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Another week, another dub for Steelers fans! Is it all a mirage, though? After rising above .500 with a win over the Raiders on Monday Night Football, there are plenty of questions that remain about the season ahead.
The biggest question of them all is, “What do we make of Matt Canada after a solid offensive outing?” How confident are we that the Steelers fans saw in Week 3 is the same Steelers team they’ll see moving forward? Do the Steelers have a legitimate shot at the playoffs? For what it’s worth, odds now just slightly favor the Steelers to make the playoffs at -115 over at DraftKings Sportsbook…
Now’s your chance to weigh in. Vote away, Steelers Nation. Let’s hear your thoughts!
Be sure to check back on Friday as we reveal how you — the fans — voted on the questions above!
Barnes was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad on September 15. Despite his blazing speed (4.23-second 40-yard dash), he’s bounced around the league since his rookie year in 2022. The Steelers were his fourth NFL team, and he only spent 11 days on their practice squad.
Barnes isn’t the only name leaving Pittsburgh this week. Wide receiver Simi Fehoko was poached off of the Steelers’ practice squad yesterday by the Los Angeles Chargers, leaving Pittsburgh with two spots open on their 16-man practice squad after today.
James Proche could be an option for one of those spots after his workout with the team today. He was a sixth-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 out of SMU. Proche was incredibly prolific as a college receiver, recording 111 catches for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns in his senior season alone. Over his four-year NCAA career, Proche recorded a total of 301 catches for just under 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Once in the NFL, the 5’11, 201-pound receiver was primarily used as a punt returner, recording 27 returns for 222 yards with a long 20 over his three seasons with Baltimore. Over that same span, Proche recorded 25 receptions for 278 yards. He has yet to score an NFL touchdown.
Waived by the Ravens before final roster cuts in 2023, Proche is looking to join his second NFL team. He’s a possible option for the Steelers’ practice squad following his tryout.
The Steelers will be facing the Houston Texans this week on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
The Pittsburgh Steelers head out for their second road game of the season in Week 4, this time down south for a Sunday afternoon showdown against the Houston Texans. HC Mike Tomlin provided several injury updates ahead of the game.
Among the injuries Tomlin acknowledged Tuesday was that of starting right guard James Daniels, being evaluated for a groin injury after Sunday’s game. Daniels had played 100% of snaps in Week 3, so hopefully, this note comes out of an abundance of caution. Daniels was previously listed on the Week 2 injury report with an unrelated ankle issue.
Among the other “bumps and brusies” Tomlin noted following Week 3 were WR Allen Robinson, who will likely limited early in the week with an ankle injury, as well as punter Pressley Harvin III, who is dealing with a hamstring injury coming off one of the better outings so far in his career.
The Steelers will hold their first team practice ahead of Week 4’s game against the Texans on Wednesday, which will provide a more complete look at the health of the team. For now, it doesn’t appear there’s much to be concerned with ahead of Week 4, but time will tell.
After two weeks of disappointments on offense, Steelers HC Mike Tomlin did not hold back in his weekly press conference ahead of Week 3’s showdown against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“We have to get our mojo back, we have to get that mojo we had in the preseason, playing fast and fluid with confidence. Individually and collectively, we’ve lost that, to be blunt,” Tomlin said ahead of Week 3.
Brooke Pryor of ESPN followed up on that comment following a revitalized offensive outing against the Raiders, asking if he thinks one game is enough to say they’ve got it back. Tomlin’s response wasn’t what you might expect, though.
“I’ll be really transparent with you. I didn’t mean it last week when I said it. You guys asked me the question repeatedly in a bunch of different ways, and I’ve given you the same answer. So sometimes, I’ll just give you a colorful answer with a word like ‘mojo’ just so you guys can run with it, and we can all move on with our day.”
“I don’t subscribe to ‘mojo’ or intangible-like things, all of that BS. We’ve just got to work harder. We’ve got to put together better plans. The guys have to understand those plans and make subsequent plays,” Tomlin closed out.
