Even after giving up 265 yards on the ground last week, Pittsburgh still ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing defense. The Ravens rushing attack this week will face a dominant defense yet again, this time in Indianapolis. While the Colts defense may not have names you recognize, they give up the second fewest rushing yards per game, at just 79.9.
It’s looking like Mark Ingram will be unable to play again this week as he still works to get back on the practice field. Without Ingram, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both finished with season high carry and yard numbers last week against what was seen as an impossible defense upon which to run. If the duo can do it again on Sunday against another top defense, they can do it against anyone.
One thing that may have led to Dobbins and Edwards’ success was the reintroduction of the pistol formation, something we saw plenty of last season but that has been absent recently. There were 25 runs out of the pistol set last week – Dobbins with 12 and Edwards with 13 – and it proves time and time again to be the set that gives defenses the most fits. Usually when a team makes adjustments coming out of the bye week, you can tell it’s a change they really looked at and want to commit to from then on out, so it’s a good sign we saw the pistol heavily utilized after the week off.
I’m looking forward to it continuing through the rest of the season.
Navigating Close Contacts
The big news out of Baltimore this week has been All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday, a test that was administered prior to the game on Sunday. On Tuesday, the team found that there were seven close contacts to Humphrey, and Matthew Judon, Patrick Queen, L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Tyus Bowser, DeShon Elliott and Terrell Bonds were all placed on the COVID list. Judon was removed from the list on Thursday.
All seven are eligible to play this Sunday, assuming they keep testing negative, but everyone except Judon so far is not eligible to practice with the team. How does preparing for the 5-2 Colts without multiple starters on defense look, and will the lack of practice be evident on Sunday?
“We look at it as an opportunity to create versatility within your defense,” John Harbaugh said about using younger players to fill in for the missing starters. He mentioned Terrell Bonds and Khalil Dorsey as two players who need to step up and will play significant snaps with so much depth in the defensive backfield lost already this year.
After Quiet Deadline, How is Depth?
“[Our depth] is being tested.”
That’s what Harbaugh had to say heading into Week 9.
After Tuesday came and went without the Ravens making a trade, the team will be shorthanded on both sides of the ball but is missing two starters on the offensive line. This week will be the new-look offensive line’s first: Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle, Patrick Mekari at right guard, and D.J. Fluker at right tackle.
As a result, I would expect the runs to be primarily to the right. Fluker is a bulldozer in the run game and Brown is probably a little less mobile and quick at getting up field than Stanley was.
As far as the defensive backfield, the Ravens are catching a break against this Colts offense. Not only is former Pro-Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton unlikely to play with a groin injury, but Philip Rivers is in the bottom third in the league in intended air yards per attempt. Indianapolis is near the top of the league in targets to running backs and tight ends and near the bottom in targets to receivers.
An offense that attempts few downfield throws will help out the young and inexperienced Baltimore cornerbacks that will play Sunday.