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Steelers Update on Pennlive
21 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
T.J. Watt proves his whopping Steelers’ worth - or did he?
Many T.J. Watt-backers in Pittsburgh are saying that his strip-sack that delivered the ball to the Steelers in overtime for the Chris Boswell field goal for the 23-20 win justifies the team in showering their star linebacker with a $110 million contract extension, including $80 million in guaranteed. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
23 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger’s last game as Steelers’ starter could be Sunday vs. Broncos
Stick a fork in him; Ben Roethlisberger is done. Such is the cold-eyed, callous assessment of once-adoring Steelers Nation. Certainly it is, if you judge by the damning reaction on Twitter in wake of the Steelers’ season-crushing 27-17 loss in Green Bay. This time it wasn’t on the Steelers young and unproven offensive line. The Steelers’ struggles were clearly the result of their 39-year-old, future Hall of Fame quarterback’s rapidly fading skills. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
19 minutes | Sep 29, 2021
Reeling Steelers suffer Aaron Rodgers envy as they visit Green Bay
The Steelers are caught in a bizarre football lifecycle mismatch that threatens to doom the season and the foreseeable future. The team is burdened by a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in the winter of his years. The Steelers suffer from an offensive line that’s so embryonic it really hasn’t been born yet. Finally, Pittsburgh possesses a star running back, soon to enter with his prime. But 2021 first-round draft pick Najee Harris could be all washed up by the time this out-of-sync team gets good again See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
21 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger’s battered and Najee Harris isn't going anywhere
It was classic Mike Tomlin understatement. Ben Roethlisberger took too many hits, and Najee Harris gained too few rushing yards. This is the Steelers’ moribund offense in microcosm. And the blame for it all rests squarely on the board shoulders but so-far small play of the supposedly rebuilt offensive line. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
20 minutes | Sep 1, 2021
Ready or not regular season, many questions still plaguing 2021 Steelers
Get your worry beads out, Steelers Nation. All the questions that we hoped would be answered by now are still plaguing your 2021 Steelers. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Aug 25, 2021
Former Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth is a Steelers’ touchdown machine
All you need to know about Steelers rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth is the team was willing to draft him in the first round, had running back Najee Harris not been on the board. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
22 minutes | Aug 18, 2021
All eyes on Ben Roethlisberger & Steelers’ ‘new’ offense
The curtain goes up Saturday on the 2021 version of Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense. The Steelers' third preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field will be the closest thing to regular-season action until the real game begins in September. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
21 minutes | Aug 11, 2021
Steelers in the dark on when T.J. Watt will take the field as contract talks lag
How long can the T.J. Watt waiting game go on before it short-circuits the Steelers' preparation for the all-important 2021 season? See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Aug 4, 2021
What did the Steelers tell Dwayne Haskins about his future with the franchise?
It’s happening. Former first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins is beating out “mediocre” Mason Rudolph for the Steelers’ backup role to Big Ben Roethlisberger. But more it’s even more significant than that. A long-shot quarterback succession plan could be falling into place for the Steelers. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
17 minutes | Jul 28, 2021
Steelers' Najee Harris at center of NFL’s COVID vaccine crackdown
The NFL is imposing some strict new rules for unvaccinated players, who are now being marked by those telltale yellow wristbands. While the Steelers are said to have a high overall rate of vaccinated players, Najee Harris was recently spotted wearing the wristband. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
15 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Devin Bush’s dead cat video post has Steelers Nation ‘hissing mad’
