Let's Ride: The Steelers versatility makes them a very dangerous team
This is. Sam. I'm an assistant managing editor at The New York Times. Our newsroom has been empty since March a we've been busier than ever before the pandemic has changed how we work, but it hasn't changed what we do. This is why we became journalists to bring to light real verified information when the stakes couldn't be higher. We can't do this work with our subscribers. If you'd like to subscribe, please go to NY TIMES DOT com slash subscribe, and thanks. steeler. Fans. What is going on? This is Jeff Hartman. Co Editor of behind the Steel Curtain Dot Com with you for your Monday Wednesday. Friday let's ride podcast Mondays podcast I always say m technically pm we run this at noon because we want the post game show to get enough a chance to breathe a little bit in the morning in. It's another victory Monday that is right. The steelers are perfect. Still Fido they shellac they beat down they dismantle whatever adjective you WANNA use to describe the steelers thirty, eight seven win over the Cleveland. Browns have at it because on this Monday, every single person that's ever been on twitter facebook instagram that said the steelers haven't. Played anybody the steelers have look at the record of the teams they've eaten more. You know what you can say that now you can't say that now, can you steelers beat the full formerly four and one Cleveland Browns eight, one, four games in a row they lose in week one Baltimore they rattled off four straight wins and then they go and face the buzzsaw that is the Pittsburgh steelers boy do we have a lot to talk about today? We're GONNA talk about the steelers versatility. We're GONNA talk about Devon Bush with the steelers are going to do with that position now that his season is over and then in the second half we're GonNa get into winners and losers. Or winners and losers this week I'll tell you that the tease a little bit but you know the funny thing is is. Let's start off with the versatility. I grow up. I don't know why I think my grandmother maybe someone else would always tell me that there's many ways to skin a cat and look the you're a person out there I'm not talking about actually getting a cat it's it's it's a phrase it's a euphemism There's many ways it's GonNa cat in I think that in the NFL. In the National Football League, my Gosh, if you can. Somehow Some way be a team that is ridiculously versatile. In, they can beat you in multiple ways. You are on the fast track to, success period. This Pittsburgh steelers team. Is that type of team. Period. If you think about the way, this dealers have one game so far this year it's almost been a different story every single time week one, Ben Rothlisberger comes back. He's rusty. The offense makes just enough plays the defense step supplements. Do you think about cam hayward's really awkward interception in the end zone on off a Daniel? Johns week to. You know everyone's thinking. It's going to be a blow out, but it's not the steelers offense does enough to win the Broncos came back. They find a way to win week three, HOUSTON. The steelers look pretty bad in the first half defensively they come into pitch a shutout in the second half dominant performance in the second half, they win the game. Obviously against the Eagles was the offense had to lead the way in Poi- I'll tell you what? I don't know I'm trying to think to myself the last time the steelers had a complete performance like they had on Sunday at Heinz field against the Cleveland browns meaning. The steelers could do whatever they wanted. They literally do whatever they wanted. They wanted to run it they can run it. They wanted to throw it. They could throw it on the flip side of that the browns could do nothing. They could do nothing they were struggling to just run the football. They didn't do that. Kareem hunt finishes with forty yards rushing thirteen carries. Now yes dontrelle Hilliard he chimed in for twenty nine yards. A lot of that was in garbage time. They're their total of seventy five yards. That's a little generous in my opinion. I think that it's not generous. It's number you can't. You can't debate a number but. That was not indicative of them. Actually rushing for seventy five yards not even close the forty yards hunt. Yeah. That's a little bit more indicative of what that dominance was look looking like. The one thing though I, I hate to just kind of narrow it because the defense played so well, and I'm going to talk about the defense shore but. I'm looking at this team from an offensive standpoint. From an offensive standpoint. Just. Go back to last week. Just go back to last Sunday Philadelphia Eagles coming into Pittsburgh Okay and you had chased labels coming out party and we all know the stat line hundred and ten yards receiving three receiving touchdowns one rushing touchdown. It was an aerial attack. There was an aerial attack it was it was fun to watch fun to watch they put up