Category Archives: Ravens Gameplans

The Ravens Win If/The Colts Win If…

Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a tough test ahead of them as they travel to Indianapolis. The Colts have never lost the Ravens at Lucas Oil Field, a place the Ravens have had horrible days at. Much of that was because of Peyton Manning. Now the house that Manning built belongs to Andrew Luck. As rough of a spot as this is for the Ravens, its also a tough game for the Colts.

The prevailing thought is that Andrew Luck and company will exploit the Ravens secondary. The Colts receiving group (at least on paper) is primed to have a great day. The Colts have home field advantage. The Ravens are stepping into their own little house of horrors.

Beating the Ravens though is more complicated than stomping through the secondary. The Colts must stop the Ravens running game. If the Colts make the Ravens one dimensional-like the Bengals did-it behooves their chances.

So for the Colts side of the coin its quite clear. The Colts need to use and up tempo offense that creates mismatches in the secondary. They need to stop the Ravens run game and relentlessly pressure Joe Flacco.

The Ravens have match ups that work to their advantage. The Colts defense has not been stellar this season. The Ravens offensive line will be quicker and stronger than the Colts defensive line. The Colts secondary has had many issues, and Flacco has been fire. The Colts offensive line is a train wreck.

The Ravens have to have a balanced offensive attack. When the Ravens have stayed balanced, or even run heavy, Joe Flacco has played sensationally. Steve Smith is off to one of the best years in his long career. The Ravens just need to keep doing what they are doing offensively. Defensively they must not give up the big play and pressure Andrew Luck. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have to get to Luck and the safety play has to be better.

The beautiful thing about this match up is that it could go either way. Either the Colts please their home crowd and Luck has a big day; or the Ravens control the game with the running game and pressure Luck. Its hard to pick the Ravens, as much as I’d like to do so. Going to Indianapolis has never been good for the Ravens. If I am wrong and the Ravens win it will be huge.

Learning From The Enemy To Beat Carolina

Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens host the Carolina Panthers today at 1 PM. One of the key factors in this game is the Ravens ability to run the football. Last Sunday night the Pittsburgh Steelers had no trouble getting their ground attack going against the Panthers. Let’s examine why the Steelers were so successful and how the ravens can use this to their advantage.

Pre-snap motion really was a problem for the Carolina Panthers defense. In the run game pre-snap motions can do one of two things. It can either provide an extra blocker to the play side or you can take linebackers out of position. The Steelers did a bit of both on the three plays I’m going to show you.

On this first play Le’ Veon Bell ran for 80 yards down the field. The Steelers were backed up inside their own 10 yard line. As you can see in the below diagram the Steelers motioned a tight end across the formation. The Panthers linebackers shifted to the strong side. Luke Kuechly went to the wrong gap, making it easier for the Steelers to run right up the middle. All it took where to double-team blocks and Bell was off to the races
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On the next play the Steelers used Heath Miller the veteran tight end in a pre-snap. This gave the Steelers an extra man to the play side. Miller lined up behind the guard now, took out the defense end. Guard and tackle double teamed the defensive tackle. The tackle chips to the second level to block Luke Keuchly. Blount rushed for 50 yards on the well designed play.

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Lets now look at a 15 yard carry by Blount. Number 46 motions to the left side of the field. The Panthers linebackers shift with him. The Steelers run the other way behind to double-team blocks. Nobody was there for the Carolina Panthers.

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Both the Ravens and the Steelers use a zone run scheme. Baltimore has a very good chance of replicating the Steelers success in the running game. If the Ravens use pre-snap motions the Panthers better have found an adjustment. If not expect a big day for the ravens running backs.

Chris Schisler’s Week 4 Gameplan (Ravens Defense)

Chris Schisler

The Carolina Panthers are coming to Baltimore to play the Ravens. The Panthers are coming off a horrifying loss to the Steelers and the Ravens coming off a last-second win against the Browns. Here is a 3 point plan for the Ravens defense to shut down Cam Newton and the Panthers. This is all about defense. This is how I would attack the game If I were in Dean Pees’s shoes. This is an emotional plea for organized chaos and a death on wings mindset to comeback to Baltimore Ravens football.

1.) This is the game that the Ravens must unleash the blitz. The Ravens are getting no pressure without bringing the blitz and if you give Cam Newton all day to throw bad things will happen. The Ravens have no choice but to blitz.

