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Ravens Film Room: The defense keeps on rolling

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The Ravens defense is laying waste to NFL offenses. How are they sustaining that success?

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Welcome back to the Ravens film room. The Ravens turned in a solid effort as they played their second consecutive game against a division opponent. Here we’ll take a look at their overall performance and how they executed.

Offense

The play-action game was working early for the Ravens who used fakes to draw in linebackers and open throwing lanes for Flacco. Here the Ravens are facing man-coverage. The run fake draws up the linebacker and Flacco throws a perfect laser. It looks like there was a little miscommunication because Flacco faked the handoff to the right, but all ended up well.

Again, the Ravens used play-action a lot to get Ben Watson a few catches and it worked effectively within the offense. Here, they go PA again, but it appears as if there’s a miscommunication between Flacco and Mike Wallace. Flacco throws deep down the field and Wallace cuts his route much shorter, going to the corner. The ball keeps traveling downfield and ends up being intercepted. It’s hard to know who to blame this on, but typically in miscommunications like this, it’s the wide receiver.

It was a really good game for Ben Watson who sees his quarterback in trouble above. All of Flacco’s reads are covered so he scrambles out of the pocket. Watson find a soft spot of the Browns’ zone and gives Flacco an easy, open target 30 yards downfield.

One of my favorite things with skill players is when they have awareness of where they are and how to camp into soft spots in zones. I mentioned earlier that Watson did this, but Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown does an excellent job of this as well. Buck Allen sit down in an open spot and Flacco identifies this immediately, and hits him for the Ravens second touchdown of the game.

I’m a big fan of this Buck Allen run! The Ravens look to just make the field goal attempt more manageable for Justin Tucker, but Allen breaks this one off. The key comes from the offensive line fooling the defense. When the offensive line blocks down to their right, the right guard pulls across on the power to help open a hole for Allen. Number 53 gets caught out of position and Allen does the rest of the work, making players miss in the open field before getting the Ravens into position to capitalize on a touchdown before the half ends.

Defense

The Ravens are still giving up yards and plays, and that happens here. It looks like C.J. Mosley expects the safety help to be closer and he drops off halfway through the route. The receiver is able to trickle in between Mosley and Tony Jefferson where Kizer drops it in for a gain of 20.

This is the definition of a coverage sack. Kizer has nowhere to go with the ball, despite having an ample pocket. As he hitches up in the pocket, everything remains covered and the pass rush finally drops him for a sack and forces a turnover that ends the drive to give the Ravens the ball deep in Browns territory. Through two games we’ve seen the Ravens play a lot of tight coverage and force teams to beat them deep. They did it against the Bengals and did it this past week against the Browns. If they keep playing like this, they'll be justified in doing so and it will allow them to bring more pressure.

This looks like another miscommunication. We’ve seen few of those early on. Last week on the deep throw from Andy Dalton, the earlier play from Kizer and now this play to the tight end. Going forward the Ravens will need to clean these up otherwise good teams are going to make them pay for these mishaps.

This one was on Tony Jefferson. The Ravens are playing Cover 2 zone, Jefferson gets caught peaking across the middle/in the backfield and David Njoku ends up finding a pocket of space toward the sideline boundary that gives Kevin Hogan an open area to deliver the touchdown pass. Jefferson has to be more aware of where he’s at and the players that are coming deeper into his zones. As the schedule gets tougher, mistakes like these will cost the Ravens a few games if they don't clean them up.

Tyus Bowser is up for Pepsi Rookie of the week and that’s not by mistake. Bowser notched his first sack and interception on Sunday. On the sack he gets the edge on the right tackle and works his way back inside after Hogan steps up in the pocket.

This was Tyus Bowser’s other big play of the game. There’s something to be said about being exactly where you're supposed to be. On a few of the big plays that I’ve already highlighted, the Ravens were out of position or miscommunicating. Here The Ravens are in Cover 2 pre-snap and shift into Cover 3 post-snap and I think it says a lot that the Ravens trust Bowser enough to drop in coverage. Coming out of Houston, it was assumed that Bowser’s biggest strength was pass rushing, but he’s showing he can contribute in the all-around game.

Final Thoughts

This was one of my shorter film reviews because there wasn't a lot to break down. The Ravens did an excellent job of forcing turnovers, but it wasn't necessarily anything nifty they did schematically. Lardarius Webb and Brandon Carr made excellent plays on passes that Kizer shouldn't have thrown and Eric Weddle came away with an interception on a tipped ball. I was concerned with the lack of pass rush the Ravens were able to produce. Cleveland has been lauded for its acquisitions along the offensive line this offseason, so that could be part of the issue, but the defense needs to work on the big plays and communication. You can beat bad teams like that on your own talent, but with teams like the Chiefs, Raiders, Patriots and Broncos who protect the ball more, mistakes like that will make teams pay.

As far as the offense goes, I like what they're doing. They're getting back to their identity of running the ball and they did so effectively. Buck Allen and Alex Collins ran well and the offensive line opened up holes all afternoon. In relation, this takes more off of Flacco’s plate and allows him to work off of play action where he has receivers that can consistently stretch defenses to open up opportunities deep when they win deep, and short for the tight ends like we saw with Ben Watson. Last year the Ravens trended toward a lopsided run-pass ratio, but if they can avoid that and run the ball effectively, I don't see any reason why this team can’t beat anybody in the league.

As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter @TJackRH.