Those who don't believe me, find your souls and set them free.
Posted Thu, 09/08/2011 - 02:07 by FC
Welcome back to another year of Football at SteelerFury; I’ve been writing these pre game articles for a long time…Over the years the format has changed the message never will. I write about matchups…Matchups win and lose games. If you’re looking for statistics, charts, or trends this pre game article may not be for you…In the past, I have attempted to include everything under the sun…I believe the matchup and football portions of the article suffered.
My main issue with writing my articles is simple…I feel pushed by the other staff members at the site to be great…We will start with Hardnose; like him or hate him he writes with wit and fantastic prose…He is a blessed word smith who paid attention in English class unlike this author who slept. B2B has decided to take the Podcast to another level this year with live call ins, better quality, quicker turnaround. Perch and TB knock out some of the best stuff you will read on the front page…Sometimes HN and I see things one way and Perch and TB see things completely different…It’s good to have a wide range of opinions being expressed by the staff…It’s my hope TB and Perch find the time to post more articles on the front page…That leaves us with the founder Fury…It’s hard to believe this site almost didn’t include a message board…When Fury and Josh created this board they were considering a Front Page Blog only, thankfully they decided to go big time and included the message board… Six years later we’re still going strong boss; I’m still waiting for the check in the mail and I know your waiting for your Masters Shirt (I’m a stoner who forgets things)…Fury writes his weekly Campfire articles that go into the state of affairs of Steelers nation…He enjoys the Stats, Charts, and trends…Which allows me to stick to what I enjoy…The Matchups. I’m not attempting to shill or whore for the site…My point is simple…The standards set forth by the other staff members are high and tough to live up to….This is my veiled attempt to meet those standards.
The team that doesn't make mental mistakes and executes better will win.
Ravens with the Ball
Jim Harbaugh is a quality coach, He is the fourth coach since 1990 to lead his team to playoffs in his first three seasons (Cowher Switzer and Denny Green are the other coaches.) Harbaugh received a huge extension in the off season which gave him the security to allow Cam Cameron to return as his offensive coordinator…I believe that decision was a huge mistake. The Ravens failed to score twenty points in a game 8 times last season…The Ravens offense failed to score a TD in 6 games last season. Cameron likes to trick defensive coordinators with formations and personnel packages…Dick LeBeau has seen it all in his 60 years in the NFL. The Ravens spent the off season rebuilding their offense to be explosive…I just don’t see the results. The Ravens reshuffled the deck across the offensive line adding free agent left tackle Bryant McKinnie. They moved incumbent left tackle Michael Oher to right tackle and signed center Andre Gurode as insurance for the oft injured Matt Birk. I’m not impressed…If it was 2005, I would tremble with fear. The Ravens drafted two receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss and added free agent speedster Lee Evans…Those are the new explosive weapons for Joe Flacco. The Ravens cut Steeler killer Todd Heap this off season…I don’t believe the Ravens have a tight end on the roster who can block Harrison or Woodley in the run game. The Ravens are going to attempt to pound the run game and establish play action passing…I wish them luck on both accounts they will need it.
Matchups in the Run Game
Bryant McKinnie and Brett Keisel
Bryant McKinnie before the pregnancy was a quality run blocker…I have some concerns about this matchup. Keisel gets by with quickness and technique…He has had struggled with enormous tackles in the past. It’s my understanding that McKinnie is still 30-35 pounds overweight; The Ravens may catch a break with the weather…Highs are expected in the 70’s with a good chance of rain…I still expect McKinnie to struggle with conditioning. I expect McKinnie to be effective early in the game…McKinnie should hit the wall somewhere in the middle of the 1st quarter…His legs will turn to mush and Keisel will take over the matchup. I expect Keisel to hold his own…He could end up dominating McKinnie in the run game…To quote the late Vince Lombardi“Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All”
Ben Grubbs Matt Birk & Marshall Yanda Vs Hampton Timmons Farrior
I expect Matt Birk to the start this week for the Ravens….He is not listed on the injury report. Matt Birk at 100% health really struggles with Casey Hampton…Hampton gave him a beating in 2 of the 3 meetings season. If Birk cannot play this week Andre Gurode will be forced into the starting lineup with 2 practices under his belt…That’s a true recipe for disaster. Regardless if Birk or Gurode starts at center they will need help with Casey Hampton on every interior run. The play side guard will be forced to double team Hampton which will allow Timmons or Farrior a free run to the ball carrier. Hampton is the key to Steelers run defense…If teams choose not to double Hampton in the run game you risk the health of your back…Casey loves to put backs in his belly. Grubbs and Yanda are both top notch guards their talents are wasted against the Steelers since Hampton forces the double teams that keep Grubbs or Yanda from getting to the 2nd level to pick off backers.
