Three concerns for Baltimore Ravens in match-up with Pittsburgh Steelers
By Darin McCann
Short passing game:
Look, the Steelers are not the same team when they have Mason Rudolph behind center instead of Ben Roethlisberger. But what they are doing is something that has given this versions of the Ravens fits.
They are throwing short passes. And then they throw shorter passes. Typically, this is an approach that the Ravens have fared well against because of their ability to tackle so well. I’ve always thought it was a key reason the team has had some nominal success against the Patriots over the years. Instead of just moving down the field with short passes, like the Patriots do to everyone else, the Ravens have been able to get key stops because they haven’t allowed a lot of yards after the catch.
But Andy Reid exploited the Ravens defense with these short passes, particularly against blitzes. And keep in mind, with the Ravens struggling to get any kind of pass rush with a four-man rush, they have had to blitz a lot. Reid and his star quarterback Patrick Mahomes were patient with these plays, and effective. When the Ravens players would adapt to try to combat these plays, the middle of the field was often wide open for chunk plays. Cleveland did this last week to great success, as well.
The Steelers will do this again on Sunday, with short passes to James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, and looking for chunk plays to JuJu Smith-Schuster and dangerous rookie Diontae Johnson. The Ravens need to make the tackle after short passes, and control the down-and-distance against the Pittsburgh offense. If they can force some punts, and the offense can put up some points, those short passes become moot and the defense can play against middle and deep passes, hopefully generating some interceptions.