The Baltimore Ravens host the Miami Dolphins this Sunday in a potential revenge game from last year. After the Ravens were thoroughly embarrassed in Miami on Thursday Night Football, they’ll look to defend their home turf with a healthier roster and a better game plan.
Since their meeting in 2021, the Dolphins have built a better roster, most notably by trading for one Tyreek Hill. Let’s see how the Ravens can bring it to the Dolphins.
The biggest reason the Ravens lost in Miami last year was their inability to effectively move the ball. Lamar Jackson, Greg Roman, and the Ravens’ offense had no answer for the constant pressure looks. The Dolphins showed a Cover 0 blitz on over half their snaps, while barely actually running Cover 0. Using slides and dropping guys into coverage, the Dolphins were able to get a lot of free rushers, pressuring Jackson often.
While it took a while to adjust, the Ravens eventually started running plays to beat them such as slant routes and speed option plays.
#Ravens-#Dolphins— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) November 12, 2021
Miami’s blitz rate = 52.1%.
Pressure Lamar — and keep him in the pocket.
Saw this look a lot last night…
Show an all-out blitz. Rush six. Drop two from the front. And play your DBs at the sticks (match the releases). @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/55T2YB3iRG
The key this year to winning on offense? Winning the one-on-one matchups. After handling Jackson well last year and using the same plan to open their season, Miami once again looks prepped to use quite a bit of Cover 0 disguises at the line. That means the wide receivers and any tight ends off the line will be lined up one-on-one.
Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews should feast in this game. Andrews especially was doubled and bracketed a lot last week against the Jets and was still able to secure five catches. Against single-man coverage, everything should be a mismatch in favor of Andrews. While Bateman started slow last week and only had one catch beside his deep touchdown, he was open downfield many times. If Bateman can use his release skills at the line and continuously win quickly on slants, digs, outs, and hitch routes, Jackson should have a constant hot read when the blitz is in his face.
Lamar Jackson now has a WR who has an elite release off the LOS— State of Louisville (@thestateoflou) April 30, 2021
Rashod Bateman should join Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown as a starter in Baltimore
The underrated player in this aspect will be rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. After a fantastic preseason that received national attention, his NFL debut was quiet. This is a good chance for him to become a contributor. Likely should draw some of the easiest matchups with Bateman and Andrews likely getting the most skilled coverage guys on the Dolphins.
If the Ravens' skill positions can’t win their one-on-one matchups, we will see a repeat of last year. The run game will struggle with a loaded box and Jackson will have nowhere to go with the ball with pressure in his face constantly.
Miami made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason, trading for Tyreek Hill and making him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. Paired with Jaylen Waddle, the Dolphins now have what could be the fastest wide receiver duo the NFL has ever seen. In the meantime, the Ravens continue their yearly cycle of struggles with cornerback health and depth.
Kyle Fuller is now on season-ending IR after tearing his ACL in Week 1. Marcus Peters is still recovering from his torn ACL and may not make his season debut quite yet. Both Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens are questionable for this game, too. The former was limited in practice Thursday and didn’t practice Friday, while the latter was limited Wednesday and missed practice Thursday and Friday.
While the cornerbacks are in shambles, the Ravens do have one unit that could help: the defensive line. After a dominant showing against the Jets, the line looks to keep things rolling this Sunday and the Ravens desperately need it. If the front-seven can win quickly and without help, it will allow Mike Macdonald to use more defensive backs and linebackers in coverage, helping take some pressure off the corners.
If guys like Justin Madubuike and Michael Pierce can collapse interior pockets, it will force Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa to make quick decisions and limit time for deep plays from the deadly receiver combo. Rookie Travis Jones could also make his debut after missing Week 1, as he logged two full days of practice in a row. Jones’ powerful clubs for hands could help a pass rush get right up the A-gap, forcing Tagovailoa to throw the ball away or run into athletic outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston.
While safeties Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton can cover lots of ground and Chuck Clark can blanket tight ends well, the Ravens may simply not have the corners to cover Hill and Waddle. A powerful pass rush could help contain that and allow the ravens to put seven or eight guys in coverage consistently. Look for the defensive line to shine after putting on a performance in Week 1.