One of the pleasant surprises of the Ravens’ Week 1 win was the rather effortless transition back into the lineup quarterback Joe Flacco. Playing in his first full game since last November, Flacco looked to be in typical form, delivering a solid 258 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
The pass offense was in sync, and newcomer Mike Wallace looks to be a key contributor for the offense this year. Granted, after seeing the Buffalo Bills’ pass defense against the New York Jets on Thursday night, the Buffalo secondary may not be as tough as previously expected.
But to make things better, Flacco and Co. are presented with one of their easiest tasks of the year on Sunday in the Cleveland Browns.
Fresh off letting rookie quarterback Carson Wentz pass for 278 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, the Browns pass defense has little hope to right the ship in Week 2.
Of course, Sunday’s game sets up for a typical “trap game” letdown for the Ravens, but it would be a surprise to not see Flacco and the Ravens offense have consistent success against Cleveland.
The Browns secondary let up several completions for Wentz that quite frankly shouldn’t have been so easy.
Let’s take a look at why Cleveland’s secondary should be easy pickings for Flacco.
One of the key deficiencies of the Browns secondary is that most of the cornerbacks simply do not have the ball skills needed to make a difference.
He presents quality coverage throughout the first half of the play, holding tight with Matthews as he heads toward the corner of the end zone.
But as Wentz releases the ball, Matthews continues his route and Williams has no clue of the throw, still staying on the coverage and not turning for the ball.
This allows Matthews to catch the pass in stride for a touchdown without seemingly any sort of defense as not once during the play does Williams turn to look for the ball.
Scenarios such as this bode well for a Ravens receiver corps filled with speed. If Wallace and Breshad Perriman can get separation downfield, it should allow for very catchable passes without the factor of playmaking ability from the Browns secondary.
Likewise, the secondary struggles during concentration plays. In the play below, the corner turns his hips much too early in the play.
This allows for the receiver to make the easy choice to break in the route and turn back toward the quarterback. As he does this, the cornerback continues opening up and transitioning downfield.
With no defender within a few yards of the receiver, this is an easy pitch-and-catch for the offense.
From a schematic perspective, the secondary for Cleveland can also be at a disadvantage.
On this play, the slot cornerback gives the receiver a considerable cushion off the snap.
This makes for an easy play, as the receiver takes a few steps and then breaks toward the sideline. The quick-hitting play presents an easy choice for Wentz.
The receiver hauls in the pass with the defender just finally breaking toward the ball. Completions don’t come much easier than this, and while they might not net much yardage, they are essentially “free yards,” and just the kind of first-down drive starter that Marc Trestman’s offense couldn’t find in the second half against Buffalo.
All in all, the Browns secondary should be relatively easy pickings for Flacco and his experienced group of wideouts and tight ends. The front seven for the Browns is serviceable, but if the Ravens offensive line can hold off Cleveland’s pass rush, there is no reason why Flacco can’t produce an even better outing than he did in Week 1.