Reps With the First Team Offense? Dennis Dixon Don't Need That

"Up there! It's Baltimore's crime rate!"

Dennis Dixon, after not having practiced during the week with the first team offense, gets the start on the road against the Ravens. I suppose the only worse scenario would be if Ben had actually started and injured himself again early in the game. It's kind of amazing now that Ben through six seasons will have only started two games in Baltimore in his career.

I'm kind of freaked out about how Bruce Arians would respond to this. The immediate reaction from laypeople who don't follow the team is that the Steelers are going to bust out the Wildcat, but Arians hates the formation (obviously, of course, because it actually leaves somebody in the backfield - five receiver sets are where it's at!) and Dixon hasn't practiced it much since the preseason, and even then it wasn't an extensive amount of reps. I would imagine they're gonna give a try a few times during the game, but the Ravens have proven themselves effective against the Wildcat in the past anyway. I'd guess the Steelers will go superconservative, which worked wonders for Denver against Baltimore. The Ravens secondary is awful, but if you let them play up and not challenge them deep, you really have no chance against their front seven, even with Suggs out.

The defense will have to put together one of their best performances of the season for the team to have a chance. Without Polamalu playing, that's gonna be tough, but then it hasn't really been the fault of the defense that the team has been losing. Still, it's gonna take a lot of guys stepping up and probably a few mistakes on the Ravens end as well.

Nevertheless, even if the Steelers lose, there are some positives to take away. The Ravens don't get the triumphant vengeance they've been so desperately seeking even if they win. Yeah, they take over second place and put the Steelers in precarious playoff position, but the Ravens still won't have been able to beat the Steelers in any games that Roethlisberger has started since 2006. And it's good for Dixon to get an opportunity to perform in something that isn't the second half of a preseason game. This was a game that I figured the Steelers were likely to lose at the beginning of the season, given how much Baltimore has been drooling all over themselves for revenge. If the team can get healthy, they can easily make a five-game run to get in the playoffs.

Can't escape how weird the timing is for Ben to be sidelined (though the team has yet to comment officially) after a full week of practice. Already there is speculation that the league, ever mindful of concussion issues this season, put the kibosh on Ben starting so as to look responsible on the issue. I don't know. It wouldn't be the first time a QB felt the adverse effects of a concussion after reportedly saying he felt fine in the immediate aftermath. Still, the fact that doctors initially cleared him makes it fishy. Either way, it looks like Dixon gets his trial by fire.

UPDATE: Ed Bouchette reported that Dixon actually got the majority of the snaps with the first team offense on Friday. Hey, that's one day! It's something!


bluzdude said...

Been reading you for a while now, as I live in Ratbirds country too. I hate everything about that team, fans included.

(Detailed reasons for said hatred can be found here: http://darwinfish2.blogspot.com/2009/11/purple-stain.html )

I really hope Dixon can handle the noise and maybe even pull out a few surprises. I think they'll need to do whatever they can to be unpredictable and Dixon's presence can help that.

Cornbread said...

That could be the only picture of Dixon on the net. Let's go Dennis?

A win in B-more would just crush those bastard Ravens.

Fred Jones said...

The Steelers have nothing to lose. If they lose, they were without Ben, but if they pull out a win with Dixon, oh how sweet!
Go Steelers!