Mike Sullivan’s father George passed away today at the age of 81, the team announced.
Assistant coach Jacques Martin will take over the day-to-day duties with the team in Mike’s absence to mourn the passing of his father.
The Penguins second Stanley Cup run during the Sullivan era in 2017 gave a glimpse of the relationship between Mike and his father where there was a segment on the Showtime Stanley Cup series of the two playing cards and smoking cigars following the Penguins Game 1 win over the Predators.
Sullivan had often talked of the great relationship the two had.
— Our condolences to Mike and his family —
Key Takeaways from Tuesday Tomlin
— Tomlin raved and raved about Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and understandably so.
“He’s just a talented player, one that has to be minimized because every time the ball snaps he’s capable of running through the end zone,” Tomlin said. “That’s reflective of not only his speed but his talent, and I think vision is an element of that. He’s a great open-grass football player.”
With a quarterback now in Patrick Maholmes who can make any throw and gets the ball out so much quicker, Hill becomes that much more dangerous to defend.
Where Tomlin dropped the ball, though, when discussing Hill was calling him an “awesome guy” after being around Hill for a week at the pro bowl.
Guess Hill beating a woman must have slipped Tomlin’s mind.
— Tomlin dropped the ball too on Tuesday when asked by Jacob Klinger of Penn Live about Antonio Brown threatening to break a reporters jaw on social media.
Tomlin doesn’t care…..
“Guys don’t ask me about social media things. You know, we could talk all day about things that are online or on the internet or on social media. I just choose to stay away from it because it’s a waste of my time. There’s very little accountability, there’s very little journalistic integrity, ect. Guys say things they don’t mean.”
Tomlin gives vague answers on James Washington
“He’s just got to keep working,” Tomlin said. “He’s a young guy. He’s made some plays in preseason football. He’s made some plays in a training-camp setting. He played some on Sunday. That will continue. It’s just the natural maturation process or development that all players go through. “What happened with him Sunday is no reflection of the trajectory of his career, whether it was positive or negative. I think it’s important that young guys just wipe the slate clean and clock in and work each and every day and don’t overanalyze the here and now because the reality is, in the big scheme of things, he’s been here a very short period of time. I know it seems like he’s been here for a long time for him. He just needs to keep coming to work, as do all the others.”
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Week 1: Steelers – Browns What we Learned
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns played to a 21-21 tie on Sunday afternoon.
Of course to the Steelers who have Super Bowl aspirations, if felt like a loss. For the Browns who still haven’t won a game in 625 days and counting, the tie is being looked at a lot differently in those circles.
Pittsburgh had won 80 straight games when leading by 14 or more points to start the fourth quarter, according to ESPN stats and information.
You could write a book to go through the squandered opportunities the Steelers had in somehow not winning this game.
Instead of rehashing how neither team deserved to win, here’s a big picture look at the Steelers coming out of week 1:
1. Another season, same lack of discipline issues are going to continue it appears.
To go with a minus-5 turnover differential, Pittsburgh was penalized 12 times for 116 yards. When you combine those two factors, it shows how bad the Browns still are that Pittsburgh had a 14 point 4th quarter lead and multiple opportunities in OT to get the ‘W’.
There were so many turning points in this game but here’s an underrated one.
The Browns 10 play, 86 yard touchdown drive to open the 3rd quarter that was self-inflicted by the Steelers.
Tyrod Taylor was sacked for a 10-yard loss to setup a 2nd and 20 at the Cleveland 4.
Pittsburgh has themselves in position to get a short field with the Browns backed up and what happens next is Javon Hargrave getting a defensive holding penalty on a Carlos Hyde short-run, giving the Browns an automatic first down.
Just an inexcusable penalty from Hargrove when Pittsburgh had Cleveland backed up and then Artie Burns happens…….
Burns loses his mind on the next play, takes his helmet off, gets an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Cleveland goes from being at their own 4 yard line to the 31 because of bonehead mental mistakes.