thirty eight points last week. This week was a different story. They. Still put up thirty eight points, but they didn't necessarily do it by just throwing the ball I crazy. Now granted they did have seven points defensively. Klay Pool and James. Watson led the steelers with seventy four, sixty, eight yards receiving respectively. It was James Connor and the running game that did it this this time I said this on twitter. And I Ben Rothlisberger Sedatives Post game show. So I said it during the game especially that lasted were really long drive in the fourth quarter really Kinda seal the deal. Iraqi's were said I can't remember the last time I had to. I got pulled with eight minutes left in as a good thing. They got Mason Rudolph in there. It gives them a break, but I this is an old school bill. Callard Room. That is Dr. Check the tape I check my twitter feed you can follow me at j Hartman underscore not as it. This is an old school drive. There's no passing unless you have to throw it. It is Louie hand the ball off three yards hand off four yards, hand the ball off I down. I think the only through the ball once or twice in that entire drive and it was capped off with a touchdown run. By Bennie Snell it was a great thing to watch. It just goes to show you that I think that this steelers offense in particular. And we'll get the second, but this offense in particular is so ridiculously versatile. Matatus fantasy football of. I play Fan. If you listen to my show, you listen to our other shows with that I'm on especially the steelers preview I always talk about Vandal I like daily fantasy football, not a traditional guy anymore because I don't like how I like the sporadic I wanna play this guy this week not next week. So anyways, I used to always in guys would always make fun of me. I would play a ton of steelers on my lineup because I would I know the team well enough and have these hunches man this guy's GonNa do really really well, this guys matchup is really I think he could really explode this week I, do that all the time. I can't do that this year at least not yet. Because outside of Ben Rothlisberger who didn't really have a huge stat line this week. The steelers did it in a way they hadn't done it yet James Caan rushes for one. Oh, one and a touchdown on twenty carries hit a five point. One Yard average has a really good average for twenty carries. You look at the receiving threats Keizo I actually started Juju Smith Schuster this week. I think it. Okay. Clay will he had a great game last week? They're going to be really focusing on him. They WANNA. Take him away. Juju is going to be the ones going the no, it was James Washington. James Washington was single covered and that's why early in the game they were going to him often Juju. Smith Schuster ended with two catches for six yards I'm not mad I don't even think Jujubes Mad I'm just frustrated with the fact that from a fantasy football perspective I can't lean on my old Goto of just playing steelers because I knew what was coming I no one knows what's coming. That includes the opposition in. That's what makes this offense dynamic you WanNa know what still really scary I mean really scary. They're not even close to a finished product yet. Not even close this steelers football team. This steelers offense is. Still a work in progress. They're averaging over thirty points already. They scored thirty eight in the last two weeks and they're just starting to get humming. And couldn't have come at a better time not just with the Browns coming to Pittsburgh in their first AFC north game. But also the fact that the slate that's coming up is tough. And you're playing defense is like the Tennessee Titans in the Baltimore Ravens in back to back weeks on the road. Where you're going to have to win games in different fashion. I think back to the teams that have won super bowls in the Ben Rothlisberger. Era. I think this is the most diverse offense of that era. Meeting. In two thousand and five they kind of one despite Ross Spur Rhino he had that great playoff run the super bowl of just awful for him. They still found a way to win, but they were run heavy team. They're run heavy team. They love the gadget play run heavy teams, and you think bags like doesn't eight nine. That's season. It was it was never like this. Yeah. You had hines ward. You had San Antonio Homes Willie Parker but at the same time it was The offensive line wasn't this good. This is the most complete offense I think. In the Ben Rothlisberger era. In. They're still getting better now a lot of people will look at Ben Rothlisberger that went off about this Wednesday that there's all there's deficiencies. There's always deficiencies with the player think back to I don't care if Peyton Manning Tom Brady in their prime. There were still areas of their game that were not the best. Now those deficiencies can be glaring those deficiencies can just via just something that you talk about. But at the same time, every player