Ravens Week 1 Bullet Points: Defense
The Ravens open their 2014 campaign in Baltimore this Sunday. Their opponent is the defending AFC North Champion Bengals. The Ravens have generally had their way with the Bengals in M&T Bank Stadium. Here are 3 bullet points for the Ravens defense.
1.) Must Pressure Dalton Early & Often
Last season Andy Dalton was sacked 18 times on the road and threw 11 picks. His stats in Cincinnati are more favorable as he had two less interceptions and 7 less sacks. 13 of his interceptions last season came within his first 20 passing attempts. The Ravens need to pressure Andy Dalton early and often. If the defense can get Dalton to make mistakes early the game may snow ball on Cincinnati.
2.) It may be well documented that Dalton makes big mistakes in big road games. We have to remember though, that he is capable of putting up big numbers as well. The Bengals are not short on playmakers. The two key playmakers are AJ Green and Giovanni Bernard.
Green is one of the best receivers in football. He can take the top off any defense and can go up and get the football. Jimmy Smith is the Ravens best match up for Green, but he cannot do it alone. The coverage will rotate towards Green and the Ravens have to keep him in front of them. There are plenty of ways to double team a receiver, the Ravens will use plenty of them. The best way to stop Green though is to get to Dalton before he can launch a deep pass.
I think the Bengals will struggle to pass the ball to Giovanni Bernard, at least over the middle of the field. Darryl Smith and CJ Mosley are two of the most athletic interior linebackers in football. The Ravens are more equipped to defend this than most teams and it could catch the Bengals by surprise.
3.) The Ravens need a consistent effort from the defensive line against the run. It goes without saying that the Ravens need to stop the run to be successful. The Ravens defense last year was good against the run but would give up the occasional big rushing play. That cannot happen on Sunday. The Ravens need to fill the gaps and dominate the line of scrimmage. If they do this consistently they will be consistently happy with the results.