I want to incorporate the blitz from anywhere and everywhere. CJ Mosley, Darrell Smith, Matt Elam, Suggs, Elvis, the whole crew will have a mission of sacking Newton. The Ravens must keep Cam Newton in the pocket with the outside rush, making him step into the inside rush. It could be more complicated than that but it really does not need to be. Dean Pees must dial-up exotic looks to get this very simple thing done. One thing I would like to see is Matt Elam as an inverted strong safety. He will be playing closer to the liner scrimmage. The offense would have to guess who is coming Matt Elam or the outside linebacker, or both. Anything we can do to create hesitation in the offense, to create confusion- a little less transparency that’s a wonderful thing. If we give Newton all day to throw like we did Hoyer, like we did Rothlisberger, like we did Dalton, we will get gashed. I’m not saying blitz irresponsibly; I’m saying add the blitz your game plan.

2.) The Ravens must let their cornerbacks cover the receivers. We must play physical at the line of scrimmage, take advantage of the 5 yards they give us and reroute the wide receivers. We must not play off, giving them a tremendous bubble to nickel and dime us. We must disrupt the timing of the play, we must play tightly with the wide receivers and we must provide safety help for the wide receivers (Im looking at you Darian Stewart)! Bringing the pressure and disrupting the timing of the pass and the timing of the routes, will create good opportunities for turnovers. Hell hath no fury like Chris enraged with a passive defense. This organization is known for organized chaos and fear inducing defense and we don’t do either.

3.) We have to make the Carolina Panthers 1 dimensional. I want them to throw. I want them to attack what is our weakness right now, I want that. Because I don’t think it’s a player problem, I think is a design problem. Surely our secondary is not the Legion Of Boom, I get that. But Jimmy Smith is a shutdown corner. Ladarius Webb can be a shutdown corner if healthy. Asa Jackson is a lot better at nickel then I think he gets credit for. The Ravens have man to man capable corners. Don’t allow subpar safety play to punish your corners. We can stop the pass if we actually do points number one and two. We have to stop the run to make all of this plan possible.

The Ravens have to win on first and second downs. We have got the force passing situations where we can bring the blitz. With proper outside contain and gap sound defense, the Ravens should be able to stuff the run. We need consistent push from the defense of line.

Essentially it boils down to this. We need fire in our veins and must force the issue defensively. This is the only way. If we create havoc in the backfield, if we give Newton no breathing room, if we are disruptive at every level of the defense, Ravens Nation will be celebrating a win! Let’s get it.

Ravens @ Browns Preview

Chris Schisler

With a heavier schedule this week I have not gotten to do much film study. I fully intend to get back to that next week. Film studied or not, I am very familiar with the Browns. Without further ado, here is your Ravens game preview:

The Cleveland Browns are off to a 1-1 start. In week 1 they nearly completed a comeback against the Steelers. In week 2 the Browns stunned the Saints. The Browns are off to their most impressive start in recent history. Winning in Cleveland is no longer an easy game for anybody.

The Browns like to run the football a lot. Towson product, Terrence West, is becoming their star running back. The Browns have very little, in terms of weapons so West will run the ball plenty on Sunday. The Browns have a big and strong offensive line. The key for the Ravens defense will be stopping the run and making them one dimensional.

Brian Hoyer is not great by any stretch. His weapons without Gordon are subpar (without Cameron really subpar). The law of averages says that the offense will not continue to impress. The Ravens however cannot take this as a light test. Hoyer may not be Peyton Manning but he did beat Baltimore last season.

The Ravens need to attack the Browns receivers aggressively. The Ravens are hoping to have Ladarius Webb back on Sunday. If Webb plays, the Ravens starting corners are capable of shutting the Browns top 2 receivers down. Pees has been playing conservative with his coverage schemes but this is the perfect week for shutdown man to man and some heated up blitzes.

Offensively the Ravens must build on the efficiency of week 2. Expect a heavy commitment to the running game and quick releases from Joe Flacco. Flacco has been leaning on Steve Smith as his go-to-receiver. The Browns will likely try to shut him down with Joe Haden. Torrey Smith could take advantage of this.

At the end of the day this game will boil down to one thing: who wins at the line of scrimmage. If the Ravens can dominate upfront on both sides of the ball (as they did against Pittsburgh), they will win this football game.

The Construction Of Ravens Defense

The Baltimore Ravens defense will be fun to watch in the upcoming season. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees, has a lot to work with. With the most talent he has had during his tenure in Baltimore it should be his most successful year. Let’s take a look at the Ravens defense, and all the fun Dean Pees can have with it.