hazard efficiencies, but you know what? I hope that if you're a steelers fan waking up on Monday and he just got that yet feel-good feeling down your gut because your favorite team just went out and beat the living daylights out of a rival. I hope you also realize that this defense. Is Truly something special. And I give my Tomlin, a ton of credit. He was the one that said in his Tuesday press conferences. Last last week he was asked about the secondary he's Mike coach. What do you think about your secondary? They've been given up a third downs been given up big plays. He said look it's it's still too early to draw major conclusions. This is a group that if you said the same thing in two, if you look back in two thousand, nineteen year probably saying the same thing. Well, in their fifth game, they sure looked like they got it back in what they got back was the versatility. The Mo jail they got it back. And it all started third and seven. The browns first offensive possession. MINKA fitzpatrick pick six. It is amazing. What a dynamic Minka fitzpatrick brings to the steelers defense I fact trust over words. I've been the one that's critical of him. I have been critical of him the last three weeks saying, where's Minka because when the secondary's getting torched? Where's the guide is supposed to be the field general in the back end? Where's the guy that? When he traded a first round pick everyone said man when he got in the communication was great we were all. Great is everything was great. Where where was that guy? Well, he was back. And he made a statement right away. Right away. I have yet to see I seen replays of that play. I'm really anxious to see if our Jeffrey Benedict will highlight navy mink of his badge in the secondary love to see a breakdown how exactly the steelers are changing things up. But as I just talked about the versatility on offense. Holy. Cow Versatility on defense. Now. The injury Devin Bush is gonNA throw rankled and I'll get to that in a second. But when you look at this defense from front seven to deep safety. Holy, cow. Not a Lotta weaknesses. I'm just GONNA put it that way not a lot of weaknesses. Okay to takeaways on Sunday Yet Mega. Mega Fitzpatrick's six. And then you had Cameron Sutton coming down with the zone interception. Joe. Haden could had his own interception yet. He got called for defensive contact was not defensive holding maybe it was not pass interference, but still the penalty negated the interception. But. This steelers defense if they can get their secondary just. where it was on Sunday. On a consistent level. A we're having to look back in point out like two or three, legitimately two or three plays. Out of all of the plays at the Cleveland Browns Ran, they threw it twenty eight times. They ran a twenty two out of all of those plays. If we are trying to nitpick one or two where I duNno Baker Mayfield Finds Austin Hooper open and he scrambles Gigi. Rumbles down the field for twenty plus or touchdown the lone touchdown. To hours his name Higgins Rashard Higgins. If that's what we're going to. If that's all we're GONNA. Be Able to complain about Data Great Day if the steelers can find is a little bit of consistency with secondary in it matches up with that pass rush. Watch out. Watch out. Because you talk about versatility, they could beat you in a myriad of ways they could blitz you to death. To the point where your quarterback like Baker Mayfield on Sunday visibly didn't want to be there anymore. You could tell it in his eyes he was hurt. In. It was that hit by. Kim Hayward at the end of the first half bud debris at his legs cam came from behind him next. You know he's looking up through his chinstrap and he got up slow. You knew I don't care if he's going to be quoted by saying Mama didn't raise no WUSS I don't care if he's Does come back in the third quarter. You knew that deep down inside the little voice in Baker's had was saying, please don't put me out there again. That's what this defense can do. That's what this defense can do. But you know the defense did take a huge hit. A huge hit losing Devon Bush on the inside is a huge hit to this defense. Not only is he a tackling? He's the communicator on the defense he's. Boise come into his own this year and it didn't really pop off the screen a lot of fans and I haven't really noticed. Devon Bush. Well a Lotta Times. It's because he's doing his job. I mean he has gotten some taxi had half sack in the game on Sunday before he got injured. But no, he hasn't had the splash plays. He had as a rookie you think about. The interception he had in la against the chargers on Sunday night football. Last year, you think about the fumble recoveries, he had some of those plays just. They just fall into your lap and he's made those plays. But at the same time, they're gonNA miss him coverage his athleticism, his speed. I'm not sure what the steelers are. GonNa. Do I have got a lot of text messages? A lot of mentions in questions on