2. Ben Roethlisberger Home/Road Splits:
Home Stats since start of 2016 season: 68.3 Completion %, 36 touchdowns/13 interceptions
Road Stats since start of 2016 season: 60.2 Completion %, 22 touchdowns/17 interceptions
Road Big Ben is a thing that is also not likely going away in 2018.
Roethlisberger had some brilliant throws vs the Browns but from the start he was airing balls throughout and most concerning was the lack of feel from Big Ben when the pocket was closing in.
Roethlisberger never having a great feel of the pocket was much more surprising than his accuracy issues or forcing throws.
Few would be surprised if Roethlisberger comes out in week 2 at home with a great game but the drop off in play on the road has been going on for two years now.
It’s going to continue…….
Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" 3. Against a defense that Ben Roethlisberger called maybe the best defense they’ll see all year, James Conner rushed for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns to go with 5 catches for 57 yards.
Conner had a long-run of 22 yards (TD) and a long catch of 19 yards. The splash plays were there in a big way.
What we’ve now learned from Conner since training camp is that he can ball and in this system, he’s more than capable of holding down the No. 1 running back job until Le’Veon Bell decides to show up.
One thing that can’t get overlooked with the Bell drama is that this system is built for running backs to put up big numbers.
The costly Conner fumble shouldn’t be pushed aside but this offense had opportunity after opportunity to close out the Browns. There was a lot more blame to go around than Conner’s fumble.
Pittsburgh’s last six drives in regulation when leading 21-7.
Punt (12 plays, 52 Yds)
Punt (4 plays, -3 Yds)
Lost Fumble (1 play, -1 Yard)
Lost Fumble (2 players, 9 Yds)
Punt (6 plays, 14 Yds)
Punt (3 plays, -1 Yard)
“It’s just frustrating that you can’t make the plays down the stretch,” Ben Roethlisberger said afterwards. “We didn’t make them.”
Assuming the Le’Veon Bell holdout drags on a couple more weeks, what has to emerge is the coaching staff showing a willingness to spell Conner to keep him fresh late in games.
Conner’s effectiveness in the running game hit a roadblock in the 4th quarter/overtime.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster had 5 catches for 119 yards, including a catch of 67 yards. Antonio Brown got his numbers with 9 catches for 93 yards, though, Roethlisberger/Brown weren’t in-sync as they normally are, but one glaring issue with the offense throughout was the lack of a third option to stretch the field.
Vance McDonald who is always injured was badly missed and if the overcoaching towards a rookie of not playing James Washington continues over the next little while, the Steelers are going to continue to lack that needed presence.
Where Le’Veon Bell was mostly missed and will continue to be is his sheer presence. Conner was great, can get the job done, but no Bell also saw the Browns play a lot more cover-2 that saw Roethlisberger throwing into a lot of bodies.
Have to think that continues…..
5. T.J. Watt 11 tackles (8 solo), 4 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, blocked field goal. This was a J.J. Watt in his heyday type performance from the younger brother T.J.
Watt surely took advantage of some poor tackle play from the Browns but the Steelers have believed Watt is primed for a pro-bowl type season and hard to get off to a better start than he did.
The rest of the linebacker crew also had a stats day.
Bud Dupree 1 sack, Vince Williams 12 tackles, Jon Bostic 9 tackles, 1 sack.
Dupree was his usual hit or miss self met with aggressiveness that worked at times and also was a detriment in over- pursuing against a mobile quarterback in Tyrod Taylor. Dupree is still looking to find that even ground of when to go all out and when not too.
Bostic had a surprise performance. He was so bad in training camp and the preseason that he warranted being cut if the Steelers had any resemblance of ILB depth, some on the inside feel.
Bostic had a positive game and Vince Williams was aggressive at the line of scrimmage.
However, don’t expect this to be a sign of things to come for the insidebacker group. Much different animal next week against the Chiefs.
