1.) Heap out wide: Indianapolis was able to routinely exploit the Bengal linebackers using Dallas Clark as a receiver in the slot position. Similarly, the Ravens should look to use Heap as their slot receiver, while moving Mark Clayton or Randy Hymes on the outside.
2.) Spreading the field: While Heap lines up as the slot receiver, the Ravens can take advantage of playing him off the line by using more three-wide sets. Essentially, the look would be a four-receiver formation because Heap would line up wider than he normally does. Using this spread out formation not only gives the Ravens the ability to exploit Cincinnati’s base defense in the passing game but also in the running game if the linebackers are forced to line up wide to cover Heap and either Hymes or Clayton on the inside.
3.) Off tackle runs: The best area to attack the Bengals in the running game is on the edges where they are a little more vulnerable to giving up big plays than up the gut. By moving laterally, the Ravens can also force inside linebacker Odell Thurman to chase plays from sideline-to-sideline.
1.) No false steps: Chad Johnson gets open because while he runs precise hard-cutting routes, the defensive back he faces usually takes a false step or hesitates while making his drop into coverage. The defensive backs have to play with proper technique on Sunday to slow down Johnson or at least keep pace with him when he breaks in and out of his cuts.
2.) Giving up the short stuff: In the last match-up against the Bengals, the Ravens’ secondary gave up too many big plays down the field. The Bengals are a vertical passing team. Given Carson Palmer’s big arm and the ability of wideouts like Johnson and Chris Henry to gain separation down the field, the Bengals hit on a lot of big plays against even the stingiest secondaries. The Ravens must protect against giving up the long ball as much as possible, even if that means using more defensive backs on first and second-down.
3.) Take advantage of TO opportunities: Against Pittsburgh, the Raven defensive backs and linebackers forced a few turnovers but due to lack of concentration and focus, dropped at least two more intercept-able passes. Against Palmer and the high-powered Bengals offense, the defense must force the turnover opportunities that become present.
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