The Baltimore Ravens’ calling card since their inception has been a smothering defense. They have pretty consistently had among the best defenses in the league year in and year out for most of their existence, and they have usually needed it because of a lagging offense.
The strengths of the team have shifted somewhat, particularly in the Lamar Jackson era, but there is no less pride on the defensive side, and no less respect from the Pittsburgh Steelers for what Baltimore can bring, particularly up front. Head coach Mike Tomlin talked about those “goons”, as he called them, on Tuesday.
They’ve got some goons up front. [Calais] Campbell and [Brandon] Williams have been around for a long time, guys that quite frankly require four hands on them to move them, to get them moved and to create running lanes and so forth. They’ve got some new edge people that are going to be challenging for us that we have to get familiar with. The rookie from Penn State [Odafe Oweh] is really lighting them up and doing a good job for them. [Justin] Houston is a guy that they acquired in the summer who’s a veteran guy who’s been around. We’ve played against him. Familiar with him, he’s familiar with us, but he is new to Baltimore.
Baltimore has a long history of quality defensive line play, and Williams has been a part of quite a bit of its recent chapter. A 2013 draft pick, he is now in his ninth season with the team, with more than 100 starts to his name. He knows a little something about the Steelers, and Tomlin, and he fully embraces the ‘goon’ label given to his brothers.
“Definitely a compliment, definitely a compliment”, he said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys on the defensive line who are about that life, and they’re ready to put it all on the field. They’ve got a motor just like anyone else, and they’re here to prove it”.
Aside from Williams and Campbell, there is Justin Madubuike, who has come into his own this season, along with Broderick Washington and Justin Ellis, neither of whom are new to the team. Campbell was brought in last year, but was acquired via trade after many years in the league.
Williams himself has missed some time this year, Sunday being just his eighth game. He has 14 tackles, including two for a loss, as well as two batted passes and a fumble recovery. Shockingly, he hasn’t had a big impact on rushing the passer. But he probably will on Sunday against the Steelers’ offensive line.