Content
X

Create Account

Or log in with Facebook

X

Log in

Or log in with Facebook

6 Ravens Questions for the AFC North Guru

By Category

6 Ravens Questions for the AFC North Guru

Knowing as little about the AFC as I do, I checked in earlier this week with a friend of mine, Aviel, who is as hardcore a fan of the Steelers as I am of the Packers. More so, in fact, since she went to the 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Women's Training Camp (dear Packers, please have one of these).  I expect that I'll pick her brain when the Steelers-Packers game approaches, but this week, she offered an AFC North insider's look at the Baltimore Ravens.

From the outside, the 2009 Ravens seem to be more about passing offense than they have been in the past.  What style of football will the Ravens want to play on Monday night?

I think the Ravens at their heart are a running team - the 3 RBs they have work incredibly well together and wear down defenses. But Flacco has a cannon for an arm so he presents another threat to opposing defenses. But he's still young and his game hasn't matured, so I don't think they are quite the throwing offense that maybe he would like them to be.

On offense, we know that the Ravens have several ways to beat you, starting with RB Ray Rice, WR Derrick Mason, and TE Todd Heap.  Who must the Packers shut down in order to put the Ravens off-balance on offense?

The Packers need to shut down Rice early. McGahee doesn't have the power or speed he used to and McClain is a great blocker but Rice is the superstar back of that team. Now when you consider Flacco's arm, if you double cover Mason they've got Washington who has come up with some big catches AND they often hit Rice with a quick screen. Flacco is good, but he's not Peyton Manning and I don't know that they can win with him throwing 30 times, so making Rice a non-factor is going to be critical. What's interesting is with Rice's success, they've abandoned the RB by committee with McGahee and McClain.

On Sunday night, the Steelers seemed to have success running up the gut with Rashard Mendenhall, even with Ray Lewis at LILB.  Is the 2009 Ravens defense all hype and reputation?

YES! Their offense has improved leaps and bounds, but their defense is aging (much like the Steelers) and Ray Lewis isn't the linebacker he once was - he's still the heart and soul of that defense, but Mendenhall was throwing blocks on him and stopping him from getting to Dixon. I think their D is overrated and at 6-5 their record shows it. The Ravens beat us because they dropped into a soft zone with an inexperienced NFL QB - Dixon can't read those defenses and therefore made some critical errors in judgment.

The Packers run a West Coast offense, geared toward screens, slants, hitches, and then, every so often, a long bomb.  Can this type of passing attack work against the Ravens?

I think that type of attack can - as I mentioned, the Baltimore defense is aging. I think more of a passing offense will throw them off - if you look at their losses, most of them are close and came off of mistakes (missed kicks, last minute rallies that didn't come through). But they're not necessarily winning off of Flacco's arm and they're losing to the likes of Brady, Palmer, Favre and Peyton Manning. So, that gives the Packers a good chance with their passing attack. I would watch out for Ed Reed clearly - he's still the second best in the league (behind Troy of course) and probably has more pick 6's than a lot of others in the league (and Baltimore's defense is like a machine when they get an INT).

Rodgers has been sacked more than anyone in the league – by far.  What can we expect from Baltimore’s pass rush, and how can our beleaguered offensive line keep Rodgers from running for his life?

Maybe it's my bias, but I don't see Baltimore's pass rush as being that scary. If the Packers O-line is as beleaguered, then they may have problems - I think getting the ball off quickly with the slants, hot routes and screens will be their best response to anything their D can bring.

Dom Capers created the zone blitz with Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh.  He brought that aggressive scheme to Green Bay, and we’ve begun to see the pieces come together.  Facing Joe Flacco, how can the Packers force him into making poor decisions?

Confuse him - it's still only his second year in the league and he's not able to read complicated defenses. Cover the WRs and Heap tight - Gay and Taylor were playing too far off, leaving guys way wide open with room for catch and run.

Big thanks to Aviel for indulging my curiosity.  We know that the Steelers and Packers Nations will be united on Monday night to cheer the Packers on to victory.  She doesn't have a football blog (yet), but if you have questions for Aviel, you can find her on Twitter.

