Battle Plans: Ravens v. Steelers (Part II)


1. Motion Mr. Smith

Last Sunday, the Ravens continued to beat their heads against a brick wall by chucking the ball to Torrey Smith on deep routes. Just as the Steelers did the week prior, the Chargers used the sidelines to their advantage, and made it extremely difficult for Joe Flacco to fit the ball in tight windows.

Once Smith started moving around and ran more underneath routes, he became a factor in the passing game. Smith has proven that he is more than a “9” route runner. He is equally dangerous on crossers and post routes.

Against Pittsburgh, the Ravens need to find ways to get Smith the ball in space, in the middle of the field. In particular, with cornerback Ike Taylor draped all over Smith at either X or Z position, Smith should be in motion away from Taylor, especially in third down situations.

2. Attack Polamalu

The return of Polamalu is normally an ominous sign. The future Hall-of-Famer has haunted the Ravens with backbreaking plays as a roamer in center field or as a blitzer at the line.

However, Polamalu is no longer the same dominant player he once was. He still possesses incredible instincts. But he is coming off a mysterious calf injury and may just be ripe for the picking in passing situations.

The Ravens should turn back the clock and isolate Polamalu in man-to-man coverage situations like they have successfully done in the past. If Polamalu is hovering in the box or the slot, a tight end or motioning receiver should flex out and run right at Polamalu.

3. Pierce the Deep Middle

Given the Steelers’ inverted bracket coverage of Smith in the last matchup, the middle of the field was open. One problem: The Ravens kept attacking the edges. Assuming the Steelers look to take away the sideline routes once again, the middle will be available once again.

The Ravens got their deep seam patterns cooking against San Diego, and they’ll need to dial those patterns up once again. Flacco has proven that he can complete that pass, especially when he’s in rhythm.


1. Bracket Antonio Brown

Brown’s absence is an intermediate target has been an obvious missing element. Out of all the weapons in the Pittsburgh arsenal, he is the most sure handed and consistent route runner. The all-purpose receiver is especially tricky to cover as a slot receiver, where he has the space to break inside or outside and confound defensive backs.

The Baltimore linebackers will need to help cover Brown by staying true to their zone drops. Without inside help, the defensive backs will struggle to keep up. Moreover, the safeties should be ready to pounce on Brown and keep him from wiggling free for extra yardage after the catch.

2. Force Batch to Throw Deep

Part of the reason that the Ravens could potentially afford to collapse their coverage on Brown is due to Charlie Batch’s struggles as a deep ball thrower. In fact, Batch may very well zero in on Brown and Emmanuel Sanders on underneath routes as opposed to throwing it downfield to Mike Wallace.

Again, the safeties and the backers should be prepared to jump the inside routes, even if that means leaving the corners in more man coverage situations. Batch simply doesn’t have the arm strength to make the Ravens pay.

3. Turn Dwyer Inside Out

As an inside power runner, Dwyer can leave a defense black and blue. The Ravens found that out firsthand in their matchup against Dwyer in Pittsburgh. The big, physical tailback bruised the Baltimore front seven on straight-ahead power rushes. Dwyer presents a bigger challenge against the Ravens because he can push a pile and make tacklers miss.

The key to corralling the third-year back is to blitz the A gaps and string out the run to the edges. Once Dwyer is out in space, the edge defenders will need to pursue and wrap up.

One-on-One Matchup of the Week

Mike Wallace vs. Corey Graham

While Wallace is in Mike Tomlin’s doghouse, and may not even start on Sunday, his presence as a vertical threat cannot be ignored. Wallace can get to top speed in a hurry and he’ll get behind any cornerback. Meanwhile, Graham has displayed tremendous footwork and timing as a cover corner. He’ll have his hands full with Wallace, especially if he doesn’t have safety help over the top.

This entry was posted in Battle Plans, Blog View, Featured 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 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

evden eve nakliyat şirketleri ofis taşımacılığı evden eve nakliye istanbul evden eve nakliyat Şehirlerarası Evden Eve Nakliyat İstanbul Nakliyat Firmaları

Hot off the street

RAVENS LINKS: Smith, Smith & Associates

The Law Firm: Smith, Smith & Associates Ryan Mink of reports Steve Smith Sr. is calling the receiving group "The Law Firm: Smith, Smith & Associates." What do you think more

Jackson, Campanaro Stand Out In Sunday’s Practice

With cornerback Chykie Brown out of action today with a hamstring injury, Asa Jackson got the call. The third-year player looked sharp in outside coverage. His quickness, smooth backpedal, and more

K.O. On the Go, While A.Q. Shipley Looks for Redemption

The first day of practice in which the pads were on and the players were allowed to hit brought some must-see action to the forefront. The line play was at center stage, with Kelechi Osemele looking more

Young Linebackers Impress as the Pads Go On

The Ravens defense had some ups and downs on Saturday afternoon as the Ravens were in full pads for the first time this training camp. Cornerback Chykie Brown had a disappointing day in the Ravens more

Offense Improves, but Pierce Leaves Practice Early

On Saturday, the Ravens hit the practice field for their first padded practice of training camp under sunny skies at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. The offense turned in a more

View More