So, there it is. No “mojo” for Mike Tomlin — just a buzzword to dangle in front of the media.
Are you buying it? Or is it a lot easier for Coach Tomlin to say he “didn’t mean it” after a bounce-back performance? Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know your thoughts in the comments!
WARNING: Conspiracy theory alert. Proceed with caution.
Much to the joy of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the offense finally showed some signs of life in Week 3’s Sunday Night Football showdown against the Raiders. After chants of “Fire [Matt] Canada!” echoed throughout Acrisure Stadium (well, as much as an open-air stadium can force an echo), fans demanded change.
And change, they got.
In Weeks 1 and 2, the offense posted 239 and 255 total net yards, respectively — both ranking bottom five in net yardage output for a single game dating back to 2021, when Matt Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator.
Watching the game, it was clear that there was a different vibe to the offense, top to bottom. The change wasn’t just in how second-year QB Kenny Pickett executed the plays, however. A big part of that was the type of plays that were being called.
Analyzing the Steelers’ playcalling data courtesy of PFF, you’ll note a significant uptick in run-pass options (RPO), play-action passes, and bootlegs in Week 3, compared to the previous two weeks. Dating back to 2022 (Canada’s first time calling for a quarterback other than Ben Roethlisberger), the Steelers called RPOs on 9.4% of plays, play action on 16.6% of plays, and bootlegs on 5.8% of plays.
It wasn’t just the play calling that was different, either. The team also introduced two new offensive personnel groupings. After strictly deploying 11, 12 and 13-man personnel groupings in Weeks 1 and 2, there were a couple of more wrinkles installed in this week’s game plan. The Steelers deployed 02 personnel (0 RBs, 2 TEs, 3 WRs) and 23 personnel (2 RBs, 3 TEs, 0 WRs) both for the first time this season, combining for three of the 62 offensive plays on the week.
It’s not the first time we’ve ever seen these personnel groupings under Canada, but it is worth pointing out how rarely we’ve seen them. In the 48 games Canada has coached as the offensive coordinator, we’ve seen 02 personnel deployed in just 11 total instances prior to Week 3 of the 2023 season and 23 personnel deployed in just 12 instances.
Heading into Week 3, there were reports that the Steelers wanted Canada to “take on a more prominent role” working with Pickett. There was no shortage of speculation as to what that might actually mean for Canada, but some of that speculation stated it might be a bit of a ruse on the Steelers part. Could this be their way of quietly transitioning Canada back toward a role as a quarterbacks coach?
The timing of that news, followed by a pretty significant shift in the type of offensive play calling is enough to make you wonder — was Matt Canada really calling the plays at all in Week 3? Hmm…
Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community, and speculate with us in the comments!
Steelers news and commentary for Tuesday, September 26
Welcome to the Terrible Towel Tales, where we’ll highlight some of the latest stories permeating Steelers media for your reading pleasure every Monday through Saturday. In today’s news…
Pittsburgh Steelers Player Asks Taylor Swift & Travis Kelce for a Ride After Emergency Landing in Kansas City | Rania Aniftos, Billboard
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a scary incident on Monday morning (Sept. 25), but the team’s defensive end, Cam Heyward, kept the positivity by adding a bit of humor to the situation.
The NFL team was heading back home after winning their game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday (Sept. 24), but according toKDKA News, the plane landed in Kansas City due to an issue with the oil pressure failing in one of the engines. Thankfully, everyone on board is safe and eventually a replacement plane arrived to take the team back to Pittsburgh.
“Yo @taylorswift13 & @tkelce we might need a ride to Pittsburgh,” Heyward joked on X (formerly known as Twitter) after the incident, referring to Taylor Swift‘s headline making appearance at Travis Kelce‘s game with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chargers Poach WR from Steelers Practice Squad | Alan Saunders, Steelers Now
The Pittsburgh Steelers are losing a member of their practice squad, as the Los Angeles Chargers are signing away wide receiver Simi Fehoko.