Michael Oher and Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith is the one player on the Steelers defense that I think may be done. No fan appreciated Aaron The Demolition Man Smith’s efforts more than me. Smith did all the dirty work for the Steelers defense for the past 12 years. One thing players can’t fight is father time…Father Time is a no good son of a bitch. Don’t get me wrong I don’t expect Aaron Smith to roll over and play dead…Oher is going to get Smith’s best shot…I just don’t trust Smith’s body to hold up. If Smith is healthy and ready to go Oher will have his hands full…Smith plays 6 inches off the ground…He leads with the crown of his helmet to the offensive linemen’s chin…What Smith lacks in youth and explosiveness he makes up for with treachery and hustle. If Smith can’t go Ziggy Hood is a young whirling dervish of mayhem…Hood is strong enough to stack Oher at the line of scrimmage and quick enough to chase down plays from behind…The Steelers depth removes any fears I have of Smith being re-injured…Thank You Mr. Minor and Mr. Colbert
Skill Position Matchups
I believe the biggest mismatch in the run game will take place outside. I see no way that Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, or Kris Wilson can block James Harrison or Lamar Woodley in the run game. James Harrison is going to answer all questions about his health Sunday. Harrison has killed the Ravens over his career…I expect a big game from Deebo. Lamar Woodley doesn’t play the run as well as Harrison; he still plays the run better than any other outside linebacker in the NFL. I expect Harrison and Woodley to destroy the soft sissy tight ends of the Ravens…I would not be surprised to see a Ravens tight end planted 5-6 yards in the backfield a few times.
Vonta Leach is the Ravens big signing…He is a tough kid. He is going to find it difficult to work his way to the 2nd level…The Steelers defensive linemen congest the line of scrimmage with bodies eliminating all running lanes. Vonta Leach also got his ass cooled off a few years ago by Harrison…Leach was the lead blocker for Steve Slaton and James Harrison knocked his ass back to East Carolina…Leach quit at the moment of the game…When the bully is bullied he tends to tremble…Leach was shaking like a leaf…By the way…I believe Laron McClain was a better fullback including a better blocker than Leach.
Ray Rice is the type of a back who scares me…He is short, quick, and very shifty…He is by no means small…He has trucked both Farrior and Timmons in the past. The key to stopping Rice is gap responsible football…Rice will attempt to cut and slash if the hole is not there…The Steelers must play patient, sound, fundamental football….They cannot over run plays or miss tackles. Ricky Williams is a stoner who runs hard…He doesn’t scare me…He lacks the gear to make big plays at this point of his career. Williams lacks toughness…Timmons almost stomped the life out of Williams a few years ago.
I expect the Ravens attempt to matchup Boldin on Ike in run formations…Ike is playing with a bad hand…The Ravens will test him. Lee Evans is an absolute joke in the run game…Chan Gailey almost cut him last year over his lack of effort in the run game. The Ravens are running out rookie and undrafted players at the 3rd 4th and 5th receiver spots…I don’t mean to sound like IC here…You trust a freaking rookie to block Steeler defenders? Ravens rookie WR LaQuan Williams has a package of plays on offense….Why teams attempt to trick Dick LeBeau is beyond me…He played in a leather helmet…He has seen it all.
