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Ravens “quick strike defense” faces a challenging Colts attack

This is a strength on strength matchup

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Next Gen Stats released a video ahead of the Ravens/Steelers matchup pertaining to the Ravens “quick strike defense”.

The video explains that, according to NGS’s models, the Ravens defense was the only unit in the NFL holding opposing teams to yards after the catch below expectation when the ball came out under 2.5s. This proved to be true against the Steelers, who have the quickest snap to throw time in the NFL. The Steelers were able to move the ball a bit in the second half using no huddle and tempo to back the Ravens secondary up, but still struggled to generate much after the catch.

This week, they face a similar attack presented by the Colts. Phillip Rivers 2.54s to throw is the sixth-quickest in football, although a bit slower than Roethlisberger. Rivers relies much more on targeting his backs and tight ends, though, while Roethlisberger thrives throwing to his receivers. The Colts utilize Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor out of the backfield, who have both recorded over 170 yards after the catch according to Sports Info Solutions.

The Colts rotate three tight ends as well, with Jack Doyle, Mo Allie-Cox and Trey Burton all being targeted in their quick passing attack. Similarly to Roethlisberger, Rivers prefers to throw quick and outside the numbers, attacking the perimeter.

Without Marlon Humphrey or L.J. Fort Sunday, the Ravens will need to have strong tackling performances from Patrick Queen, Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters in order to thwart the Colts quick passing offense.

This is another game to rush four and maintain coverage in the flats. Force Rivers to throw the ball deep, let the pass rush sink into his lap. If Rivers is able to find backs quickly and frequently off the snap, he will move the chains and get the Colts into scoring territory. The Ravens would also be wise to rely on Tyus Bowser and Matthew Judon to flash to the flats and into curl zones to take away Rivers primary reads. Rivers seems to torch two-high safety sets, like cover-2, so the Ravens would be wise to stick with single high and prevent Rivers from finding quick targets up the seams.

Without L.J. Fort, the Ravens will have to rely on Patrick Queen, Chris Board and Malik Harrison. Queen has been up and down in coverage, seemingly struggling to discern whether he needs to carry a receiver vertically when they enter his zone, or pass them off to the safeties. This would be a good time for Queen to play a calm and patient game in coverage. I would expect the Colts to attack him early and often, as well as the other young linebackers.

The Colts are likely without T.Y. Hilton and potentially surprise contributor Marcus Johnson, who are Rivers top two downfield receiving threats. This will be another test of the Ravens ability to defend dink and dunk offense with their “quick strike defense.”