Everything starts up front, and the Ravens defensive line is built well. With defensive linemen for days, the unit will stay strong for the whole game. Rotating players in on the defensive line is huge. Not only does it keep players from wearing out but it prevents injuries from over exertion. Durability has been an issue for veterans like Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty. The depth the Ravens have means they will be worn down less and subsequently provide more production. Outside of Ngata and Canty, the defensive line is young. Brandon Williams, Kapron Lewis-Moore and DeAngelo Tyson are all going into their second season (Lewis-Moore did not play last year due to injury). The Ravens welcome the additions of two talented rookies in Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban. Terrance Cody is a veteran who may still make the team yo add depth, despite his lack of performance as a Raven.

The Ravens have a prototypical 3-4 linebacking group, with size and quickness. On the edges the Ravens have the fearsome duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. On running downs the Ravens rotate into the game Courtney Upshaw. Don’t be surprised to see the versatile and still blossoming Albert McClellan work into the outside linebacker rotation. The interior starters will be CJ Mosley on the weak side (generally
over the left guard in a 30 technique) and Darryl Smith on the strong side (generally over the right guard in a 30 technique.) Arthur Brown will also work into the defense.

The Ravens play a 3-4 but mix up their looks and include a hybrid front. One way to be a hybrid defense is to do a “scissors shift”. In the regular 3-4 defense the outside linebackers will move to the weak side and the defensive end will shift to the strong side. Terrell Suggs in this example now has his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, becoming the fourth lineman. Don’t get to into the 3-4 or 4-3 thing. Players move around to create confusion. The personnel dictates more than the type of defense.

We have had all this fun, and we have not even mentioned the secondary. The addition of Terrance Brooks changes everything. He is athletic, he is can quite literally do it all. Brooks, most importantly, is the perfect complement to Matt Elam. Elam is best in the box and is surprisingly effective against tight ends in man coverage. Now that Brooks is the traditional deep third safety, Elam can roam around more freely. I could see the Ravens trying to use Elam in a Troy Polamalou type role. The Ravens have to top tier corners in Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb. Dean Pees likes to mix coverages playing a lot of cover 3 and man coverage. Asa Jackson is the most likely player to assume the Nickel position, but don’t rule out Chykie Brown. Against teams with great slot receivers, Webb can cover the slot. He is also a great blitzer when in the nickel back alignment.

The Ravens pass rush was far too pedestrian in 2013. They depended solely on Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervile off the edges. Darryl Smith and CJ Mosley are both great blitzers from the inside. Expect the Ravens to use timely blitzes to get offenses off the field. I like the idea of using Terrell Suggs as a spinner (moving him around to blitz from multiple locations). I also believe that the Ravens could use more stunts. Matt Elam could become a great blitzing strong safety especially if the Ravens use him more in the box.

I don’t see any holes in the Ravens defensive depth chart. With lots of depth and versatile players, they have a chance to dominate.

A Few Notes on Ravens vs Lions

The Ravens are once again in the national spotlight, this time in the form of Monday Night Football. The Ravens go to Detroit for this primetime fight against the Lions. Here are some keys for the Ravens to get just their second road victory this season.

1.) Megatron Is Not Too Old

Matt Elam cannot really think the NFL’s best receiver is too old. Regardless of what he thinks, he gave grade A bulletin board material. Calvin Johnson must be the priority of the Ravens defense.

How do you stop a guy who can bring in the football regardless of the coverage? You do not stop Calvin Johnson, but you can limit his opportunities. Here is my favorite method.

Step 1.) Put your best suited corner on him. Ladarius Webb is the Ravens best corner, but Jimmy Smith is measurably the better matchup. Jimmy Smith has to play tight man coverage but he needs help.

Step 2.) A safety always needs to be over top Calvin Johnson. He can not get behind the safety.

Step 3.) Drop a nickel back or a linebacker in a intermediate outside zone. This will prevent Calvin Johnson from getting “free” or “easy” receptions on inside routes.

2.) Reggie Bush

The Lions have other weapons for quarterback Matthew Stafford then just Calvin Johnson. This is a problematic reality if you accept that you must account for Johnson with 3 players. The 2nd priority is Reggie Bush.

There is perhaps no better receiver at the running back position then Reggie Bush. He is too fast and elusive in the open field for any linebacker or safety.

When he is in the backfield one option is blitzing at him. The purpose of blitzing at Reggie Bush is to make him have to pass protect. If this is effective the Ravens neutralize a weapon from Stafford’s arsenal. There is however a massive risk to this. If Bush has a free release to the route he can burn you.