Steelers’ linebacker Devin Bush is definitely not getting a dead cat bounce on recent controversial posts to his Twitter account. Instead, cat-loving Steelers’ fans have their claws out for the once-loved linebacker. This, after Bush quote-tweeted a very twisted video of a cat rescue gone wrong. The video, which was posted by another account and has since been deleted, shows two people trying to rescue a cat many floors above the ground and it fails. Instead of tragic, Bush apparently found it all very, very funny. What Bush found funny, cat lovers across Steelers Nation found very, very disturbing. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Jun 30, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger’s biggest barrier to success is right in front of him
An NFL team’s offensive line is supposed to be a barrier, all right. A bulwark to protect the quarterback and a bulldozer to open lanes for the running game. But last year, the Steelers’ running game ground to a halt and Big Ben Roethlisberger was rushed into releasing his flurry of pop-gun short passes in mere nanoseconds. Much of it was because the one-time Steelers’ strong suit of its veteran offensive line had fallen into precipitous decline in Pittsburgh. This sad state of Steelers affairs stood in stark contrast to the glory days when Big Ben had plenty of All-Pros upfront. The line took care of him, and Ben lavished his linemen with high praise, plenty of steak dinners, and some pretty expensive gifts over the years. When Maurkice Pouncey’s first snap of the Browns’ playoff game sailed over Big Ben’s head, we all knew changes were coming. But did the Steelers really have to change everything, trying to install virtually a whole new offensive line on the fly in a single offseason? The patchwork of protection and run-blocking now stands as the Steelers’ biggest barrier to 2021 success. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Jun 23, 2021
Don’t buy all the Dwayne Haskins hype with the Steelers
It used to be the most popular person in Pittsburgh was the backup quarterback. Now it’s the third-string or even the fourth-string QB. That depends on where Steelers’ reclamation project Dwayne Haskins lands in the passing pecking order. It’s still not clear following mini-camp just how well Haskins is doing in his Steelers’ second chance. This, after having been cast off from the Washington Football Team last season. The now 24-year-old turned his one-year starting at Ohio State into a passing prodigy pedigree that saw him taken at pick 15 in the 2019. Haskins still-unproven potential is now draft fanning the furnace-hot hype flames of Steelers Nation. Pittsburgh is a magical place where unproven passers are empty vessels into which Steelers’ fans pour all their hopes and dreams. Without doubt, Haskins, himself, is dreaming about Big Ben Roethlisberger’s soon-to-be-vacated starting job. One sports radio host is even comparing Haskins to Brett Favre. At best, he remains a work in progress. He has a rocket right arm. But one year’s work at Ohio State doesn’t make you a passing prodigy in Pittsburgh. But until we see Haskins either flash brilliance or expose his deficiencies on the field, he’ll remain the highest hope and the biggest hype behind Big Ben. That’s the way it always is in Steelers Nation. We explore all the “best-of” and “worst-of “Haskins in this even-handed edition of the Steelers Update Podcast. So listen up, Steelers fans. And don’t miss my PennLive column on this great Haskins debate Thursday morning on PennLive. As usual, it’ll be packed with all the best memes bringing this football fracas in the Steel City to life. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
19 minutes | Jun 16, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster could limit Steelers’ new offense. Good thing Najee Harris is the star
The Steelers and their new coordinator Matt Canada are in the midst of installing an innovative offense built around lots of tempo and pre-snap motion, a plethora of running plays, hordes of play action, and above all, finding the mismatches that allow Steelers’ personnel to excel. Canada will try to put Big Ben Roethlisberger back under center, then on the move with play action to set up both the run and the long-ball pass. The offense should keep veteran receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot, where his size gives him a leg up on getting those hard yards on difficult downs. At least this the way the new Steelers’ offense should be shaping up. But both an aging Roethlisberger and a contract-hungry Smith-Schuster could prove major roadblocks to Matt Canada’s offensive overhaul. Between Big Ben’s physical limitations and JuJu’s money-motivated demands to play outside, Canada’s hands seem tied before he even begins to tinker with the Steelers attack. But there’s one huge Steelers’ X-factor that will remake the Steelers’ offense, regardless of Ben or JuJu. His name is Najee Harris, and he’s poised to explode. The team’s entire 2021 attack is being built around this tree-trunk-legged rocket. Pittsburgh Priority