Fehoko broke the news on his TikTok account, as he was on his way to Los Angeles on Monday night.
Najee Harris on Mike Tomlin’s message to Steelers: ‘Mike T just be talking s—’| Allison Koehler, Steelers Wire
“Mike T just be talking s—,” Harris told Brooke Pryor about the comment. He took it as a challenge, and the Steelers responded with a win. They’re headed in the right direction, but consistency is what’s crucial here.
The two linked up this week on Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin’ podcast.
They may be in retirement, but Steelers’ duo of QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Jerome Bettis is still alive and well. Bettis joined Roethlisberger’s podcast, “Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger,” this week to discuss their time together on the field, how Bettis came to be known as “The Bus” and more.
Most interesting, perhaps, was the discussion on their 2004 AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots. Laughing, Roethlisberger said, “To be fair, the Patriots cheated.”
“For sure they did!” Bettis agreed. “It’s not even a question in my mind.”
Bettis went on to discuss a specific instance where the offensive coordinator motioned for a counter play, and the Patriots called a timeout that looked all too suspicious.
Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis say the Patriots stole their signs and cheated in the 2004 AFC Championship Game.
“They had our signs, and they called a timeout to get them ready for that play because they knew it was coming,” Bettis said.
Sign stealing has been a hotly contested topic in recent years, though mostly in regards to baseball and the Astros’ 2017 World Series win. Under what circumstances would sign stealing be considered “cheating”? Does it depend on how the signs are identified? What if they’re identified by simply watching the tape and not via the use of spies, drones, or other various types of trickery?
Join our BTSC community and let us know in the comments!
Watch the full episode of Ben Roethlisberger’s Footbahlin’ Podcast with special guest Jerome Bettis here.
The Chargers recently lost wide receiver Mike Williams for the season due to a torn ACL, opening up the need for a receiver on their roster. Like Williams, Fehoko is a big-bodied receiver with great athleticism, standing at 6’4, 218 pounds and running a 4.37-second 40-yard dash. He hasn’t had anything close to the production Williams has put up at the NFL level, but the Chargers clearly see Fehoko as depth with great potential.
Fehoko was a fifth-round pick by the Cowboys in 2021 out of Stanford. He spent two seasons in Dallas, recording three total catches before being waived during final roster cuts in 2023. He was then added to the Steelers’ practice squad, another family-related signing as Fehoko is the cousin of Steelers defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko.
Now in Los Angeles, Fehoko has a great chance to live up to his sky-high athletic potential. As for the Steelers, they’ll be tasked with finding another name to fill out their 16-man practice squad. Pittsburgh’s next game will be against the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
8 takeaways (…or maybe just overreactions) following the Steelers’ victory over Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football.
The Steelers showed flashes of being a good football team in their 23-18 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday Night Football, but they still have a long way to go before they get there. That being said, Pittsburgh currently holds a 2-1 record and sits atop the AFC North. Just as everyone predicted, right? As always, there are plenty of takeaways to be had.
1. A blast from the past
Call it improvement, call it more of the same, but the Steelers last night looked a lot like the team did during their winning streak to close out the 2022 season. Outside of some ugly throws while he was still settling in early in the game, Kenny Pickett played fairly smart and effectively while using his mobility to keep plays alive. His competence through the air opened up the Steelers’ ground attack some, which didn’t explode for any big plays but looked at least NFL caliber. Similarly, offensive coordinator Matt Canada didn’t stand out negatively for the first time this season. On the other side of the ball, the defense made some splash plays and held the opposing team to under 20 points, helping the offense do just enough to secure the victory.
