It is July, which means football is right around the corner. July 27th the Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe, PA for another training camp. Although we still have a few weeks of the “dog days” of the NFL offseason, it doesn’t mean there isn’t news to still be discussed.
We take you around the world wide web to give you your daily dose of black and gold, along with making BTSC your one-stop-shop for all things Steelers.
Safety Mike Mitchell was the Steelers’ third-leading tackler in 2016, and he’s earned a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL.
Still, Steven Ruiz of USA Today’s For the Win is not impressed, ranking Mitchell No. 15 among the most overpaid players in the NFL. He wrote Thursday of Mitchell’s $8.13 million salary cap hit for 2017:
Mitchell is a hard-hitter who is just a little too reckless to be making the kind of money he’s getting from Pittsburgh. He gives up far too many big plays and he doesn’t force enough turnovers to make up for it. Mitchell isn’t even in the top-10 safety discussion but only Devin McCourty and Earl Thomas make more at the position.
Mitchell has just four interceptions in three seasons with the Steelers, so it’s hard to say that criticism of his game is completely off base (though he did force a fumble in the playoff win against the Miami Dolphins in January). And he’s been known to whiff on some tackles, sometimes leading to the big plays Ruiz refers to.
He’s also earned praise from his teammates for bringing an intimidating presence to a Steelers defense that has lacked one at times since Troy Polamalu retired after the 2014 season and mentoring the team’s slew of young defensive backs. Those qualities are a little more difficult to quantify, but they’re worth noting amid a suggestion that Mitchell is overpaid.
Topping the For The Win list was Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews and Los Angeles Rams receiver Tavon Austin.
The Steelers offense should be explosive again this season — but that’s not why they could win their seventh Lombardi Trophy. The defense will lead the way.
Ben Roethlisberger gets credit for leading the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances and two wins. He has had a huge hand in the success, but the defense has led them in their best seasons.
In 2005, the first Super Bowl-winning season with Roethlisberger, the offense averaged 24.7 points per game, seventh in the NFL. The defense gave up 16 points per game, third in the league.
In the 2008 Super Bowl-winning season, the Steelers offense averaged 22.7 points per game, 17th in the NFL. The defense gave up 14.9 points per game, second in the league.
In the 2010 season, capped by a Super Bowl loss to Green Bay, the Steelers offense averaged 23.9 points per game, 12th in the NFL. The defense gave up 16.1 points per game, second in the league. The defense that allowed fewer points per game that season? The Green Bay Packers, who were “led” to the Super Bowl title by their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.
As the NFL has become more offensive-minded, teams that win the Super Bowl still generally can stop the opponent from scoring. Last season, Tom Brady and the Patriots won the Super Bowl with an explosive offense ranked No. 3 in scoring (28.7 points per game). However, their defense ranked No. 1, allowing 16.4 points per game. The previous Super Bowl champion, Denver, was the same case. The Broncos offense scored only 22.2 points per game but their defense allowed only 17.9 points per game. Peyton Manning may have “led” his team to the Super Bowl title but the defense did most of the heavy lifting.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t play hockey. The hockey team in Boston didn’t win the Stanley Cup this year. But Brady has posed with the Stanley Cup, apparently recently.
Philip Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Keeper of the Cup, posted Friday on Twitter a photo of #Tommy next to #Stanley. And the responses to the tweet were pretty much what you’d expect them to be, both from Steelers/Penquins fans and from Patriots fans.
Some Pittsburgh loyalists have pointed out that the Steelers have won six Super Bowls, one more than the Patriots. But when considering the extent to which the Patriots have mashed on the gas in an effort to get a sixth Lombardi of their own, it’s hard not to make them the favorites to match the Steelers in 2017.
If the Patriots pull it off, they could be the favorites to become the first NFL franchise to seven Super Bowl wins in 2018. And then Sidney Crosby can pose with the Lombardi Trophy, or something.