6. Mike Hilton has turned into a player who is built for today’s game to cover in the slot. He’s trending into a player to get excited about with this secondary that is implementing young upside defensive backs in Hilton, Terrell Edmunds, Sean Davis and Cam Sutton.
At the safety position, it remains to be seen where Morgan Burnett falls into everything moving forward.
Burnett played just 40 snaps (45%) compared to Edmunds, 74 snaps (84%), and Davis who played all 100% of the defensive snaps.
How important is Joe Haden’s health to this defense?
All you had to do was watch the Browns 4th quarter comeback.
Haden might not be the player he used to be but is still Pittsburgh’s best go-to cover corner and how important Haden is to this team showed already in week 1.
A badly coached Cleveland today even figured out to immediately target Cam Sutton when Haden exited with a hamstring injury.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be licking their chops if Haden is out.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
TIOPS Daily 5
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" 1. As Le’Veon Bell remains MIA, the situation now turns to Saturday.
Does he finally report by 4:00 p.m. Saturday to collect his week 1 check and force the Steelers hand to pay him or not.
This will be fascinating to watch if Bell actually reports before Sunday.
The Steelers look weak if they cave in and don’t apply the 2-week roster exemption to Bell.
With how vocal that locker room has been this week towards Bell, the organization has the perfect situation to make a statement and make Bell lose two paychecks.
Here’s guessing if Bell shows up Saturday, though, Pittsburgh will pay him.
As frustrated as the organization is, its easy to see them wanting to turn the page and not alienate Bell.
2. The San Francisco 49ers lost their No. 1 running and have over $35 million in cap space.
How’s a 2nd round pick for Le’Veon Bell sound?
It might sound like a win-win on paper for both sides but if Pittsburgh even gave permission to the Bell camp to seek a trade (Bell would have to sign his tag first to officially facilitate a trade), a team trading for Bell still can’t sign Bell to a long-term deal until the off-season and would potentially just be renting Bell for this season, which severely limits any trade value as there are only 7 teams that could take on Bell’s cap hit straight up.
At the end of the day, though, what ultimately limits Bell’s trade value is that If Bell’s goal is to preserve himself for free agency in 2019, why would a trade change that?
Few organizations also see paying a running back $14-$15 million per season as smart business.
It would take the perfect storm for a trade to happen.
Right now the Steelers don’t see a trade market for Bell because of those factors and they remain perfectly fine to just rent him for another season, once he finally reports.
3. As teammates went public with their frustrations towards Bell, a narrative has started nationally with criticism towards the Steelers from pundits and former players that the Steelers are in the wrong for not paying the man Lev Bell.
The Steelers pay their stars and superstars top dollar and market value. That’s been going on for years.
In the Ben Roethlisberger era, the Steelers just don’t let star players out the door.
Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, were among highest paid players at their respective positions, to Ben Roethlisberger being one of the highest paid quarterbacks since 2008 now on two different contracts.
David DeCastro was given one of the latest contracts ever to a guard at the time of his signing, Antonio Brown’s AAV of $17 million was tops in the NFL until the Odell Beckham Jr contract.
Non-superstar players like Cam Hayward, Stephon Tuitt got contracts worth around $60 million in total value.
Pittsburgh’s structure in how they do guaranteed money is different than other teams but the big money contracts still set up where the team is pretty much locked in to those players for 3 to 4 years of the contract.
Le’Veon Bell not signed long-term is a rare occurrence and more on the player than the team.
One of the biggest frustrations with Bell that the Steelers have is a belief that Bell never took the time to actually understand their contract offer which Steelers officials privately contend was right on par with Todd Gurley’s eventual deal with the Rams that was signed after the franchise tag deadline.
Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" 4. Is the NHL going to start seeing more movement among star players in free agency over the next 2-3 years?
Unless Erik Karlsson lands in Tampa Bay, NHL exec’s believe he’s destined to hit the market In 2019.
