The Steelers defensive goal in 2020? Get more “zeroes”

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ersKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense took a huge step forward in 2019, but they aren’t satisfied.

Sacks and takeaways were the Pittsburgh Steelers’ modus operandi, or M.O., in 2019. The team had the league’s highest marks in both categories, and quickly became a top tier defense throughout the season.

But they aren’t satisfied with what they’ve done.

As Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt and Joe Haden convene together in Orlando, FL for the annual Pro Bowl, they are already talking about 2020, and how the defense could be even better.

What else could they do? They want to add more “zeroes”.

“I think to fully take over a game, to completely shut teams out,” Watt told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “We didn’t get any zeroes on the board. We want to be able to shut teams out and control the game defensively. That is what sets defenses apart, especially once you get the takeaways. You want to be able to lay the goose egg on teams and make sure they aren’t scoring any points and help the offense out as much as you can.”

Shut outs are rare in today’s NFL, but it doesn’t mean the team won’t be doing everything they can to secure victory in the upcoming season. After a year where everyone who followed the team knew if the offense could somehow put up 20 points, they would likely win.

By the end of the year, if the offense could just hang 17 on the opposition it would likely mean victory. But the season ended on a 3-game losing streak where the Steelers scored just 10 points in every contest down the stretch.

Despite the way the season ended, players are already excited for the upcoming season, and seeing just how good this defense can be.

“I am excited about it,” said Fitzpatrick. “I had a whole lot of fun this year. It’s a young group of guys. We have a bright future together, we’ll be able to grow together. That is the most important thing, and go out there and have fun.”

“We just have a lot of fun,” said Watt. “We’re young and have a lot of confidence. We play with a lot of swagger. Just having a lot of fun. This past year we had so much fun just flying around. It’s a lot better when you are able to create those turnovers. We just want to continue to build on that stuff.”

The Steelers defenders who are at the Pro Bowl plan on using their time wisely and picking each other’s brains on what they can change to make sure they do their part the 2020 season doesn’t end abruptly after Week 17.

“These last couple of weeks after the season we had time to think about it, what I can do better, what we can do better as a team,” said Fitzpatrick. “Me, Joe and T.J. are going to get together and talk and pick each other’s brains and think about what we can do better as leaders, teammates and a defense to improve our season, make the playoffs next year and continue to grow.”

It is hard to fathom the Steelers defense being any better than what it was last year, especially with expected departures for players like Javon Hargrave, but if this core nucleus of players can continue to thrive it will only lead to bigger and better things for the Steelers in 2020.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they progress through another long offseason.

Eli Manning’s retirement marks the beginning of the end of the QB class of 2004

NFL: New York Giants at Pittsburgh SteelersDec 4, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) meet after their game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The quarterback class in 2004 was considered one of the best of all-time, and the end is near for this trio of signal callers.

I can still remember sitting and watching the 2004 NFL Draft and wondering if the Pittsburgh Steelers would be lucky enough to claim one of the top three quarterbacks in that particular draft class.

Eli Manning out of Ole Miss, Philip Rivers out of NC State and Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami of Ohio. The trio of quarterbacks were considered to be three of the best prospects in recent memory, at the time, and we all know how things shook out with the New York Giants, San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fast forward to 2020, and it seems the beginning of the end has officially commenced for the great 2004 quarterback class. On Wednesday, Eli Manning announced his official retirement from the Giants, leaving just Roethlisberger and Rivers as the remaining pieces of the quarterback class puzzle.

Manning’s retirement shouldn’t shock anyone, considering he was the backup behind Daniel Jones in 2019, but when you look at the 2004 quarterback class as a whole, the future is pretty bleak.

Rivers is coming off another up-and-down season in Los Angeles, and, barring the team giving him a new contract, is about to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Rivers claims he still wants to play, but if he goes elsewhere seeing him without the lightning bolt on the side of his helmet will certainly be different.

As for Roethlisberger, he is under contract for the next two seasons, but is coming off a season-ending elbow injury to his throwing arm. Anyone who has sustained an injury to their throwing arm, in an occupation where throwing an object is what you do for a living, knows how difficult it is to come back from. In other words, Roethlisberger has to prove he can still play, and be effective, prior to the start of the 2020 regular season.

It is sad to see an era of quarterback coming to an end. Throw in the fact Tom Brady and Drew Brees are also preparing for their own personal stints as free agents, and the NFL quarterback landscape is certainly about to change.

