The Ravens got the best of Cleveland on Sunday, and were largely effective in limiting Brandon Weeden’s big plays. Below is a quick revisit to last week’s strategy opinion piece I wrote, in comparison to what the Ravens did on Sunday.
1. CB Alignment C.J. Wrote: That the Ravens should press #1 receivers at the LOS to prevent clean releases and limit Weeden’s “comfort” throws. The Ravens Did: Baltimore played mostly loose coverages with their CBs, especially to twin (two WRs to the same side of the formation) receivers. This was likely due to Cleveland’s frequent use of “short” motions in toward the formation or out toward the sideline. Weeden completed a half dozen of his favorite throws (intermediate sideline balls and curls) vs. loose coverage, but none were a huge factor in the game.
2.Dictating Weeden’s Throws C.J. Wrote: The Ravens should allow dump-offs to RBs and give up the occasional crossing route in the interest of dropping maximum players into coverage. The Ravens Did: Baltimore typically dropped 7 or 8 defenders into coverage, often forcing Weeden to hold the ball longer and to settle for underneath throws.
3.Pass Rush Pressure C.J. Wrote: Active four-man pressure packages, with some twists and stunts up front, would be enough for the Ravens to disrupt Weeden. The Ravens Did: Most pass plays featured the Ravens with 3 or 4 pass rushers, some of whom were slanting or looping. This had Weeden often moving laterally, as he looked for passing lanes.
4.Blitz Strategy C.J. Wrote: Ravens should avoid blitzing to the interior of the formation. Instead, they should drop maximum defenders into coverage and force Weeden into some bad throws. The Ravens Did: There were very few blitzes from the interior and that limited Weeden’s options, as the Ravens did a great job “bracketing” (one defender over the top, and one underneath) his potential targets.