Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens: Five Questions with the Enemy


Each week as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for their matchup we will go behind enemy lines to get the scoop on the team they’re facing with a member of the FanSided Network. Today we have Brett Foote, editor of Ebony Bird, giving us the info on the Baltimore Ravens. He discussed the perspective and opinions of the Ravens organization from a fan’s perspective in light of what has transpired with Ray Rice in the last 48 hours; he also suggested whether or not the whole situation might distract the team. As far as the upcoming game is concerned, he discussed whether or not the Ravens are going to employ a no-huddle offense attack, featuring another 60+ pass attempt game out of Joe Flacco. And, finally, gives us a Ravens fan outlook for the 2014 season.

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Clearly the Ray Rice situation isn’t going to be out of the news cycle anytime soon. How big of a distraction will or could this be for the team?

Jim Harbaugh has said that it won’t affect them on any level in regards to the game. And in a way, he is right, since the team would have been without Rice until Friday with his NFL-imposed original suspension. But the players and coaches will at least have it on their mind. With the way the news has exploded over the last couple of days, it has to be impossible to not at least think about it.

What is a Ravens fan’s perspective on the team and organization right now in light of everything that’s come out about Ray Rice and the way the team/league handled it?

Opinions are mixed. There is a good bit of scrutiny surrounding the team and the way they have handled Ray Rice’s situation. Many people feel like Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti should have addressed the media on Monday, but John Harbaugh was left to answer all the media’s questions himself. People are also very skeptical about the league and the team’s claims that they never saw the video, and wonder why they didn’t insist on seeing it before the league decided on punishment. It’s a very volatile situation.

Is it safe to assume the Ravens will employ a lot of no-huddle offense given how the Steelers defense played against the Browns in the second half last week?

I expect the Ravens to use no-huddle at least on a couple of series. I also expect a drastic change in offensive strategy compared to what was deployed against the Bengals. The Ravens should come out with a renewed focus on the ground game, and I would expect them to use the run to set up the pass. I also think that they will use the run to set up play action. The one time they used play action against the Bengals, it was late in the fourth quarter on 4th and 1. The entire Bengals defense was fooled and Joe Flacco slowly jogged for the first down.

Joe Flacco threw the ball 62 times against Cincinnati. Will that be the norm of the Ravens offense this season?

It won’t, and it hopefully it won’t happen again. I essentially basically blasted Gary Kubiak in my post game analysis, and Sunday’s game was very frustrating to watch. Aside from nine drops by Ravens wide receivers, there were a number of bad routes and a good bit of miscommunication. Meanwhile, Justin Forsett was picking up yards in chunks and finished with 6.4 yards per carry on the day. It is baffling why they abandoned the run, especially when the Ravens never trailed by more than two scores. This was a one score ball game for almost the entire second half.

What is the outlook for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014?

The media isn’t giving the Ravens much of a chance, with only a handful predicting a playoff berth. I predicted a playoff berth and 10-6 record in my preseason predictions, and I still believe that, or 9-7 is realistic. The offensive issues they experienced in Week 1 are easy fixes, and the defense was stout against the run. If they get Lardarius Webb back on the field and sustain health in the secondary, this is a team talented enough to secure a playoff berth.

There you have it, Steeler Nation. What to look for Thursday night against the Ravens. Another great game in this storied rivalry for sure to keep us screaming at the TV’s till late at night. A 2-0 start on the year and in the division is within the grasp of the Pittsburgh Steelers so let’s hope they go out and get it.

Here we go Steelers! Here we go!