor and his name is Jalen Hurd.  He’s also someone if he’s available in the 5th round and we haven’t used up those picks to trade up for a Devin (oh please let us trade up for a Devin) than we should grab Jalen Hurd.  This kid is a big receiver and I don’t just mean tall, he’s a tank with good hands and good speed and might be someone who could develop into a really good possession receiver and at 6’4″ 230, the kind of almost hybrid receiver/tightend guy that could be a matchup nightmare. He’s a good blocker and has a Steeler mentality.  Would definitely be a project but having only played receiver for two years, his upside is really high, here’s his draft profile.



Bell, Brown and Instant Karma

Bell, Brown and Karma

leveon bell, pittsburgh steelers, nfl

Karma is Karma. Karma is in life. You do the wrong things, you get the wrong things out of it. ~ Antonio Brown

I wrote a piece recently about he demise of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Killer B’s.  Of course as all of you know, at this point, Le’Veon Bell has signed a free agent deal with the New York Jets and Antonio Brown has been traded to the Oakland/LA/Vegas Raiders.

Le’Veon Bell

Well, we all know about the Le’Veon Bell hold out saga.  And as we have been told by Bell himself, the reason he was sitting out was to save his body for free agency where he could get a better offer with more guaranteed money than he could get from the Steelers.  Recently, Bell has been doing some interview and has been piling on Ben Roethlisberger adding to the comments Antonio Brown has been making.  The most telling comment I thought was after Bell talked about how Ben was a factor.  He then agreed that if the Steelers had offered him more guaranteed money, he would have signed.  A flat-out admission, regardless of anything else he’s said, it’s all about the benjamins for Le’Veon Bell.

Now, that’s great, he’s entitled to that type of attitude and it’s his life.  As I’ve said before, what I dislike is the bullshit Bell has thrown around his stand.  If you’re going to be a mercenary, be upfront and honest about it. Well, as they say, Karma is a bitch.  So after holding out and refusing a 14 million dollar payout, and a contract offer at the same level.  Bell signed with the New York Jets for less money per year, but with a bit more guaranteed money.  Given that most Steelers get every dollar of their contracts, especially high value players, Le’Veon Bell certainly will be earning less with the Jets.  Once you include the $14 million in lost wages, Bell has certainly gotten less money, to play on a worse team, with a less chance to win the superbowl than if he had just stayed in Pittsburgh, played and accepted the offer he was given.  Ooops, welcome to Karma Mr. Bell and good riddance.

Antonio Brown

We’ve seen all of the complaints that Antonio Brown has about the Steelers.  Ben Roethlisberger didn’t respect him enough, the owner didn’t know enough about his personal life, the team played favorites, etc…  However in my opinion, Antonio Brown got his feelings hurt because of a couple of things.  First, he wanted more money than he was making.  Secondly, he wasn’t being treated as the sole savior of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I think the popularity of Juju Smith-Schuster was a huge factor.  Since arriving in Pittsburgh, Juju has become a fan favorite, a rising star, absolutely benefited from having Brown on the other side of the field to put up huge numbers and was named the MVP by the team this year.  I think this, more than anything else, is what set Antonio Brown off, he was no longer the biggest, most popular star on the team.

So, he absolutely utilized the leverage he had to get to a team he wanted.  He was able to get the Steelers screwed a bit on the price and he got the new bigger contract he wanted.  However, he will no longer have big Ben throwing him the ball.  Carr is a good quarterback but he’s not a hall of fame lock and he sure is not throwing from behind a line like Ben is in Pittsburgh.  So I think Brown’s ego might be a bit hurt when his numbers dip.  Then, Karma reared its head in that the Raiders went out and signed Tyrell Williams as well.  So, Brown will now have a quarterback who isn’t as good, behind a less talented line, trying to throw him the ball.  Then, he’ll have another younger, taller receiver on the other side benefiting from Brown being double teamed and the focus of the defense.  Ben would still find windows to hit Brown even under double teams, I doubt Carr will, and will likely opt to throw at Williams.  Then, if the Raiders are losing, Brown and his big contract will start taking heat.  I wonder how Mr. Big Chest’s ego will handle being in the same situation he was in with the Steelers, but with lower numbers and less winning.  Not to mention that as of today, he has to look across the locker room at the guy who tried to take his head off, his new teammate, Vontaz Burfict.