The good news is that this Steelers team looks like it might not be worse than they were last year — but the bad news is that although the Steelers can handle second-rate teams, they’re still nowhere close to competing with the NFL’s elite…
2. Struggling against the elite
The Steelers’ last few seasons boil down to the above statement. They’ve proven again and again to be too talented to be grouped in with the bottom tier of NFL clubs, but they’ve wallowed in that mediocrity instead of building something that can compete for a Super Bowl. The Steelers’ last two wins against the Raiders and Browns are cause for some optimism — Pittsburgh looks to be on its way to another how-did-they-do-it winning season after a putrid start Week 1 — but they’re still a far cry away from the playoff-caliber team they looked like following the offseason and preseason hype. The Steelers aren’t bad, but they still are going to be outmatched against the elite.
That’s true on a macro level, but also the micro. The Steelers’ secondary can make plays — they had three interceptions against the Raiders on Sunday — but they still have no answer to an elite wide receiver like Davante Adams, who was unstoppable all day to the tune of 13 catches, 172 yards, and 2 touchdowns. And the Steelers’ offensive tackles continue to have no response for upper-tier pass rushes, including the 49ers’ defensive line, the Browns and Myles Garrett, and the Raiders and Maxx Crosby…
3. It’s time for Broderick Jones
Steeler fans know that Broderick Jones isn’t perfect despite clamoring for him to replace Dan Moore Jr., because much like the Levi Wallace/Joey Porter Jr. debate, they’d rather see a rookie struggle and learn rather than a veteran struggle and continue to play the same. It’s that simple. The Steelers’ offensive tackles have been turnstiles all year, and even if Broderick Jones will struggle early on, the veterans in front of him on the depth chart haven’t shown enough to keep him off the field any longer. The Steelers spent a first-round pick on Jones. It’s time to see what he can do.
4. No confidence in the Steelers offense… from either team
The Steelers got the ball back, up by six, with 38 seconds and two timeouts left in the second half. Instead of trying anything remotely similar to an attempt to go up by two possessions before the half, the Steelers decided to run out the clock and settle for their six-point lead. Later, with just under 2:30 left in the game, Raiders’ head coach Josh McDaniels decided to kick a field goal down eight on a fourth & four in the red zone instead of trying for the touchdown. He decided to bet that the Steelers’ offense would go three and out and give the ball right back in time for the Raiders to score a game-winning touchdown.
McDaniels’ decision was obviously unwise, and it could be argued that it had more to do with trusting his defense than the Steelers’ offense, but both his decision and the Steelers’ unwillingness to try for a score at the end of the first half show a remarkable lack of confidence in Pittsburgh’s offense by both teams. Make no mistake about it: despite the Steelers’ many verbal votes of trust in Matt Canada, no one in the NFL has much belief in this Pittsburgh offense. The Steelers may have looked passable on Sunday, but change is still desperately needed.
5. Big play potential
Now for a positive regarding the Steelers’ offense. For the second straight week, the Steelers hit on a 70+ yard pass play for a big, momentum-boosting touchdown. Even with Diontae Johnson on injured reserve, George Pickens and Calvin Austin III have shown they can be consistent playmakers. If Kenny Pickett can continue to have the time to hit a few big downfield throws a game, it’ll do wonders towards keeping the defense honest and opening up plays elsewhere for the offense. The Steelers’ big play ability is shocking considering how anemic they’ve looked on offense all year, but it’s certainly a welcome trend.
6. Another big game for Pressley Harvin
It’s rare for a punter to be one of the biggest stars of the game for back-to-back weeks, but Pittsburgh’s Pressley Harvin has managed to do exactly that. He landed three of his six punts inside the 20-yard line with an impressive 53.8 yards per boot against the Raiders. The hangtime he can put on punts continues to be a strength, giving the Steelers’ punt coverage more time to get downfield and making it more difficult for the returner. Harvin’s highlight of the night was a high-hanging, directional punt near the end of the game that Raiders’ returner DeAndre Carter muffed and barely recovered, backing up Las Vegas to their own 15. Harvin’s punt left the Raiders needing 85 yards in 12 seconds to win the game, something they didn’t manage to pull off.
