So apparently there is going to be some sort of game played today in Baltimore between two teams in colorful uniforms and an immense amount of pads. I’m not sure that that’s really all about at the moment because apparently the only thing there is left to talk about anymore is the p word.
Yes, football has for many seemed to have taken a back seat in the past week to matter deemed of a higher priority, but for the site, here, the first priority—the only priority—will be to cover Pittsburgh Steelers football and wherever else it may intersect.
Mercifully, it happens to intersect with an honest to goodness football game today, so if you’re still following along—and I would hope that you are if you are wasting your time reading this—then I’ve got a list of things that you should be keeping an eye out for as you watch the day’s venture against the ‘rat bastard’ Ravens.
First and foremost to me, this game is all about how the offense responds. A lot of people are talking about the defense this week—specifically the run defense—but in my view it still comes down to Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and the rest of the crew, who have by their own admission struggled to pull their own weight this season.
Roethlisberger has been inconsistent so far, though I would not be counted among those who would accuse him of having already mentally retired, or fallen off the proverbial cliff. In fact, I anticipate a strong response from him and his best game in Baltimore in years.
Watch for the running game to gain some early momentum against a Ravens defensive line that is down two starters as well. They have slowly but surely gotten a little tighter and a little closer to breaking plays each week so far, and frankly the caliber of defensive line play has gone down in Baltimore after dealing with Akiem Hicks and Everson Griffen the past two weeks.
Defensively, I anticipate the Ravens stressing the passing game, and looking to get their wide receiver involved early, so after a somewhat easy week in coverage, Joe Haden and Artie Burns are going to have to be on their toes—even more so with their two starting safeties banged up.
One of the major issues in the run defense last week was the front seven’s failure to adjust in response to the Bears changing the balance of the line, chiefly when they are in their ‘over’ front with an edge rusher dropped to linebacker depth. They use this package to match strength for strength, yet would not shift when the Bears shifted, and we saw them get gashed because of it. This needs to have been amended.
And in the name of Jack Ham, please tackle. Please. As Mike Tomlin said in his press conference, good tackling can cover up a lot of issues, and I don’t think anybody would accuse the Steelers’ defense of being one without issues.