Category Archives: Steelers

2016-2017 Steelers Season Review

It was a statement season for the greatest “cheerleader” in football. As someone who’s become very critical of head coach Mike Tomlin, I’m giving him his due. He turned this team around at a time when they seemed like they were going to fall apart. 

They lost arguably their best defensive player for the season and got trampled by a struggling Miami team (who eventually turned it around and made the playoffs). They lost their franchise quarterback and lost to top-seed New England. They lost to arch-rival Baltimore in a sloppy game where Big Ben probably came back to quickly and Chris Boswell did his best riverdance impression. They lost a nail-biter at home to Dallas, a game they had in hand with 42 seconds remaining, only to commit a bad facemask penalty and then allow Ezekiel Elliott to walk into the endzone, giving the game away. 

4-1 turned to 4-5 quickly. They were in a tailspin, heading straight down to crash and burn, turning what some were calling a Super Bowl contender into another underachieving team. Many in Steeler Nation started to call for Mike Tomlin’s head, or at least became very critical of him. I know I did. This is a guy who’s had a generational quarterback for his entire tenure as head coach, and has one playoff win in the past five years; a game that was handed to him by Cincinnati in a way only they could pull off. Mike Tomlin’s regular season success goes without saying, but his 6-5 mediocre playoff record leaves something to be desired. 

And here we are – playoff bound. AFC NORTH Champions. How did Tomlin turn 4-5 into 11-5?

I believe it was a team effort from the top down, starting with Tomlin, and all the way down to the water boy. The sense of urgency picked up, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The defense drastically improved over the course of the seven-game winning streak to end the season. They were a bend-but-don’t-break defense, but that’s all they really need to be. They finished as the 12th-ranked defense at season’s end, and I don’t think anyone predicted the defense finishing in the top half of the league. Tomlin demanded performance from his players and they responded. They took care of the teams they should have, and they fought hard to the very end in the games they needed to win the most.

Go ahead and ask any of Tomlin’s players if they think he’s a cheerleader. Go ahead. None of them do.

I’m critical of Tomlin and don’t think he’s a great coach. He won’t even admit that he is. He said it’s not on his resumé yet. He’s not a bad coach though, and he’s certainly not just a great cheerleader. He turned the team around from potentially missing the playoffs to division champions and the third seed in the AFC Playoffs. 

A lot of credit is due all around for the Steelers. Tomlin is one. The star power of the black and gold is another. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown are the way for the Steelers to win a Super Bowl. They don’t win one unless all three play at a high level. They’re the biggest reason the Steelers are where they are. Ben may not have had the big statistical year like he did in 2014, but everyone will remember his game-winning drive against Baltimore. You know, the one where he completed all but two passes (those two incompletions were spikes)? 

Antonio Brown is a beast. He put up another stellar season with no consistent second target for Ben to rely on. That means AB was double and triple covered all year. And man, that “immaculate extension” was just…immaculate.

Le’Veon Bell. You can agree with me or you can disagree, but he’s the best back in the league. He’s a threat every time he touches the ball, wherever he touches it, however he touches it. Oh, and he touches the ball more than any other back in the league. He’s the ultimate workhorse. Those touches aren’t wasted either. He led all players in yards from scrimmage per game. He can run you over. He can juke you. He can hurdle you. There’s nothing he can’t do from the running back position. There’s a reason why his teammates voted him team MVP.

Don’t forget about the rookies either. They played a huge role in the defense stepping it up down the stretch. Artie Burns became the Steelers best cover corner. He’s still young, and yes, he got burned a few times, but that happens with young corners. Give him a couple years. He has potential to be an elite shutdown corner. 

Sean Davis is my Steelers Rookie of the Year. He made the safety tandem along with Mike Mitchell a pretty good one. Davis is one of the better tacklers on this defense and has really good football instincts. He’s not Troy Polamalu, but he’s another solid piece of that defense.

