Protecting Lamar Jackson is a good idea against the Steelers. It’s easier said than done:
The Pittsburgh Steelers will bring a good pass rush to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers have no shortage of pass rushers. T.J. Watt has 5.5 sacks. Bud Dupree has five sacks. Stephon Tuitt has four sacks and a pair of Steelers defenders have three. Getting after the quarterback is a strength of the Steelers and it’s scary how obvious that is.
The Baltimore Ravens offensive line is a major concern. Lamar Jackson, the most athletic quarterback in football has been sacked 15 times this season. There hasn’t been a game where the offensive line hasn’t left at least a little to be desired. To put it bluntly, this is strength vs. weakness and it may be the best path the Steelers have to a week eight victory.
So what can the Ravens do about it, other than getting more from their offensive linemen? Well, no matter what shuffling the team does, the advantage in this part of the match up goes to the Steelers. It’s an unavoidable fact and therefore the game plan has to reflect that.
This is a good week for the Ravens to develop a screen game. It hasn’t been something the Raven have done all that much of this season, but it could slow down the pass rush. Wide receiver screens are called for in this game. The Steelers secondary may have a hard time keeping up with the speed of the receivers that Baltimore has.
The receivers are being underutilized in this offense. We say it every week and at a certain point having the capability in the passing game isn’t the same thing as producing in the passing game. This would be the ideal week for the receivers to not only get right, but for Jackson to get them the ball on short passes and screens that allow for yards after the catch and a limited shot at getting to Jackson. Jackson always needs a safety valve in this game.
Nick Boyle and Pat Ricard are going to have to play a vital role in this game. The Ravens will have to give help, especially on the right side of the offensive line. Five man protection isn’t going to cut in when the Ravens have to take shots down the field, and in case you didn’t read my last post, the Ravens need to take shots down the field to win this game.
Finally, Jackson is going to have to account for some of the pass rush on his own. Moving the pocket and getting him rolling out is never all that bad of an idea. The Steelers will probably be determined to stop him from making an impact on designed runs, so this is a great week for Jackson to make an impact as a scrambler. A little of that “Lamarvelous” elusiveness and he could get free in the open field. The more Jackson makes the Steelers pay as a passer, the more he has a chance to make them pay on improvised runs.
The Bottom Line:
This could be a tough and ugly game for both teams, in fact that’s what is typically advertised in this rivalry. To think that the Ravens won’t have problems up front on offense is nothing but wishful thinking. Should Ronnie Stanley and Bradley Bozeman be okay? Probably. The rest of the offensive line will likely have it’s struggles.
With that in mind, Roman has to call a good game. With that in mind, the Ravens have to counterbalance this match up inequity with strategy. If the Ravens do that, good things are more than possible. A bad game plan could wreck this game for Baltimore though, because the Steelers have the pass rushers to mess things up for anybody.