Over the last three games, John Brown has tallied 12 targets producing 2 receptions for 48 yards. For a player as talented as Brown that’s simply unacceptable. I certainly understand the offense has changed and has an inexperienced QB at the controls but based off the running success alone, Brown should have compiled more than 48 yards.
While I’m not holding my breath for passing game innovation, there are simple things that can be done to involve their top skill guy. The jet sweep action out of these pistol looks is low hanging fruit to get him touches via a direct handoff, quick pass or even an opposite field wheel route if time permitted. Drags versus man coverage whether it be from out wide, bunch or motion are another easy way to get him involved. With his speed, most defenders would have their work cut out trying to chase him all the across the field.
Simply put, the Ravens should be more actively trying to get him touches in space.
Prepare for press man
The Chiefs have been a notoriously strict press man coverage team over the years. They’ve diversified their coverages more often this season. They essentially have three slot corners atop their depth chart so maybe that’s the biggest reason, but the results haven’t been pretty. Kansas City probably played more zone than man last week and that resulted in 33 points surrendered to a dreadful Raider offense.
One thing we know about people under pressure, they tend to lean back towards what they know best. They may feel more emboldened to do so versus the Ravens’ subpar skill players in an offense not lighting the world on fire in the passing game. If they do decide to go back to their roots, the Ravens need to counter with motion, rubs, and bunch formations.
Also, because man coverage can leave defenses susceptible to running QB’s, I’d mix in a few designed QB keeps out of traditional passing looks.
Keep adding to Andrews’ plate
The linebacking trio of Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, and Dorian O’Daniel leave a lot to be desired as pass defenders. Mark Andrews has had an impressive rookie season so far and has built chemistry with both Flacco and Jackson. Anticipating that Jackson will be the guy on Sunday, Andrews runs routes where he’s most sound as a passer at this stage…in the short and intermediate middle of the field and down the seams.
The Ravens should unleash Andrews Sunday.
Kansas City is too talented and well-coached not to score points. You’re doing yeoman’s work if you can keep them in the 20’s. What you can’t do defensively is sit back and concede things because you’re scared of their splash plays. As great as Patrick Mahomes, he’s still an inexperienced QB who’s shown the propensity to hold the ball too long at times. Because of his immense talent and the weapons around him, some of those plays have turned into big gains, but it’s a trait the Ravens can TRY to exploit.
Similar to their approach last week, the Ravens should be crowding the line of scrimmage and try to deceive Mahomes as much as possible. Baltimore is blessed with three long, talented, outside corners and they should be up in press coverage this week challenging these receivers to get to their spots despite the contact.
Hopefully, Wink didn’t use all his exotic drops and pressures in Atlanta because he’ll need some in this one.
I’ve heard the question a lot this week: how do you defend Travis Kelce? And since I can’t just say “pray,” I’ll walk you through the process….
The first thing you need to do is limit his free releases. Whether it’s a defender directly in front of him or a down lineman chipping him before he rushes the QB, you have to impede his progress.
Secondly, you have to give him different looks. He’s too good a player to line up the same defender or type of coverage against. He’ll figure it out, adjust and burn you. I’d recommend heavy dime in this game, and with no Kareem Hunt I’d welcome any and all runs the Chiefs have to offer. This will get Anthony Levine on the field, who is by far the Ravens best middle of the field defender.
Our insightful leader Tony Lombardi mentioned the idea of trying Brandon Carr or Jimmy Smith on him and I love the idea. Kelce plays so much slot receiver (2nd in the NFL in yards from the slot) that you have to treat him as such. He’ll obviously have the size advantage, but Carr and Smith are physical players and I’d much rather deal with that disadvantage than asking a bigger (slower) player to cover him down the field.
Third, you have to bracket him at times. That becomes a tricky thing to manage because of the all the weaponry at Mahomes’ disposal, as the pure speed of the trio of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley is terrifying in these scenarios but Kelce is simply too good to be covered by one defender all game.
The Chiefs lead the NFL in yardage in the screen game. They use a lot of smoke and mirrors and will punish you if you aren’t disciplined on the edges. It is more important this week than any week that the edge defenders keep their outside shoulder clean. How the Ravens react to the Chiefs line of scrimmage exploits and how well they tackle in space will determine how long they stay in this game.
Matchup to watch
Terrell Suggs vs. Eric Fisher
The Ravens’ newfound control over the time of possession has done wonders for Terrell Suggs, keeping his snaps down and keeping him fresher to close games as a pass rusher. His ability to disrupt Mahomes particularly late will be one of the keys to the game. Eric Fisher has shown some susceptibility to the bull rush which is Suggs’ bread and butter.
If the Ravens lose this matchup, I think their chances of winning this game are slim.