1. Fast-Track the Running Game
Against a struggling Giants defense, the Ravens offense has to find a way to open it up. However, that doesn’t mean that they have to pass the ball out of these more open sets and formations.
Using Ray Rice out of single back sets and getting him involved in the draw/delay game is a way to puncture the New York rush and keep the offense humming at a fast pace. It might help Rice as well to see a less condensed front. If Rice gets going, so too does the play-action passing game from the shotgun set – something the Ravens don’t do with Flacco.
2. Throw Underneath on First Down
To get Flacco back into a rhythm, Jim Caldwell has to call more high percentage pass plays on first down. These could be quick dump-offs or flares to Rice, or getting Dennis Pitta involved on crossers and hitches. Either way, Flacco should be able to hit on a few 3-to-5 yard pass plays.
Flacco is a rhythm quarterback, and there really is no way for him to establish a rhythm when he misses deep stick throws. Shorten the passing game, let Flacco get comfortable, and he should play a better game.
3. Stay on Schedule
The last thing the Ravens want to face is New York’s “NASCAR” package—in which Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul are on the field at the same. This incredible front line speed rush can’t even get on the track unless it’s an obvious passing situation.
Clearly, it will be on the offense to stay out of these compromising third-and-long situations. If they can’t do so, they will be faced with a major headache all Sunday long. To maintain positive gains on early downs means running the ball effectively and completing passes on first down.
1. Shotgun Means Run
The Giants are notorious for lining up in shotgun on early downs, looking to spring the run using a delayed draw play to their backs.
Despite the potential loss of Ahmad Bradshaw for this game, the Ravens need to be aware of the Giants’ backs when they line up offset. Stuffing the run might fall more to the front line than the backers, as they can’t get caught too far upfield or Manning will throw the ball behind them.
2. Don’t Fall For the Double Move
When Manning has time to throw, he can be devastating with the deep throw and the big play. In fact, all of the New Year receivers are fantastic change-of-direction route runners. They can seamlessly move in and out of their cuts, and they set up defensive backs with an underneath stem, only to turn upfield on the second move.
Double moves have been a problem for Baltimore all year. The secondary as a whole loses their discipline, which was on display last week. They cannot afford another slip up in their technique or they will pay badly.
3. Blitz David Wilson
With Bradshaw’s potential loss or limited play, rookie runner David Wilson will get more playing time. Wilson is an electric runner who can run wild if given the chance. But if you can force him into more blocking situations in third-and-long, it’s a different story. Wilson is simply not a trustworthy blocker and the coaches know it.
Wilson will be spelled by Kregg Lumpkin in some passing situations, but that doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t attack Wilson when he is on the field. If Wilson lines up offset and is responsible for picking up the blitz, the game plan should be to bait him out of position with a deceptive look or to challenge him head on.
One-on-One Matchup of the Week
David Diehl versus Paul Kruger
Diehl switched over to the right side a few weeks ago and the change has been pretty seamless. Although he’s struggled with injuries all season, Diehl remains a solid technician and is difficult to fool. Meanwhile, Kruger is having a watershed season. He uses a nice array of jukes, hesitations and dip moves to get around opposing tackles.