How should the Ravens attack Brandon Weeden?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens face an improving rookie Quarterback in Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden on Sunday. Among Weeden’s strengths is a top-caliber arm. He is capable of throwing to any spot with velocity. He has been a good play-action passer and is generally good, especially for a rookie, at avoiding sacks.

Baltimore enjoyed some success back in September vs. the Browns, and below are some ideas on how best to approach Weeden the second time around.

Potential Ravens Strategy vs. Weeden

What to Take Away – Weeden’s greatest asset is his arm strength, and he is most comfortable throwing intermediate range sideline routes (deep outs, curls, comebacks) because he can fit the ball more times than not. The Ravens can deny this with CBs rolled down close to the LOS vs. #1 receivers.

What to Allow – Weeden has been pretty good at dump-offs to RBs and at finding crossing routes when hurried. Given the general lack of serious big-play WRs on the Browns’ roster, the Ravens may be well served to give Cleveland the occasional crossing completion vs. man or combo coverages.

What to Try – Four-man pressure packages, combined with press coverage from the Ravens’ CBs. Indianapolis had much Week 7 success in forcing throws from Weeden when looping and stunting defensive linemen – despite the fact they often rushed only 3 or 4 defenders. Although Weeden was not sacked, the stunting activity up front took him out of any sort of pocket rhythm and forced him into consistently short throws.

What to Avoid  – Blitzing multiple LBs from the interior AND deep pre-snap alignment from Ravens’ CBs. Although the Ravens could likely get to Weeden a few times with all-out interior blitzes, a better approach may be to live and die with combo coverages and force Weeden to throw the ball as many times as possible. The Browns are 0-6 when Weeden has 30 pass attempts or more. As for Baltimore’s corners, the Ravens are at their best contesting clean releases from the LOS and Weeden would much prefer softer corner coverage to throw into.

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