twitter and social media that Hey, Jeff, what do you think they're gonNA do are they gonna go out and sign someone? ARE THEY GONNA? What's The steelers plan first off I don't know. I don't know whether plan is I wish I did of the interesting to hear some of their conversations. I think they're definitely going to look. And see WHO's available. Now that they would bring them into start but just to bring them into the fold, maybe it's someone office someone's practice squad. Think back to win the steelers went out and got you know a couple of practice squad players last year. did they picked up the running back? From. Chicago I believe they got Cain wide receiver from Indianapolis. So they they are. Doing that maybe that's what they do. Maybe they try to find someone on a practice squads, not gonNA cost a ton of money they're active they've been in a training camp they've been in practices maybe they do that. But I think that ultimately they're gonNA roll with who they have. A Roberts. Lane I talked about this in the post game podcast. Even listen to go check it out. There's two parts part one and part to check them out both. We talk about the offense one defense in the other. So you don't want to hear what the other. Bravo explains thumper. He's an old school downhill thumper not a huge guy. He's not overly athletic either and so him him next Vince Williams you have a great run stopping duo their coverage not so much now, what's the deal with you list Gilbert the third? That's the question. Everybody wants to know in no one, an answer no one has an answer. No one knows no one knows what is going on with you g three the guy that was. Claiming headlines not just behind the steel curtain dot com but for the Tribune review, the Post Gazette. They were all talking about Ugg three ulysses. Gilbert two thirds going to be there answer for replacing Mark Bear and those are the headlines. The kid can't even get a helmet on Game Day. And then Marcus Allen. Safety they moved him down to linebacker a little bit. A Mike Tomlin after the game on Sundays, it's going to be a community approach kind of. They're gonNA need everyone to help. It's not it might. It might be a position where it's not just the lane. He might get the brunt of the wraps that they're going to need to lean on ugg three and maybe Marcus Allen on. To try and help fill that gap because those are some big big shoes to fill. I feel horrible for Devon, Bush. If there's any silver lining in this cloud. It is the fact that. The injury happened in week five, I'm sorry week six. And Not in week sixteen. So devin Bush will rehab he will be ready to go for twenty, twenty one. That's the only silver lining here. Other than that. You feel absolutely sick for the young man. He was having a great year I. Know Bounce Back You know Ho- bounce back. But the steelers have got to keep moving might donald says got someone's GonNa jump on a moving train we'll see that is when a Tomlin meets with the media on Tuesday? In the meantime we are some winners and losers to discuss here too. Winners. Losers. Stadium. This is Mark Lacey National Editor at The New York Times as we head into a pivotal election, it's our mission to find answers to the questions you have that means analyzing what the candidates are saying, but it also means looking deeply at the issues from an economy under stress to a national reckoning on racism every day we do the research. So we can help you make an informed decision. None of this work would be possible without our subscribers if you'd like to subscribe to times go to ny times. Dot. com slash subscribe. All Right Pittsburgh steeler fans. Jeff Harvard here for the second part of this. Let's ride Monday. PODCAST is a victory. Monday that is right. Boy feels good to wake up on your favorite football team is five in. The Green Bay packers lost yesterday. So that means there's another one down. Three. Unbeaten teams left. The Seattle seahawks were on a by this past Sunday the Tennessee titans who barely came back and beat the Houston Texans in overtime and your Pittsburgh steelers. So. Titans and steelers play next week that one of them's GonNa lose one on Canalis. But in the meantime, let's talk about some winners and losers I forgot to do this last week Diaz for the kind of fired up after that games. Here we have some winners and losers after week six. Let's talk about the winners I. I gotta give it to me Fitzpatrick, my first winter. Not really any order if you fall in the winters less, you're a winner. Okay. Fitzpatrick only had one tackle, but he had a pass defense and interception, and he scored a flipping touchdown. It was that moment I was so close to going on twitter because I tweet during the Games because it just way for me to get my thoughts out in saying ballgame. Literally, Ballgame. I watched the offense drive. Down the field the ended end, they end up with a Chris Boswell field goal but they will good in that Dr that opening drives, they had a good feeling