Ravens @ Titans ~ Divisional Playoff

Battle Plans Ravens @ Titans ~ Divisional Playoff

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Offense

 

1) Draws and delays: When the Ravens faced

Tennessee
during the regular season they were able to run the ball effectively out of the shotgun set. In particular, in obvious passing situations, the draw play worked well against a hard-charging

Tennessee
defensive front.


 

The play sets up well for the offense when it runs away from All-Pro Albert Haynesworth, who will make his return to the

Tennessee
lineup on Saturday. Specifically, when the action was directed against the right side of the

Tennessee
line, tailbacks Willis McGahee and Ray Rice had success gashing the Titans for drive-sustaining plays.


 

On third down, expect to see the return of the draw to the

Baltimore
offense, with Rice and McGahee leading the way.


 

 2) Pump fakes and double moves: Among the pass plays that the Ravens hit on against the Titans, on a consistent basis, was the curl and the hook routes. Those routes were completed underneath when the corners played off the line against the

Baltimore
receivers.


 

In this game, there may be an opportunity for quarterback Joe Flacco to use the underneath routes to bait the corners to bite. Specifically, if pump fakes are implemented, and the corners are aggressive in trying to defend the comeback routes, there could be space for the receivers to run through over-the-top on the second stem of the double route.


 

The

Baltimore
receivers run precise double move routes, and they were able to break open on those moves against the Dolphins. Flacco just was not able to accurately connect on the deep strikes. The results could be different on Saturday.


 

3) Passes in the flat: The running backs have not had a big day operating out of the backfield as pass catchers in quite some time. Part of that inactivity has been due to the injury to Rice. With Rice out of the lineup, McGahee has had to take on more of a blocking role. The backs will have an active day as blockers to help pick up the ferocious

Tennessee
rush, but at the same time, they should be used in the passing game to take advantage of openings in the flats.


 

With the return of Rice to the lineup, the team should experiment with an assortment of two back combinations out of the shotgun set. McGahee and Rice could create matchup problems for the

Tennessee
backers in open space.

 

Defense

 

1) Blitz the edges: The Baltimore defense was dominant against the

Tennessee
attack until the last two drives of the game. At that point, quarterback Kerry Collins and his line did a tremendous job of adjusting the blocking scheme to pick up the inside blitz. Collins hit on inside slants and crossers, which turned into big plays, given that the

Baltimore
backers had vacated their landmarks to rush the quarterbacks.


 

It may be a better idea for defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to flank the Titans from the perimeter. One of the clever designs that Ryan used was a weak side rush in which linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jameel McClain came from the same side. Employing these types of rushes may be the only way for

Baltimore
to dent

Tennessee
’s tough pass blocking unit.

 

2) Defending multiple rush formations: Given the versatility of backs Chris Johnson and LenDale White, Tennessee can run an assortment of run plays, out of various formations. Johnson has the ability to operate out of a single back set, White can carry the ball out of power formations, and there will be times when both backs are on the field at the same time. 


 

The

Baltimore
defense will need to think run first in this game. Regardless of the formation that the Titans show, the front seven will need to be active, disciplined and tackle flawlessly to stymie the

Tennessee
ground game.


 

3) Man Coverage: The Baltimore corners normally play man-to-man coverage, but in this game in particular, playing a predominant man coverage scheme will be key. In order to bring heat against Collins, the front seven will need to be active on blitz packages, and as a consequence, the back end defenders will need to hold up in single coverage. The front four will be hard-pressed to get pressure without the support of extra rushers, so it will be up to the secondary to play well without help.  

 

One-on-one Matchup to Watch: Terrell Suggs versus Michael Roos:  Roos may not be a household name, but the recently named All-Pro is one of the big reasons for Tennessee’s success this season. The emerging left tackle has been excellent as a pass blocker and a run blocker. It is hard to get by Roos because he is athletic and fundamentally sound. Suggs has been able to turn the corner against most tackles, and he has developed a stronger bull rush. He will have to use a complete repertoire of moves to break down Roos.
 
 
Photo by Mort Shuman

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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 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 journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the Scouts.com 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. 

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