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Old 10-02-2010, 10:38 PM   #1
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Default Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

OWINGS MILLS – In an instant, a lot of pain can be inflicted on unsuspecting Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco(notes).

Traditionally, the vicious hits tend to come from two opposite directions when the Ravens are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Besides star strong safety Troy Polamalu(notes), the Steelers’ defense is headlined by two aggressive, speedy outside linebackers in James Harrison(notes) and LaMarr Woodley(notes).

A former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison is a constant threat to attack a quarterback’s blind side. And Woodley has emerged as a pass rushing force on the right side with a formidable spin move and bull rush in his repertoire.

“At times we’ve done well against one guy, but then the other guy has hurt us,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s pretty hard to provide help on both sides of your pass protection and get anybody out. That’s the biggest thing.

“They are very powerful rushers, that’s the No. 1 thing. They really bring it and you’re not sure where they’re coming from, and they bring it with a lot of power.”

Harrison is an intimidating defender with a low center of gravity.

Two years ago, he led the NFL with 16 sacks and forced 10 fumbles.

This year, he leads the Steelers with three sacks to go with 20 fumbles and a forced fumble.

When Flacco was a rookie, Harrison’s sack and forced fumble was returned for a touchdown by Woodley.

“It’s tough,” said left tackle Michael Oher(notes), who draws the assignment of blocking Harrison. “You’ve got two guys that have the ability to dominate games. You’ve got to come to play and bring your ‘A’ game every snap They’re pretty good, so you have to be ready to perform.”

Woodley tormented the Ravens last December during a 23-20 loss at Heinz Field.

He sacked Flacco twice on consecutive plays, bursting past befuddled offensive tackle Oniel Cousins(notes).

Over the course of seven offensive plays, Flacco was sacked three times.

Woodley registered three of the Steelers’ nine sacks against Baltimore last season.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder is big, strong and quick.

“If you get high, he’s going to get underneath you and jack you into the quarterback,” said right offensive tackle Marshal Yanda(notes), who hasn’t been primarily responsible for blocking Woodley since his rookie season. “You’ve got to identify his rush and play your butt off. He’s one of the best.”

The Pro Bowl outside linebacker has two sacks, one interception and a forced fumble this year.

Last season, Woodley posted a career-high 13 ˝ sacks and 84 tackles. He owns an NFL record with two sacks in each of his four playoff games.

His trademark spin move is especially dangerous.

“You’ve got to focus on an aiming point,” Yanda said. “You can’t overset on him. If he feels you’re oversetting, he’s going to spin inside or rip inside. He’s a good football player.

“He doesn’t predetermine moves. He makes his moves off what you do. You’ve got to watch him close.”

The Steelers rarely flop Harrison and Woodley.

Virtually every play, the relentless tandem are sent barreling toward the quarterback by crafty defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

“I think they are two of the best outside linebackers in the league,” Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “Those guys have been extremely productive the last couple of years, and they are both really physical, and I’ve got a lot of respect for them.”

It helps the Steelers’ cause that they’ve got gritty defensive end Aaron Smith back on the left side this year after he spent last season on injured reserve.

Smith is extremely difficult to budge.

“He’s a great inside guy,” Yanda said. “Having him back has definitely helped them out a bunch. They’re playing the way they used to play a couple of years ago.”

In Flacco’s three trips to Pittsburgh, he has yet to win a game.

He’s also been sacked a dozen times, uncorked four interceptions and hasn’t completed half of his passes, a 48.8 percentage.

“We’ve played up there three times, and we’ve played pretty good,” Flacco said. “Besides the playoff game, we’ve played really good up there. We just haven’t come out with wins. We’ve got to finish games, and this is going to be another good game, and we’ll have to finish it in the fourth quarter when it comes down to the time to do that.”

Woodley and Harrison have thrived in the fourth quarter, though.

And they combined for 23 ˝ sacks last season, and 51 sacks over the past two seasons.

Some chip-blocking assistance and maximum protection schemes will probably be in order Sunday.

“Obviously, two of the best in the league,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “You come up with what you think is going to be a sound plan. Sometimes you double them, sometimes you single them, sometimes you triple them. And then you rely on the trust between the quarterback and the receivers to get the ball out quickly.”