As NHL players are often too loyal and always jumping to re-up for 8 years, a defenseman of Karlsson’s caliber going to July 1 just doesn’t happen.
Still a while to go and he may love wherever he’s eventually traded, but the feeling around the league for past couple months is that Karlsson has every intention of going the Tavares route.
Where the movement is starting to slowly happen for superstar players getting to July 1 or thinking hard of testing the market is players in situations with unproven or bad ownership groups.
All eyes are on Tyler Seguin in Dallas but his situation is different.
He actually wants to stay in Dallas and will likely work something out soon…..
Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" 5. One of the most important things former Penguins GM Ray Shero was able to do during his tenure in Pittsburgh was develop a culture where the stars/superstars gave no thought to wanting to leave.
Jordan Staal was the lone exception and that was a unique situation.
The Sidney Crosby 12 year contract that was signed in June 2012 was a cheat deal when you breakdown the entire contract (Crosby will make $3 million per season In the final 3 years of the contract) but it was a big, big deal to get Crosby to make that type of commitment.
Shero and Penguin ownership were among the main reasons why and it wasn’t as easy it seemed to be.
Crosby at the time had two contract proposals his camp worked out:
The 12 year contract he signed and a 5 year contract said to have carried a cap hit of Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
The Le’Veon Bell situation is going to drag on and possibly for multiple weeks.
Things have been heading in the direction where Bell would not report to the team this week and his agent hinted further Wednesday that Bell could be away from the team for a while.
Bell’s agent Adisa Bakari, speaking on SiriusXM radio said that the No. 1 priority for Bell is ensuing as little wear and tear as possible this season to preserve Bell for the massive payday his camp believes is awaiting him next year as a free agent.
“You’re Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin, you have possibly a once-in-a-generation player for one more season. What would your plan be?” Bakari said implying the Steelers are going to run him until the wheels fall off. “I think Mike Tomlin said it best yesterday. He’ll get there when he gets there, and we’ll address those issues when he arrives.”
Bakari made a point to say the “franchise tag no longer works” and claimed something “exceptional has occurred”, hinting at the massive contracts in guaranteed money going around.
Le’Veon Bell might be forfeiting over $800,000 this week but the star running back has already won.
The Steelers look bad here in not protecting themselves.
They played this card ‘we’ll franchise him another year and he’ll report for the first week and everything will be okay’.
Now Bell is punching back by playing games in having no communication with the organization.
All players inside that room know it’s a business but Bell going silent and playing hide and seek is what drove so many players to go off Wednesday with the media and you can’t blame them.
This isn’t a Khalil Mack holdout. Bell can’t receive anymore money and this is now beyond business.
Man up and quit acting like a child and at least be straight up that you won’t be here until week 6, week 10, whatever it may be.
Players like Maurkice Pouncey, who actually helped try to negotiate a new deal for Bell behind the scenes have now taken this personal in Bell playing this guessing game.
What the Steelers need to do is come to their senses and start acting like that nobody, especially a running back is above the logo.
They backed themselves into this corner.
Bell is going to eventually show up, he has to in preserving his free agency for 2019.
But, not franchising Bell in March sure looks the move that should have been done by the Steelers.
Pittsburgh should have made their best offer to Bell in free agency, took the high comp pick for the 2019 draft and spread the $14 million+ owed to Bell to address other needs.
Those who know Bell well believe a few things are at play here:
1. Bell and his camp have started making moves with the lack of communication over what is believed be since about mid-August to alienate the Steelers enough where tagging him (was unlikely anyways) next year will be completely off the table.
2. The continued glowing talk of James Conner has irked Bell mightily, players in the Steelers room strongly believe. The feeling seems to be Bell is playing a game of chicken, waiting for Conner to falter and he can arrive on his white horse and save the day. That’s how Bell thinks.
Sunday’s game becomes fascinating.
You can bet this is a motivated Steelers offense ready to put on a show to prove Bell a point.
