PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The NFL season is fast approaching with players, coaches and personnel going through the motions of Training Camp in efforts of conditioning to have a robust (and safe) debut.
Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster spoke to the media Monday about his chance to play with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger again. Smith-Schuster says he doesn’t anticipate any challenges with chemistry. However, the chance for rookies to get acclimated to Roethlisberger’s playing style is key for team success moving forward. “I think one thing we did before camp, we always threw with him, which was a good part,” Smith-Schuster said. “Having these young guys—that is the biggest part for us—the young guys trying to get used to him.”
Smith-Schuster also took to Twitter over the weekend to show chemistry between he and quarterback Roethlisberger. A connection the world hasn’t seen since “Big Ben” was sidelined with an elbow injury on his throwing arm in September 2019.
Monday marks the first time the team will practice in pads prior to the 2020 season. Head Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media last week and says he realizes how protocol has been altered due to coronavirus concerns.
“We are willing to adjust based on what transpires between now and then.” And that is really our mentality about this next month or so. We realize there are certain boxes that need to be checked between now and when we step into a stadium, but we also realize that we might have to alter the pace of some of those intended plans based on the readiness.” — Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin took issue with his backup quarterback Mason Rudolph being “accused” of using racial slurs during a game in Cleveland last season.
A physical altercation resulted in a melee between the Steelers and Browns during the 2019 season where Browns defensive end Myles Garrett forcibly removed Rudolph’s helmet and proceeded to hit him over the head with it. With 8-seconds left to play in the game, Garrett was ejected and suspended for the remaining 6 games of the season.
Coach Tomlin appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” to voice his opinion on the matter and to discuss the allegations against Mason Rudolph:
Steelers’ Head Coach Tomlin released the following statement:
I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on that field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game. I interacted with a lot of people in the Cleveland Browns organization – players and coaches. If Mason said what Myles claimed, it would have come out during the many interactions I had with those in the Browns’ organization. In my conversations, I had a lot of expressions of sorrow for what transpired. I received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — I’m sick of all of the “Tomlin didn’t maximize his talent” arguments in Pittsburgh.
Let’s look at the record:
2007: 1st year as head coach, he wins the AFC North but loses momentum and playoff game at home with last-second FG. This was AFTER the NFL’s leading rusher broke his leg in week 15 or 16 (i.e., “Fast” Willie Parker, he of the SB rushing record for longest TD run back in SB XL). Also- his franchise QB throws a pick-6 #ugh.
2008: Won SB as 2nd year coach.
2009: Team collapsed at the end of the year to miss the playoffs. SB hangover. I’ll concede that point. BAD loss to the Raiders at home.
2010: Made it to the SB. Lost to Aaron Rodgers after a(nother) Big Ben pick-6 (no one brings that up) and a bad fumble by Mendenhall (sp). Still lost by 6. Also got to the SB with a banged-up Troy Polamalu, who was the NFL Defensive MVP that was hurt late in the season versus the Bengals (apparently on a pick-6 return).
2011: Lost the Tebow game when his team was VERY banged up. Ryan Clark (starting safety) couldn’t play in Denver after almost dying the last time up there (sickle cell trait). Mendenhall tore his ACL in the past game of the regular season. Multiple injuries everywhere during that game. That was still a 12-4 team.
2012: Big Ben was injured for 3-4 games that year. Missed the playoffs.
2013: Started the season 0-4, including a bad loss in London to MIN. Went 8-4 (67%) the rest of the way, was one missed FG away from making the playoffs by the Chiefs in week 17.
2014: Lost home playoff game after Le’Veon Bell was hurt in the last game of the regular season on a Sunday night (Cincy). This was the LeGarrette Blount season.
2015: Lost to the eventual SB champs (a team with a historic defensive) in the divisional round after Le’Veon Bell was lost for the year (knee vs Cincy again), AB was lost (Cincy concussion game), and Ben was playing with a bad shoulder (also hurt in the Cincy game). Oh, yeah: the backup RB (De’Angelo Williams) was out for the year as well, hurt in the last regular season game vs. Cleveland. Still was one bad fumble away from likely winning that game. Also: their all-Pro center was out for the year.
2016: Went to the AFC Champ game with a hurt Le’Veon Bell. Lost to eventual SB champs. Played the tail end of this season without one of his best defensive players – Cam Heyward (hurt late season).
(***By the way: anyone seeing a theme with some of these late-season IR-leading injuries to top-flight players?!?!
How does Tomlin get blame for that? His fault for foot fractures, tore ACLs, or broken legs?)
2017: With a 13-3 team, lost in divisional round after losing the heart of their defense one month prior (i.e., remember that the Shazier injury was 13 days BEFORE the NE game), causing their defensive to go from top 8 defense in the league to mediocre AT BEST. Gave up 45 points at home with a dude at MLB (Sean Spence) that sat roughly 12 games of the season on the couch. Still should NOT have been in that JAX game (i.e., should have been the #1 seed playing a BAD TEN team) if not for the “Jesse James” game and HORRIBLE Big Ben INT after the James reversal (again, no one talks about that HORRIBLE decision by a $100m QB…some of these “Tomlin losses” have been due to the QB being “a gunslinger” and losing winnable games much like Brett Favre…another QB who could easily have more rings if his style of play afforded better decisions)
BTW: lost that NE game at home without their best CB (Haden was hurt), best LB (Shazier) and the league’s best WR (Brown was hurt early in that game)…still lost because of James reversal and the bad QB decision afterwards.
2018: 9-6-1 after bad losses mid-season. I’ll give you that. Also will note that Conner was hurt and out for 3 games – when he was playing at a Pro Bowl-level. Bell was out (i.e., his own decision), and Brown was a huge headache all year long. That said: they went from possible #1 seed to missing the playoffs pretty fast.
