View Full Version : Steelers-Ravens preview chat transcript

11-02-2011, 11:50 PM
Steelers-Ravens preview chat transcript with the PG's Jerry Micco & the Sun's Ron Fritz
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Poll Question: OK, so who wins on Sunday?

Answer #1: Ravens -- 53%

Answer #2: Steelers -- 47%

Answer #3: Ends in a tie -- 0%

Jerry Micco: OK folks, I'm ready to go. Ron, are you here?

Ron Fritz: Ready to go Jerry.

yinzer in va: Jerry and Ron, If the Steelers go to a 4-3 to compensate for their LB injuries, do you think it gives the disadvantage to the Ravens because they've never seen this from the Steelers? Therefore, the Ravens don't know who is blitzing, stunting, etc.

Jerry Micco: I don't see the Steelers going to a strict 4-3 base defense. I think there will be wrinkles in the 3-4, which they did against the Pats, but I really don't think they'll do that as a base defense.

Ron Fritz: Yinzer,
I don't think it gives an advantage or disadvantage, but having Harrison and Woodley out would be a huge advantage to the Ravens. Schemes shouldn't concern them too much, unless it's Cover-2. That kills Flacco.

Jerry Micco: We reported yesterday morning that Woodley would be out. Tomlin has not ruled out any of the linebackers. We'll see....

KS Steeler: Ron, what is the mind set of the Ravens this week after some poor play the past two week?

Ron Fritz: The mind set is it's Ravens-Steelers week forget the past. Even Week 1. I like the fact that they are all concentrating on this Sunday's game.

Jerry Micco: If the Terrell Suggs conference call that just ended is any indication, should be situation normal for this game. Heard it was the best conference call this year from a Steelers opponent.

KS Steeler: Ron, knowing Harbaugh, do you think that 2 pt conversion was meant to rub the Steelers noses in? He seems like the type to do something like that.

Ron Fritz: KS Steeler, I actually don't think that's Harbaugh's way. He's very cognizant of respecting your opponent and history of the game. I was stunned they pulled that fake. He might have been, too. But he defended it after the game.

Jerry Micco: My question is: Has he run it since then, even if they didn't need it?

Ron Fritz: Nope. They haven't tried any fakes that I can remember.

The Chief: Ron, hope all is well. Joe Flacco seems to have hit his ceiling and now seems more Dilfer like than an elite QB. Your thoughts on him ?

Ron Fritz: Hey Chief! Glad to hear from you. Man, Flacco is tough to figure out. He has the "deer in headlights" look often, then he throws some unbelievable balls. I think he still has a higher ceiling than Dilfer.

praveen: Do you think the NE win will help the coaches trust the defensive players more to adapt to different schemes within a game according to the situation like the increased focus on man to man? Not that the coaches listen to what fans suggest, but the NE game was one of the rare times where the coaches' strategy seemed to mirror what the fans were asking for before the game.

Jerry Micco: I think you'll see the Steelers adapt to things more, but they've always tried to do that. Just not very successfully vs. New England.

Tim: What are the odds of Lee Evans starting or even playing at all on Sunday? Aren't we perhaps better off sticking with Torrey Smith since Evans hasn't played in a long time now?

Ron Fritz: Tim,
I don't think you'll see Evans this week. It all depends on if he practices this week. We'll have an update online after practice. He hasn't been participating so I find it hard to believe he'll play.

praveen: Ron, welcome. Greetings Jerry. Ron, as inconsistent as Flacco has been , do you agree that he is the Ravens best QB ever since their relocation? He can stink up an entire game, but as he showed in AZ, he can still lob that great accurate long throw to his WR.

Ron Fritz: Praveen, Flacco is the best QB since the relocation. The Ravens have had some real stiffs. I thought Steve McNair put together the best season I'd ever seen, but stunk the next year. Flacco has been in the playoffs his first three seasons.

Guest: Witch ravens team shows up in Pitt on Sunday? Can Pitt beat the good one

Ron Fritz: The Steelers can beat a good Ravens team. It's at home. The loss of the linebackers might be the difference.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers can beat anyone if they play as well as they did on Sunday. The Ravens are always tough, but if the offense can get going against that defense, then they will win it. The Steelers problem, besides the Ravens D, is the LB corps is decimated.

praveen: Ron, I have seen Suggs terrorize other teams. Ngata too. But Ngata seems to save his best for the Steelers or is that just coincidence that pertains to my selective viewing of Ravens games. Ngata is definitely a force against many teams, but is that great as he shows in Steelers games?