Javon Hargrave had a big year stepping in a larger role once Cam Heyward went down for the year. Along with Stephon Tuitt, he helped solidly the defensive line, allowing them to win battles in the trench to help stop the run and, more importantly, create pressure on the quarterback, which is something the Steelers struggled mightily to do early in the season.

The Steelers were nearly dead and gone. Just over half the season was gone and they were under .500. They took a long look in the mirror, lowered their heads, and fought back every second of every game. Now they’re 11-5; AFC North Champions. 

The stairway to seven starts at home against Miami; the team that dealt the Steelers the first loss of their four-game skid. It’s the perfect way to start the climb towards greatness. Here we go.

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CH Column: I’m Pulling My Support of Mike Tomlin

The election is over. Half of America is happy while the other half is in disbelief and dismay. After months and months of campaigning, it’s finally all over. We have our President-elect.

There is another campaign going on recently that is picking up a lot of steam on social media and other outlets: those defending Mike Tomlin to the grave and those calling for his head. 

For his entire tenure, I’ve been a Tomlin supporter. I’ve been fairly critical of his time management and other blunders, but still supported him and defended him as the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m done. I can’t anymore. When you look at certain statistics that are extremely mind-bottling (I recently re-watched Blades of Glory), it’s hard to campaign for a coach that’s severely underachieved. 

I’m a member of a Steelers fan page on Facebook, and a discussion broke out of people comparing Tomlin to Bill Cowher. People, it’s not even close. People look at the surface and say, “Tomlin had the same amount of Conference championships and Super Bowl championships as Cowher, but in 5 less years!” They’ll also say, “Tomlin’s never had a losing season, while Cowher had three!” And when you look at that and only those points, you might think it’d be hard to vote against Tomlin. Oh boy, you are so wrong.

First off, Bill Cowher had nothing at quarterback for his entire tenure until Big Ben was drafted. We’re talking about Bubby Brister, Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomzack, Kent Graham, Kordell Stewart, and Tommy Maddox. He had NOTHING. He couldn’t get a franchise quarterback. Yet, he went to four conference championships and one Super Bowl without one, and nearly beat the team of the 90’s in Super Bowl XXX, if it weren’t for, guess who: his quarterback. As soon as Cowher got a franchise quarterback, he went 15-1 and went to the AFC Championship in 2004, and won the Super Bowl in 2005. It took him only two years to get to the top of the mountain once he got an elite quarterback. Also remember, that Cowher and GM Kevin Colbert built the 2005 team. 

Let’s look at Tomlin. Tomlin inherited a team one year removed from a Super Bowl victory, with the majority of the team still in place. Some key guys were gone (Bettis, Faneca, Porter), but the majority of that team was in place. He also inherited a franchise quarterback. Now, I give Tomlin credit. The team can be extremely talented and have all the right players, but you still need someone to captain the ship to lead you to the top of the mountain. Tomlin did that in 2008. He may not have built that team, but he led them there. Bad coaches don’t win Super Bowls, but average ones can. But as time has gone on, and more and more of Cowher’s players have left, it’s become more and more Tomlin’s team. As a matter of fact, the only player left drafted under Cowher’s regime is Ben Roethlisberger. And as it’s become more and more of Tomlin’s team, they’ve gotten worse and worse. 