NO one runs the ball on the Steelers defense.
Matchups Pass Pro
Bryant McKinnie and James Harrison
He’s back. I believe James Harrison is close to 100% healthy. McKinnie had issues with lateral movement before he got knocked up…I expect the 35-40 additional pounds will make him more sloth like. Will Harrison have a field day rushing the passer? I say yes. The Steelers will give McKinnie multiple looks…They will run stunts and games with multiple rushers…McKinnie’s head will be bobbing as much as his belly by the end of the game.
Ben Grubbs Matt Birk and Marshall Yanda Vs Brett Keisel Aaron Smith and the Steelers Blitz game
Ben Grubbs and Marshall Yanda are as good as it gets in the AFC when it comes to guard play…I expect both players to hold their own and control matchups with interior rushers including Ziggy Hood and Steve McClendon. When you factor in the Steelers blitz packages with Timmons and Farrior…The Ravens could be overwhelmed especially if Birk can’t start or if he goes down with injury. The Steelers speed from the interior blitzers eliminates all 5 and 7 step drops…I don’t believe Joe Flacco can make the reads to beat the blitz…If he plans on staying upright he better show major improvement over the past season reading defenses.
Michael Oher and Lamar Woodley
Lamar Woodley will not dominate this matchup because he is far more athletic than Oher. Woodley will not dominate this matchup because he is far better conditioned than Oher. Woodley will not dominate this matchup because he is stronger than Oher…Woodley will dominate this matchup because of what goes on between Oher’s ears. Woodley took Oher to the woodshed in the past. Woodley beat Oher every way a Blitzer can beat a blocker…Woodley is a great player…Oher is not. Woodley will set up the speed rush…Woodley will set up the bull rush...Woodley is a very intelligent with his rush game…His rush game is far more refined than he is given credit for.
Ray Rice is excellent picking up the blitz…He is also very dangerous in the passing game as a receiver…The Ravens will attempt to matchup Farrior with Rice in space…The Steelers want to prevent that matchup as much as possible.
Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta will struggle in the run game…They are both difficult matchups in the passing game…Both will eat up Farrior in coverage…Timmons should be able to cover either tight end without much issue…Flacco doesn’t want to throw the ball deep over the middle with a healthy Troy Polamula roaming the deep half. The Ravens tight ends and backs concern me in coverage…I expect the Steelers blitz packages will keep the backs and tight ends in to block more often than not.
I expect Ike Taylor to draw Lee Evans in coverage. Evans is still a speedster…He can take the top off of coverage. Ike can run with Evans…Evans is softer than silk so I don’t believe the thumb will be much of an issue. I expect the Ravens to run some hitches and quick hitters to test Ike’s ability to tackle…Ike will pass with flying colors. Fad will draw Boldin in coverage…Fad is the one Steeler everyone likes to attack…When healthy Fad is a very under rated player…He has the most play making ability of any corner on the roster. I expect Boldin to make some catches…I don’t expect Boldin to make many big plays. Ravens rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss will draw Willie Gay and Keenan Lewis in coverage…Willie Gay sucks I give you that…The players around Gay make him suck far less in the grand scheme of things. Keenan Lewis is a solid NFL corner…He cannot allow the game to become too big or fast…He must settle in and realize he belongs….The kid has talent. Ryan Clark and TP must form tackle…Keep plays in front of them and attack the ball.
The Ravens best chance for success is quick ball control passing…The Ravens will not be able to drop back form a pocket and deliver strikes against the Steelers defense…They lack the skill at all levels to utilize that game plan.