  1. From the outside, the 2009 Ravens seem to be more about passing offense than they have in the past, where they were good on the ground and dominant on defense.  What style of football would the Ravens like to play? I think the Ravens at their heart are a running team - the 3 RBs they have work incredibly well together and wear down defenses, allowing . But Flacco has a canon for an arm so he presents another threat to opposing defense. But he's still young so his game hasn't matured so I don't think they are quite the throwing offense that maybe he would like them to be.
  2. On offense, we know that the Ravens have several ways to beat you, starting with RB Ray Rice, WR Derrick Mason, and TE Todd Heap.  Who must the Packers shut down in order to put the Ravens off-balance on offense? The Packers need to shut down Rice early. McGahee doesn't have the power or speed he used to and McClain is a great blocker but Rice is the superstar back of that team. Now when you consider Flacco's arm, if you double cover Mason they've got Washington who has come up with some big catches AND they often hit Rice with a quick screen. Flacco is good, but he's not Peyton Manning and I don't know that they can win with him throwing 30 times, so making Rice a non-factor is going to be critical. What's interesting is with Rice's success, they've abandoned the RB by committee with McGahee and McClain.
  3. Last night, the Steelers seemed to have success running up the gut with Rashard Mendenhall, even with Ray Lewis at LILB.  Is the 2009 Ravens defense all hype and reputation? YES! Their offense has improved leaps and bounds, but their defense is aging (much like the Steelers) and Ray Lewis isn't the linebacker he once was - he's still the heart and soul of that defense, but Mendenhall was throwing blocks on him and stopping him from getting to Dixon. I think their D is overrated and at 6-5 their record shows it. The Ravens beat us because they dropped into a soft zone with an inexperienced NFL QB - Dixon can't read those defenses and therefore made some critical errors in judgment.
  4. The Packers run a West Coast offense, geared toward screens, slants, hitches, and then, every so often, a long bomb.  Can this type of passing attack work against the Ravens?  Who should Aaron Rodgers target in coverage?  Who should he avoid at all costs?  I think that type of attack can - as I mentioned, the Baltimore defense is aging. I think more of a passing offense will throw them off - if you look at their losses, most of them are close and came off of mistakes (missed kicks, last minute rallies that didn't come through). But they're not necessarily winning off of Flacco's arm and they're losing to the likes of Brady, Palmer, Favre and Peyton Manning. So, that gives the Packers a good chance with their passing attack. I would watch out for Ed Reed clearly - he's still the second best in the league (behind Troy of course) and probably has more pick 6's than a lot of others in the league (and Baltimore's defense is like a machine when they get an INT).
  5. Rodgers has been sacked more than anyone in the league – by far.  What can we expect from Baltimore’s pass rush, and how can our beleaguered offensive line keep Rodgers from running for his life?  Maybe it's my bias, but I don't see Baltimore's pash rush as being that scary. If the Packers O-line is as beleaguered, then they may have problems - I think getting the ball off quickly with the slants, hot routes and screens will be their best response to anything their D can bring.
  6. Dom Capers created the zone blitz with Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh.  He brought that aggressive scheme to Green Bay, and we’ve begun to see the pieces come together.  Facing Joe Flacco, how can the Packers force him into making poor decisions?  Confuse him - it's still only his second year in the league and he's not able to read complicated defenses. Cover the WRs and Heap tight - Gay and Taylor were playing too far off, leaving guys way wide open with room for catch and run.
  • Like Like
  • 0 points

Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

bucky's picture

Usually, your stuff is really good, so it pains me to take issue with you on this:
<i>The Packers run a West Coast offense, geared toward screens, slants, hitches, and then, every so often, a long bomb. </i>
What offense have you been watching this season? We run the screen much less than we used to (and not nearly as effectively), and we throw deep a hell ofa lot more than "every so often." It's about 25% of our offense.

Baltimore's defense may be aging and hurt, without Terrell Suggs, but they do not suck. They are relentless. Our offense will have to learn to finish every play in order to have success against them.

holly's picture

Yeah, I can accept that, bucky. Maybe I was more hopeful than realistic, but in the last several weeks, that has been what we've seen on the field. I'd rather key off what we've seen (and what's worked) rather than what MM dialed up before Tampa.

Aaron Nagler's picture

bucky - I'm with Holly on this one. Yes, up until the Tampa game it was as you describe. But from the Cowboy game on, it has been EXACTLY as Holly describes it.

bucky's picture

Well, I didn't see the 49er game, so I cannot comment on it. But I did see the Cowboys and Lions games, and I'd hardly agree that "the Packers run a West Coast offense, geared toward screens, slants, hitches, and then, every so often, a long bomb" is an accurate description of those games. I *would* agree that the offense was geared more in that direction than it had been in the past, but that's entirely because we ran nearly zero of those plays up until then.

holly's picture

You haven't seen the 49ers game? You're missing out, bucky. At least make sure you've seen the <a href="http://www.nfl.com/videos/green-bay-packers#week:11,11" rel="nofollow">video highlights</a> -- the first half especially was lovely.

PACKERS.'s picture

This will be the main problem for the Packers. They are used to either playing predominantly running or predominantly passing teams. This year, the Ravens' throw on 46% of their plays and Run on the other 56%. The Pack has got to be a more versatile defense todeal with both scenarios, and we'll need to have excellent play from the safeties. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

bucky's picture

I missed the Niners' game because I was en route to Milwaukee for the holiday.

Sorry.

Log in to comment, upload your game day photos and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.

Or log in with Facebook

Packers Tickets

Quote

"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "