If the Steelers rebuild their foundation of talent, the wins will come

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Steelers current focus has to be on acquiring talent, rather than chasing wins.

“If you build it, they will come.”

That is an unforgettable line from the classic baseball themed movie Field of Dreams. That statement holds true for the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers also. If the Steelers rebuild a foundation of NFL quality talent across the roster, the wins will come. Especially the postseason variety that has proven so hard to come by for the Steelers during the past handful of seasons. As much as I would love to blame the often less than stellar schemes employed by the Steelers, the Steelers biggest issue at the moment is a lack of talent up and down the roster.

Great players often hide a multitude of shortcomings. Great players who are also great leaders make everyone around them better. That is the hard truth for the Steelers currently. They no longer possess an abundance of superior individual performers, and the renowned leadership for which the Steelers are well known is no longer sprinkled up and down the roster. The Steelers need to head into the 2022 NFL offseason solely focused on rebuilding and replenishing their talent deficient roster, rather than trying for a quick fix to remain competitive in a loaded division and AFC conference.

The rebuild started last season, whether the fan base was able to recognize it, or the front office able to acknowledge it or not. The Steelers brought back the 39 years young Ben Roethlisberger for what amounted to a farewell tour, knowing all too well that he could no longer carry a offense on his back like in his younger years. He needed far more talent around him than he actually had at his disposal. Prior to the 2021 season, it was common knowledge he needed a much improved offensive line and an consistently productive rushing attack if he was going to be able to be the game manager of an efficient and effective offense. None of those things came to fruition.

Young Ben was a great player who’s abilities raised the capabilities of those around him on offense. Those attributes have been nowhere to be found over the past couple of seasons. There was the occasional glimpse of past glory, but nothing sustainable, although he was still clutch enough to be one of the most effective fourth quarter QBs in the league and contributed prominently on 7 game winning drives out of 9 total victories for the Steelers on the season. Due to the vast age difference between Roethlisberger and one of the youngest rosters in the league, he was viewed more as a father figure than clubhouse leader by many.

So who were the Steelers great players and leaders on offense? Honestly, by any conceivable metrics, the Steelers only have two elite level players on their roster at the moment. Obviously, that would be T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward. Both men are Pro Bowl, All Pro, and All NFL selections. It doesn’t get any more elite than that folks. Well, actually it could. T.J. Watt has to be the logical favorite for the 2021 NFL DPOY Award, and Heyward is the Steelers nominee for the Walter Payton Award. Those distinguished honors would be icing on the cake of two HOF trending careers.

Problem is, outside of those two truly exceptional players, the Steelers have a talent deficiency across the roster. For the first time that I can remember, the Steelers didn’t have a single Pro Bowler on offense. Even with Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career, you could count on standouts like Pouncey and DeCastro to keep the streak alive. Not anymore, as the offensive line didn’t have a single member even considered middle of the pack this season.

Najee Harris was the Steelers most effective offensive player, even cracking the thousand rushing yards mark, but he was hindered greatly by the subpar line play. Diontae Johnson had his first thousand receiving yards season of his career, and was even considered a fringe Pro Bowl candidate, but his past inconsistency reared it’s ugly head once again late in the season. Those two were the only offensive players even worthy of Pro Bowl consideration.

It is vitally important that the Steelers hierarchy can honestly and accurately evaluate their current roster, which will be required to devise a realistic plan to replenish their overall talent through the NFL Draft and free agency. It has been surmised by many that the Steelers are sitting in a favorable position heading into the off season due to the most salary cap revenue they have had at their disposal in decades. Although I always look for the positives in any situation, I would counter that the Steelers have more overall team needs that I can ever remember. They also don’t have an optimal amount of draft capital this year.

Ever the optimist, the bottom line is this. The Steelers are most likely looking at a two year rebuild, and that is if basically every moves pans out favorably for the Black and Gold. It would also work wonders for the rebuild if guys like Stephon Tuitt and Devin Bush could achieve a motivated return to form. If Chase Claypool can display the maturity and work ethic needed to take full advantage of his God given athletic gifts. If a off season of weight training and position specific training can help Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. take the next step in their development.

The Steelers shouldn’t be in any discussions about Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson, as the Steelers are not in the position where a superstar signal caller would make them a contender. The focus of this off season has to be starting the arduous process of building a championship caliber roster, so that the next guy that the Steelers believe could be that franchise QB might really be the missing piece to their next Lombardi Trophy. Like Ben Roethlisberger 18 long years ago.

George Gervin: 'These youngsters still bring my name up. How special is that?'

By | January 27, 2022

Longtime San Antonio Spurs superstar forward George Gervin was recently honored as one of the 75 greatest basketball players in NBA history.

The Hall of Famer, famously nicknamed The Iceman, is a nine-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA scoring champion who averaged more than 26 points per game during his time in the league. Standing at 6-foot-7, Gervin still has a legacy as one of the greatest shooters – with perhaps the prettiest finger roll – to ever play the game.

Gervin recently caught up with HoopsHype to discuss his thoughts on the season, what he has seen from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, why he thinks San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray should be an All-Star, some recent comments from Kyle Kuzma, and plenty more.

Keep reading this article on HoopsHype - NBA.

Looking at the Steelers projected 2022 compensatory draft picks

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

With the announcement of the PFW All-Conference teams, all the factors have been determined for awarding 2022 compensatory draft picks.

On Monday, the Pro Football Writers of America announced their All-NFL and All-Conference teams. While the Steelers landed two players on both lists, there was more to this announcement than just the notoriety.

Finally knowing which players are All-Conference, all the information needed in order to calculate where players fall in the compensatory formula are known. Between snap counts, salary, and postseason awards, all the factors are completed and the NFL can begin their calculations.

Until the official announcement comes, usually in early March, let’s check in with the experts at overthecap.com (OTC) as to where the Steelers lie and what can be expected in terms of compensatory picks for the 2022 NFL draft.

All qualifying Compensatory Free Agents (CFAs) were locked in on Monday, May 3 unless the player was traded. As most Steelers fans realize, when Pittsburgh traded for cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, they also took on his compensatory value. While some have stated Witherspoon will not affect the Steelers compensatory status, the experts at OTC who have been studying this for years believe otherwise. Additionally, this is what it says in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement in Appendix V, 3a:

If a Club trades for a player who was a CFA during that League Year, whether the player was another Club’s CFA or the acquiring Club’s own CFA, the player will be considered a CFA gained by the acquiring Club and will be included in the Compensatory netting process.

For this reason, we are going to include Witherspoon in the formula just to be sure. If it does end up where he does not count, that will just be a bonus for the Steelers.

I do want to repeat that the source used for all of this information comes from overthecap.com as they are very thorough with ranking players due to their salaries and tracking snap accounts. Before we get to the exact cancellation, let’s review how values are given to players.

In order for a player to be deemed a CFA, they must fall in the top 35% of all the NFL. To start the season, OTC had most salaries less than $2 million a season not landing in the top 35% and therefore not qualifying as a CFA based on estimated snaps played. Additionally, any contract signed that qualifies for the veteran salary benefit does not qualify as a CFA.

In order to determine the points each player is assigned due to their salary, it is defined as follows in the CBA in Appendix V, 2a:

All CFAs and all other League players on rosters at the conclusion of the regular season shall be ranked in ascending order by their Average Yearly Compensation, which shall be determined by dividing a player’s Gross Salary for all contract years by the contract’s Maximum Possible Term as defined in Paragraph 9 of this Appendix V… Subject to the above definition of Gross Salary, the player with the lowest Average Yearly Compensation shall be ranked first and thereby receive one point, with the second ranked player receiving two points.

Remember, other factors such as snaps played, All-Pro, and All-Conference selections factor into the equation now that the 2021 regular season is complete. The OTC estimates for compensatory draft picks are based on all these things now that they are known. The factor of snaps played only applies if a player logs at least 25% of the snaps on the season on offense or defense depending on what position they play. As for kickers, they have a completely different formula which I won’t even bother with at this time. Whatever percentage of snaps a player has, those number of points gets added onto the salary ranking as long as it’s above 25%.

Before the Steelers acquired Ahkello Witherspoon, OTC had them projected to have a third-round and a fifth-round compensatory draft pick. The addition of Witherspoon had the calculation estimated as just a third-round draft pick when the season began based on projected snap counts. Let’s look at where the new estimates based on actual snaps played and post-season awards in 2021 have the Steelers (numbers are based on salary explained above and percent of snaps played as no players who are factored with the Steelers earned All-Pro or All-Conference):

Qualifying Losses
Bud Dupree, 1906 salary + 36 snaps = 1942total; ranked 106: Fourth round
Matt Feiler, 1685 salary + 93 snaps = 1778 total; ranked 255: Fifth round
Mike Hilton, 1651salary + 71 snaps = 1722 total; ranked 309: Sixth round

Qualifying Gains
Ahkello Witherspoon, 1536 salary + 31 snaps = 1567 total; ranked 462: Sixth round
Joe Haeg, 1324 salary + 26 snaps = 1350 total; ranked 668: Seventh round

Even though both qualifying gains come in below the Steelers qualifying losses, they still simply cancel the bottom two. Therefore, the Steelers are projected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick in the 2022 draft.

Unfortunately, this ended up as pretty much the worst-case scenario for the Steelers going into the season. So how did it happen?

The reason Bud Dupree has fallen to the fourth round of compensatory picks is because of the number of snaps he played in 2021. Playing in 11 games for the Titans this season, Dupree was playing more than 60% of the snaps whenever he was healthy. Unfortunately, that was only 9 games as Dupree was limited in two games he appeared (playing only one snap against the New Orleans Saints) and missing six games altogether. Dupree ended up only 10 points away from the cutoff from the third to the fourth round according to OTC. Therefore, if Dupree would have played another 10% of the Titans snaps this season (which would have been another 108 snaps by my calculations, the equivalent of playing his typical percentage in three other games), he would have qualified as a third-round selection.

When it comes to Ahkello Witherspoon, it’s simply whether or not he qualifies after being acquired via trade. If he qualifies, he’s going to cancel a player. If not, the Steelers will get an additional fifth-round pick.

The other factor which may have cost the Steelers and additional pick is because of tackle Joe Haeg. Haeg ultimately held on to the bottom of the seventh round as calculated by OTC as he’s played 26% of the offensive snaps for the Steelers. If Haeg had dropped below the 25% mark, he would have moved down to 1324 points which would have dropped him out of the seventh round which ends at 1329 points according to OTC. In looking at the Steelers 1173 offensive snaps, Haeg played 14 snaps too many in order to count in the compensatory formula.

While this seems like this is a bad scenario for Steelers, all hope is not lost. These are just projections by overthecap.com and the actual compensatory picks will be announced sometime in early March. While most of the numbers seem pretty straightforward, the one factor which could ultimately affect things is the overall divisor— the total number of qualifying players in the NFL. It appears as if OTC is using 1,988 players as the total for the NFL, although they have 2,133 players listed on their site. However many players the NFL utilizes could change things. If the NFL ends up using over 2,000 players, the 5% which falls as third-round designations would increase and could include Dupree. If the NFL‘s number moves in the other direction, it could shrink down the sizes of the various rounds and bump Joe Haeg out of qualifying. So there still is a possibility of things being tweaked in the final calculations. And as a reminder, OTC had the Steelers projected to get two compensatory picks last year when they ultimately finished with only one.

So there are the projections, but ultimately we will find out exactly what additional picks the Steelers will have for the 2022 NFL draft in less than two months.

Broncos to hire Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett as head coach; will Aaron Rodgers follow?

In the first move of this year’s coaching cycle, the Denver Broncos are in the process of finalizing a deal to hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person required anonymity because the move has not been announced.

The 42-year-old Hackett will assume the task of trying to help bring stability and effectiveness to an offense that has languished in recent years while plagued by inconsistent play and a revolving door at quarterback.

And now begins the speculation as to whether he can manage to bring Aaron Rodgers with him to the Mile High City.

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Hackett has spent the last three seasons as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator, and developed a strong relationship with Rodgers. Prior to 2019, Hackett spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, helping them reach the AFC Championship game in 2017 while boasting the best rushing attack in the NFL. He also served as offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-14.

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett seen during pregame of a game against the Detroit Lions. At right is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

Hackett replaces Vic Fangio, who in three seasons as head coach directed strong defenses, but saw his teams go a combined 19-30 while the offense ranked among the worst in the league.

The Broncos have some talented pieces on offense, however, an inability to find a solution at quarterback has proved their undoing.

Since Peyton Manning led the team to victory in Super Bowl 50 six seasons ago, 11 different players have started at quarterback for Denver.

General manager George Paton last season brought in Teddy Bridgewater, hoping the veteran journeyman could serve as a viable option, however, Bridgewater’s play was up and down, and he also battled durability issues. Third-year pro Drew Locke (a second-round pick in 2019 and 13-game starter in 2020) started three games, but continued the same uneven play that he has exhibited throughout his Broncos career.

Great uncertainty looms over Rodgers and his future with the Packers. Because of the structure of his deal, he could look to depart Green Bay via trade, if he prefers that move over returning for an 18th season.

Last offseason, Denver was rumored as a team with interest in Rodgers during his standoff with Packers management. Now, the addition of Hackett only adds further intrigue while potentially increasing the Broncos’ chances of ranking among the future Hall of Famer’s top options.

Keep reading this sports article on USA Today - NFL Top Stories.

Monty Williams on Devin Booker: 'I laugh when I look at the All-Star voting and see the guys ahead of him'

By | January 27, 2022

What’s the buzz on Twitter? Duane Rankin @DuaneRankin
“I appreciate it, but I’m not worried about that anymore. I’m in a different phase of my career.”
Devin Booker when told about Monty Williams saying the fan voting is “laughable” regarding him and how he should be an #NBAAllStar starter. #Suns pic.twitter.com/yhno8ye4Wb1:54 AM Gerald Bourguet @GeraldBourguet
Bismack Biyombo said Chris Paul and Devin Booker are so good at closing games it takes a lot of pressure off of everyone else down the stretch. Also

Keep reading this article on HoopsHype - NBA.

The mysterious fall and harrowing story of an NBA center

8:00 AM ET

IT WAS THE start of the fourth quarter and the Boomers, the Australian Olympic team, were in a tight game against Italy in an important group stage match. The Aussies had inched ahead and a finishing kick would guarantee advancement to the medal round. Coach Brian Goorjian peered down the bench, looking to put his rugged center into the game.

The Aussie had been playing well; he had 14 points in 14 minutes and nailed a couple 3-pointers, which had become the big man’s specialty. Now, he was needed on the inside to battle fellow NBA players Nicolo Melli and Danilo Gallinari. But he was nowhere to be found.

Where was Aron Baynes?

It was a long way to the bathroom in the Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo, and Baynes had gone to use it between the third and fourth quarter. He had to go diagonally across the court, down a

2022 NBA All-Star debate: Who deserves to start in Cleveland?

8:00 AM ET

NBA Insiders

The 2022 NBA All-Star Game is just a few weeks away, and on Thursday night the NBA will reveal the 10 players voted in as starters along with the two All-Star captains who will draft their teams for the eventual showdown in Cleveland on Feb. 20.

As of the last public reveal of the fan vote, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James had surpassed Golden State Warriors rival Stephen Curry as the leading vote-getter in the West, putting him in line to be a captain for the fifth consecutive year. Curry, meanwhile, is in a tight race with the Dallas MavericksLuka Doncic and Memphis GrizzliesJa Morant to be a starter at guard. The race is even closer in the East, in which three players are separated by fewer than 200,000 votes for the second guard spot.

Before the starters are announced Thursday night, we asked our experts

Tom Brady is still living rent free in this Steelers fan’s head

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Even after leaving the Patriots, Tom Brady, that legendary quarterback known mostly for winning Super Bowls, is still living rent free in this Steelers’ fan’s head.

I’m a long-time Steelers fan.

If you want me to break out the credentials and impress you with my resume, let me just say that I’ve been cheering for this team since before the space shuttle’s first launch.

I should probably be the general manager.

Anyway, since I am a fan of the Steelers, an AFC team that resides in Pittsburgh, I could care less about the Buccaneers, an NFC franchise located in Tampa Bay, right? I used to nothing the Buccaneers, that is until Tom Brady, the greatest anything that’s ever done anything, signed with them prior to the 2020 season.

I thought it was cute and all that Tampa landed Brady, but I didn’t think it would amount to much. I mean, the Buccaneers, a team that had only managed to get out of its own way once since its inception way back in 1976—and had to employ both Jon Gruden and Warren Sapp in order to make it happen—actually taking full advantage of signing Brady? Yeah, right.

