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Daily Links: Home Field Success, Best Steelers OLB?



Acrisure Stadium Heinz Field Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field, June 30, 2022. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

John Turney of Talk of Fame ranked the top-15 seasons for a Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers in franchise history. Jack Ham’s 1975 season came in at No. 1.

“He was so consistently great that any of a number of years could be considered his best. In his first four pro years, he picked off 16 passes, more than any linebacker in the NFL. But 1975, quarterbacks quit challenging him,” Turney wrote. “It was that season that the man from Linebacker U. had 88 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Granted, he had better stats in other years, but Ham is one of those players who is more than the sum of his statistics. He was a player that had to be seen to appreciate his greatness. He played superb football from Week One through the playoffs, particularly in the divisional playoff game vs. the Colts when he had a sack, a 13-yard tackle for a loss and a deflected a pass as the Steelers went on to repeat as Super Bowl champions.Pro Football Weekly named him its Defensive Player of the Year, though the AP award went to teammate Mel Blount. Ham had all the accolades you’d expect in a career year — making all the “all” teams. ‘Dobre Shunka’ (‘The Great Ham’ in Polish, Ham’s heritage) could do everything a linebacker should.

“He wouldn’t get hooked on runs to his side. He could take on a tight end or running back in man-to-man coverage. He could break on balls when in zone coverage. He could blitz effectively, all within the structure of the defense.Instincts were what set Ham apart from other linebackers. He wasn’t big (6-1, 225 pounds), extraordinarily fast (he ran a 4.7 40) or strong (“I don’t work that much on weights”), but he was quick and intuitive on the football field. Plus, he was more than a good tackler. He was a striker who would pop people. ‘He’s a defensive player that makes things happen,’ said Hall-of-Fame coach Chuck Noll. ‘Even though he’s on defense, he’s an offensive threat.’ His 1975 season was the best by a Steelers’ outside linebacker.”

🏈 The 33rd Team: The Steelers have the fourth-best record at home since 2013, behind just the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers record at home over the last decade is 56-24-1 (.698).

🏈 According to JJ Zachariason of Late Round Fantasy Football, during the second half of the 2023 season — after Pittsburgh’s Week 9 bye — the Steelers ranked seventh in scoring rate per drive and third in yards per drive. Only the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions were gaining more yards per drive from Weeks 10 – 17 than the Kenny Pickett-led Steelers. Despite racking up substantial yardage, the Steelers offense scored just 188 points from Weeks 10-17, an average of 20.8 points per game. Drives often came to a halt in the red zone during the stretch. On the season, the Steelers ranked 22nd in red zone offense.

CBS Sports: Jared Dublin thinks Kenny Pickett will be the offensive X-factor for the Steelers in 2023.

“Pickett had an up-and-down rookie season that saw him complete 63% of his passes at an average of just 6.2 yards per attempt, with seven touchdowns against nine interceptions. He improved over the second half of the year as the Steelers somehow once again rallied to finish with a winning record, but he still didn’t show much of a ceiling as a passer,” Dublin wrote. “The future of Pittsburgh’s offense depends on Pickett being able to access a higher level of playmaking both inside and outside the pocket, and being able to push the ball downfield to create big plays.”

Kenny Pickett posted photos of his honeymoon in Puerto Rico on Instagram.

🎂 Happy Birthday to former Steelers offensive lineman Matt Feiler, born on July 7, 1992 in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. The Bloomsburg product has carved out an impressive career for an undrafted free agent, starting 73 of 78 career games since 2017. After being a starter for three seasons in Pittsburgh from 2018-2020, Feiler signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers on March 17, 2021. He was named the starting left guard, and started every game for two seasons. On March 15, 2023, Feiler was released by the Chargers. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a little over a month later.

🎥 Aaron Wilson of KRPC 2 Houston: Steelers inside linebacker and Houston product Elandon Roberts was recently at the Grant Stuard youth football NFL alumni camp at Houston University. Roberts, who signed with the Steelers back in March during free agency, is glad to be in the Black and Gold. 

“It’s big for me. It’s one of those organizations that I always wanted to step a foot in,” Roberts said. ” Got the opportunity. I’m blessed and happy with the organization. ”

Roberts said he sees his role in Pittsburgh as “whatever he puts out there.”

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