2019: 8-8 with Duck Hodges (i.e., a 4th string QB to start training camp) and Mason Rudolph (i.e., 3rd string QB in 2018) at QB. JuJu missed 4 games. Conner missed 6 games and left during a 7th. Pouncey missed a game.
My point? I know…injuries happen to everyone. However, how many teams lose Pro Bowl-caliber talent late in the season and then do well (i.e., win multiple games) in the playoffs?
I have been a Steelers supporter as a native Pittsburgher. I wish that they won a few more SBs with this QB there. However, let’s be honest: things haven’t completely fallen into place with this team. This year showed us that there’s a drop-off from best WR or top-5 QB in the league to “next man up”, despite “…the standard is the standard…” Same is true for top-5 LB (Shazier in 2017), top-10 DL (Heyward), top-5 C (Pouncey), top-3 RB (Bell/Conner/Parker), and top-tier CB (Haden).
NE has never made it to the SB without a) playing in a division that was quite the opposite as the competitive AFC North (which often sent THREE teams to the playoffs between 2008-2015), having the 1st round bye, and not losing key components (minus not having Gronk in 2016) late in the season. Their “reign of terror” has so much to do with playing in that LOUSY division for 20 years (i.e., never more than 2 teams in the playoffs at one time – and usually only NE went) than anything else.
The AFC North has had (minus Cleveland) some of the most talented and competitive football (and vicious hitting as well) over the past 20 years. Tomlin has been here for the majority of it and has multiple championships (division, conference, and SB) despite it…and the ill-fated injuries that come with all of that to boot.
Can some of us please just stop it with the “Tomlin hasn’t done enough” rhetoric? If 2019 won’t shut you up, please take a look at this year – and the whole record – to get more of why you might not completely get it (i.e., know what you’re talking about/have a waning memory based on your Yinzerism)
…just seems like something some Pittsburghers and some of #SteelerNation should give up on as a New Year’s Resolution for 2020.
BALTIMORE (GSM) — Week 17 of the NFL season is here and there are 2 slots left — in both the AFC and the NFC — for teams to enter the postseason. The 6th seed of both conferences are up for grabs and Pittsburgh is on the outside looking in, needing a win and needing help to reach the tournament.
The Steelers will need to win against the Ravens and the Titans will need to lose to the Texans in order to gain the last playoff spot.
Devlin “Duck” Hodges will get the start after throwing 2 interceptions against the Jets last week and was benched for Mason Rudolph. Rudolph was injured in the game after throwing a touchdown to Diontae Johnson and was ultimately placed on injured reserve.
After the shuffling of quarterbacks and leaving New York in the losing column, it is up to coaches and fellow teammates to help boost the morale of the team’s leader. In this case, “Duck” Hodges, by default. The undrafted quarterback has a chance to rebound from his latest performance and possibly solidify a spot o the roster in the future. Before that, it is imperative that his confidence is repaired.
In his weekly press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about the importance of players being mentally stable.
“Having a hardcore plan; having a level of consistency in terms of the procedure that is preparation, creates a constant that is an anchor for guys. That allows them to build — not only preparation — but confidence associated with it as you get closer to game time.”–Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin
The Steelers — who have an uphill battle — now face a Baltimore Ravens team that has already secured the #1 spot in the AFC, are resting their starters and have nothing to play for.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The Steelers control their own destiny!
The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting with a record 7-5 and have — at the moment — solidified their spot in the 2nd place in the AFC North division after defeating the Cleveland Browns 20-13 at Heinz field, Sunday. With a litany of injuries to starters on both sides of the ball, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin realizes his team was faced with an uphill battle and after the victory simply said no matter what, you have to get it done. “It feels good to win always, but it definitely feels good to win when you are faced with adversity in terms of people available to you,” Tomlin said. “There’s just less margin for error. Not that we feel like we are incapable, we just realize we have to play closer to optimum level.”
Tomlin made the necessary adjustments before the second half based on what he observed throughout the game.
“We felt like we needed to minimize their run in the second half more than we did in the first half and we needed to run it better than we did in the first half. We felt like it was 10-10 at the half, but they had won the line of scrimmage. They had more significant run plays, they had control of the time of possession. We needed to flip that.” — Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Cornerback Joe Haden sealed the win for Pittsburgh with an interception against Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and took to the postgame podium with a smile on his face knowing that, despite his individual play of 2 tackles and 1 INT, it was a good team win. “We just have a group of guys with Terrell [Edmunds], Steve Nelson and then the addition of Minkah [Fitzpatrick]. This is one of the best secondaries I have ever been a part of because we have communication, we have guys that are very football smart and are very capable of making plays.” Haden said “I feel like I am holding my side down, but everybody else is doing their thing in the back end.”
Running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. He said the win was dedicated to center Maurkice Pouncey who was suspended for the game due to the unfortunate on field altercation the last time the Steelers and Browns met where a fight broke out and Pouncey came to the defense of his teammates. “Him [Pouncey] not being out there with us, we wanted to get this win for him. That’s why we got the game ball for him as well. I’m happy and I’m proud!”
For the second consecutive game QB Duck Hodges connected with wideout James Washington for a score. This time for 30 yards splitting two defenders for the touchdown. Washington says coach Tomlin’s motivation is what plays in his mind constantly. “Coach [Tomlin] would always say, ‘You never know how many opportunities you’re gonna get.’ What better game not to going out there and do that?!”
The Steelers head to Arizona to face the Cardinals who are 3-8 and in last place in the NFC West.