When he is lined up as a slot receiver, I would not be opposed to putting a nickel back on him. Also Webb is an option, Bush is that dangerous. The Ravens probably need to have a big day from Chykie Brown to win this game.

3.) Protecting Joe Flacco

The Lions defensive line is daunting. Pass protection is going to be huge for the Ravens. If they can keep Joe upright, he should tear apart this secondary.

I have long called for a West Coast attack. I want Joe to be able to systematically and efficiently deliver the mail. This of course will not happen. Like it or not the Ravens are a throw it, and throw it deep kind of offense. This requires pass protection the Ravens don’t have.

The return of Dennis Pitta provides Joe a go to guy ( I refuse to say security blanket. It makes it sound like Joe needs a pacifier. This term only feeds into the mindless Flacco haters. But that is a rant for tonight’s live show at 7:30). Pitta’s return as well as Rice’s improved role in the passing game should help. Flacco now has guys he can hit underneath, no matter what.

Ravens Game Plan Week 11

Ravens Gameplan Week 11 | Chris Schisler

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The Baltimore Ravens go to Chicago on Sunday, and I’m here to get you ready like a pro. I have meticulously gone over the film of the Chicago Bears last two games. Through my studies I have developed both an offensive and defensive gameplan for the Ravens. The purpose of this is twofold. I want you be prepared for what you’ll see on Sunday. The more you know going into the game, the more you’ll pick up on during the game. Secondly I do it because it is my job at Common Sense Football. When I prepare for a game with great intensity I can cover the game better as an analyst. Film study allows me to see what the Ravens did well and what the Ravens could have done better.

Scouting Report: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have a very formidable offense. The Bears have a very strong offensive identity which does not change with backup quarterback Josh McKown under center. The Bears offense is aggressive and sophisticated. This really should not be a shock as former Saints offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer and Marc Trestmen built it. The offensive line is finally solid. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey might be the best receiving duo in football. Martellus Bennett has been a go to guy in the passing game as well and Matt Forte is finally being used correctly.

The Bears know exactly who they are offensively and it shows in their play selection. In the past two games the lions have averaged almost 20 plays a quarter with 5.5 runs per quarter and 13 passes per quarter. Against the Green Bay Packers in week 9 the Bears played 79% of their 72 plays in 11 personnel (1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR). Against the Detroit Lions in week 10 the Bears ran 69% of their 76 plays in 11 personnel.

The Bears love to bring in an extra offensive tackle. Often they will replace Martellus Bennett with the extra tackle. The tackle plays as an eligible receiver but always blocks. It would figure to be a substitution favoring the Bears run game but they call both runs and passes with this look. For the sake of concise charting, I counted the extra offensive tackle as a tight end. The Bears fancy themselves more of a spread out passing team but they run the ball quite effectively. They are not afraid to bring in big run formations to get the job done. The Bears ran 8 plays in 21 personnel (2 backs, 1 TE) in both games. Against the Packers 6 of these plays were passes and against the Lions 5 of these plays were passes. In the Lions game the Bears used both Martellus Bennett and Donte Rosario in 12 personnel much more. The Bears ran 18% of their plays from 12 personnel in this game. It is important to note that a few of these plays the second tight end was the extra offensive tackle.

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For the most part the Bears offense is not very predictable. The Bears run the ball just enough to make you honor the run and play-action; also they use many different formations. They love to stack their wide receiver which makes it hard to cover their very athletic and savvy receivers man to man. They also have a handful of plays that put Marshall and Jeffrey on the same side. This is almost unfair because it can create a one on one matchup for Martellus Bennett on the other side. I can also envision a Forte Wheel route to the other side being deadly.  In the past two games they have used Jeffrey to open up Brandon Marshall; but maybe they will break that tendency if they realize the opponents expect that. The Bears do have a few go to plays that I would expect to see on Sunday. They love to run all verticals and have Forte wide open in the middle of the field. Against the Packers this play went for 33 yards. Another go to play is a quick screen out to Alshon Jeffrey off play-action.

The Chicago Bears defense is banged up and has seen better days. The Bears have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL (I never thought I would say this about Da Bears). There are several reasons why Chicago struggles to stop the run. For starters the defensive line is too aggressive for its own good. They often backdoor plays (Run themselves too far down field and out of the play). This is probably why the draw play was so effective for both the Lions and the Packers. The Packers Eddie Lacey and James Starks embarrassed the Bears. Players were out of position. Major Wright has taken awful angles coming from the secondary, there were issues with gap responsibility and they could not tackle. The Bears are playing with two high of a pad level and they are throwing high arm tackles. The Bears cannot stop the outside run. Their defensive ends (Even Peppers) have not done a good job in run defense. Shea McLellan may be out for the game and linebacker Lance Briggs will not play on Sunday. With an injured Charles Tillman the Bears vaunted secondary is hurting too.

