The Baltimore Ravens will be facing perhaps the most elusive QB in the NFL since the early stages of Michael Vick's career, and this one can pass as well as run the ball.
The Ravens next opponent are the Washington Redskins, this Sunday just down the highway in Landover, Maryland. Their rookie QB, Robert Griffin III, is having perhaps one of the greatest rookie QB seasons ever, with no offense to the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck.
Griffin's success comes with both his arm and his legs, but the latter scares me even more than his surprisingly accurate arm. RG3 is the second leading rusher on the #1 rushing offense in the league. His 714 rushing yards on 105 attempts equates to a 6.8 yards per carry average and resulted in six touchdowns so far.
The Redskins are averaging 167 yards on the ground per game as part of their 7th ranked overall offense in the league. In contrast, the Ravens defense is ranked 25th over, 23rd against the run, allowing 125 yards per game. The good news is that with all the yardage the Ravens permit between the goal lines, they have given up the fourth fewest touchdowns and are 8th in scoring average, allowing only 20 points a game.
However, a huge chunk of the yardage that Griffin has earned has come around the left side of his offensive line. He sticks the ball in his running back's gut, drawing the defense, specifically the outside linebacker, into the middle of the field. At the moment of truth, Griffin yanks the ball out and takes off around the left side, now open, vacated by the fooled play-action fake.
The legitimate concern is that the Ravens have been susceptible to that play over and over again this season. The main culprit of this problem has been OLB Paul Kruger and while Kruger has upped his level of play, his run-stopping skills have been lacking all season in comparison to his value as a pass rusher.
If Kruger and the rest of his teammates fall for this move, the Ravens could be in for a long day. They must also contend with rookie running back, Alfred Morris, who has already rushed for over 1,100 yards and six TD's himself, averaging an impressive 4.8 yards per carry. It certainly helps having a double-threat either giving or not giving you the ball to make the defense hesitate just enough to give the advantage to the offense.
The Ravens ability to keep RG3 around the line of scrimmage and not outside of the tackles will determine the outcome of this game. While Griffin has proved he can definitely throw the ball with success, making him more one-dimensional will go a long way to giving the Ravens their best chance of rebounding from last week's loss with a win this weekend.