Ron Fritz: Ngata is a beast. I do think that he and Suggs both love to beat the Steelers. Ngata and Suh are the two best d-linemen in football.

Jerry Micco: He is a nightmare for Maurkice Pouncey. Not that Pouncey hasn't won his share of battles, but as good as he is, he has trouble with Ngata.

Huh!: Ravens win by 21! You're thoughts!

Jerry Micco: I'll take the 21 points if you're giving them. I think I can win that bet.

Ron Fritz: Huh! No way! Ravens by 3, only because of the injuries.

praveen: Ravens won't admit it/. But they gotta be relieved that two of the three biggest ravens killers on defense(Woodley, harrison, Troy) won't be there for the game.

Jerry Micco: Polamalu is playing.

Ron Fritz: No question. McKinnie has started to look a lot slower as the season has gone on. He was great the first game.

McShaq: The Ravens came out with an extremely aggressive approach on offense against the Rams and the Texans, going down field early and often and punctuating it with the run game. This trend seemed to die out against the Jags and the Cardinals, at least in the first half. Which Ravens O should we expect to see in the early stages Sunday night?

Ron Fritz: McShaq,
That's a great observation. I think they have to throw against the Steelers and will. Look for them to use the tight ends like the Patriots did. Ravens have two, good young TEs.

Mike: Do you think Joe Flacco has come out of his funk this week? He had a very poor game against Jacksonville and then didn't show anything until late against Arizona. Ben Roethlisberger seems to be pretty hot, as of late.

Jerry Micco: Ben is playing very well, and getting rid of the ball more quickly. Bad pick against NE, but otherwise, a very good game from him. And the OL is coming together much more. This will be their third start in a row as a unit.

Ron Fritz: Mike,
I absolutely have no idea which Flacco will show up. He can be brutal at times, then look unstoppable. I would say the Ravens open in a no-huddle to see if Joe can get in rhythm.

Tim: There have been some really terrible calls by officials this season. Do you think things like taunting penalties, unsportsman-like conduct, etc., will be a major factor at Heinz Field this weekend?

Ron Fritz: Tim, I think the officials will be looking especially closely at some of the shenanigans from both sides. I think you'll see a lot of off-setting penalties.

Jerry Micco: When these teams play, you always have the threat of that kind of stuff happening from both sides. I think they are constantly reminded by coaches not to take dumb penalties, but sometimes the emotion boils over. It's part of what makes the rivalry great.

praveen: Ron, how much of a fan base do the Caps and Ravens share? Educated guess? I realize not the same city but Balt doesn't have a hockey team.

Ron Fritz: Praveen, I think they share about 20-25 percent of the same fan base. The Caps played an exhibition here.

McShaq: Should we be worried about the Ravens special teams unit following the Patterson return and the ability of the Cardinals to get past the 20 despite Cundiff hitting the end zone on almost every kickoff?

Jerry Micco: The Steelers have had very good ST play this year, by the way. And Antonio Brown is a terrific return man.

Ron Fritz: McShaq,
Absolutely. The Ravens brought back ST whiz Edgar Jones today. Cundiff should keep kicking it through the end zone.

The Chief: Jerry/Ron, will this be the highest rated NFL game on NBC this year?

Ron Fritz: Chief,
I bet you'll be watching if you're not there in person. I do think it will be the highest-rated NBC game.

Jerry Micco: I don't know if that holds for the entire year because I don't have the schedule in front of me, but it'll be in the top 3. And I think NBC has done an excellent job with that show.

Tom: I joined this later. What do you think about the bulletin board material Webb gave the Steelers and Mike Wallace?

Jerry Micco: You always get that kind of stuff, it seems. But you still play the game. If you need that to get you fired up to play your rival, who you will battle to the end in the regular season and playoffs, then you weren't ready to play in the first place.

Ron Fritz: Tom,
I don't think anything anyone says can matter as much as the 35-7 score from the first game.

Lance: Do you think the winner of this game wins the division or the Ravens lose a couple more because of their harder finishing schedule?

