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Baltimore Ravens must prove it can handle misdirection’s from Buffalo Bills

Linebackers being beaten by more elusive and athletic players in space has been a common sight.

NFL: Preseason-Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman is perhaps the most unorthodox offensive coordinator in the league. Though his offense did stall in San Fransisco with the 49ers, Roman has taken all of his strange plays and formations to Buffalo. Bills’ counters often see the fullback blocking to the opposite direction of the run.

When Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor finds himself in shotgun, with running back Le'Sean McCoy flanking him on one side and Charles Clay flanking him on the other, Taylor offers the threat of not only handing the ball off but also running. In this formation, the Bills have all options available to its disposal.

Under defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Ravens defense has been susceptible to misdirection’s, reverses and screens since 2012. Roman will rely on deception to scheme what was last year's top ranked running game and set up deep shots to Sammy Watkins.

For the Ravens defense, Terrell Suggs' return is sure to be felt. Where misdirection’s and screens are concerned, Suggs' side of the field is closed. In prior years, former Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw lacked the athleticism in the open field as he was exposed when he had to chase down ball carriers in pursuit.

Now fitting in for Upshaw are like-for-like counterpart at outside linebacker in Albert McClellan and Pernell McPhee clone Za'Darius Smith. Linebacker Kamalei Correa may see snaps, but McClellan is the most reliable edge setter the Ravens possess other than Suggs. Like Upshaw however, he lacks the open field athleticism to go toe-to-toe with McCoy and Taylor.

Za’Darius Smith offers the athleticism but as the preseason showed, he is a see ball get ball player who excels when this responsibility is clearly defined. End around’s have fooled him in the past.

Perhaps the most reliable course of action would be for the Ravens to employ Eric Weddle as an extra defender against 11 and 12 personnel. He would allow the outside linebacker away from the play to crash down in pursuit, since he would - in that scenario - have an extra defender behind him to clean up the backside of the play.

The Buffalo Bills will come forth with all the trickery. Baltimore knows Tyrod Taylor will have had a week and half at least to prepare. If the Ravens defense wants to start a turnaround and rebuild its reputation, the unit must start by addressing what has been as an issue for years.