Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Rashod Bateman returned to a full practice Wednesday, while Odell Beckham Jr. remained a limited participant with his ankle injury.
- Steelers TE Pat Freiermuth was labeled “very doubtful” for Sunday by head coach Mike Tomlin.
- Four Pittsburgh starting offensive linemen missed practice Wednesday (Dan Moore, Isaac Seumalo, James Daniels, and Chukwuma Okorafor).
- Kenny Pickett left the team’s Week 4 loss to the Texans with a knee injury and was limited in practice to start the week – he anticipates playing in Week 5 with a knee brace.
- Diontae Johnson remains out of the Pittsburgh lineup for at least one more game.
- The Steelers have been in man coverage at a 25.9 percent clip this season, which ranks 12th in the league; their 48.4 coverage grade when in man ranks 29th, per PFF.
- Of Baltimore wide receivers, only Odell Beckham Jr. (44.4 percent) and Zay Flowers (25.9 percent) carry target rates higher than 18 percent against man coverage.
- Mark Andrews and Zay Flowers set up well to exploit this matchup through the air, with expected volume as the biggest detractor.
How baltimore Will Try To Win ::
After ranking sixth in rush attempts per game in 2022 at 31.2m, Todd Monken’s 2023 Ravens offense averages 34.8 rush attempts per game, behind only the Philadelphia Eagles (who also led the league in that category last year). And that’s not a case of “this offense is running more plays per game, so obviously they will average more rush attempts per game when compared to a season ago” as much as it is “this offense is not operating with the spread nature we thought after Monken was hired to this point in the season.” They are averaging 63.8 offensive plays run from scrimmage per game compared to 62.1 a season ago, continue to play at a slow pace (27th-ranked 29.7 seconds per play compared to 26th-ranked 30.2 a season ago), and continue to operate a run-balanced offense (league-low 26.3 pass attempts per game). They rank near the middle of the pack in pass rate over expectation this year. So, what has changed with Monken in town? The most significant effective change in this offense this season is the reduction of 12-personnel rates, of which most of those snaps have now transitioned to 11-personnel. The Baltimore offense remains focused on 21-personnel, with fullback Patrick Ricard seeing between 26 and 44 percent snap rates in each of the team’s four contests, with the low value in that range coming in their Week 3 overtime loss to the Colts. They have primarily been allowed to continue a relatively conservative offensive approach designed to march the field on the backs of a defense allowing just 14.5 points per game (third), as evidenced by a low 6.8 IAY/PA value from quarterback Lamar Jackson (26th in the league).
Through the continuation of mounting injuries in Baltimore, the backfield now runs through veteran Gus Edwards, who is backed up by chance of pace and clear passing down back Justice Hill and veteran journeyman Melvin Gordon. In the team’s Week 4 game that they controlled throughout, Edwards saw a massive 69 percent snap rate and 69.2 percent of the team’s backfield opportunities. I would expect that stranglehold on backfield opportunities to continue forward in game environments that the Ravens can control, which this game sets up well for considering an opponent allowing a robust 4.7 yards per carry to opposing backs this season (fourth-worst). Finally, quarterback Lamar Jackson averaged 10.25 carries per game during the first four weeks of the season, with four rushing scores over his previous two games.
Whether through continued problems with the Lisfranc injury sustained in the 2022 season or through schematic design, Rashod Bateman has yet to play more than 69 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in a game this season (missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury). Combined with the absence of Odell Beckham Jr., that has left just rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers as the only near every-down pass-catcher for the Ravens to start the season as tight end Mark Andrews continues to see his playing time subsidized by the presence of Isaiah Likely (Andrews has had snap rates of 79 percent, 82 percent, and 69 percent). With Bateman likely back, that should leave him and Nelson Agholor to around 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, with Devin Duvernay and Laquon Treadwell on hand to soak up any snaps remaining, likely influenced the most by OBJ’s ability to return to game action. Pittsburgh has played man coverage at the league’s 12th highest rate thus far, and only OBJ (44.4 percent) and Flowers (25.9 percent) have a target rate higher than 18 percent against man coverage this season for Baltimore wide receivers. That sets up well for Andrews to see significant work here.