No. 1. is rejuvenating the moribund running game. The mandate comes from none other than Steelers’ president and owner Art Rooney II. Clearly, Canada aims to deliver. His not-so-secret weapon will be a rookie running back named Najee, who also happens to be the Steelers’ biggest offensive star. This is how Canada – and the Steelers – win, regardless of any roadblocks from Big Ben or JuJu. At least that’s the way I see it. For more Pittsburgh perspective, I’ve rounded up the views of plenty of other Steelers’ scribes as they spied the Steelers’ mini-camp practices this week at Heinz Field. It’s all here in this anything-but-mini edition of your Steelers Update Podcast. And be sure to check out my PennLive column first thing Thursday. It will be packed, as always, with plenty of memes bringing this week’s Steelers’ saga to life. Now, listen up and check out the podcast! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Mason Rudolph is the Steelers’ starting quarterback in-waiting -- like it or not
Mason Rudolph and the Steelers have made clear what we long suspected – it’s just a matter of time before Mason is your Steelers’ starting quarterback. This, after the team re-signed Rudolph this off-season, and he stands as the only team QB under contract for 2022. It might not be nearly that long before Rudolph is taking snaps under center for real. That’s because current Steelers starter and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger is age 39 and entering his 18th season with the Steelers. No one knows how long he will last. Big Ben broke down coming down the stretch in 2020. This year, the NFL tacked on a 17th game, lengthening what is already the ultimate sport of attrition. All this means Rudolph’s wait to be anointed the once-and-future Steelers’ starter could be far shorter than fans think. So, the Steelers trotted out Rudolph this week after some OTA practices, as if to begin grooming him to take over the role as the face – and mouth – of the franchise. Largely, the assembled Steelers’ scribes seemed to buy it. Stories and tweets coming out of Mason’s media availability showed the press ready to roll over and revise Rudolph’s very shaky Steelers’ story. It is a ready-made script for a redemptive second chapter for Rudolph just as “our hero” prepares to rise to become the starter in Pittsburgh. But the NFL rarely offers Hollywood endings to uncertain passers at the most difficult position in all of sports. Still, the Steelers will give us this shotgun wedding with this shoo-in starter. Just like marriage, it will be for better or worse, till death – or divorce – do they part. All I can say is, speak now, or forever hold your peace, Steelers fans. I’ve rounded up all the revisionist reaction to Mason Rudolph in this reality-dose edition of your Steelers Update Podcast. And be sure to check out my PennLive column first thing Thursday. It will be packed, as always, with plenty of memes bringing this week’s Steelers’ saga to life. Now listen up! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
18 minutes | Jun 2, 2021
Ben Roethlisberger commits to plenty of play action in new Steelers’ offense
Nothing short of a total Steelers’ offensive overhaul is underway in Pittsburgh. This comes right from the guy who’ll be pulling the trigger on the new attack – Ben Roethlisberger. New coordinator Matt Canada has big plans to have Big Ben back under center. There will be rollouts. There will be play action. There will be lots of movement – and a lot less shotgun and popgun that was both the Steelers’ offensive signature – and its ultimate undoing – last season. Roethlisberger, who’s had his share of sharp disagreements with offensive coordinators in the past, is saying all the right things right now. He’s willing to do all this and more in service of a Steelers’ Super Bowl. But the stats don’t lie about Big Ben preferring his “safe space” in the shotgun. So, is it Roethlisberger who is lying to himself about what he still can and cannot do? Ben swears he’ll move heaven and earth -- and move in the pocket -- to achieve the Steelers’ 7th Super Bowl trophy. Yet, there’s reason to doubt Roethlisberger and what could be the futility and failure of trying to teach old Ben new tricks at this late date. Only when bullets fly for real in the regular season will we know if Roethlisberger really is comfortable under center – or whether he’ll retreat back to the shotgun, where it’s safer. Ben’s mind may be willing. But is his body – and are those knees? Roethlisberger was plenty revealing in his post-OTA interview with the Pittsburgh media. We have all the best analysis of what the introspective QB is signaling about the Steelers’ season ahead. Plus, we take an emotional journey back to the ‘Cowher Power’ days of Bill Cowher with the release of the coach’s new autobiography, “Heart & Steel.” Inexplicably, the never shy ‘Chin’ shies away from a major Steelers’ chapter involving New England nemesis Bill Belichick. We tell you why, plus much more, in this sure-fire edition of your Steelers Update Podcast. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
