As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers during Sunday’s AFC North contest against the Baltimore Ravens.
X Factor: Terrell Edmunds
Edmunds was put in a tough spot in the Week Four matchup. Edmunds, for whatever reason, was asked to play more free safety than any other game of his rookie season. Keith Butler opted to roll Sean Davis down into the box. It didn’t end well. He struggled in space, got toasted over the top, and was the worst game of his young career.
Shame on Butler if he employs the same strategy again, but I suspect things will be different this time around. Edmunds will mostly go back to his strong safety role, playing better the closer he is lined up to the line of scrimmage.
Still, there will be times where Edmunds is lined up deep. Primarily on third down, even if Edmunds doesn’t start if the team wants to turn back to Morgan Burnett (he’ll roll down in dime). Earlier this week, Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of “possession downs” that they failed to win the previous matchup.
“We didn’t do well enough on possession downs, and some of them were very manageable for our offense, and some of them were long for their offense. So as I look back at it, particularly in the second half of play where the game really unfolded, we didn’t do enough on possession downs”.
The Ravens went 8/17 on third down in Week Four and played much better than that throughout, until a few end-of-game drives fizzled out. That’s gotta change this time around if the Steelers want to even the season record.
Beyond where he was playing in that first meeting, the second time around should have Edmunds better prepared mentally. Steelers/Ravens is a whole new ballgame and clearly, Pittsburgh wasn’t up to rising to the moment. It didn’t feel like a rivalry game. But when you’re a rookie and you haven’t lived it, you’re 21, supposed to be in college getting ready for NC State and eating sub-par cafeteria food, it’s hard to bring that level of intensity. This time though, there’s no excuse.
Wrap up, still a bit of an issue for him this year, and hey, I wouldn’t be mad over a turnover or breakup. And assuming he will play his traditional SS role, he has to be a more effective and physical blitzer.