Since 2011, NFL Network has polled NFL players to compile a list of the top 100 players heading into the following season. The lists are averaged, finalized, and aired through a series of episodes that involves commentary from various players in the league. The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen their fair share of players crack the list, even going as high as the number two spot for 2018 when Antonio Brown earned such honors.
The 2019 countdown began on Monday night, with players 100-91 revealed on the opening episode. Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt saw his name called as the 93rd best player in the league voted by his peers.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) July 23, 2019
Watt’s play has been met with high praise from those who share the gridiron with him. “I think for T.J. understanding the growth it takes from year one to year two, I thought T.J. showed more growth in his pass rush” said Steelers defensive linemen Cameron Heyward on the show.
Much has been made of Watt’s family tree, one that includes brother and All-Pro pass rusher J.J. Watt. Some experts were weary on Watt during the draft process, simply believing his last name aided T.J. more than anything else. “For a guy like me, if my brother was J.J. Watt and I was coming into the league… I wouldn’t want that type of pressure” said Browns running back Duke Johnson.
Watt has quickly become one of the best young outside linebackers in the league after being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 2018 saw Watt lead the Steelers in sacks, bringing the quarterback down for a total of 13 times. Watt also added 68 tackles (17 tackles for loss) and 6 forced fumbles through last season as well. With more players to come as the list continues to be revealed, how many players will the Steelers land in the rest of the NFL Top 100?
NFL Network will release the rest of the episodes on consecutive days, with the final episode on July 31.
Tomlin Bringing Referees into Steelers Practice to Help Penalty Issues
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin thinks his team took too many penalties in their Week 2 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on Saturday, and he’s going to do something about it.
Tomlin said on Tuesday that he’s bringing referees into practice this week in order to help his team remain in compliance with the NFL rulebook on gamedays.
“It hurt our efforts on both sides of the ball,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It hurt our efforts in terms of possessing the ball on offense. We had two critical holding calls in the first half that put us behind the chains and essentially stopped drives. Ball possession and drives, there’s too much scarcity in that discussion to get major penalties and throw yourself behind the chains. We’re just not good enough to overcome those things at this juncture, and quite frankly, I would imagine not many of us in this game are that good at this juncture.
“On the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t play clean enough on the back end on possession downs. They were able to extend drives through DPI and things of that nature. When you get people to that point to where you have them in a third down situation and you have the ball snapped and you’re executing the rush, there’s just too much ground covered to start over and give them a new set of downs. We have to get better in those areas.”
Special teams were also part of the problem, Tomlin said, as the Steelers had a Diontae Johnson punt return touchdown called back due to a block in the back. In total, the Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards.
“We are not only analyzing and openly talking about the penalties, but we are working hard to rectify it,” he said. “We intend to bring some officials to our practice work this week in an effort to make a point of emphasis in that area. That’s important for us. Again, I just thought that was a catalyst for a lot of negativity in the game for us.”
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden said after the game that the team felt that “some of the calls weren’t going their way,” but Tomlin said they don’t consider whether or not they think a call should have been made when assessing and evaluating team performance.
“We coach. We don’t officiate the game,” he said “We are not assessing judgment based on what’s called. We are simply acknowledging what is called and we are making whatever necessary change in our behavior to make sure that it is not called moving forward. It’s as simple as that for us.”
Tomlin said the team is still working through the procedures to have the officials they want to use tested and able to be on the practice field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex when the team returns to work on Wednesday.
Video: Kevin Dotson on First NFL Start, Confidence Level
Steelers rookie guard Kevin Dotson speaks with the media via Zoom after making his first career start in the Steelers second game of the 2020 season against the Denver Broncos.
While DeCastro’s return likely will mean an end to Dotson starting, it’s a testament to his skill and confidence level that he was able to play well in early in a season that lends itself to being more difficult for inexperienced players to fill in.
Steelers Super Bowl Odds Improve After 2-0 Start
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl odds have shortened after their 2-0 start to the season.
Opening the 2020 season at 22/1, the Steelers are now 20/1 to win Super Bowl LV, courtesy of BetOnline.ag.
The Steelers were not the only team to see their prospects rise, with the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers also seeing their odds shorten.
After key injuries and inconsistency to start the year, the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers both have longer odds than where they began.
The Kansas City Chiefs — whose odds remained the same — and the Ravens are currently the favorites to win Super Bowl LV at 5/1.