BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bengals

Battle Plans BATTLE PLANS: Ravens v. Bengals

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1) Run to daylight: There are three reasons why the Ravens have to be able to sustain a steady ground game on Sunday: (1) Protection for Joe Flacco; (2) Easing the offensive line into its transition; and (3) Attacking one of the worst run defenses in the league.


The Bengals know that

will look to run early and often. Head coach Marvin Lewis has always used exotic defensive looks to stymie

’s rushing attack, such as a 4-4-3 configuration or even or three safeties in the defensive backfield.


However, this is the first time that Lewis will have to prepare a game plan against a

offense not supervised by Brian Billick.

’s new offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, will use an assortment of run packages and formations to keep Lewis guessing.


Even if the team isn’t able to depend on Willis McGahee, it will need to get solid production from rookie Ray Rice and converted fullback Le’Ron McClain.


2) Moving Flacco: Given that Lewis will use a variety of blitz plays to confuse Joe Flacco, the best way to keep the rookie upright is to move him around.

It may seem counterproductive to have a 6-6 quarterback throw from outside of the pocket but Flacco has surprising quickness for a man his side. More importantly, he can deliver an accurate pass even when he’s turning his body.


There will need to be times when the line shifts and Flacco slides with them. If the line is able to coordinate properly, Flacco may have enough time to air the ball out downfield.


3) The Return of Heap: Ironically, the last time that Todd Heap suited up in a regular season game was against the Bengals. The time has come for Heap to knock off the rust and go to work.


The former Pro Bowler will have a number of mismatch opportunities to exploit against the Bengals, especially when he lines up against the backers. None of

backers have the coverage skills to stay with Heap in open space.


Cincinnati uses their safeties to check Heap on the flank, the

receivers will have chances to win one-on-one matchups on the outside the numbers.




1) Targeting Ocho Cinco: The man with a new name will draw the Ravens attention, as he always does. Over the years, Chad Ocho Cinco (formerly known as Chad Johnson) has had his way with the Ravens’ secondary. Ocho Cinco gained 168 yards on just seven catches in two games against

last year. In 14 games against the Ravens, the-artist-formerly-known-as-Chad Johnson has scored 14 touchdowns.


No.85 is playing with a partially torn labrum and that injury may hinder his effectiveness. Although Johnson has tremendous balance, suddenness and elasticity, he is not a physical player. Once he catches the ball, he looks to take a dive instead of fighting through a tackle.


The game plan should be to force Johnson to the middle of the field. And when he crosses the pockets where the backers and the safeties reside, they will need to greet him violently every time he touches the ball.


2) Rush four, drop seven:

defensive coordinator Rex Ryan usually cooks up impossible pass rush schemes for opposing offenses to counter. But he has struggled to come up with a way to rattle the Bengals’ protection walls since Carson Palmer has been the team’s starting quarterback.


Last season, Ryan tried a different approach by implementing more blitzes up the middle to force Palmer off of his spot. That ploy didn’t work.


When Ryan’s defense has succeeded it generated a rush using just four or five defenders. In these situations, linemen and linebackers will switch positions on the fly and rush from different spots along the line.


It will be key for the defense to have success getting after Palmer using fewer rushers. If the defense has to turn to the blitz, it could be vulnerable against the big pass play, especially considering that corners Fabian Washington and Derrick Martin are out for Sunday’s contest, and starters Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister are playing for the first time since the
New England game. 


3) Keeping an eye on Utecht: Normally, the tight end is an afterthought within the framework of the Bengals’ passing attack. But given the loss of Chris Henry and Rudi Johnson, and the injury to Ocho Cinco, Ben Utecht may become a factor on Sunday.


Utecht has built a connection with Palmer during the off-season, and given the uncertainties, Palmer will look for the former Colt on inside seam, square-ins and crossing routes. The backers will need to keep Utecht from getting behind them.


One-on-one Matchup to Watch: Robert Geathers vs. Adam Terry: This may not seem like the sexiest matchup on the docket but it could prove to be the most critical. Geathers was a pest against the Ravens a year ago. He is a long, lean athlete, with a quick first step. Terry is a stronger pass blocker than he is a run blocker. He has the feet and the reach to keep Geathers from turning the corner. Should the Ravens pull a surprise and insert the recently acquired right tackle Willie Anderson, that matchup would also be one to watch especially given

’s recent status of “ex-Bengal.”

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Dev Panchwagh

About 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 journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week.  More from Dev Panchwagh


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