Game Preview

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Bengals

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Offense    1. All Part of the “Plan”       The strategy for how to handle the starters for this game has been debated at length all week long. One thing is certain: The offense will and should get plenty of work, especially in the first half of the game. The threat of injury should not affect the coaches’ mindset that this unit needs to build off their sterling performance from a week ago. Last week, the offense looked just as they did back when they ran the Bengals off the...

Battle Plans: Patriots vs. Ravens

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Offense 1. Wear out the Big Boys One of New England’s primary weaknesses has turned into a major strength: run defense. The Patriots’ revamped front seven is big, physical, and gap savvy. Led by the ferocious Vince Wilfork, the Patriots boast a big front that has built on its solid performance in the AFCC against Ray Rice a year ago. However, it remains to be seen if this group can keep up with the fast-paced attack that the Ravens could present on Sunday night. This is a perfect opportunity for...

Upshaw adds to Ravens’ pass rush wave

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With the selection of Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens went from a dry well of edge rushers at the SAM position to a potential overflow. Upshaw adds to a group that already features Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan and Michael McaAdoo. In fact, the addition of Upshaw could give the team enough flexibility to continue featuring McClellan at ILB. Getting back to Upshaw, the Ravens accomplished a few things with his selection. One, they were able to largely offset the loss of Jarret Johnson. The impact of Johnson — who has been...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Patriots

Offense 1. Ball Control Offense To beat Brady, you might be better off not facing him at all. For the Ravens, the mission will be to hog the ball to win the time of possession (TOP) battle and keep the Golden Boy off the field. Much has been made of how the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to “out-Brady” the Patriots’ offense by mixing controlled passes with some power runs. The result was the Steelers controlling TOP for 39 minutes. In that game, Roethlisberger was masterful and hit on a lot...

Battle Plans: Texans vs. Ravens

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Offense 1.      Isolate the outside backers Although much of the focus of Houston’s pass rush has turned to their down linemen, the edge rushers – Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed – can’t be overlooked. The Ravens should not only look to neutralize these two backers, but to attack them. Barwin and Reed are athletic, but they are better moving forward than backward. The Ravens have the right personnel to isolate these two defenders in space, forcing them to drop and run. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron should look to use some...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Bengals

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Offense 1.      Pass from power sets     It’s clear that without receiver Anquan Boldin in the lineup, the Baltimore passing game is in a state of flux. Moreover, with the potential loss of guard Marshall Yanda as well, the pass protection could be in serious question against a formidable front seven. To overcome these issues, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron must look to pass from predominant run-heavy fronts. Showing the Bengals run-action, only to pass off the fake could be the most effective move to slow down the Cincinnati rush and...

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...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Chargers

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Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Chargers Offense 1.      Misdirection running game Over the past four games, the Ravens have built the type of complete ground attack that the front office wanted to see on the field since the offseason. Specifically, the Ravens have dialed up a running game that goes inside and outside, off an assortment of run designs. The Chargers rank eighth in overall defense but they are only 23rd against the run and haven’t proven that they can maintain their gap integrity. The Ravens movement, especially with the fullback...

Battle Plans: Ravens v. Colts

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Offense 1.      Double down    Regardless of their record, the Indianapolis pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis is still lethal. The offensive game plan should begin with devising effective blocking schemes to bottle up arguably the best rush duo of the last decade. This is a game that will call for a lot of two-tight sets. By keeping tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta on the line – even if they don’t stay in to block – Freeney and Mathis won’t have a direct launch path to...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Browns

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Offense 1.      Don’t press Quarterback Joe Flacco’s patience will be tested on Sunday. The Browns play a more conservative scheme than what Flacco has seen from other defenses this season. They are not nearly as exotic and keep their safeties back, which is a big reason for why they are ranked first in pass defense. The Browns try to generate a rush using their line and sparingly using their backers. Although they haven’t exactly generated a consistent rush (22 sacks), they’ve been able to force quarterbacks to hold the ball...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. 49ers

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Offense 1.      Quick screens and draws   The Ravens were able to tap back into their screen game against the Bengals, with varying success. However, when they were able to hit on a play, it went for a first down. Against a fairly aggressive San Francisco front seven, screens and draws to Rice might be the best way to get him the ball. The 49ers are the best in the league against the run, so using Rice to run straight ahead will be a tough proposition. On the other hand,...