Harvin has struggled with consistency before, and the punting conditions will only worsen this year, but for now it’s great for the Steelers to have a field-flipping weapon on special teams.
drew the ire of some NFL fans last week with his low hit that injured the knee of Browns’ star running back Nick Chubb. It wasn’t flagged or fined, as it clearly wasn’t a dirty hit, but Fitzpatrick was still critiqued by some for not hitting higher. Irony struck on Sunday when Fitzpatrick hit Jimmy Garoppolo a little high on a sack in which the Raiders’ quarterback ducked right before contact. Fitzpatrick was flagged for roughing the passer.
It’s not lost on me that the comparison is slightly apples-to-oranges. Different rules do apply for hits on running backs vs. quarterbacks. But the point still stands: defenders always tend to be the bad guy on big hits, but with offensive players moving around at full speed, it’s hard for defenders to always tackle perfectly by the book while still playing effectively. Most NFL fans know that, but it’s a shame that Fitzpatrick will have to deal with the “is-he-a-dirty-player” discourse for yet another week.
8. Steelers odds and ends
I sound like a broken record every week, but T.J. Watt continues to be a force of nature on the Steelers’ defense. He recorded another multi-sack game this season against the Raiders and harassed Jimmy Garoppolo all night.
Speaking of the Steelers’ pass rush, the Raiders’ offensive tackles got away with a few egregious holds over the course of the game. It was a poor showing for the referees overall.
The Raiders’ rushing offense hasn’t been great this season by any means, but the Steelers’ run defense still delivered a bounce-back game after getting shredded on the ground the past two weeks.
Don’t let Chris Boswell’s fantastic game slip under the radar. He was perfect on extra point attempts and field goals, even nailing a 57-yarder right down the middle at one point.
Corners Patrick Peterson and Levi Wallace have received a lot of criticism this season — some of it well deserved — but they also deserve credit for combining for three interceptions that played a key role in the Steelers’ victory. That being said, the Pittsburgh secondary still got torched by Davante Adams, meaning there’s still plenty of poor film to go over.
Cole Holcomb and the Steelers’ middle linebackers continue to contribute a few splash plays a game. You’d still like to see more from the group, but they’ve been a definite improvement over last year’s ILB play.
The Steelers activated Desmond King for kickoff returns but still haven’t played him on defense. It remains to be seen if the Steelers don’t have a lot of confidence in King or if they have a lot of confidence in Chandon Sullivan. It doesn’t make a ton of sense either way.
The Steelers seem to be embracing the more straightforward style of run game that won them games last season. It was far from perfect against the Raiders but undeniably a step in the right direction. Still, you’d like to see more against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses.
Damontae Kazee is a hard hitter. He’s a great physical presence on defense but I also brace for a flag every time he’s on the screen.
Montravius Adams has struggled this season but his first step is lightning-fast. Keeanu Benton should and will keep stealing snaps from Adams, but there’s a reason the latter is still seeing playing time.
After seeming uncomfortable early on, Kenny Pickett really settled in en route to his first two-passing-touchdown game as a pro. Against the Raiders he seemed more confident and comfortable staying in the pocket than he has all season.
Pittsburgh fans deserve credit for creating a home-game atmosphere in Las Vegas. As TJ Watt stated in his postgame interview, it played a role in the Steelers’ victory.
Mike Tomlin complimenting the Raiders’ “dangerous eligibles” at halftime instead of just saying that they have good receivers should be getting more press as a new Tomlinism. It’s absolute gold.
Despite a bevy of issues still remaining, the Steelers looked the best they have this season against the Raiders. Hopefully, the improvements continue to come with a slate of winnable games around the bend.
What are your overreactions and takeaways from Steelers vs. Raiders? Agree/disagree with the ones above? Join our Behind The Steel Curtain community and let us know in the comments!