Steelers with the Pigskin
Let me get this out of the way now…All of you Steelers fans who are hoping for the Air Raid 4 wide receiver attack are sorely mistaken. Bruce Arians may like that type of offense for this team…Mike Tomlin will choke the life out of him with his head set if he tries. What I do expect is more attacking (passing game) from the Steelers early in games. The Steelers will revert back to the classic pass for the big lead and run to kill the clock formula. The Steelers skill positions matchup with any team in the NFL…I claim the Steelers skill position players are better than any team in the NFL. The Steelers offensive line will be key as always…I don’t like the group…I actually don’t hate the group either. I trust in 7…He looks different this year…More focused…More secure…Like he knows something you don’t and he is about to break it off where the sun don’t shine.
Matchups in the Run Game
Ngata will not lineup across from Scott in the run game often…Ngata will lineup in the guard tackle gaps…The Ravens will move Ngata all around the field looking for the best matchup they can find. I expect the Ravens to lineup Ngata over Kemo most of the game…Legursky more than held his own against Ngata in the previous matchup…Ngata dominated Kemo and Scott. If the Ravens lineup Suggs over Scott in the run game…Scott has to put on his big boy pants and kick some ass….It’s a matchup the Steelers must exploit and win.
Kemo Moe and Bronco Vs Fat Cody Ray Lewis and Jammel McClain
If the Steelers find a way to block Ngata in the run game that will be a good sign. The biggest matchup to watch for in this game will be Pouncey and Cody…If Pouncey can control Cody without help in the run game that will allow one of the guards to get to the 2nd level to pick off backers…If Pouncey needs help with Cody the Steelers will be forced to double both interior defensive linemen, and they will have little to no chance of running the ball between the tackles. Pouncey has to be great in this game if the Steelers expect to run the ball. Ray Lewis is a great linebacker…He won’t beat a Kemo or Bronco block at the point of attack…Father Time is a bitch don’t forget. Jammel McClain went from under rated to over rated in one calendar year…He struggles to beat blocks…He reads blocking schemes a step slow…If the Steelers manage to block Cody and Ngata with 3 blockers they could have some success with the run game between the tackles.
Willie Colon and Cory Redding
This will be the 1st test for Colon. Flozell Adams destroyed Redding last year…He beat him down and took his lunch money on the bus. Colon has looked very solid this pre season…He didn’t face a big body nasty defensive end…I am concerned with this matchup. Colon has short arms and slow feet…Getting a stalemate will not be good enough this week…The Steelers will need movement if they expect the run game to have success. I don’t expect many wins for the Steelers in this matchup.
Skill Positions in the Run Game
I posted post Super Bowl nothing positive comes out of a loss…I believe I was mistaken. Clay Jr. taunted Heath Miller a few times after destroying him in the run game…Heath Miller was the Steelers most impressive blocker in the pre season. Matt Spaeth played himself off the roster in the Super Bowl…One of the softest performances I’ve ever seen in a big game. DJ Johnson will replace him…I’m DJ’s biggest fan…Johnson is limited by his height…Not by his effort. Wes Saunders won’t see time this week barring injury…He will make a big impact for this team. The Ravens outside linebackers are good not great against the run. Miller/Johnson and Suggs/Johnson will be nasty trench war fare...I believe the Steelers best chance of running the ball will be attacking the flanks(Zone, Off Tackle, Stretch,) the Steelers tight ends must hook the Ravens outside backers or knock them on their cans.
Mendy is labeled a fumbler and a traitor...I’m a Mendy fan…I would prefer him to secure the ball a little better in traffic, and stop the spin move in the middle of the defense. Mendy is a far better athlete than natural runner. Mendy has below average instincts and vision…He leaves yards on the field. Redman will see some carries…He is just a tough SOB. I expect the Steelers to use some jumbo packages with Johnson as the fullback and an OL as the TE…Steelers may steal a little from the Cameron playbook and pass vertically out of the jumbo set.