Jerry Micco: If the Steelers get by this one, they still have some tests left. They go to SF and KC, and those won't be easy games. And much-improved Cincy twice

Ron Fritz: Lance,
I do think the winner takes the division. I'd say the Ravens schedule is pretty easy down the stretch, unless you think the Bengals are for real. They have the Browns and Bengals twice each. They have the Colts and Seahawks, too. Red flags are 49ers and Chargers. I can't see John Harbaugh losing to his brother, though.

praveen: Jerry, what do you think of having Redman and either mendy or moore at the goal line to stretch the defense horizontally? Wallace's speed is of little use in such close quarters. Sanders ability to run around with Ben and find an open spot would make him one of the preferredf red zone WRs.

Jerry Micco: And Hines Ward practiced today, so he'd be available, it appears. He'd never miss a Ravens game anyway. But the Steelers will need to try to run the ball to have any success. And they cannot settles for FGs like they did vs. New England.

Huh!: Ron do you think changing the way the line blocks for flacco, like going from 5 to 6 or 7 man protections like they did in Jacksonville hurt flacco, it seems like taking route options away really hurt him, I know they are trying to protect him, but like the texans game he thrived.

Ron Fritz: Jerry,
I promised a shout-out to all of my Pittsburgh relatives -- godmother Janet and cousins in Butler, my mom and dad are Steeler fans in Cleveland and my godfather and uncle in New York. OK, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Jerry Micco: I have no relatives in Baltimore. But my wife is from Southern Maryland and all her people are there. So, a salute to them. OK, chat time.

praveen: Will sanders play a full role this game? Other players have lost parents. But this must be devastating for him considering he is right out of college.

Ron Fritz: Huh! They did need to protect him more and he started to find Boldin. But he likes having all of the options. I see them using a fullback to protect.

Jerry Micco: It will be tough on him as with any other player. He'll play, certainly, if his knee is OK. But if Ward comes back, which he likely will, Sanders will have a reduced role. Nonetheless, he'll get some shots and Ben does like throwing to him. I think you'll see a lot of 3 and 4 WRs from the Steelers on Sunday.

bobo: Does Pittsburgh's LB situation help the Ravens run or passing game more?

Jerry Micco: I would think both, but I don't see those guys getting much pressure on Flacco. Timmons has not been a very active pass rusher this year, and really hasn't played all that well despite the big contract. If Flacco has time, he'll kill them.

Ron Fritz: Bobo,
Yes. It helps both. Woodley and Harrison just kill the Ravens. Absolutely destroys them. I think it has to help passing a little more because Woodley and Harrison have been tattooing Flacco in the past.

11-02-2011, 11:50 PM
McShaq: Thanks Ron. I was wondering what the rationale behind the Edgar Jones pick-up was. Seems like other teams have finally picked up on Nakamura's ST dominance. What do you think the Steeler WR-Raven DB match-ups will be on Sunday? Webb-Ward or Webb-Wallace? I thought Webb did a decent job on Fitzgerald last week, aside from one or two long gains.

Jerry Micco: I think you may see the Steelers use Taylor on Boldin. Not so much because he'll totally shut him down, but Ike is a very good tackler and held Wes Welker to minimal YAC on Sunday

Ron Fritz: The rational behind signing Edgar Jones was the Prescott Burgess injury, which might have occurred as he reached unsuccessfully for Patrick Peterson on the punt return for TD. Jones is a terrific ST player. Webb will likely be on Wallace. Look for Ed Reed to double.

Lance: Any update on Ben Grubbs? In, out, practicing?

Ron Fritz: They are practicing right now, so I haven't heard yet. I'd say he's a longshot again.

Mark: Who are the Ravens key free agents at the end of the season? I know Ngata signed long term but who else?

Ron Fritz: Mark,
Ray Rice is a free agent after the season. Matt Birk is in the final year of his deal. McKinnie is on a one-year deal. Not sure about Grubbs. Defense is pretty locked up.

praveen: Ron, Jerry: which team is more likely to let Cinci upset them in a game - Steelers or Ravens ?

Ron Fritz: The Ravens, without question. They've lost to the Bengals in the last few years when they should have. Update from practice: Evans did not practice, but Grubbs did. Also, Ngata didn't practice and we're not sure why yet.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers might be primed for a loss next Sunday at Cincy. Coming off New England and Baltimore at home, they may not have as much gas in the tank. That said. Mike Tomlin has generally done a good job of getting them to refocus week to week. And you wonder if any of the LBs are going to be healthy enough to play by then.

Mohammed: I joined a bit late so I apologize if you already discussed the Ravens injury situation. Does Ben Grubbs have any chance of playing on Sunday?

Ron Fritz: I just got an update Mohammed. Grubbs practiced today so I think he has a shot to play Sunday.

The Chief: Jerry/Ron, do you think the Steelers and Ravens make contenders or pretenders out of the Bengals and 49er's.

Jerry Micco: I think if the Steelers can win 2 of 3 playing those teams, they'd gladly take it. And they'd prefer the 2 to be over Cincy.

Ron Fritz: Chief,
In short, yes. I think the Ravens can beat the Bengals both times, and there will be hell to pay if John Harbaugh loses to his little brother.

Tim: Do you see the Steelers playing 1 on 1 with Taylor vs Boldin the entire game? Also, what about the other DB's? Same strategy vs Smith and Williams?

Ron Fritz: Tim,
I think the Ravens would love it if the Steelers played Taylor on Boldin one-on-one. I think you can play Smith one-on-one. Who covers the Ravens' TEs though? No one covered NE's last week.

Jerry Micco: Taylor generally lines up vs. the other team's best WR. Now they could change it up now and then. I think they ran about 70 percent man-to-man vs. NE, which is much more than they usually run. Who knows, maybe more zone vs. the Ravens and then Ike will not move around. As for NE's TEs, Aaron Hernandez had 1 catch for 1 yard and a TD. Gronkowski got his catches, but holding NE to under 250 passing is a feat.

Kenny: What are your predictions on what happens with Flacco's contract after the season? Do they pay him the big bucks or look elsewhere?

Ron Fritz: OK, it just seemed like Hernandez was always open.

Ron Fritz: Flacco gets paid. The Fitzpatrick contract was interesting. I think you'll see Flacco get somewhere between Fitzpatrick and the top tier (Manning, Brady, etc.)

Jay: Any other significant injuries from last week? I am aware of Grubbs and Evans and Burgess. Any others that may not play that are quality players?

Ron Fritz: Ngata didn't practice today, but we don't know why. I think otherwise the Ravens are pretty healthy.

praveen: Ron, what do you think of Arians. Jerry , what do you think of Cam Cameron. Two hated coordinators in their own towns. So let's get out of town opinions of each.

Jerry Micco: I think Cam Cameron knows how to call a game, but sometimes the players either don't execute or the other team gets in the way of the plan. I mean, it happens. Are there times when they make questionable calls or stay too long with one thing? Absolutely. But show me an OC who doesn't.

Jerry Micco: Also stand corrected on Hernandez's catches. Had 2 for 12 yards and a TD last week.

Ron Fritz: I never thought much of Arians, but he keeps winning Super Bowls and gets deep runs in the playoffs. I like the way he uses his running backs and is able to plug in new WRs into his system.

Chris: Where is Tandon Doss? I liked him a bunch better than Williams in the preseason and he caught everything thrown his way....

Ron Fritz: Chris,
Great question. Had a monster preseason then disappeared. LaQuan Williams is a much better ST player, so that might be why he's getting more opportunities.

Ron Fritz: Prediction for the pierogies Jerry?

TheGreenWeenie: Have this Steelers solved the stretch play and can they contain Rice. That's the big question.

Ron Fritz: They won't let Rice kill them again. Look for Mr. Head and Shoulders to shadow him a bit.

Jerry Micco: It is the No. 1 thing on the defense's mind. Hampton is back and Hoke may be back, too, so the DL is getting healthier. But the LBs have to plug those holes and well, they are not the starting unit the Steelers would like to have out there.

Jerry Micco: OK Ron, prediction for pierogies: I say Steelers win an offensive battle, 31-28. Everyone knows the defenses are great, but the Steelers offense is playing much better and the OL is much improved from Week 1. Of course, I picked the Steelers in Week 1 and was crushed. Your turn....

Ron Fritz: Jerry,
My dad, a lifelong Steelers fan, turns 75 next week (Happy Birthday Dad!) and would like nothing more than a big Steelers win. Sorry dad. Without the stud LBs it's Ravens, 20-17. I'm praying for a fast game, as I'm sure you are.

Jerry Micco: Always. Doggone deadlines are killers! OK folks, we're going to close the chat. Again, thanks to everyone who participated. You all did a terrific job. Ron, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. Always enjoy it. Wish you could make it up to Pittsburgh sometime for one of these games. Enjoy the game Sunday everyone!

Ron Fritz: Thanks Jerry. I'm so glad we're able to do this.