from that and then make a pick pick six. I was so close Zane game over ballgame. Thanks for playing Brown's hit the hit the turnpike that's what I wanted to say. But I. DIDN'T I restrained. But basically was when you look in hindsight that was the turning point that was the turning point game. The game wasn't the same after that you're down to scores and you haven't even had the ball a second time and all of a sudden next thing you know the blink of an either down twenty four nothing. Down Twenty four nothing next Odell Beckham Junior's taking his shoes off. Jarvis Landry is crying on the sideline Baker Mayfield's getting popped every single time he drops back. A good day mega fitzpatrick started all of that. Some people will complain say that I'm a homer which I am in some people will say de apologised which I am I'm not apologizing for Ben Rothlisberger being on the winners list this week. Yeah. I have in there he finished fourteen of twenty two for one, hundred, sixty, two yards he threw a touchdown he had a one. Oh, one rating. No interceptions. Can we as it throwing his earn eleven touchdowns One interception. This season The gunslinger that we all have shown frustrations within our time. steeler fans. He seems to be playing more conservative brand football he didn't need to relieve. Stress the field too many times he took with the defense gave them and honestly. What they gave him was pretty much. I'll take a at twenty two throws it. Fourteen to twenty two, it's over fifty percent obviously, but I love the fact that Rothlisberger played well enough. The offense played well enough that they were able to get Mason Rudolph in and get him some games because honestly. Other ben managed the game. Well, he didn't. He made the deters he checked a lot of boxes for me in this game he really did checked a lot of boxes. He had a really nice deep throw to James Washington D. through to chase. Klay Pool another great outrivalled beautiful throw Washington did not bring it in but that was a good throw Ben Rothlisberger is getting those intermediate passes back folks. That's a really good sign. Next winter is James Connor. How do you not put James Connor. Twenty carries one hundred and one yards, one touchdown and a five point one yards per carry. This was maybe the best game I've seen from James Connor going back to his pro bowl year. because. That was in two thousand, Eighteen James Caan ran hard but he ran smart. He took the way took what was given he didn't. He didn't rush there a couple of times I, wish he would follow his blockers a little bit better, James Connor definitely a winner, the offensive line the steelers rushed for over one hundred twenty yards total. We talked about Connors One oh, one, they only gave up two sacks. The only gave up two sacks. That's big. myles Garrett was basically a no show. He did come down with one of those sacks and that was not on the offensive line. They did a great job blocking Garrett in Dan is held onto the ball little too long. Those two sacks I wouldn't put on the offensive line, the other sack, the browns just they brought to many for the steelers to block. In because of that. They didn't have the right play doubt up I'm shocked Rothlisberger didn't call timeout, but still only given up two sacks. This offensive line is really starting to come to form in member Galvez Kevin. Dotson that's still shoe core for. So a lot of people were concerned about the steelers offensive Lineman David Decastro was hurt album is all of training camp. They were not sure what to do in Zach banner went down. All is quiet on the. Home. Front will put it that way next winner the rush defense they gave up seventy five total yards rushing and held kareem hunt to forty yards. This was a statement game for this rush defense why it was the number one rushing offense in the NFL coming to town and we all said Dave Scofield's We all started on the preview it strength versus strength who's going to lead. The steelers that's WHO's GonNa win seventy five total yards, and again a lot thirty yard yardage came in garbage time when case keenum was in but still seventy five yards Qaeda's to the rush defense. Let's go to the pass rush. The pass rush these numbers in in in and of itself are not really indicative of how good this front seven blade. Force acts. That's great. Little off their pace of FIFA game before sacks. Seven quarterback hits okay. They hit Mayfield seven times I. It goes more than that I'm sure he would agree with me that he felt it was more than that. It had six tackles for losses that was a tremendous effort by the past are slashed the front seven great game dominated dominating performance. But let's not forget the defensive backs. They also found their way on the winners list two interceptions they scored a touchdown in the only gave up one hundred and sixty five yards through the air that is a huge step forward for a secondary that was. Questioned a lot. The last few weeks about Shawn Watson