There’s just something about Ravens week isn’t there? The opportunity to put your most hated rival at 0-2, 0-2 at home and 0-2 in the division is something to cherish. To do that however, the Steelers need to get some things done.
1. The defense has to get itself right. Yes, it’s just week two but this defense is still licking its’ wounds from the second half on Sunday. These communication issues Mike Tomlin addressed must get corrected because they have to know the Ravens will deploy some no-huddle or hurry-up offense after what the Browns accomplished.
Part of this means executing. Linebackers have to hit the right gaps when blitzing. Outside backers have to contain and they have to eliminate cutbacks. Defensive backs have to take better angles and tackle better as well. The defensive line has to get some push up field and into Joe Flacco’s face. If he is comfortable, then he can be effective.
Most importantly, Dick LeBeau has to be able to make adjustments on the fly. Young defense or not it’s up to him to make it work.
2. Ike Taylor has to play better. Veteran cornerback Ike Taylor did not have a great opening week. He dropped a sure interception (what else is new?) and was penalized a couple of times in key situations. The receivers for Baltimore are far better than what he saw last week. Torrey Smith and Steve Smith will not exactly slow things down for Taylor.
If he doesn’t show better this week, LeBeau has to think about William Gay on the outside or possibly Brice McCain. Yes, it’s that bad.
3. Todd Haley has to keep his foot on the pedal. Down 27-3 the Cleveland Browns came out and scored to make it 27-10 in the third quarter. This was the perfect time to get back the momentum by going with the no-huddle to get the Browns back on their toes. This did not happen.
Haley sent the offense out with run, run, pass and then punt and all from the traditional huddle. Cleveland got the ball back and came right back down the field to score. If the Todd Haley offense is supposed to protect the Dick LeBeau defense then stay aggressive. You can still control clock from the no-huddle as no one said this is a hurry-up. The Steelers will have a decided advantage against the Ravens when on offense and they cannot afford to play it safe. Attack, attack, attack!
-Shaun Suisham’s game-winning field goal was the ninth of his career and seventh as a member of the Steelers.
-William Gay played in his 113th straight game as a cornerback. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL at that position.
-The Steelers lead the overall series with the Ravens 20-16. They are 9-9 in Baltimore and are 3-0 against Baltimore in the postseason.
-Both Shamarko Thomas and Martavis Bryant were full participants in practice Tuesday.
-Pittsburgh holds a 6-5 advantage over Baltimore in primetime games dating back to 1996.
-Steelers Defensive Line Coach John Mitchell played with Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome at Alabama back in the 1970’s.
-Here’s your bar bet for the week; ask a fan who holds the records for most yards passing in the series for both Baltimore and Pittsburgh? Answers: Jeff Blake 336 yards and Kordell Stewart 333 yards.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on Trib-Live Radio
photo courtesy wbaltv.com