Gary Kubiak reintroduced a route that was largely dormant against Indianapolis the week before — the slant. The Ravens went heavy with slant action to counter the single-high safety looks Tampa Bay employed, especially in the red zone when Torrey Smith scored two straight TDs to start the game.
Steve Smith was also able to capitalize on the same pattern, catching passes against the one decent corner the Bucs have, Alterraun Verner. However, Smith has been consistently involved on slants in Kubiak’s offense.
Hopefully with Smith’s success on the same pattern, Kubiak will use the speedster on those plays more often. Especially when the opposing corners decide not to use their hands to get a bump at the line…
Joe Flacco was about as sharp as a Swiss army knife with his reads and his footwork.
Getting back to the coverage Tampa Bay used, when they showed single high, he targeted the outside receivers. And when the Bucs fell back into their more traditional two-deep look, he attacked the seams and pitched the ball to his slot receivers.
The other key to Flacco’s success was his quick release. On three-step drops, the QB consistently got rid of the ball as soon as he hit his back foot.
Mechanically, when the Super Bowl MVP is that good, he’ll complete over 70% of his pass attempts every time…
On defense, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a Dean Pees defense or a Rex Ryan defense. Pees was merciless with his blitz scheme, using a wide array of pressure combinations and exotic looks to sink the Tampa Bay pirate ship.
It was especially fun to see the DC break out some overload exchanges. In these instances, when the defense shows an overload to one side, they either come as advertised or they bluff, drop into coverage, and the blitz instead comes from the opposite side.
On the play in which safety Darian Stewart got pressure to cause Mike Glennon to throw a pick, Pees brought the overload (with C.J. Mosley as the other blitzer along with Terrell Suggs). It was a perfect call to exploit Tampa’s open formation — the Bucs had three receivers in trips to the other side.
Speaking of Mosley, it’s almost as if Pees has found a new toy and he can’t put him down.
The rookie has been big on the green dog blitz the last two weeks. And on one particular play, Mosley did a nice job of blitzing and occupying running back Doug Martin so Daryl Smith could come free on a delayed blitz from his coverage post.
These delayed blitzes up the gut have been perfectly timed, and with the coverage disguise, they’ve been difficult for the QB to decipher.