Obviously, Tampa did take full advantage, as Brady and the Bucs trounced the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Suddenly, the Buccaneers were world champions. Not only that but they were feared world champions. They were legit because they had Brady, the greatest anything that’s ever done anything.

OK, what Brady really is is the greatest quarterback of all time. And if you don’t agree with that, there’s no arguing that he’s the greatest quarterback at winning Super Bowls. Tampa’s victory over Kansas City last year gave Brady seven rings for his career—including six as a member of the New England Patriots.

You would think that this power Brady had over me—as the title says, he spent many years living rent-free in my head while also knocking over lamps, having loud parties and repeatedly ruining the Steelers’ Super Bowl hopes—would have vanished the second he left New England.

Nope, which is why the title is written in the present tense.

And that brings me to this past Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round Playoff Game between the Buccaneers and Rams at Raymond James Stadium. I went over to a friend’s house to watch this matchup. He, like me, appeared to be all-in on Matthew Stafford and the team from Los Angeles (this Brady fella sure does get around in the free-living department).

We relished every point the Rams scored on the way to a 20-3 first-half lead. We both felt very uneasy after running back Cam Akers fumbled near the goal line right when it looked like the Rams would take a commanding 27-3 lead just before halftime.

After receiver Cooper Kupp fumbled late in the third quarter and gave the Buccaneers, who were down 27-6 at the time, new life, I began to feel REALLY uncomfortable, a feeling only made worse moments later when running back Leonard Fournette pounded his way into the end zone for a one-yard score to pull Tampa to within two touchdowns.

And don’t even get me started on how I felt late in the fourth quarter when Rams kicker Matt Gay came up short on a 47-yard field goal that would have given the visitors a 17-point lead with 6:36 left in regulation. I mean, who misses short on a 47-yard field goal these days? Did Frank Corral steal Gay’s uniform?

It was at that point that I wanted to take to Facebook—always a platform for rational thought—and type in all caps that THE GAME WAS RIGGED SO THAT BRADY COULD WIN!!!!!!!!!

This urge was intensified moments later following another Rams fumble that allowed the Buccaneers to tie the score with 42 seconds left.

I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the end. Nope, instead, I left for my bowling match. That whole 28-3 fiasco from Super Bowl LI had secretly convinced me that Brady would bring his team all the way back to win (the Rams ultimately did up their lead to 27-3 which felt like Deju Vu all over again), and after Tampa tied things up, I didn’t even bother to listen to the rest of the game on the radio as I was driving to my match.

To make a long story a little longer, I was actually relieved when I soon got a text from my bowling buddy informing me that the Rams had managed to win the game in regulation.

I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life and wanted to run down the street screaming, “Merry Christmas!” to anyone I saw.

I woke up on Monday morning still smiling from ear to ear…I just don’t know why.

To repeat, the power that Brady had over me should have disappeared the moment he left the Patriots. What do I care if he wins a few more Super Bowls with the Buccaneers? He’s just one player—not a whole team. I could see if I was an NFC South neighbor. I could understand why residents of that division, one that has included quarterbacks named Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan over the past decade, would be upset by Brady moving in and buying up all of the Super Bowl property.

But why would a Steelers fan care? Why do I repeatedly catch myself saying things like, “They always get those calls” whenever I’m watching a game involving Tampa Bay these days? As I alluded to earlier, the Buccaneers have never ALWAYS done anything except lose a lot.

Oh well, I guess you could say Brady will always occupy a space inside my head—and it appears he has more power over me than even the Patriots do—and the only way he’ll ever officially move out is if he retires from the NFL.

That should be any day, now, right?

It’s great that Tom Brady got eliminated, but I can’t put myself through this again next postseason.

Podcast: How history suggests Matt Canada making the sophomore leap

The Oracle Dave Schofield shares his thoughts in the AM platform with the classic stats show with the Editor of BTSC.

The Stat Geek is answering the question everybody is asking about Matt Canada. How have other past Steelers offensive coordinators improved in their second season and could that give hope to Steelers fans who are doubting him. Thank goodness for the Stat Geek to break it all “dahn”. This is just one of the topics that will be discussed on the Thursday episode of the AM slate of the BTSC family of podcasts. Join Co-Editor Dave Schofield as he pulls out the Steelers slide rule and geeks out only like he can.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • Matt Canada’s chances for success in his second season as OC
  • and more geeky numbers!

Be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE


Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.