“Le’Veon’s not here so we gotta show we can go out and do it without him,” probowl guard David DeCastro said today.
You can also bet if the Browns upset the Steelers and the offense has a miserable day, Bell will magically appear next week…..Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
TIOPS Daily Five | Steelers Edition|
(Rumblings, Musings, Opinions)
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1. Are the Steelers getting played by Le’Veon Bell?
“We are disappointed Le’Veon Bell has not signed his franchise tender and rejoined his teammates. Coach Tomlin and the coaching staff will continue to focus on preparing the players on our roster for our regular season opener on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns — Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said in a released statement on Monday.
The Steelers believed this year would be the same with Bell in that he would report 8-9 days before the opener and there would be no drama ahead of week 1.
However, things are drastically different right now.
When sides failed to reach an agreement before the mid-July deadline, the Steelers brass privately felt talks were in such good-faith that Bell would be here by now but the communication from Bell and his agent towards anybody in the organization has gone completely dark.
From Mike Tomlin to Kevin Colbert, Bell is not just returning calls or messages, he’s also orchestrated his agent Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
2. Ben Roethlisberger today on 937 The Fan for the Ben Roethlisberger show (always a must listen) raved about the Browns defense and even stating it might be the best defense the Steelers will see all season.
The way Ben talks, this isn’t a Mike Tomlin going overboard about the opponent talk.
As the Le’Veon Bell drama drags out, all eyes will be on James Conner vs Cleveland.
The preseason is the preseason. The flashes Conner has shown is all good but what he does on Sunday’s is what matters.
With Bell’s absence setting the stage for Conner to start Week 1, we’re going to find out immediately if all this glowing talk of Conner from players to coaches all summer is actually real or not.
This is a group that honestly believes Conner can be very productive in this offense and a big reason for that belief is the growth Conner has made as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
If Bell purposely arrives too late this week to be a factor in the game plan for Cleveland or remains a complete no-show, you’d have to think a monster game from Conner in week 1 might start getting his attention or maybe not……
3. So I guess the Steelers didn’t actually regard Landry Jones as being better than 80% of backups in the NFL. The rest of the NFL also doesn’t agree with that assumption as to even the Steelers surprise, Jones remains unsigned as of now.
The Steelers were never going to carry four quarterbacks but the organization just saw too much upside in last couple weeks to move on from Josh Dobbs.
“It was a very difficult decision,” said Tomlin. “It really wasn’t about what Landry did or didn’t do, it was about what Josh did.”
Was releasing Jones a smart move?
Ben loved Jones in the room so this wasn’t going to be popular with Roethlisberger but at the end of the day, who gives the Steelers the best chance to win a football game or multiple games if Roethlisberger goes down.
For now that answer is Jones because he has proven it and we just don’t know what Dobbs can do when he’s not going against 3rd-4th stringers.
The Steelers, though, picked upside over the safe decision.
Sometimes you can’t fault that.
4. The least surprising news over the weekend was the Oakland Raiders releasing Martavis Bryant. It was insane at the time the Raiders handed the Steelers a third-round pick for Bryant and looks even more insane now.
There’s no NFL future for Bryant who is in line for another suspension……
5. Mike Tomlin today called Antonio Brown a “full-go” for Cleveland on Sunday. If Brown gets off to a slow start to the season, his lack of practice time over the last month will come into focus much greater.
Of note, Tomlin said the Steelers are healthy going into the season.
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“The vast majority of guys who had missed some time throughout the process have worked in some capacity and even participated in the last preseason game,” said Tomlin. “Even those that we didn’t allow to participate in the game have been practice participants at least in some capacity and we expect that to continue. We should anticipate all members of our team at least being partial participants as we get started this week in practice and kind of let that be our guide in terms of their inclusion in the plan, or the anticipation of play. Some of those guys that I’m talking about that have missed some time are, Vance McDonald, James Washington, Mike Hilton, T.J. Watt, Xavier Grimble.”