While i was sitting in on the Mike Tomlin press conference for the Steelers opener in Baltimore, i jotted down a few quotes from Coach Mike that i felt were very interesting and telling.
“They probably know more about us than we know about them.”
Given the fact that the Ravens are coming into this game with 5 or so new defensive starters and a new coordinator (Chuck Pagano who coached the secondary last year), and on offense 4 new starters plus RB Ricky Williams, that is a true statement.
For the Steelers, it’s basically the same group that has been a thorn in the Ravens side for the last couple of years. There’s plenty of video available for Baltimore to scout on the personnel and stra-tee-gery side of things.
The Ravens CB’s and the offensive line emerge as to areas of interest that jump out at you.
If you watch a little tape of the Ravens, one immediately sees that there is more mystery than how do you get writer’s block as to who will start at CB (the pre-season yielded a count of 4 different pairs of starters).
The offensive line will not start in its entirety until this weekend (C Matt Birk hasn’t yet played, RG Marshall Yanda has had back spasms and hasn’t played for 3 weeks, and blindside OT Michael Oher is now moved to the “sight-side”). The addition of Bryant McKinney from the Dolly Madison all-star team to the blindside of Joe Flacco can’t really be considered an up-grade either.
Further i think they’ve down-graded at TE and FB, probably lost a step at safety, (though Zbikowski is an up-grade in any brawls on the field) and i think Kelly Gregg was a better NT than Terrence Cody.
So where does this leave the Steelers? In a position of feeling pretty good, which is exactly what you don’t want. Being comfortable. That’s why Mike Tomlin came back with;
“We understand and acknowledge we’re preparing to go into the lion’s den on sunday.”
This is how Mike wants to frame this week’s game to the fellas in the locker room. It’s the gladiator mentality of “take-no-prisoners.” No room for mis-interpretation on this one.
Circle the wagons, get your beard on Brett Keisel, and lock n load for a typical hum-dinger of a battle at M&T Bank Stadium. It’s still Ray Lewis and Haloti Ngata along with Terrell Suggs that bring fireworks and headaches. On the other side of the ball it’s Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin. In other words, it’s the same cast of characters that have been going at it tooth and nail for a number of years.
Last of all, as to the queries about the aging Steelers defense;
“Keep on talking about their age. You’re just making my job easier.”
If there is a group of guys who play better with a chip on their shoulders than this defense, i don’t know them.
When the defense believed that the Commish was singling out James Harrison, they rallied around him, railing against the heavy-handedness of Roger Goodell.
Even to the point that the Steelers were the only team to vote against the CBA agreement in camp just to make a point.
If you look “Grudge” up in the dictionary, you might find a team photo of the Steelers.