On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. To help preview a few topics from the Steelers’ perspective, we reached out to Jeff Hartman from Behind the Steel Curtain and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “All hell broke loose at the end of the last Browns vs. Steelers game, and both you and I got to deal with the aftermath of how our readers reacted. I think both teams will be fired up to prove a point in this game, but I think it will be a clean, physical game between the whistles, since players know there will be such a microscopic lens on every little thing. Do you agree or disagree with that, and do you think there could be some confrontations between Steelers and Browns fans this Sunday (more so than usual)?”
Jeff: “I absolutely agree with your sentiment of the game being played hard and physical, but also in between the whistles. I would expect some pushing and shoving to go on, but nothing out of the ordinary. The NFL made their stance on the fiasco in Week 11 very clear, and continues to do so by fining people like David DeCastro, who was a peacemaker in the situation, $14k. Both teams need this win, and that will be the driving force in this game, not revenge from Week 11.
As for the fan response, that is a different story. I can’t imagine many Browns fans who roll up to Heinz Field in their ‘Pittsburgh Started It’ shirts will get to their seats without an endless amount of criticism and verbal jabs. Nonetheless, don’t think Heinz Field, and the Steelers organization, won’t have everyone on high alert for this game. Should be an exciting game.”
Chris: “The Steelers are going with Devlin Hodges at quarterback this week over Mason Rudolph. Is that the right decision, and what is your early assessment of Hodges’ strengths and weaknesses?”
Jeff: “I think it is the right decision for multiple reasons. First, the Steelers fans have seen enough of Mason Rudolph to know what to expect from him. He simply wasn’t trusting what he was seeing, and his immobility in the pocket made him an easy target for the pass rush. Devlin Hodges is a different style of quarterback. More of a grip it and rip it style quarterback who is mobile enough to make plays outside the pocket. To be honest, he reminds me a lot of Baker Mayfield’s style of play how Mayfield can make plays from the pocket, but isn’t afraid to move around and make plays on the run.
The Steelers’ offensive line did the best they could with Rudolph, but it seems to be they will do better with Hodges considering his pocket presence and mobility. If Hodges has a weakness it is his risk taking. He is a gun slinger and not afraid of trying to fit the ball into small windows. This can lead to turnovers. Other than that, Hodges should give the Steelers a chance to win this Sunday.”
Chris: “What is your prediction for Sunday’s game?”
Jeff: “I think the Steelers will have a bounce back game, and playing at home will be a huge help. I think the Steelers’ defense will do a better job with Baker Mayfield, and will create two turnovers in the game. I like the Steelers to win 27-20 in a higher scoring game than most people would expect. I think Minkah Fitzpatrick has another game-changing turnover for the Steelers’ defense to seal the deal.”
Thanks again to Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions.