BATTLE PLANS: Ravens at Texans

Battle Plans BATTLE PLANS: Ravens at Texans

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Offense


 

1) Chipping away: Thanks to the execution of a well-devised game plan, quarterback Joe Flacco rarely hit the ground against the Bengals. Among offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s strategies was to have Flacco move outside of the pocket on rollouts and bootlegs; use three step drop pass plays; and implement the chip-blocking scheme.

 

By chipping incoming pass rushers, not only did the backs and the tight ends do an excellent job of slowing down the rush, but they also became instant outlet receivers for Flacco to turn to. There were a number of instances when fullbacks Le’Ron McClain and Lorenzo Neal laid an initial block and then released into vacant spaces in the flat area.

 

Look for the same game plan to be utilized by the coaches against

Houston
. The Texans front is aggressive and it gets up the field in a hurry. If Flacco is able to stay patient and take the checkdowns underneath, the backs could have another productive outing as pass catchers.

 

2): On Edge: As Pittsburgh showed a week ago,

Houston
has an undersized front seven that can be pushed around. There is little doubt that

Baltimore
will try to duplicate the same effort on Monday night.

 

The

Houston
unit is a fast flowing group that can get penetration to snuff out of the run. Tackles Travis Johnson and Amobi Okoye are disruptive gap shooters, while the inside backer, DeMeco Ryans, plays with incredible anticipation and timing.

 

If the Ravens want to run the ball effectively, they may need to run away from this interior triangle and opt to test the perimeter. Outside backers Marlon Greenwood and Zach Diles are undersized and they struggle to shed blocks.

 

3) Testing Williams: Clearly, the emphasis for the offense will be to target Mario Williams. The electric pass rusher has been nearly unblockable since last season. There are a couple of ways that the Ravens can try to slow him down. 

 

One, the team will likely run at the 2006 No.1 pick. Look for more unbalanced formations, with either Adam Terry or Willie Anderson pulled to the left side.

Two, when the Ravens show pass from the shotgun set, expect the use of draws and delays to keep Williams honest. If Williams bites too hard upfield to get to Flacco, either Ray Rice or Willis McGahee will have room to operate.

 

Defense

 

1) Zone blitz: After a miserable performance against
Pittsburgh, the heat is on

Houston
quarterback Matt Schaub to play better against the Ravens on Monday night. Schaub forced passes into tight coverage and was unable to get rid of the ball in due time.

 

The Steelers used a combination of fake blitz looks to confuse Schaub and bait him into making the wrong checks at the line-of-scrimmage.

 

If Schaub had trouble discerning the Steelers’ defensive formations, he may struggle that much more against a

Baltimore
front that is back to its exotic ways.

 

2) Four safeties: Compared to last season, the Ravens should be a much better third down defense. The team showed as much last Sunday against

Cincinnati
, when it dominated in third-and-long situations. The Bengals were a measly 2 for 13 on third down.

 

Given that the team lacked corner depth with the losses of Fabian Washington and Derrick Martin, it played four safeties instead. The reason that this formation works so well for the Ravens is that backups Tom Zbikowski, Jim Leonard and Haruki Nakamura are all capable of attacking the line-of-scrimmage. If they line up as linebackers, they have the ability to stymie the run or blitz the quarterback.

 

Expect defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to dabble with this alignment against

Houston
to keep the Texans from converting on third down.

 

3) Prepare for the Spread: The most perplexing aspect of last Sunday’s contest between the Ravens and the Bengals was that
Cincinnati did not attempt to spread out the

Baltimore
secondary. The Bengals stayed in conventional sets when they passed the ball.

The Ravens should be prepared for a different attack when they face the Texans. Like the Bengals,

Houston
doesn’t have a defined backfield, so they will look to throw the ball using three and four-wide formations.

 

One-on-one Matchup to Watch: Chris McAlister versus Andre Johnson: It is safe to assume that McAlister is at full strength. Aside from committing a couple of penalties, the former Pro Bowler played a vintage game against

Cincinnati
. There are few corners who are as physical as McAlister. The same could be said of Johnson at the receiver position. Johnson is tough to handle because he has the strength to withstand a jam at the line, and once he gets a clean release, he has the speed to separate quickly.
 
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Dev Panchwagh

About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for Ravens24x7.com since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens' keys to success against each upcoming opponent. Dev started modestly as a sports journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the Scouts.com network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week.  More from Dev Panchwagh

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