Since 2012, Tomlin’s team is 19-23 vs teams that are .500 or worse. Well-coached teams don’t lose to teams they should be beating. If it weren’t for Cincinnati giving away a win in the playoffs last year (in a game where Tomlin couldn’t even control his own coaches’ behavior), ZERO playoff wins in five years. This is all with one of the best quarterbacks of his generation, arguably the best all-around running back in the league, and arguably the best receiver in football. Now, the Steelers can’t win the Super Bowl every year, but you’d expect some better performances than sub-.500 against bad teams. You’d expect more playoff wins. You’d also expect a defensive-minded coach to have a better defense than one of the worst in the last three years. And as we look toward Sunday against the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys, I have friends that are Cowboy fans (I live in Dallas) asking me what I think is going to happen on Sunday. I’ve been saying, “I have no idea.” I don’t. I never know what team is going to show up on Sunday. You either get the team that killed Washington and Kansas City, or the team that looked like a high school team against Miami and Baltimore. Well-coached teams are CONSISTENT. The Steelers are far from that. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Steelers won on Sunday 42-10 or lost 38-3. Consistent doesn’t mean you win every week, but you get the same team with the same effort week in and week out. This past week is just another example of poor coaching. The Steelers had one first down in the first three quarters of the game. They played horribly in a week coming off of a bye, where you have an extra week to prepare. Players like Ben and Le’Veon Bell are questioning effort and tightness of practices. Fox Sports’ radio host Colin Cowherd uses a perfect term to describe the Steelers: they’re not “buttoned up.” 105.9’s Mark Madden claims Tomlin is a player’s coach and that they have an “expiration date.” I’m not the only one who’s seeing it, folks. Tomlin is losing the handle on his team year after year, game after game. 

Mike Tomlin isn’t a bad coach. He’s just not the right coach. I fully believe the Steelers don’t win another Super Bowl under Tomlin. I hope he makes me eat my words, but the last 5 years of inconsistency is enough fuel for me to get the engine running on my campaign against Tomlin. I still support and love the team, but Tomlin is not the coach everyone thinks he is. And he sure as heck is not Bill Cowher.

2016-2017 Steelers Preview: Running Backs

The Steelers head into the 2016 season with their eyes set on a seventh Lombardi trophy. In order to achieve their goal, the team’s offensive unit is going to have to be the juggernaut it’s been for the past couple of seasons. The Steelers have an abundance of talent and skill on offense, but lack a bit of depth. We’ve already looked at the offensive line in the very first season preview, so we’ll move on and look at the backfield of the Steelers’ offense. 

Projected Depth Chart:

RB1: Le’Veon Bell (suspended 3 games)

RB2: DeAngelo Williams

RB3: Fitzgerald Toussaint 

FB1: Roosevelt Nix

Atop the running back depth chart is arguably the best all-around back in the league in Le’Veon Bell. He can run you over, juke, or even hurdle you. His patience and vision are second-to-none, and he’s a superb check down target for the quarterback. He’s pretty good in pass protection as well. He really is the elite package…on the field. Bell has had his issues off the field, which has put the Steelers in a need for depth behind him to start last season and this upcoming season as well. Bell served a two-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy two years ago, and got into trouble again this year for missing multiple drug tests, for which Bell will sit the first three games of this season. Bell also has been bit by the injury bug in his career. He missed the first few games of his rookie year in 2013 nursing an injury suffered in training camp. In 2014, he broke out and had a healthy season until the season finale against Cincinnati where he was hit in the knee and missed the playoff game the following week, which the Steelers lost. Last year, he missed the first two games serving his suspension, then played six games, then was out for the rest of the year after a tackle from Vontaze Burfict sidelined Bell with a torn MCL. Bell looks as healthy as can be in training camp and preseason, so hopefully the injury bug has packed up and moved on out of Pittsburgh. 

DeAngelo Williams was signed last offseason to give some depth behind Le’Veon Bell, especially knowing about Bell’s imminent suspension. Williams played very well in the first two games filling in for Bell, and played well in the games after Bell went out for the year. Williams went on to score 11 rushing touchdowns, tying for the most in the NFL in 2015. Williams is a veteran back who also has great vision and a great ability to jump cut through defenders. At the age of 33, even considering most of his career was a time share in Carolina, you have to begin to wonder if his age will begin to show. It didn’t last year, and hopefully, Bell stays healthy and the Steelers won’t have to rely on Williams as heavily. 