The Steelers wide receivers block because the players that came before them blocked. Ward Johnson Thigpen Graham, over the past 20 years the Steelers had one of the best blocking Wr’s in the game. Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Manny Sanders are smallish wide receivers…They try to kill defensive backs in the run game…All out effort….It’s the Steeler way
Something I believe that is being overlooked Ravens new defensive coordinator Vic Pagano is beyond wet behind the ears. His coordinating stints consist of UNLV in 1989 where he was fired after his 1st season….Defensive coordinator at UNC in 2007 for 1 season…UNC defense was a major disappointment and Pagano left for the Ravens DB job.
Matchups Pass Pro
Jonathan Scott and Terell Suggs
Suggs has sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 12 ½ times (including the postseason). Suggs destroyed Scott in the playoffs. Scott was hobbled by a bum ankle and Suggs smelled blood in the water. I expect Scott to hold up better this week…Suggs will still give Scott fits…Suggs will force the Steelers to chip with a back or tight end…Suggs is a great player I expect the Steelers treat him like a great player after he beats Scott. The Steelers are going to give Scott his chance for redemption…I hope it doesn’t cost them.
Ngata and Kemo
Poly on Poly crime brah. One of the key matchups for the Steelers…Kemo must hold up in Pass Pro…He can NOT allow Ngata to walk him into Ben’s lap…Kemo usually starts the season on fire…Let’s hope that’s the case this season.
Pouncey in Pass Pro
He will help conduct the symphony of madness. Pouncey will spend most of the game picking off blitzers and helping Kemo with Ngata in pass pro. I expect the Ravens to bring interior pressure in the “A” gaps to test Pouncey Bronco and Kemo…If the Steelers pick up the blitz…The Ravens are in deep poo.
Bronco and Redding
The Ravens fans and media believe Redding is going to destroy Legursky…I say not so fast my in bred looking rivals. Redding is playing off his past performances in pass pro. Bronco has 11 inch arms…He also has quick feet and incredible balance…Bronco can also anchor against 350 pound defensive tackles…I believe Bronco not only wins this matchup…He gives Ben a security blanket (a place to step up in the pocket)…If the Ravens are forced to buzz the “A” gaps that will allow Ben to get to the edge of the defense where he’s the most dangerous.
Colon and Johnson/ Kindle
Johnson is a straight ahead bull rush/ speed rush guy Colon should be able to handle without much of an issue…Colon has played against Johnson at least 10 times in his career. Sergio Kindle may be a fool who fractured his melon by falling down the steps drunk…He has some rush ability. Kindle is the type of rusher who gives Colon fits (Yes he’s breathing)…Kindle has the speed to get the edge and enough strength to beat tackles back inside.
Heath Miller will be a factor in the passing game…I hope it’s as a receiver and not a blocker. DJ Johnson can make plays in the passing game…He must continue to improve as a pass blocker. The Steelers will force the Ravens backers into coverage…Redman made the play of the season against the Ravens last year as a split out receiver. The Steelers will spread out the Ravens with formations to give Ben more precise reads in the passing game. I expect a return of the Steelers screen game…It may work this year with more athletic offensive linemen.
The Ravens are expected to start former UDFA Cary Williams at corner and line him up across from Mike Wallace…Rookie 1st round pick Jimmy Smith is expected to draw Hines Ward in coverage. Ben is licking his chops. Chris Carr is the nickel back he will draw Sanders and Brown…Carr is a quality nickel back he will struggle to run with Brown and Sanders. Dom Foxworth is the dime back and he will draw Sanders Brown and Cotchery. If the Steelers can give Ben time he could throw for a ton of yards this week…I believe the Steelers have a huge advantage in these matchups.
Ed Reed is a fantastic football player…He is far and away the best FS in football…He will erase many mistakes for the Ravens defense. Bernard Pollard is a big hitter…He can’t run with any Steelers receiver not named Ward or Miller. The Ravens promise they will be an attacking defense this year…If you blitz the Steelers and miss…They have 4 players who can score from anywhere on the field(Mendy Wallace Sanders AB) and Reed can only defend one.
The Clown eliminated the kick return game. The Steelers punt return team looks shitty as usual. I like the Steelers kicking game. The Steelers special teams suck…I said it.