really lighting them up in the first half Carson Wentz had his way with Tyler fulcrum in week five, the steelers responded in it's not like the browns don't have weapons they do. They have the joke who they have hooper. They have Odell Beckham. They have Jarvis, Landry Rashard Higgins one hundred and sixty five yards. They allowed Cuba's to the defensive backs gotTa push as Klay there. Again I didn't think it was going to happen I didn't think he was going to have a game like he did last week it wasn't as dynamic as he only scored one touchdown but. He comes out with four sections seventy four yards receiving four targets. He's caught every single ball thrown his way. He gets a rushing touchdown in eighteen and a half yard average chase Klay pool is becoming a stud right in front of our very eyes. No buyer's remorse here. Jk Dobbins can have fun of Baltimore James Washington. He's my last winter I. thought that he he was the guy. We talked about the versatility, pick your poison of the steelers offense. Okay. WHO's it going to be this week? What's tough to pick but whoever it is this week The steelers. Player in this case, James Washington has to actually perform and make those catches and performing win that battle. The steelers offense is built around mismatches finding a way to get a good matchup in then exploiting. If you don't have the player to exploit it. It doesn't matter James Washing was at guy finished with four receptions sixty eight yards. He had a touchdown on seven targets with a seventeen yard average a great game by James Washington it was great to see him. Over to the loser side. Honestly. There's only one loser and it really wasn't even a player is a bunch of players. It's not that they played poorly, it's got hurt the loser was injuries, injuries, injuries, injuries, Devin Bush talked about him in the first segment losing him doing a C.. L. Heartbreaking. But also Marquees pouncey. Has it he left foot again I'm not sure if that's a re injury if they just resting it. Did get mentioned by Tomlin in the Post game press conference. We'll see how that goes. You can't. You'd hate to see Markey's pouncey loss for any significant amount of time because he has played in my opinion at a pro bowl level so far this season and then even Mike Hilton the very versatile defensive back he left the game with a shoulder injury again, because the game was out of hand, could he have gone back in I? Don't know was this. Like a a shoulder injury. TJ Watt had last week where he missed time went back in. He didn't miss any games. We'll see Tomlin recap that. But without. Hilton. In the lineup, they actually is pretty incredible. They just lane out wide in the move Steven Nelson inside on the slot. Not sure if that was just an in game adjustment or if that's something, they would do down the road if my Hilton was unable to play for a game or two. Those injuries are awful. I hate injuries because you WanNa see teams, and this is on the opponents. I do you WanNa see teams at full strength because you WANNA see who actually is the best team That's what I WANNA see. That's the only. Lose record find the only loser. Find a for the steelers thirty, eight seven, win over the Cleveland Browns. It was a fun folks not only the show which I. Hope you enjoy the show and I. Hope you check out all of our podcast but this game was fun and what was the last time you get to watch a game and sit back and just kind of relaxed. Then it's another steelers Sunday I normally feel like the going to kill me. I feel like they're going to end my life one day but not this time not Sunday I was after sit back was talking to family kids were running around and I wasn't super stressed out and yelling at him so good day is really good day. All right folks with that said that wraps up our Monday. Let's ride podcast. I can't tell you enough behind the steel curtain dot com should be your one stop shop for all things. Pittsburgh steelers, we film rooms, commentary features you name it. We have it there for you make sure you check out behind the steel curtain dot com, and also all of our podcasts are not just on you do. We have youtube channel fuel to follow us youtubecom search bt se steelers radio but then also anywhere yet your podcast Google play itunes apple podcasts stitcher anchor Pandora spotify spotify make sure you follow so that you don't miss a thing on I. Tunes gives a five Star rating if you enjoy content and give us a good comment, I'll read those comments live on the air Thursday. During the steelers preview podcast on Youtube. So but that's ads user five and everybody. Enjoy it. Enjoy it enjoyed injury because they're playing the titans coming up, it's can be a great game and I can't wait to dive into that. I'll see you next Wednesday I'm sorry this Wednesday for another episode of Let's ride. Your am podcasts me Jeff Hartmann von Still Curtain Dot Com in the meantime. Be Safe be kind God bless go steelers five hundred. A Burden off the morning.