Fitzgerald Toussaint will make the team as the third running back and hopefully won’t have to get too many snaps this season. He served nicely in the playoffs last year after Bell and Williams went down with injuries. Toussaint’s biggest blunder in his limited playing time was the fumble he surrendered in the Divisional Playoff against the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Toussaint lacks the ability to break long runs, but is a serviceable third running back. 

Roosevelt Nix has been primarily a special teams player during his tenure in Pittsburgh. He’s the only fullback on the Steelers’ roster, but probably won’t get too many snaps out of the backfield. The Steelers hardly use a fullback in Todd Haley’s playbook. Nix pretty much just needs to be a solid blocker and catch the occasional pass out of the backfield. 

When healthy, the Steelers have an elite group of running backs. Bell is elite on his own, Williams is good enough to be a starter on some of the other teams in the league, and Toussaint is a serviceable third back. It’s a contract year for Le’Veon Bell, so I expect a big year from him. According to one of his rap songs, he wants a contract getting paid $15 million per year, and with his off the field issues, he’s going to have to have the 13 games of his life, win MVP, and put a Super Bowl trophy on top of that before teams fathom paying him that kind of money. If he has that kind of year, a seventh Lombardi trophy isn’t far from reality. 

Preseason Grade: A

2016-2017 Steelers Preview: Secondary

In this preview, we’re wrapping up looking at the Steelers defense. We’ve looked at the front-seven, which in my opinion, is at least top-5 in the NFL. However, the final four positions on the Steelers’ defense is not quite as strong. It’s been flat out atrocious at times. They’ve had short little moments where they looked great. It’s definitely the Achilles’ heel of the team. Some say it’s because of the lack of a shutdown corner. Or because they’ve paid more attention to other positions in the draft when they should’ve drafted cornerbacks or safeties. Whatever the case may be, the secondary is still a question mark. Let’s take a look at the projected starters and break this down:

Projected Starters:

CB William Gay

FS Mike Mitchell

SS Robert Golden

CB Ross Cockrell

It’s interesting. The pessimist can look at the secondary and think, “Well, our offense is going to have to score 50 points a game because we can’t stop the other team from going up and down the field on us.” On the contrary, the optimist may say, “Just be patient. This group will be great in a few years.” Personally, I’m kind of in the middle. I’m generally an optimist. I could see how this group could end up being middle of the pack, but I could also see how they could finish dead last against the pass. William Gay is their best cornerback. That’s not good. No knock on Gay, who’s play has gone unnoticed by too many. He’s one short on career pick-6’s as Rod Woodson in Steelers’ history (you may have heard of him). William Gay isn’t a number one corner though. If he were on a team that had even a semi-deep secondary, he’d more than likely be the number two. The Steelers depth at corner, at least in terms of those with any legit NFL experience, is slim-to-none. Ross Cockrell is the number two corner, who was surprisingly decent last year. His inexperience showed though by getting torched a few times, but for his first year getting that kind of playing time, it gives reason for optimism. Mike Mitchell. He was signed out of free agency two years ago as the replacement for Ryan Clark. Clark was a steady free safety who could lay the boom down on receivers going over the middle. Mitchell was expected to bring something similar. His first year with Pittsburgh was very forgettable. He didn’t get credit for a “pass defended” until the season was nearly over. He was slow. He was wasted money on the roster in my opinion. He was also battling a groin injury all season and played through it. Mitchell was healthy last year and his play drastically improved. He led the team in interceptions and was third on the team in tackles. If he stays healthy, he’s the best player in the secondary. Robert Golden is getting his first crack at a starting job on the secondary. He’s been the special teams captain and played in nickel or dime packages. I expect inconsistency from him. He knows the system and his teammates, but will he be able to execute? That remains to be seen. He’s the biggest question mark in the bunch. 