So, both Brown and Bell got what they want, both of them are in far worse situations and it may be petty, but I hope both of them get to watch their teams pick very highly in the 2020 NFL draft.




As the Steeler World Turns: The End of the Killer Bs

As the Steeler World Turns: The End of the Killer Bs

pittsburgh steelers, roethlisberger, brown, bell

I believe the game is designed to reward the ones who hit the hardest – if you can’t take it, you shouldn’t play! ~ Jack Lambert

Well Steeler Nation, we almost had it but it got away from us.  What you ask?  The only thing that matters, our next Lombardi Trophy.  I say we, no we the fans don’t suit up, don’t hit, surely don’t get paid, but the reason we’re the best fan-base in any American professional sport is because we live this damn team.  So yeah, it may not be earned, but it’s we.

pittsburgh steelers, antonio brown
At Latrobe

We seemingly had it all in our pursuit of the Superbowl.  We have a gun slinging franchise quarterback who has thrown for over 5,000 yards in a season.  We had a running back who arguably changed the way running backs play the game.  He of the patient pause and explosion, pretty routes and good hands.  Le’Veon Bell was a Swiss army knife of an offensive weapon, part runner, part receiver.  Then on the outside we had a receiver who may currently be the best in the game.  A guy who might be the hardest working player in the NFL, great routes, great hands, able to separate or take a shallow crossing route to the house.  On top of it all, a near psychic connection at times it seemed with Ben.

It didn’t stop there, we had an offensive line with three pro-bowlers and two guys who worked their way to the top.  Possibly the best offensive line in football, coached by the absolutely best line coach in football.  Munchak not only has a yellow jacket, but knows how to teach what got him to Canton.  At the end of the line, a tight end in Vance McDonald, who when healthy, has the ability to make ESPN top 10 lists with a stiff arm.  Add to that a youngster receiver in Juju who might be nearly as good as AB and is on the rise.  And to top it off, a kicker who looked like he was damn near money on every kick, in every situation.

pittsburgh steelers, big ben
At Latrobe

With all of this, in a league that has absolutely committed itself to offensive success, I mean you can barely touch an offensive player these days and if you hit a quarterback you take your wallet into your own hands.  All we had to do was score points and we looked like we could score at will.  In this situation all we needed was a passable defense and we should have gone 12-4.  And we had far more than a passable defense.  A solid defensive line, with two first round OLBs, one who is a budding star in TJ Watt.  Solid if not remarkable ILBs, a couple of young gun safeties.  On one side a first round pick  who seemed on the rise and on the other, an aging star in Joe Haden.  Hell on both sides of the ball we even had depth.

But then it started, the soap opera that would steal our chance and sink our season.  I won’t lay the blame on any one thing, but I’m going to name all the places the drama came from.  There certainly is a lot of ego flying around on a talented team, the killer b’s are all superstars and have egos to match and egos need to be fed.  Life in the NFL is a tough gig, with a few years to maximize your earnings, add in a little greed and the money thing can get in the way.  Giving talent a little extra rope, which Tomlin and certainly the Rooney’s did, and you might just hang your team.

First of course it was Bell, and enough has been written about this saga.  For me the saddest thing, next to him not being on the field, was the bullshit games he played.  Had he straight up told the team he wasn’t going to play this season, the drama might not have been so bad.  Next Artie Burns seemingly, and suddenly, forgot how to play corner.  He hadn’t been great, but he’d been good and improving and then just went to shit.

Then, we tie Cleveland, honestly I think this was the beginning of the end.  I think that game put doubt in every player and every coach’s mind about the impact of Bell and the risk to the rest of the season.  Then the winning streak, it was great and when we used Conner, he was a monster.  The balanced offensive attack we had lived up to its billing.  With Conner running well, Juju turning into a star and a healthy Vance MacDonald running people over like a semi, it seemed for a few weeks like this was our year, even without Bell.  Hell even Cody Sensenbaugh looked like a starting NFL corner.

Then, it just fell apart, we seemingly forgot to run the ball, our kicker became confused and apparently started aiming outside the goal posts, the play calling stunk.  And the simple fact was, even a more than passable defense was not quite good enough to hold the line.  Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the coaching staff designs an amazing game plan against the Patriots, it was awesome.  And all I kept thinking that entire game was where the hell have these coaches been the last four weeks.  It was almost like we’d given up on every game for a month before the Patriots just to make sure we got it right against them.  Then AB melted down, he believes he was disrespected and I’m guessing from the level of outburst he’s had those feelings for a while.

