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Week 5 – What to Watch for Against the Baltimore Ravens

By Matt Papiernik, @Matt_Papiernik on Twitter
SteelerNation.com

 

As the Pittsburgh Steelers head out into their fifth game of the regular season, there are several things to watch out for as they are coming off their first victory of the young season. If the Steelers are able to pull out a victory, they will be no lower than second place in the division, with the possibility of being tied for first.

 

Will Mason Rudolph Be Allowed to Open Up the Offense?

I used this one last week as well, and the answer was no. Beside one or two deep shots, Mason Rudolph was largely checking the ball down, but he did have a lot of success doing so. Randy Fichtner did as much as he could to protect Rudolph for the second week in a row, but likely won’t be able to do that against an aggressive, attacking defense like the Baltimore Ravens have. Mason proved he can throw the ball deep when plays are called, as his deep touchdown to Diontae Johnson was a good one. It also isn’t about just taking deep shots down the field. The 6-15 yard passes are really what they need to attempt more often. It seems everything is either deep down the sideline or underneath to this point, but with Juju Smith-Schuster and recently acquired Nick Vannett working the center of the field, Rudolph needs to be allowed to drive the ball a little bit besides just a handful of deep shots.

 

Can The Steelers Continue to Stop the Run?

The Steelers are going to have to make QB Lamar Jackson beat them with his arm and not with his legs. The combination of Jackson and Mark Ingram Jr. in the backfield is a lethal one, but if they make the Ravens get away from their run game, they will have a lot of success. The Steelers have been a mixed bag against the run this year. Against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers their defense just got beat down and couldn’t seem to figure out how to stop the run. However, against the Cincinnati Bengals and the New England Patriots, they held strong allowing less than 100 rushing yards each game, granted they got pummeled by the Patriots so it isn’t the best example. Vince Williams will be back this week, and he is going to be key as he is their best run defending linebacker. If the Ravens break about 125 rushing yards, the Steelers will be in trouble.

 

Will the Steelers Running Game Get Going?

The Steelers had a unique solution to their running game in week four, as they elected to go with a wildcat formation and do a large amount of short passes and pitches to allow their running backs to get in space. However, this isn’t a long-term solution to getting their running game going and making sure James Conner and Jaylen Samuels stay involved. I would expect the Steelers to use that formation occasionally against the Ravens, but it won’t be a primary focus like in week four. The Steelers are going to need to line up in big formations and go downhill at this Ravens defense. The Ravens defense has a depleted linebacking core, as they lost several players this past off-season. Running right at them and making them defend the run and get off blocks is the way to attack them, and it is the same way Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns had a large amount of success last week.

 

Comment below and let me know what you will be looking for as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens!

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