2021 South Side Questions: Is Raiders’ D-Line As Good As Advertised?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Is the Las Vegas Raiders’ pass rush as good as they looked against the Baltimore Ravens?

This question has to come with a major qualifier, because the Raiders have already taken some hits since Monday night. For starters, Gerald McCoy was injured in that game, though he only played nine snaps. So was Yannick Ngakoue, who doesn’t appear to be anticipated to play on Sunday against the Steelers, though that remains to be seen.

But the Raiders still have Maxx Crosby, who was dominant as a pass rusher against the Ravens, recording two sacks and five quarterback hits. The Raiders had the highest pressure percentage of any team in the league last week.

How worried should the Steelers be? After all, they did play a pretty good Buffalo Bills defensive front last week, and survived it relatively well, though a lot of that has to do with Ben Roethlisberger’s quick release.

In a way, this question can be asked differently: will the Raiders’ defensive front have the same sort of impact on the game against the Steelers as they did against the Ravens? Pittsburgh can try to avoid that by getting rid of the ball quickly, which should mitigate at least some of the pressure. But is the Ravens’ offensive line really that much worse than the Steelers? I’m not sure many people predicted that even a week ago.

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