I’m not trying to let to let any cats out the bag, but I would continue to watch out for the Raiders’ young secondary. Primarily rookies Tre’von Moehrig, Nate Hobbs and Tyree Gillespie.
These three young men will be tested greatly at Heinz Field against the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. While Lamar Jackson had 19 pass completions against the Raiders, he averaged only 7.8 yards per completion. Big Ben is going to try his hand deep down the field with his receivers, who have a lethal combination of size, speed and great route-running with the trio of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. The three receivers combined for over 2600 receiving yards last season.
The task of containing them is difficult for anyone, especially three players straight out of college. However, from what I’ve seen from these rookies throughout Training Camp and the season opener, they’ll be up for the challenge. Moehrig and Hobbs combined for seven total tackles in the win against the Ravens.
Fortunately, they won’t be on the own. They’re surrounded with veteran playmakers in the secondary in Casey Hayward Jr. and Trayvon Mullen Jr.. Also, let’s not forget the improved defensive line that I’ll be addressing in this next question.
The Steelers notably revamped their offensive line this offseason with two rookies starting. Roethlisberger is also known to be primarily a pocket passer. Therefore, the pass rush on Big Ben will be kicked up to another level.
“It’s just a completely different offense that we’re facing,” said defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. “Very explosive. Different style of quarterback; strong, can extend plays by stepping up in the pocket. You have to have a plan on [Roethlisberger] as far as pressure just like we had last week. He’s just very accurate. He does a great job with his eyes, so it’s a whole new set of challenges with him.”
Crosby is coming off a six tackle, Halloween Horror Football Team Oakland Raider Fan T-shirt two sack game and was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week. The 24-year-old edge rusher has more sacks than any player in his 2019 NFL draft class. With Yannick Ngakoue on the other side of the defensive line, the two edge rushers combined for over 15 quarterback pressures on Lamar Jackson.
The AFC DPOW alongside the rest of the defensive line versus a fairly unproven front line of the Steelers – five sacks isn’t unreasonable. And that is so good to say for a defense that’s had historically low sack numbers the past few seasons.
Don’t ask me, ask Gus Bradley. He wasted no time Thursday addressing how much Ferrell will be needed against the Steelers.
“He’s having a good week of practice this week,” said Bradley “I think for us, just monitoring that and deciding at that point maybe the needs that we see. We felt like [Baltimore] was a team that can really just line up and pound us last week. So, that’s on a week-to-week basis, but he’s practicing really well. He practiced well today.”
Despite Ferrell being inactive, the way he was able to stay in tune with his coaches and teammates on the sideline revealed a lot about the character of the lineman to his defensive coordinator.