Ravens X-Factors vs Steelers: Owen Daniels and Crockett Gillmore


There are many players who will be X-factors in the Baltimore Ravens’ game Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. To me, Owen Daniels and Crockett Gillmore will decide the game for the Ravens on Saturday night.

The first way they will decide the game is with run blocking. Rick Wagner was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury, and Eugene Monroe‘s status is up in the air due to an ankle injury for the game on Saturday. The two tight ends must step up in the blocking game to seal the edge and help Justin Forsett hit those big twenty-yard runs on the outside.

Crockett Gillmore has been a very nice surprise, especially in run blocking. When Dennis Pitta went down, it was obviously a very gloomy time for Ravens fans, because Dennis Pitta is a not just a very good player, but an even better person. Gillmore. a late third round pick in the 2014 draft, was forced onto the scene and has responded well.

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Thus far, Gillmore has been primarily used as a run blocker and has graded out fairly well in Pro Football Focus. He has a +1.7 grade compared to Owen Daniels -4.0, in run blocking. At Colorado State, he was primarily used as a receiving target, but is obviously still working out chemistry with Joe Flacco and learning Gary Kubiak‘s offense.

The second and arguably more important aspect is Daniels and Gillmore’s impact in the passing game. This is where Owen Daniels becomes especially important. Flacco and Daniels have a certain chemistry now that has grown over the course of the season. What Daniels lacks in run blocking, he makes up for in the receiving aspect of the game.

The Ravens were pretty terrible in the red zone and on third down against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, so Owen Daniels needs to have a bigger role on third down and in the red zone. Daniels provides sure hands, and even in his ninth season in the league he still provides sharp cuts to get open. He also uses his veteran knowledge to find pockets in zone coverage.

We have seen throughout the year, most recently in the game against Cleveland, that when a team puts a linebacker in single man coverage on Owen Daniels he will beat you.

Crockett Gillmore is a more interesting case as a pass catcher. It seems every game he gets an important catch or two, and he looks to be improving each week. He dropped a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco against Cleveland, which could deter Flacco from looking his way again. I do think that Gillmore should get looked at more, especially in this game.

The Steelers’ safeties are not the strong suit of their defense, as their secondary is seen as the weakness of the entire unit. If Gillmore can get open, he has the frame and the height to be a huge mismatch on the safeties.

If the Ravens can set these two tight ends loose in the red zone, along with Marlon Brown, Steve Smith and Torrey Smith the red zone woes should get better. If Gillmore and Daniels do their job in run blocking and pass catching respectively, it gives the Ravens an advantage and a better chance to win on Saturday.

Next: Baltimore Ravens: Regular Season Rewards