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Insider Only Week 2 Outlook: Steelers offense vs Ravens defense

nfl_g_steelers_ravens01_576WEEK 2 OUTLOOK
Offense
The Steelers offense put up 503 yards in a 30-27 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. The offense clicked on all cylinders in the first half, scoring 27 points, doing what they wanted in the passing and running game.
The second half was a different story where the Browns made needed adjustments and limited the Steelers to just three second half points. QB Ben Roethlisberger was 10 of 13 (excluding spikes) in the no huddle, but Pittsburgh rarely went with the no hurry offense in the second half.
The Steelers allowed 3 sacks and 5 QB hits against the Browns in week 1. Marcus Gilbert allowed 2 sacks and 1 QB hit as Paul Kruger had a field day against Gilbert. Gilbert will get primary matchup’s tonight against Ravens left outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw. Pro Football Focus charted Upshaw playing 37 snaps to Dumervil’s 30 in their week 1 loss to the Bengals as the Ravens look to be playing Upshaw on running situations.
The Ravens provide multiple personnel looks with their front-seven. Versus the Bengals they rotated in five defensive linemen and six linebackers were on the field for 24 plays or more. In pass rushing situations, the Ravens look to get outside linebackers Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Pernell McPhee on the field at the same time.
The Ravens are most vulnerable in the secondary and that was on display vs Bengals where they let A.J. Green beat them late in the game on a 77 yard score. The Steelers will look to pick on Ravens corner Chykie Brown all night.

PLAYER REPORTS
Ben Roethlisberger
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens | Roethlisberger went 23/34 for 365 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception vs the Browns. In 14 career starts vs the Ravens, Roethlisberger is 9-5. With Ladarius Webb out in week 1, the Bengals were able to exploit the Ravens through the air as Andy Dalton threw for 301 yards and had a 65.8% completion percentage. In 15 career games vs the Ravens, Roethlisberger has thrown for 300 yards just once, a week 9 loss at home to the Ravens in the 2011 season. A key for the Bengals in week 1 against the Ravens was keeping Dalton clean, as they allowed no sacks and just one quarterback hit.

Le’Veon Bell
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens | 109 rushing yards, 88 yards receiving vs the Browns. Most impressive about Bell, 84 yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. The Steelers had their most success running to the left side vs the Browns. Bell ran very well against the Ravens last season, rushing for 93 yards on 19 carries in week 7 and 73 yards on 16 carries in week 13. Bell added 7 catches for 63 yards with 59 yards after the catch in the Steelers week 13 loss to the Ravens. Pittsburgh did an excellent job that game in getting Bell out in the open field, notably against linebacker Josh Bynes who didn’t make the Ravens squad this year.

LeGarrette Blount
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens | Blount played just 5 snaps vs the Browns, rushing 4 times for 6 yards, including a 7 yard touchdown run when used in the red zone. Blount’s role will likely increase a bit this week but Bell’s ability to catch out of the backfield and be an every down back is going to limit Blount’s opportunities when the Steelers go into the hurry up offense. In a week 16 matchup vs the Ravens last season, while playing for the Patriots, Blount averaged 4.8 yards per carry, rushing for 76 yards and scored 2 touchdowns.

Antonio Brown
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens | Brown hauled in 5 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown vs the Browns in week 1. Brown had a touchdown catch of 41 yards and was credited with 60 yards after catch, per Pro Football Focus. In a mistake, the Browns opted not shadow Haden against Brown in all situations until the second half. In the first half, Brown was dominant, posting 2 receptions for 53 yards on 3 targets with Haden in coverage and then got out against Craig Robertson in coverage on his 41 yard TD score. The Ravens had success last season in limiting the big plays from Brown. In Week 7, Brown had 6 catches for 50 yards on 7 targets, just 8.3 AVG and 29 YAC. His longest catch of the game was just 13 yards. In week 13 vs the Ravens, Brown was limited to 5 catches for 59 yards, 11.8 AVG and had two catches each of 19 yards, that didn’t come against top corners Ladarius Webb or Jimmy Smith in coverage.

MarKus Wheaton
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens: Wheaton had a strong game against the Browns, showing the ability to make clutch catches, something the Steelers rarely got from Emmanuel Sanders last season. Wheaton provided a favorable matchup for the Steelers against Browns top pick Justin Gilbert. Wheaton hauled in 6 catches for 97 yards, including a long catch of 40 yards down the right sideline. The Steelers getting a favorable matchup for the second straight week depends on Ladarius Webb’s availability. If Webb misses his second straight, Wheaton going up against Chykie Brown could be a matchup for the Steelers to exploit like they did against Justin Gilbert in week 1.

Justin Brown
Week 2 Outlook vs Ravens | With Lance Moore out for second straight game, it’s another golden opportunity for Brown. He played 56 snaps vs the Browns and had 3 catches for 38 yards, including 30 yards after catch. Brown had a long catch of 18 yards on first down in the third quarter with Buster Skrine in coverage. Aside from a 3rd down drop in the second half that ended a drive, Ben Roethlisberger went right back to Brown on the next drive, and Brown gave the Steelers some of what Jerricho Cotchery gave them last season; Size in the slot and a solid job as a run blocker. Brown was on the field for 20 rushing attempts and the Steelers averaged over 5.2 yards per carry with Brown on the field during run blocking situations. He graded out as the Steelers best run blocker among wide receivers vs the Browns.


Heath Miller
Week 2 outlook vs Ravens | Miller wasn’t targeted much in week 1 with 3 receptions for 26 yards on 4 targets. Roethlisberger showed an emphasis on exploiting Joe Haden and Justin Gilbert on the outside and Le’Veon Bell out against linebackers, limiting Miller’s targets. In week 13 vs the Ravens last season, Miller went off with 8 catches for 86 yards on 8 targets. He was a mismatch in the middle of the field. A matchup to watch for Steelers tonight is getting Miller in the open field 1-on-1 against Ravens rookie MLB C.J. Mosley who has struggled against the pass.
Out: Dri Archer, Lance Moore

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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