An offense like Kansas City’s can make a defense overthink its strategy. Teams assume that they have show Mahomes and Andy Reid something they haven’t seen before and do something extra. The Ravens, however, took the opposite approach by becoming not something else, but rather, more of what they already were.
Fire zone blitzing. Most blitzes have man coverage behind them. The idea is the blitz will force the quarterback to throw quickly, and so defenders should be up on their receiver immediately. The Ravens, however, often play zone structures behind their blitzes. Being a predominantly one-deep safety defense, Baltimore’s fire zones have three defenders deep and three underneath. Essentially it is Cover 3 but with one less guy underneath.
Matchup coverage. Here’s the twist: Baltimore’s zone coverages have a lot of man-to-man principles built in. Because playing zone with one fewer guy means each player must defend a bigger zone, it makes sense to base assignments not on covering an area of space, but rather, on which receivers enter into an area of space.
Complex pressure. The downside of matchup zone is that a linebacker in zone can be forced to cover a receiver inside. But this is where the zone pressure comes in. The Ravens will live with mismatches in coverage because they expect that adding a fifth pass rusher will force the QB to throw before the downfield mismatch can completely unfold.
To make the fifth rusher potent, the Ravens disguise it, showing six or seven possible rushers, with some of them coming and others dropping back as underneath defenders. Usually the side with the most defenders presnap is where the droppers will be, while the blitzers sneak up from the other side, after the offense has set its protection. To further challenge blockers here, the Ravens employ stunts and twists.
How the Ravens Are Approaching Chiefs’ Dangerous Offense - Clifton Brown
Trying to contain Mahomes is one of the biggest challenges Baltimore’s defense will face this season, particularly its secondary. Not only does Mahomes have a great arm and excellent mobility; he’ll be throwing to a bevy of speedy receivers in Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman, and one of the NFL’s premier tight ends in Travis Kelce.
“Definitely tough to simulate Pat Mahomes in practice,” Humphrey said. “Maybe get a couple of little extra scramble plays. He makes a lot of things happen, even when nothing’s there. Sometimes he throws guys open. It’s really tough when you’re going against a guy like that.”
“It’s a big challenge for us in the back end, a big challenge for the defense for this ball club on the road against a playoff-caliber team,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “They have it all. We’re excited to see what we’re made of.”
“I think that comes down to personnel and luckily the Ravens have me playing free safety, controlling the deep end,” Thomas said. “I plan on eliminating all the big plays.”
Reed: Ramsey Would Be Good Fit For Ravens, Offers Advice To Jackson - Todd Karpovich
“I know our system can use a great cornerback like Jaylen Ramsey,” Reed said. “I’ve always been a fan of his. I think Jaylen would be an asset, no doubt.
Reed did not think Ramsey would be a distraction in the Ravens locker room and would get along with coach John Harbaugh.
”Coach Harbaugh and I always talk about the mentality of ‘iron sharpening iron.’ There’s a reason why those guys are playing the way they are right now,” Reed said, “There’s a reason why coach has had that success. Yeah, coach runs a tight ship but he also respects you. He wants you to be your best. Jaylen would be a great fit.”
Offensive Line Scoring Week 2 vs. Cardinals - Ken McKusick
Bozeman: Bradley started again at LG and delivered another solid effort highlighted by pulls that fueled the power run game. He converted 10 of 11 pulls and is now 22 for 25 (88%) for the season. He was beaten inside by mammoth DT Corey Peters for a sack (Q2, 1:54) for which I charged him a 2/3 share. That was his only negative charge of the day. He significantly reduced both the frequency (10 to 4) and severity of his missed blocks from week 1. He had 3 blocks in level 2 and delivered a team-high 5 pancakes. I did not score him for a highlight.
Scoring: 70 plays, 65 blocks, 4 missed, 2/3 sack, 1/3 ineligible downfield, 60 points (.86 per play). After adjustment that’s a B+ at guard.
It all starts with Lamar Jackson, who helped turn Baltimore into one of the top rushing teams in the NFL when he took over as the starting quarterback as a rookie last year. Not only did Jackson push the Ravens to the playoffs, but he likely saved John Harbaugh’s job and helped land the coach an extension.
The Ravens’ offense really hummed along last year because of their use of play-action. Jackson threw nearly 43 percent of his passes from play-action last year, where he averaged 8.8 yards per attempt on throws, according to Pro Football Focus. He averaged 5.9 without it. Under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Baltimore has continued to ride the tactic. Jackson has thrown 43.9 percent of his passes off play-action this year, which leads all starting quarterbacks and he’s picking up 8.3 yards per attempt on play-action.
After finishing 2018 with a 58.2 percent completion rate and 84.5 passer rating, Jackson leads the NFL with a 145.2 passer rating. He’s completed nearly 72 percent of his passes, too. And, no, it’s not because he’s completing a lot of dink-and-dunk tosses, inflating that stat. Jackson is fifth in the NFL with 10.1 air yards per attempt, according to Next Gen Stats -- ahead of Patrick Mahomes (9.4).