The depth behind these four is very interesting. The Steelers have started to pay much more attention to the secondary in the draft. They drafted cornerbacks Senquez Golson and Doran Grant in the second and fourth rounds in 2015, respectively. This year, they drafted cornerback Artie Burns in the first round, and safety (or cornerback) Sean Davis in the second round. Golson sat out last year with an injury, and has already suffered another injury this year that will keep him out for an extended period of time. Grant has shown some things in preseason, but is not ready for a starting job. Burns and Davis both have high ceilings. I think Davis is more polished than Burns and could get a starting job before Burns, but I think Burns’ ceiling is higher. Burns has insane raw talent, but it has to be honed and trained for the NFL game. It will be an adjustment and it will take time. Patience is key with these young players. It was the same for Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Ryan Shazier, but look how they’ve progressed. These young guys can be very good, but more than likely, not this year. This year will be crucial for their development though. Expect to see Grant, Burns, and Davis on special teams and in nickel and dime packages. One guy I’m not high on is Shamarko Thomas. He’s been given opportunities, and hasn’t delivered. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2013, and could’ve possibly been Troy Polamalu’s successor at strong safety. He just hasn’t performed. He’s battled injuries, but even when healthy, he hasn’t given reason to give him that starting job. This year is the year for him to prove something, if he has it. I personally think Sean Davis could win a starting role, either at strong safety or corner, before the year is over. Injuries happen, and he has the talent and football IQ to gain Tomlin and Butler’s trust. 

This group could be really good in a couple years, where Burns and Davis are starters. But this year, it will be another year where the continually struggle. They’ll have good games, and I think it’ll be more frequent. The secondary automatically improves if the front seven can wreak havoc for the quarterback, which I believe they’ll do. But for teams like New England that get rid of the ball very quickly, the Steelers will struggle mightily. There’s not enough depth with NFL experience. Youth is great to have, but it’ll be another year of learning for the young guys in the secondary. Prepare yourselves for some games that the opposing team throws all over the field. It’s gonna happen. However, I like the direction they’re going. It gives reason for optimism. Realistically, all the secondary has to do is be average as long as the offense stays healthy. 2014 was proof of that. 2015 is proof of what happens when the offense gets banged up. Only time will tell what 2016 will hold.

Preseason Grade: C-

Steelers 2016-2017 Preview: Linebackers

Last week we looked at one part of the Steelers front seven on defense, and this week, we’re going to look at the rest: linebackers. This is a position that the Steelers have arguably the best track record with. Jack Lambert. Jack Ham. Greg Lloyd. Kevin Greene. Levon Kirkland. Jason Gildon. Joey Porter. James Farrior. James Harrison. More recently, Lawrence Timmons. That’s just to name a few. There is a lot of potential in this year’s group of linebackers. Let’s take a look:

Projected Starters:
LOLB: Bud Dupree
ILB: Lawrence Timmons
ILB: Ryan Shazier
ROLB: Jarvis Jones

That list doesn’t jump out at you and make you think, “Wow. This is one of the best groups in the league.” Look past the surface though. This is a group to really get excited about. I REALLY like Ryan Shazier. If I had to put my money on anyone of these guys having a monster year, it’d be him. He’s having a tremendous camp. He’s building off of a year where he took some serious strides at getting better and adjusting to the NFL game. Also add that insane speed he has. Shazier is primed for a great year. He just has to stay healthy. It’s been an issue with him in his first two seasons. Let’s hope the injury bug stays away from him. If it does, there’s a very good chance he’d be the team’s best linebacker. Next to him on the inside is Lawrence Timmons. Timmons looked a step slow last year while he battled a toe injury, but still racked up a team-high 119 tackles and 5 sacks. He’s shed a little bit of weight, so I expect him to move around a little bit better than last year. Timmons is still Timmons though. You know he’s going to get 100+ tackles and at least 3 sacks. Those numbers aren’t bad at all, especially if Shazier has a monster year. Vince Williams is a guy off the bench that could provide a spark. He’s a solid tackler, and he’s gotten some significant playing time under his belt filling in while Shazier’s been sidelined with injuries the past couple of years. The pair of Timmons and Shazier could arguably be the best duo at inside linebacker in the league, at least compared with teams who also run a 3-4 scheme. The speed, the tackling ability, the coverage ability, and the football IQ is all there. They just have to execute on the field.

