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Steelers Versus Ravens: An All-22 Primer

By Alex Kozora

Another All-22 primer before we get to dive into the Coaches’ Tape from the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

– How bad was Ben Roethlisberger Thursday night? An ugly night on offense usually starts with the quarterback. Take away a final drive and Big Ben finished with only 145 yards. Although the answer usually is a combination of deficiencies, how much of the performance can be pinned on #7? Were receivers not getting open? The offensive line not picking up stunts and forcing Ben to escape before he wanted to?

– And to the larger picture, what exactly did the Baltimore Ravens’ defense do for the Steelers to producer their lowest output since 2011? It’s not as if the Ravens’ defense is particularly stout. Was it anything schematically? Or rooted in execution?

– What is the issue with Marcus Gilbert? It looked like a weight transfer issue in Week One? Is it the same in Week Two? Curious how his base looks from the beginning of the game compared to after getting beat a few times. Like a quarterback that misses on a few throws, lineman can press, too. Get overextended and play with a sloppy base. We know Gilbert was once called for a false start after trying to cheat the snap.

– What level is Heath Miller at with his run blocking? The Steelers have almost exclusively been a one tight end team this season. Against the Cleveland Browns, he turned in an inconsistent performance.. We’ll see where he’s at after evaluating Week Two.

– How are the young receivers – Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown – performing once the play breaks down? Are they adhering to their scramble drill rules – short routes go long and deep routes come back to the football. Or are they slowing down and watching the ball? A crucial aspect that could be a reason to some of the pressure/sacks created. An element you’ll only see on the aerial view of Coaches’ Tape.

– Is Cam Thomas as bad as the perception says he is? I’m waiting for the comments section to explode with a resounding “yes.” Perception doesn’t always match reality. Maybe they’re slanting Thomas and he’s unavoidably getting sealed based on the blocking scheme. Perhaps he’s facing a heavy number of combination blocks.

Having said that, a big man who can’t move and isn’t a true five tech has little chance to succeed against zone blocking schemes.

– How is Steve McLendon looking? Zone blocking schemes are nasty to defend, it’s difficult to consistently good, but he has the body type to counter it well. Quick first step and a good athlete who can flow down the line.

– It’s painfully obvious Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds aren’t getting pressure. But problems aren’t any good without solutions. Why aren’t they getting pressure? Jones’ issues are well-documented. Worilds is still someone I’ll try and figure out.

– I’m guessing it’s safe to say Ryan Shazier is still struggling to shed blocks? Doubt he got any better from Week One to Week Two. He’s a guy who is trying to get by on his athleticism until his head stops spinning. But he needs to learn to work off blocks.

– Another perception versus reality potential problem. Mike Mitchell probably doesn’t deserve the hate he’s getting. His angle late in the game was atrocious but other than that, there weren’t any noticeably terrible plays. The penalty is hard to hold against him.

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