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Old 10-02-2010, 10:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

Mom, I pointed this out yesterday even before this writer. Woodley had 2 sacks in last years late season game. But what he also had was constant pressure on Flacco. And now with a college Guard who has never played Tackle at anytime in his college or Pro Career has to try and stop Woodley. This could get real Ugly for the Ravens. Not unless they go with a 6 O-Line team and 2-TE's. That would leave just Ray Rice and A.Boldin in the game other than the two TE's. To counter this I suspect A.Boldin is gonna get a TON of quick passes to him right at the side where he lines up at. With our DC choosing to always play our DB's 10-15 yards off the WR at the line, Boldin could get around 17-25 catches on Sunday..( Serious to )...Pittsburgh HAS to play closer to the LOS. Otherwise those quick release passes will negate our Pass rush.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

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Originally Posted by whatdoiknow View Post
With our DC choosing to always play our DB's 10-15 yards off the WR at the line, Boldin could get around 17-25 catches on Sunday..( Serious to )...Pittsburgh HAS to play closer to the LOS. Otherwise those quick release passes will negate our Pass rush.
A lot of people critisize DC's who play their corners off the ball. But a good coach knows his teams weaknesses and strengths, and the pass defense is the weakness.

If corners play up, there's a chance for a deep ball which neither starting corner is fast enough to defend, except Taylor but he's been beaten before. Clark isn't that fast, and can only cover so much of the field, and if Polamalu played deep all the time, he would lose his effectiveness on the game. LeBeau would rather have his defense bend and rely on the front 7 to froce some bad plays and sacks than risk a corner getting beat deep.
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Old 10-02-2010, 11:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

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A lot of people critisize DC's who play their corners off the ball. But a good coach knows his teams weaknesses and strengths, and the pass defense is the weakness.

If corners play up, there's a chance for a deep ball which neither starting corner is fast enough to defend, except Taylor but he's been beaten before. Clark isn't that fast, and can only cover so much of the field, and if Polamalu played deep all the time, he would lose his effectiveness on the game. LeBeau would rather have his defense bend and rely on the front 7 to froce some bad plays and sacks than risk a corner getting beat deep.


That maybe IF we were playing a team with great deep speed. But none of the Ravens good WR are fast. TJ and Boldin both ran over a 4.7 forty when they were in College. And both are drastically slower now. Boldin maybe can run a 4.85 forty at best. But his great strength and Physical skills is what makes him dangerous. And that is why any DC with a brain in his head will play close at the line against them. The Jets also played way way off the line, and Boldin killed them with quick flair like catches, and they won the game as well. If Lebeau plays those slow guys way off the line, then it is clear he has no real clue how to defend WR.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

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Originally Posted by whatdoiknow View Post
That maybe IF we were playing a team with great deep speed. But none of the Ravens good WR are fast. TJ and Boldin both ran over a 4.7 forty when they were in College. And both are drastically slower now. Boldin maybe can run a 4.85 forty at best. But his great strength and Physical skills is what makes him dangerous. And that is why any DC with a brain in his head will play close at the line against them. The Jets also played way way off the line, and Boldin killed them with quick flair like catches, and they won the game as well. If Lebeau plays those slow guys way off the line, then it is clear he has no real clue how to defend WR.
WTF are you talking about? I think Lebeau knows what he's doing.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:05 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ravens’ line bracing for Steelers’ Harrison, Woodley

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Originally Posted by whatdoiknow View Post
That maybe IF we were playing a team with great deep speed. But none of the Ravens good WR are fast. TJ and Boldin both ran over a 4.7 forty when they were in College. And both are drastically slower now. Boldin maybe can run a 4.85 forty at best. But his great strength and Physical skills is what makes him dangerous. And that is why any DC with a brain in his head will play close at the line against them. The Jets also played way way off the line, and Boldin killed them with quick flair like catches, and they won the game as well. If Lebeau plays those slow guys way off the line, then it is clear he has no real clue how to defend WR.
Players who play up on Boldin don't beat him at all. I've seen so many times he beats them off the line, either physically or speed, then makes a play or he does a quick move and bursts into the next level.
He'll get some plays, no doubt, but you can't go man to man with him with the corners the Steelers have.
There's a reason man to man defenses don't have as great of pass defenses as zone coverage defenses. They'll let up those shot passes, but when you have the front 7 (8 with troy) those short 3-7 yard passes will get disrupted, will get tipped, and possible interceptions eventually.
The Steelers have done this the past 7 years, and generally its worked up until last season when Troy was injured 11 games, and because of that, LeBeau was calling conservative plays and admited that was why the defense played poorly in parts of the season.
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