14 minutes | May 26, 2021
Steelers guarantee Najee Harris $13.1 million; it’s money well spent
Careful observation the Steelers’ first OTA’s involving its new crop of rookies reveals the cornerstone upon which the 2021 season will rise or fall. On one side of the practice field, we glimpsed 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger showing up and firing passes on the first day of these non-mandatory team activities. Video shows Big Ben zipping the ball. But he had thin air as the only defender breathing down his neck. In other words, what we saw was an illusion. Reconstructive surgery on Roethlisberger’s throwing elbow forced Ben to alter his release and throwing motion last season. It didn’t do well because it’s not just his elbow. Roethlisberger’s knees are all but gone, too. The big-bodied quarterback once impossible to bring down can no longer generate power from his lower body to supercharge his passes. Roethlisberger’s once-signature long balls misfired. Big Ben was reduced to a pop-gun attack of short passes that defenders were batting down and snuffing underneath. Worse, the once-vaunted Steelers running game ground to a halt, too. It was a victim, at least in part, of an aging offensive line. The other problem was the lesser talent Pittsburgh had invested in the position. Enter first-round Steelers’ draft pick Najee Harris. He’s now the centerpiece of the Steelers’ attack. His churning legs, broad back, gifted hands and fleet feet will be the engine that powers the Steelers attack. Harris has been brought in to do nothing less than carry the load for Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Pittsburgh has always loved workhorse running backs. Najee, who scored 30 touchdowns in a single season in Alabama, will be pressed for similar sky-high production with the Steelers. So that $13.1 million fully guaranteed contract Harris just signed? It’s just the opening ante. Already Najee’s agent is signaling they’ll be coming back to the Steelers for far more much sooner than the four years of that rookie deal. After all, Harris’ Steelers workload will be insane. So much so, it threatens to curtail what is already the brutally short self-life of NFL running backs. Clearly, Najee and his negotiator aim to cash-in before the Steelers can grind their new rookie runner into the ground. If Harris is going to carry the Steelers, he’ll want to be paid – and paid again – before his own foundation starts to crack. Given the current state of the Steelers and Big Ben, it looks to be money well spent. In 2021, it will be giddy-up, Najee, as Steelers fans saddle up to enjoy the ride. I bring you more astute OTA observations – including the skinny on whether Big Ben’s diminishing skills are still enough for one last gasp – as smart Steelers’ scribes get their first glimpse at the 2021 team. This and much more in the still-mandatory edition of the Steelers Update Podcast. So, listen up! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
13 minutes | May 19, 2021
Najee Harris poised to replace Ben Roethlisberger as ‘face of the Steelers’
Rookie running back Najee Harris isn’t just the new kid on the block, but a Steelers savior the likes of which we haven’t seen since Mean Joe Greene was installed as the cornerstone building block of all those 1970s Super Bowl teams. Najee was the guy Steelers Nation coveted in the draft. The Alabama basher and dasher fills a huge need after the Steelers, a team that once prided itself on running the football, just could not get it done in 2020. Meanwhile, Big Ben came up small in 2020, as his short-pass-crazy offense got stifled, and an 11-0 Steelers start disintegrated into one-and-done in the playoffs. In the ashes, Roethlisberger looked every bit his 39 years. Sure, Big Ben will be the Steelers’ starting QB for at least one more season. But as far as face of the franchise goes, it’s looking like a rookie running back will finally surpass Roethlisberger as the signature Steeler in the eyes of most fans. No one else has ever come close to besting Big Ben as Alpha Steeler. But this is a changing-of-the-guard season. And no Steelers’ rookie has been as heralded nor as well-positioned to steal the Steelers’ spotlight as Najee Harris is coming into 2021. It’s all there for Najee’s taking. He looks to be the guy to take it. And he’s not the only new Steeler looking to step up. We do a deep dive on the sky-high expectations, along with the more reality-based assessments, for what this new-look Steelers team is capable of this season. The first practices are in the books, and we have all the best analysis for what the future holds in this Pittsburgh prognostication edition of the Steelers Update Podcast. Listen up, Pittsburgh fans! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
