Every week Common Sense Football provides you with a comprehensive scouting report/ gameplan to get Ravens fans prepared for each opponent. The purpose of these reports is to get the readers ( fans) ready like the pros. This week the Ravens travel to Buffalo to fight the 1-2 Bills.
The Bills are starting to figure out who they are offensively. In week 1 vs the Patriots they featured 11 personnel (1 back, 1 TE, so 3 WR) a good majority of their snaps. They used many different looks from this package almost exclusively with Manuel in the shotgun.
In week 2 the Bills offense was very different. They started the game in 21 personnel ( 2 backs, 1 TE, so 2 WR). This was mostly a strong I formation with their fullback. The fullback was not featured much at all in week 1. They used this package some throughout the game. They also used their 12 Personnel more ( 1 back, 2 TE). Their base package remained their 11 personnel with Manuel under the shotgun.
In week 3 the Bills went back to their week 1 style, suggesting thats the direction they’d like to head. They were in 11 personnel almost the entire game. Manuel had his worst performance in this game against the Jets.
The Jets were able to get pressure, especially on the outside without sending extra blitzers. Manuel struggles under pressure. There are times he makes a rash decision where he throws it to quickly. But a lot of times he fails to get rid of the ball, or the throw is late. Manuel’s field vision shrinks and he ends up taking too many sacks.
The Bill’s offense is really set up to help their rookie quarterback. Running backs CJ Spiller & Fred Jackson as well as tight end Scott Chandler are great safety nets for the young passer.
The Bills also like to stack their wide receivers and tight ends which makes it harder to play man coverage. Play calling has been a real strength of the Bills. Good simple route combinations & pass protection minded play calls have been staples of the Bills offense. Manuel is streaky. When he is hot he can really get it going. It is very possible to bait him into throws however.
Defensively the Bills have talent, but have a lot of holes. The defensive line is not bad. Marcell Darius is very much like a young Haloti Ngata. Mario Williams is actually getting to quarterbacks, unlike last season. It is a formidable 4-3 front.
Rookie Kiko Alonso leads an okay linebacker core. Alonso is special, at least for a rookie. He has two straight games with an interception. He is great in zone coverage, and a great tackler. I absolutely love what this guy does on the field.
The secondary is the real are of weakness. Missing a starting cornerback and star safety Jarius Byrd the Bills give up big plays in the passing game.
Game plan: Defense
The key to this game is discipline. Its that simple. The Ravens have more talent than the Bills. The defense should be expected to dominate a rookie quarterback. Before we get into the game plan it is important to stress the importance of discipline. The easiest way to lose this game is the Ravens beating themselves.
The Bills are very reliant on the running game to stay on schedule. Usually the goal is to bounce the run outside and flow to the football. The Bills backs however want to get to the outside. We have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, especially on the edges. Courtney Upshaw will play a critical role on running situations.
The Jets had a lot of success in a 3-4 hybrid. The outside linebackers acted as defensive ends, dominating the edge. The defensive tackles played over the guards. They were able to stay strong outside, which funneled the running backs inside. The defensive tackles abused the guards. The Bills run game struggled except for a few big plays. The Ravens need to emulate the Jets defense. The difference is the Ravens must wrap up and run through each tackle. Jackson and Spiller have low centers of gravity and are deceivingly strong. Low pad level is important.
Pressuring Manuel is critical. The Ravens do not need to send a lot of blitz to create pressure, Suggs & Dumervil should dominate outside. Creative Stunts are still needed. The Bills offensive line struggled in each game against stunts.
The Bills guards are slow footed and do not move well laterally. Stunting should be focused on creating hesitation from the guards which should translate into great and quick A & B gap pressure. EJ Manuel likes to step back and frantically out of the pocket. If we can pressure inside we will steer him right into our great outside linebackers.
Our inside linebackers should be able to drop into zone coverage underneath. Daryl Smith had an interception last week when Texans quarterback Matt Schuab forced a throw over the middle. Manuel does that a lot. I want our middle linebackers to follow Manuel’s eyes in zone; he stares down his throws. He is prone to forcing throws over the middle, especially to his safety net TE Scott Chandler.
In the secondary communication is so critical. Pees needs to mix up coverage however I want a heavy dose of Cover 2 man under (But linebackers can mix QB spy and zone). Manuel is A.) inaccurate with deep pass. B.) forces throws into coverage.
Because I want to play receivers in man coverage communication is key. The Bills as mentioned before love to stack their wide receivers. This can cause trouble in man- the who’s got who conundrum. Good communication and safety play should alleviate these concerns.
The Bills main concern must be pass protection. The Ravens have 11 sacks in 3 games. The offensive line of the Bills is far from spectacular. I expect them two play more 12 personnel against the Ravens than they have in the first 3 games. Their second TE helps them immensely in pass protection and is a good blocker. He is an adequate receiver. If they do lean on more 12 personnel looks, they are adding a blocker for either Suggs or Dumervil. This only makes things better for our defensive line. Chris Canty is expected to play, Art Jones is playing great and Haloti Ngata looks like a whole new player.