In the end, one  more lousy win, or one less tie, and there were so many games that were a play a way, or a lack of an officiating error away that we could have won, could have hit the playoffs in stride.  Could have been an underdog nightmare for anyone to face.  But we didn’t, instead our team turned into a bad episode of the Kardashians and now it seems  the killer b’s will be no more.

pittsburgh steelers, james conner
The future, at Latrobe

I don’t want to leave this piece on a downer.  All football fans are eternal optimists but I think there is a reason to have some optimism.  We know Mike Munchak is gone, but his replacement is solid and it’s a good line, whether or not we resign Ramon Foster and indications are the Steelers hope to do that.  Ben’s contract is being negotiated to have him in place likely for three more seasons.  Bell is gone, the Steelers announced today there will be no tag, he’s free to shop himself elsewhere.  The organization has also said that they will work to trade AB, but won’t take a discount just to get him out-of-town.  So in all likelihood, drama or not, his talent will yield a good enough trade.  I saw an ESPN piece today that suggest a trade with San Francisco that would look something like this, the 49ers, second round (2019) and fifth round (2020) for AB and Pittsburgh’s sixth round (2020).  Given the Niners are picking second that’s close to being a late first round pick.  I think that or a straight up AB for one of the Raiders pick in the 20’s is most likely.  We have Conner and Jaylen Samuels back and they should be a good tandem.  I know it’s not a popular opinion but I like Washington and think he’ll make a second year leap.  We will need Vance MacDonald to be more relevant, consistent and healthy this next season.

Add to that some help in the draft, hopefully talent at ILB, OLB and/or corner in the first two rounds and a receiver in the third or fourth.  Finally, and I’ll write more about this soon, some veteran help.  We need depth on the D-line and there are some good players on the backend of their career who will be free agents.  Getting our in-house free agents in line would be awesome as well.  I’d love to see LJ Fort, Chickilo, Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and Ramon back.  And I think this year with the amount of cap money we have, with some more space without AB and a re-worked Big Ben contract we should do something we don’t do and that’s make a splash in free agency.  I have two free agents in mind, one at corner and one receiver, but I’ll save the names for my next post.



2019 Mock Drafts – 2/18/19

2019 Mock Drafts – 2/18/19

pittsburgh steelers, steelers, latrobe

The Steelers drafted guys who were bigger, stronger and faster than me, but they never found one who could never take my job away from me. ~ Jack Lambert

Well with the beginning of silly season, that period of time between the end of the season and the actual draft, we normally don’t have much to talk about in Steeler Country.  But this season, with the AB drama, the will they or won’t they tag Le’Veon game there’s a lot to talk about.  Tonight I figure I’d lay out some of the mock draft action from around the web.

Personally, whether AB goes or not, the Steelers need help at inside linebacker, corner back, and outside linebacker.  Of course if AB moves on there will need to be someone brought in at wide-receiver as well.  These are the positions where the Steelers need at least rotational players and likely new starters.  There are needs for depth as well, defensive line, running back and tight-end.

The drafts have not surprisingly flowed around the needs related to starters.  Some have shown first round picks of wide-receivers regardless of AB’s situation.  When the hell will the mock draft folks get it in their heads, the Steelers don’t draft first round wide-receivers.  Who I’ve generally seen so far:

ILB Devin White – this is my dream pick with our current picks (it may change if an AB trade yields a better than #20 first round pick). Unfortunately, I don’t see White dropping to #20, it would be a gift if he did.  He’s a bit raw but his upside is huge and he reminds a bit of a certain #50 fly all over the field linebacker.

ILB Mack Wilson – not quite the athletic freak that Devin White is, or maybe the upside that White has, but Wilson is likely more ready to play at this level and either White or Wilson next to Vince Williams in the middle would be a big improvement over last year.

OLB Jochai Polite – this guy has started showing up in recent mock drafts, he’s an edge rusher from Florida and could be a good addition to a Bud Dupree, Anthonly Chickilo (assuming he re-signs) and TJ Watt rotation.

DB Deandre Baker – another supposedly good cover corner coming out of college.  I’m not being fair to Deandre Baker I know, but the Steelers have been really snakebit on DB draft picks and I have no faith left.


Here’s a trip around the Web for some of the Mock Drafts:

Walter Football

Bleacher Report

CBS sports

USA Today



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