The Bears play mostly a traditional cover 2 but mix coverage up well. When Aaron Rodgers went down in the week 9 Monday Night Football game the Bears put 8 men in the box and made Seneca Wallace try to beat them. This was the intent but the Bears still could not stop the run. Deep inside routes is the way to attack the Bears secondary. In the cover 2 defense the corners play outside technique to funnel receivers into the two deep zones of the safeties. Many times the inside routes are wide open, however Joe should be careful the linebackers play well in zone coverage.

Game Plan Ravens Defense

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The Ravens need to stop the run to win this game. The Bears depend on their running game to set up play-action. Play-action sets up the deep pass and also takes linebackers out of depth so the Bears can throw across the middle of the field to Marshall and Bennett. The Ravens need to be gap sound and they must win up front. If the nose does his job Darryl Smith and Jemeal McClain should be able to make plays in the backfield.

The Ravens need to be physical at the line with these powerful wide receivers. The Ravens pass rush is stellar and McKown can stare down receivers and hold the ball too long. If Baltimore reroutes the receivers at the line it should behoove the pass rush. The Ravens need to move Ladarius Webb around. He is so good in the nickel and he is our best cover corner. If we switch Webb’s responsibility from play to play they will have to account for him on every play. When Webb is the Nickel we need to see him blitz a few times because no one does it better. This will also help our regular pass rushers get free rushes to McKown. The Ravens need to win up front because I want to be able to play our safeties deep. The Bears are a home run hitting offense. We need to make Josh McKown sustain drives to beat us. We cannot give up the big play and must keep everything in front of us. I want two deep safeties however at all times. The Ravens must take away the deep ball, reroute the receivers at the line and blitz the daylights out of McKown. The Bears offensive line is not bad but it has two rookies on the right side. I want to see some overload blitzes to the right side of the offensive line.

Ravens Gameplan Offense

Joe Flacco

If the Ravens offense can’t get the running game going the run game is officially hopeless. The Bears have so many injuries, and they can’t stop the run healthy. The Ravens need to reinvent themselves in this game; better yet they need to remember the physically dominating team they once were. The Ravens are not a team that can play without a fullback. They cannot spread defenses out in 1 back and 3 wide receiver sets because they’re not built to. They cannot protect Flacco with 5 man protections and Ray Rice and Bernard Peirce are horrible at picking up the blitz. Vonta Leach is the answer. The neglected fullback has had next to no time on the field lately and the Ravens offense has struggled mightily. This is the week the Ravens need to admit they were wrong and feature Vonta Leach in 60% of the offense, for both run blocking and pass protection.

The Ravens need to be able to run the football because if they cannot this game is a hopeless cause. The Bears struggle against the outside run and they’re over aggressive. Let’s use an off balanced line. We can do a couple of toss plays to the strong side- get the defense to be overaggressive- call them on it with a counter to the weak side. Let’s put Tyrod Taylor in for some trickeration, let’s do anything we can to get some creativity into the run game. Imagine what could happen if the Ravens could finally run the football. The passing game would open up and play-action would actually serve a purpose.

The Bears defense is vulnerable to inside routes especially the deep dig route. The Ravens need to attack this vulnerability. Chances are the Ravens will not be able to get the run game going. It’s a sad but honest prediction. If you have watched the Ravens at all this year you know the running game has been that bad. The Ravens need to use a handful of draw plays and not just on the few 3rd and 14 plays the Ravens have come to know so well. This as well as screens will take advantage of an overaggressive defensive front.

Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones are the kind of deep threats that should make a Cover 2 defense sweat. Joe Flacco has the kind of rocket launcher deep ball that should strike fear in the hearts of Chicagoans. That said none of these weapons mean anything at all unless the Ravens can start winning the battle up front. Run the ball, protect Joe and good things will happen. This should be the week of offensive explosion for the Baltimore Ravens but it is dependent on a change of philosophy. If the Ravens keep the same strategy they have played their last three ball games with, if they want to spread Chicago out and ignore the best fullback in football, they will lose another close game on the road. If they change and show some creativity in the run game, if the offensive line finds its big boy pants and the Ravens use good route combinations they will win. It is that simple. It really is.

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