Battle Plans: Bengals vs. Ravens

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Offense 1.      Return of the jump ball Against the giant Seattle cornerbacks, the Baltimore receivers were mostly ineffective. The same high-traffic catches that receivers Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith have made all year along the sidelines weren’t in play. There should be better chances for these two pass catchers to operate against veteran cornerbacks Nate Clements and Kelly Jennings. If the Bengals use more man coverage on the outside – which defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has been known to do against Baltimore — Boldin and Smith will have the height...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Seahawks

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Offense 1.      Fast start After two big wins against the Steelers and the Texans, the Ravens took to the road against inferior opponents and fell apart. Now, with a third such opportunity looming in Seattle, it’s imperative that the offense is ready to start fast. This is a prime opportunity for the passing offense to get a rhythm established against a Seattle pass defense and a pass rush that is subpar. Even entering the noise of the Seattle stadium, quarterback Joe Flacco should be able to engineer an effective hurry-up...

Battle Plans: Ravens @ Steelers

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Offense 1.      Rice the decoy In Week One, Ray Rice was king of the jungle. He was a force in the passing game and running game, and the Pittsburgh defenders had a hard time keeping him contained. One has to believe that legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will have a scheme to bottle up Rice. In a game like this, it’s quite possible that Rice could open things up for his offensive teammates. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron should fake the ball to Rice on pitches and play-fakes, getting the Pittsburgh...

Battle Plans: Cardinals vs. Ravens

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Offense 1.      Two-tight end sets It would behoove offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to make use of his talented, second-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Both of these players were pegged to be a big part of a reformed passing attack. Instead, the two pass catchers have been nothing short of disappointing. Neither player has been used correctly in the offense. For example, Dickson is a space player who can fight for jump balls and outrun defensive backs downfield. Much of the routes he runs are over the middle,...

Battle Plans: Ravens @ Jaguars

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Offense 1.      Spread the field on early downs Until last Sunday’s letdown against Pittsburgh, Jacksonville has been playing well against the run. The Jaguars’ front seven plays with discipline and excellent technique. Built in the mold of a Jack Del Rio defense, the Jaguars look to stop the run on early downs, and they play zone coverage on third down, looking to keep the big play contained. The Ravens are a predominant run first team on first down. However, in this game, trying to establish the run on early downs...

Battle Plans: Texans vs. Ravens

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Offense 1.      Protect the front Believe it or not, without Super Mario, the Houston edge rush remains a concern. The Texans present a challenge to the Baltimore line – especially backed by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ bag of tricks. Between outside linebacker Connor Barwin, and defensive ends J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith, Phillips has a group of up-field rushers that can split gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield. The task for the Baltimore offense will be to find a way to slow down these rushers. The Ravens used an...

Battle Plans: Ravens vs. Jets

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Offense 1.      Prepare for zone looks In light of the way the quarterback Joe Flacco has performed against the blitz in two contests against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the St. Louis Rams, there is a chance that Rex Ryan might pull back on some of his aggressive tactics. Flacco has been cool under pressure, and the Ravens have been able to pick up the blitz effectively. When Flacco has struggled, it has been against zone looks in which the coverage changes after the snap. The Jets are known for playing...

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens @ Rams

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Offense 1.      Quick hitters Under head coach Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams play a similar style of defense to his former team, the New York Giants. Although they rely on their front four to get after the quarterback, they will bring pressure through blitzing linebackers and defensive backs. Last Sunday against the Titans, quarterback Joe Flacco got a lot of blitz looks, but the Titans ultimately bluffed the blitz in most passing situations. Those looks created some problems for Flacco who had a pre-snap blitz read, only to find the blitzers...

Battle Plans: Ravens @ Titans

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Offense 1.      Two tight, one-wide formations The Ravens broke out their newly minted tight ends in grand fashion against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Second-year players Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for 7 catches and 104 yards and a score. Two of their biggest catches came of play-action on first down, after the defense forced a turnover. Having both of these players on the field at the same time gives the Ravens a run-heavy look, but affords the offense the flexibility to pass off of run action. Either player has the...