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Ravens News 11/19: Beating Blitzes and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Greg Roman on How the Ravens Plan to Beat Blitzes - Ryan Mink

When blitzed, Jackson is 21st in yards per attempt, 25th in big-time throws, and 26th in passer rating. When he is not blitzed, Jackson ranks first, third and eighth in those categories, respectively.

“Cover Zero, we see it. We’ve seen it. It forces you to play quick and efficiently,” Roman said. “If people are going to throw the dice out there, you have to make them pay, or you’re just going to keep seeing it.”

“You have to be ready for anything, and we generally are,” Roman said. “We’re definitely going to see [Cover Zero] again this year. It could be this week. It could be the next week.”

“Defenses are definitely trying to adapt to us,” Bozeman said. “We’ve struggled a little bit with [cover] zero. We’re still trying to build and fix those things. Like [Roman] said earlier, it’s a race to get better right now. So, we’re just going to continue to build, keep trying to pick those things up and make defenses throw different things at us to try to stop us.”

As the Ravens’ health improves, a roster crunch looms on offense - Jonas Shaffer

Tight end

Nick Boyle is seemingly on track to make his 2021 debut Sunday. He was a full participant in practice Wednesday for the first time since the Ravens moved him back to their active roster Nov. 8.

Harbaugh said Monday that Boyle, one of the NFL’s top blocking tight ends, was “close” to playing against Miami. But after a short week of practice, when Boyle was judged to be limited in two walk-throughs, the Ravens activated their usual foursome: tight ends Mark Andrews, Josh Oliver and Eric Tomlinson and fullback Patrick Ricard.

With Boyle close to returning, the Ravens could be forced to choose between receiving and blocking ability Sunday if they activate just four players at the tight end/fullback position. Oliver has seven catches for 59 yards this season and is more dynamic in the open field, but Tomlinson (one catch for 7 yards) has graded out as one of the NFL’s top blockers, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He’s awesome,” Andrews said Wednesday of Tomlinson. “He goes to work every day, works hard, but he’s really, really good. He’s extremely underrated, I think, throughout this league. He’s really good at what he does, and I think there [are] a lot of similarities between him and Nick.”

Adding Boyle, meanwhile, is “like adding another Pat Ricard,” Andrews said. The Ravens have deployed Ricard more as an in-line blocker and slot receiver this season, and Boyle’s return could give coordinator Greg Roman more freedom to use personnel groupings featuring two or even three tight ends or fullbacks.

“Just having all these guys, all these tight ends, especially in a tight end-centric offense,” Andrews said, “I think we’re going to be able to do a lot of things.”

Bears bounce back after bye? Bears-Ravens preview - Sam Householder

Key match ups: Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see that this isn’t a week for a game plan that’s heavy on David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert.

It’s time to let Justin Fields loose. His deep passes have been getting better and he’s taken more and more deep shots the last couple of weeks and the Ravens defensive numbers don’t lie: third most 20+ yard pass plays allowed and tied for second-most 40+ yard pass plays allowed.

That’s not to say that Montgomery and Herbert aren’t still a key component to the offense because of what they can do and what they allow the offense to do as far as play action and getting Justin Fields outside the pocket. But this is a week to really let Fields work the passing game more.

Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson against the Ravens secondary is going to be key too, they obviously have to be open downfield in order for Fields to be able to throw it to them.

For the defense, if Roquan Smith is healthy, his match up against Lamar Jackson in the running game and Mark Andrews in the passing game is going to be huge. The corners obviously are going to have their work cut out for them against Marquise Brown but Smith is so important to playing both the Ravens run and pass game.

Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks are going to be key to plugging running lanes as well, but as always against a quarterback like Jackson, who is just so fast, playing disciplined on the edge is going to be vital. That means the linebackers, corners and EDGE players are all going to have to play smart and make sure they don’t over pursue and let Jackson get outside and downfield.

NFL picks against the spread - Sheil Kapadia

Baltimore Ravens at Chicago Bears (+5) | 1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS

Wild stat from The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec: The Ravens have allowed seven plays of 50-plus yards on defense (tied for most in the NFL) and have produced zero plays of 50-plus yards on offense (they’re the only team without one). The Ravens are coming off of an embarrassing Thursday night loss in which their offense looked completely flummoxed by the Miami Dolphins’ blitz schemes. But even with that loss, they’re still 6-3 and in first place in the AFC North.

The Bears have lost four in a row, but Justin Fields showed real improvement in their last two games before the bye. There’s a scenario where Fields goes off here, Chicago wins, and Bears fans lose their minds. But the Ravens have a defensive scheme that should theoretically make life tough for young quarterbacks. I think they cover in a competitive game.

The pick: Ravens (-5)

Week 11 NFL game picks: Patriots roll over Falcons on Thursday Night Football; Cowboys edge out Chiefs - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 28, Chicago Bears 20

Justin Fields has made terrific progress. Facing Baltimore is a great test of how muchprogress. There are holes in the Ravens’ secondary that can be exploited, but coordinator Wink Martindale will test the Bears’ protection schemes before Fields can let go of any rainmakers. More importantly, this Chicago defense wasn’t special even with Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson on the field, as they should be again in this game. This is usually the time of year when the Ravens’ defense begins to sort out its problems.