After facing some of the NFL’s toughest offenses through the first three weeks of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a bit of a breather against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Hopefully, the Steelers enjoyed the brief period of relaxation as there will be no time to relax this Sunday against Lamar Jackson.
Jackson has made those who doubted him look foolish as he is off to an electric start this season. The Ravens’ quarterback has eliminated the moniker of being a runner first and quarterback second as he has thrown for over 1110 yards and 10 touchdown passes this season. A large portion of Jackson’s new success as a passer can be attributed to the addition of rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown, as he has given his quarterback a credible deep threat to work with.
Keith Butler and the Steelers’ defense are going to have to stay on their toes as they not only have to keep Jackson contained in the pocket but they must also defend the final third of the field. Butler was asked today how challenging it will be to contain the vertical threat the Ravens bring and the Steelers’ defensive coordinator was not shy about the challenge that awaits them.
“It’s a lot of a challenge. One guy’s going to be running deep. We’ve got to make sure we keep the ball in front of us. They’ve got to pass off (Marquise Brown), so we’ve got to make sure to keep it in front of us. If we do that, we’re going to have a chance,” said Butler.
Butler also reiterated the importance of not allowing the Ravens to pass midfield due to the strength of their special teams’ unit. With Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker, the Ravens are virtually guaranteed at least three points anytime they cross midfield.
“Like I said, we’ve got to be careful about them putting together any type of drive because they’re going to score points. Their kicker can hit a 50 yarder or 60 yards. If they pass the 50-yard line, it’s a field goal. So, we’ve got to defend the ball.”
Making sure the defense keeps the Ravens out of their own end while also accounting for Brown is going to be huge when determining the outcome of Sunday’s contest. One player who will be instrumental in containing Brown or any sort of deep threat in general is free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Finishing up his third week in Pittsburgh, Fitzpatrick has impressed not only with his play but with his intelligence as he has quickly picked up the playbook, though as Butler noted, it is still a work in progress but he has been impressive by Fitzpatrick’s intellect.
“He’s still progressing, but he is a very smart young man. He wants to do well. He wants to be a good teammate with his guys and learn the defense. A very smart guy. Hopefully he’ll get better,” said Butler.
After a loud debut against the San Francisco 49ers, Fitzpatrick enjoyed a quiet night against the Bengals, though that is not necessarily bad. The amount of times that Fitzpatrick’s name is mentioned on the broadcast may not matter as long as he can ensure that Brown’s name is rarely mentioned.