Battle Plans: Browns vs. Ravens

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Offense

1.      Motion Evans  

With the impending loss of receiver Anquan Boldin, it’s time for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to dust off Lee Evans and put him to work. The burner from Buffalo has yet to make a mark due to injury, but he has enough left in the gas tank to help the Ravens down the stretch.

Evans and the rest of the pass-catchers will have their work cut out for them against a Cleveland pass defense that has been unbreakable all year. Still, with the potential focus of corner Joe Hayden shifting to Torrey Smith, Evans should have a chance to make plays on the other side.

Evans should me moved around to create favorable matchups against the other Cleveland defensive backs. Although Evans isn’t an ideal slot receiver, he should also take some reps on the routes that Boldin ran, leaving Smith as the primary flanker.

2.      Pass on first down

Against a Cleveland defense that is going to be geared up to stop Ray Rice, the play-action passing game sets up perfectly. Cameron has a strong tendency to run on first down and that move might backfire, especially if Cleveland commits hard to shoot the gaps.

On the other hand, establishing a passing rhythm on first down will help open up the rush attack as the game progresses. There should be more of a mix of run-to-pass ratio.

3.      More passes to Rice on early downs  

If Rice doesn’t get the handoff on first down, it’s just as effective to extend a long handoff to him through the passing game. On one play in particular against San Diego, Joe Flacco completed a pass to Rice over the middle that went for a sizeable gain. Plays like that – especially on first down – help make third-down conversions much easier.
Rice should be more than a check down option. The opportunity will be there against Cleveland to get Rice the ball in space.

Defense

1.      Five-man rush   

No, this isn’t a typo. This is the same exact key from last week, and it’s intended to be here.

Inexplicably, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano rarely used his stellar package of rushers from the Indianapolis game. He was a bit more aggressive against the Chargers, and the result was a complete disaster.
Clearly, Cleveland doesn’t present the passing threat that San Diego brings to the table. Still, in preparing for the postseason, Pagano must establish a more effective down rush. He can’t rely on getting home by constantly blitzing in passing situations.
 
There should be a steady diet of four and five-man rushes, as well as other blitz heavy rushes. Pagano has to use some zone as well. Even though the Browns are an inept pass offense, if they can hit on just one or two big plays, the game could turn in a different direction.
  1. Contain Wallace

While Colt McCoy is certainly among the more mobile quarterbacks in the league, Seneca Wallace is dangerous out of the pocket. He’s someone that can extend plays, even be a significant part of the running game.

The Browns will likely use more boot action with Wallace, and the lineman and backers need to be prepared. Wallace cannot be allowed to extend the Cleveland passing game.

One-on-One Matchup to Watch 

Joe Thomas versus Terrell Suggs: The last time these teams squared off, Suggs was able to get the better of Thomas. Just like Suggs’ battles with Andrew Whitworth, his division tussles with Thomas are always worth watching. Thomas remains an elite left tackle. He is long, quick and nimble. Given the crowd noise, Suggs has an even better get-off at M&T Bank Stadium. He’ll need to come alive on Christmas Eve.  

 
This entry was posted in Battle Plans, Game Preview by Dev Panchwagh. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dev Panchwagh

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...more

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