If you want to argue if the 2004 quarterback draft class is the best ever, go right ahead, but for me this is more about the changing of the guard at the quarterback position. Enter Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes. All young quarterbacks with bright futures ahead of them. Meanwhile the old guard is just trying to hang on for one, or two, more glorious years in the sun before riding off into the sunset.

Manning’s retirement just set those wheels in motion, and for this 37 year old writer who has lived the majority of his life in this quarterback era, it will be different when these tremendous gun slingers call it quits and we are left wondering who is left in the NFL at the quarterback position.

AFC Pro Bowl Recap, Day 1: Steelers defensive leaders using Pro Bowl to evaluate 2019

NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC PracticeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was the first day of Pro Bowl practice in Orlando, FL, and the Steelers who were in attendance are planning on using their time wisely.

The 2020 Pro Bowl is officially underway down in Orlando, Florida, and most NFL fans couldn’t care less about what happens during the week leading up to the All-Star game. But if you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan you have a good chance of seeing a large portion of the defense on the field, and hear from some players for the first time since the season ended abruptly after Week 17.

Wednesday was the first day of work, if that is what you want to call it, for both the AFC and NFC teams, but the Steelers are using this time for something much greater than being around some of the most talented players the league has to offer.

No, the Steelers defenders in Florida are using this time to go over 2019, and evaluate what took place. According to Missi Matthews, in the video run down below, Minkah Fitzpatrick called the group of teammates there are “meeting of the minds” for the defensive side of the ball.

Cornerback Joe Haden also said Cam Heyward is going to have all of the defenders there meet to go over what went down in 2019 for the team’s defense, and how to get the group even better for 2020.

Makes you wonder just how the unit could be better than they already were when it pertains to things like sacks and takeaways, but perfectionists will always find areas of their game, both individually and as a collective group, to improve upon.

Expect to hear from more players as the week progresses, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes from the Pro Bowl, as well as anything else which pertains to the Steelers this offseason. Check out the videos and pictures of the first practice below:

Run Down

Video:

Photos:

Podcast: What is the Steelers’ plan for the tight end position in 2020?

In the latest episode of “The Standard is the Standard” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold from the week that was.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is over, and although there are no more games, the news is still ongoing. With a surge of Steelers news, it was time to get back on the airwaves and discuss the Black-and-gold.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC flagship podcast The Standard is the Standard. On this show Jeff Hartman and special co-host Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers’ plan, if they have one, at TE
  • Diagnosing the issues with the Steelers using statistics
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: There is plenty to decipher when it comes to free agents for the Steelers

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta FalconsJason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take at how looking at free agent lists need to be deciphered before you can think the Steelers can sign any of these players.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Steelers will be looking at some free agents to help round out their roster, but there is a lot to decipher when looking at these lists.

Tim Benz: Let’s break down this list of potential Steelers free agent targets

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Steelers don’t have a first-round draft choice this year.

No, Minkah Fitzpatrick doesn’t count. Again.

So will they try to fill some holes via free agency instead?

We should hope. My colleagues at USA Today’s Steelers Wire listed a few potential candidates.

Let’s see which ones make sense.

Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans Saints/QB): Steelers Wire said, “Bridgewater would be the perfect replacement for Ben Roethlisberger whenever he decides to retire.

I wouldn’t go that far.

Perfect? No. Potentially acceptable and not a disastrous option?

Maybe.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


  • Will the Steelers let the Le’Veon Bell situation stop them from using the franchise tag again?

Steelers won’t let Le’Veon Bell situation keep them from franchise tag

By: Darin Gantt, ProFootballTalk

The Steelers’ last attempt at using the franchise tag didn’t work out as they planned, and that’s an extreme understatement.

But team president Art Rooney II said he won’t let their experience with Le’Veon Bell change their plans with future free agents, including outside linebacker Bud Dupree.

After tagging the running back in 2018, he sat out the entire season before heading to the Jets last year.

“I don’t think that affects the way we think about franchise tags or anything at this point,” Rooney said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We had one, I’ll call it unusual experience, and I think it was that — an unusual experience.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


Another brush with law for former Steelers WR Antonio Brown

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown had another brush with the law Tuesday afternoon.

According to a statement released by police in Hollywood, Fla., officers responded to a 911 call at Brown’s home after a driver for a moving company alleged the 31-year-old Brown and his personal trainer, Glen Holt, battered him.

Holt was taken into custody without incident and charged with one count of burglary with battery, police said.

Officers were unsuccessful in attempts to reach Brown, and the investigation remained ongoing as of Tuesday evening, the statement said.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)


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