At outside linebacker, I’ve projected the pair of Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones. Both guys are first round draft picks. Dupree’s stock is much higher than Jones’ right now. Dupree is coming off of a solid rookie year where he sacked the quarterback four times while sharing time with Arthur Moats. Jones is coming off of a year where he was awarded the starting job, but ended up losing it to James Harrison, or at least lost a significant amount of snaps. Harrison is getting older, but if utilized correctly and for a certain portion of snaps per game, he can still be affective, and may even show shades of the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. However, Outside Linebackers coach Joey Porter has already said he wants to get away from the split snaps, or a “platoon,” if you will (Dupree/Moats on the left, and Jones/Harrison on the right). Jones and Dupree are first round picks, and the Steelers are wanting to give them every reason to prove it. Dupree’s stock is much higher than Jones’. Jones’ option for a fifth year was not picked up by the Steelers, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season. If any time was the time for Jones to break out, it’s now. 

At the of the day, I think this is the strongest part of the defense. There’s speed, youth, and experience. They tackle well, they rush the passer well (although, they still need to improve), and they cover well. I expect big years from Shazier and Timmons, and I think Dupree’s sophomore year trumps his rookie campaign. Jones is the big unknown. He lost some weight to try to get a little quicker off the edge. We’ll see if it pays off. The Steelers are known to have great linebackers, and this year, they’ve got a solid group, with potential to be a truly great group.

Preseason Grade: A-

412 Sports is not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. The views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. This site may contain content copyrighted by another person or entity. This site’s author claims no copyright to said content

Steelers 2016-2017 Preview: Offensive and Defensive Line

The NFL season is upon us. Everyday we grow closer to opening kickoff, and it’s a season that holds a lot of promise for the Steelers. If the team stays healthy, the “stairway to seven” mission is not an absurd thought. The offense is a juggernaut and the defense is getting younger and faster. There’s a lot to dissect here, in terms of trying to figure out just what this Steeler team is capable of. I could try to put it into one gigantic article that could rival Atlas Shrugged in length, but I figured it would be more fun to break this down by position, or at least groups. So here in my first installment, I’m going to preview where football is won and lost, in the trenches: the Pittsburgh offensive and defensive lines. Here’s what the rest of the preseason will hold:

August 12th – Linebackers
August 19th – Secondary
August 26th – Running Backs
September 2nd – Quarterback/Receivers/Tight End
September 9th – Final Season Preview (w/ prediction)

Offensive Line:
Projected Starters:
LT Alejandro Villanueva
LG Ramon Foster
C Maurkice Pouncey
RG David DeCastro
RT Marcus Gilbert

The offensive line is coming off of a solid season. They continued to improve as a unit in terms of protecting the quarterback and creating holes for Bell or Williams. When this line is healthy, they easily could be argued as top 5 in the NFL. Pouncey is arguably the best center in the game, DeCastro and Foster are a great pair of guards. The offensive tackle position is really the only weakness. Gilbert is a much better run blocker than pass blocker, and Villanueva is a bit inconsistent. If Pouncey goes down with another injury, Cody Wallace would step in as center, but that is a major downgrade. Health is going to be the key issue for the offensive line, however there is silver lining. The offensive line proved last year that even through injury, they work well together as a unit. They communicate well and it doesn’t hurt to have Ben Roethlisberger be your biggest cheerleader. Outside of health, the only other factor to watch out for is penalties. Last year, it seemed the offensive line committed penalties at bad times. They committed just over two penalties per game, which isn’t terrible, but they have to be more mindful in clutch situations.

Another thing to be mindful of is Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley’s offensive scheme benefits the offensive line. Ben gets rid of the ball quicker, in turn, less time to commit penalties and less likelihood of allowing a sack.