17 minutes | May 12, 2021
Steelers’ 2021 schedule presents huge challenges
The Steelers shuffle off to Buffalo to face the playoff-built Bills in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. It doesn’t get any easier from there, either. The Steelers are facing a brutal 2021 schedule regardless of how you slice and dice it. If you believe in stats, Pittsburgh is starring at an NFL gauntlet of games that ranks as the league’s most difficult. But it’s not only the opponents the Steelers face that spell trouble. It’s the way this particular team is built for this season that could deflate all that Pittsburgh playoff optimism yet again. I’m talking about assembling the 2021 Steelers around a past-his-prime Hall of Fame quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger. At 39, Big Ben increasingly doesn’t resemble the once-mobile, nearly impossible-to-bring-down passer that has earned him HOF enshrinement. With Big Ben under center, all Pittsburgh could muster last season was a pop-gun attack built around Ben’s short, quick throws from the pocket. It literally got batted down, and the Steelers were one-and-done in the playoffs, with the Browns showing them the exit. Ouch! This year, the Steelers are betting that a revamped running game built on the back of rookie Najee Harris and road-graded by a rejuvenated offensive line offers the best chance for Ben’s swansong of a season to end successfully. But the biggest hurdle preventing such a story-book Steelers’ ending will those chapters – i.e. games -- that fall between Thanksgiving and New Years’. Far from being festive, this is precisely the pivot point where good teams rise and pretenders fall away. If past is prologue, Pittsburgh and its playoff aspirations could be in real trouble. And this was before the NFL gauntlet was extended by an additional, 17th game. It will be that much harder for Ben and the boys to keep it all together in 2021. Sure, Roethlisberger will give it everything he has on last time. We know that. We just don’t know what maximum effort from Big Ben’s depleted tank will look like – and whether it’s anything close to what it used to be. Only time – and that brutal slate of a 2021 Steelers’ schedule, will tell. Check out the podcast for much more game-by-game analysis in this highly scheduled edition of the Steelers Update Podcast. And be sure to catch Thursday morning’s column on PennLive. It will be packed with plenty of memes that perfectly capture the challenge presented by each of Steelers’ contests comprising this intriguing 2021 season. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
13 minutes | May 5, 2021
Marshawn Lynch on Najee Harris: ‘Freak of nature’ could be NFL Rookie of the Year
National NFL pundits like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. are poo-pooing Pittsburgh picking Najee Harris in the NFL draft. But one guy who knows what it takes to really roll in this league insists the Steelers just might have landed themselves the 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lynch, who’s now Najee’s agent, absolutely gushed about ‘his big, tall son’, saying “physically, he’s a G.D. freak of nature. I could see him putting up numbers. I would love to see him, you know, Rookie of the Year-type stuff. Like, you feel me?” The Steelers definitely do. But Pittsburgh broke the Cardinal Rule against drafting a running back in the first round. And they passed on making a big play on a passer, such as Ohio State’s Justin Fields, who went to the Chicago Bears at pick 11 after a blockbuster trade-up. Pick 11 – sound familiar? That’s precisely the point at which Pittsburgh landed Big Ben Roethlisberger all those seasons ago. Now Ben and the Steelers have come full circle, with Roethlisberger in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career, if not the final season. In picking Najee, the Steelers might have fixed their pop-gun ground attack that reached an unheard of low in 2020. But they failed to secure the franchise’s future. Running backs, even those selected in the first round, aren’t built for the long haul. Instead, this team is built for right now. The Steelers may run out of the gate with a bang in 2021, but they’ll wither with a whimper until they find their next franchise quarterback. Hear more thought-provoking takes on what the Steelers did and didn’t do in the draft, all in this tough-grading edition of the Steelers Update Podcast. Also, be sure to check out my print column on PennLive first thing Thursday morning. It will be packed with plenty of memes perfectly mimicking the bi-polar post-draft mood in Pittsburgh. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
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