Overall, I’m confident in what this unit can do. What was once a major team weakness, is now one of the team’s underrated positions.

Preseason Grade: B+

Defensive Line:
Projected Starters:
LDE Cam Heyward
NT Daniel McCullers
RDE Stephon Tuitt

This defensive line is something to be excited about. Cam Heyward is a superstar. I don’t care if he gets the league-wide recognition or not, he’s a beast. Stephon Tuitt has lived up to expectations of being a second round draft pick. He’s shown at times to be just as dominant on the line as Heyward. With two years now under his belt, he should continue to improve. The tandem of Heyward and Tuitt could possibly rival any other pair of defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme in the league. Last year, they combined for 13.5 sacks (Heyward 7, Tuitt 6.5), and they both finished with 54 total tackles, 39 solo tackles EACH. They clog up blockers and put pressure on the quarterback. They can both also play in formations with only two down-lineman, which makes them more valuable in third down situations when Keith Butler has more defensive backs on the field. There’s every reason to be high on these two guys. They give reason to believe in this front-seven again.

The position of question here is nose tackle. The Steelers may never have another dominant nose tackle like Casey Hampton. That’s just something we might have to live with. McCullers is intriguing. He’s as big as a house at 6’7″ and 352 pounds. If he gets leverage on a blocker, you’re not moving him. McCullers’ height could be his biggest weakness though. Blockers get low to gain leverage on defenders, and most interior offensive lineman are shorter than McCullers. That’s one of the reasons Casey Hampton was so good; he’s only 6’1″, which is much shorter than most interior offensive lineman. Leverage is a huge factor for nose tackles. Clog up blockers and push them back. Force the running back outside and collapse the pocket for the quarterback. Another guy to watch for this season is this year’s third round pick out of South Carolina State Javon Hargrave. He’s built much like Hampton (also 6’1″) and has a lot of raw talent as a pass rusher, but much like the rest of the draft class, it’s raw talent. You have to be patient with him. The ceiling is high for Hargrave and if he hits near his potential as the year goes on, he could replace McCullers.

Overall, I think the defensive line will again show they are part of the stronger part of the defense. The Steelers are relying on their front seven to create havoc for the quarterback to try and make the secondary’s job easier. The defensive line can help with that, however, I have concern at nose tackle.

Preseason Grade: B+

I believe the organization has done a great job over the last several years rebuilding both the offensive and defensive lines. Football is won in the trenches at the line of scrimmage. If you can control the line of scrimmage, it gives you a much better chance to win. These two units can get it done on both sides of the ball. They shouldn’t give much reason to be having heart attacks on Sunday afternoons this season.


412 Sports is not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. The views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. This site may contain content copyrighted by another person or entity. This site’s author claims no copyright to said content

Steelers Notes: Jarvis Jones, Transactions, more

Here are the Steelers notes for the week of 5/1/16-5/7/16:

  • On Tuesday, May 5th, the Steelers declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Jarvis Jones, a former 1st round pick. Jones is entering his fourth season, a career in which many consider that he has underperformed or that his skills haven’t quite translated to the NFL level. The Steelers obviously didn’t see the value in the $8.4 million he would’ve made in 2017. He will spend this final season of his contract with Pittsburgh, and then become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • The Steelers cut three players on Thursday to trim their roster to 90 players. Headlining the cuts was former second round pick OT Mike Adams. He was cut due to a failed physical. Kicker Ty Long and RB Abou Toure were also among the cuts.
  • Also on Thursday, the Steelers signed their two seventh-round draft picks WR Demarcus Ayers and LB Tyler Matakevich to four-year contracts.
  • On Friday, Pittsburgh signed their sixth-round draft pick LB Travis Feeney to a four-year contract.
  • Rookie Minicamp got under way on Friday. It ran through Sunday, May 8th.

412 Sports is not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. The views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the National Football League. This site may contain content copyrighted by another person or entity. This site’s author claims no copyright to said content