Baltimore Ravens: Battle Plans – Keys to Sweeping Cleveland

As we’ve reached the primary time the Ravens face a divisional opponent for the second time, I’ll must reintroduce to you my format for Battle Plans when this happens. As a substitute of doing a full-blown preview piece, I take a look at the primary time these foes met and ask what either side of the ball ought to begin doing, cease doing and proceed doing primarily based on the primary encounter.

So, right here’s what I believe for this Saturday’s matchup with the now-Deshaun-Watson-led Cleveland Browns.



One factor I requested to see from the Ravens when writing Battle Plans for the Week 7 assembly between these groups was on old style formation with Mark Andrews in Y-ISO. This was to mess with the Browns protection and can be mixed with explicit route mixtures on the non-Andrews facet.

The sport towards the Browns, and different latest video games, reveals the advantage of this method with the Ravens present struggles within the passing sport. Typically Andrews is operating routes into the neighborhood of different Raven receivers. (No, this isn’t a rant about spacing within the Ravens offense, it’s barely totally different.)

Groups know that Andrews is the first receiver, and so they know in the event that they take him away, they’ve an excellent probability of shutting down the Ravens passing sport totally. The Ravens have, at instances, helped these efforts by operating Andrews and the bracket protection following him into the realm the place different receivers is perhaps.

In fact, the Ravens can’t merely isolate Andrews on a regular basis, however they have to be extra deliberate about utilizing him as a decoy.


The Ravens ran an abomination of a Pink Zone play on this sport a number of weeks in the past once they rolled Lamar Jackson out to the left, slicing the sector in half and taking away any actual probability for him to scramble because of the condensed area. The Ravens are having sufficient hassle as it’s within the Pink Zone with out their serving to opponents by giving them even much less floor to need to defend.

It’s quite simple: even with Tyler Huntley at Quarterback, the Ravens shouldn’t be limiting their offense towards this opponent.


The Ravens did two issues nicely that they need to definitely look to proceed Saturday night time towards the Browns. Their protection is decimated by damage within the Linebacker corps and was already not nice up the center, significantly towards the run.

With out Sione Takitaki and now Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, they’re extraordinarily weak up the center and are one of many worst defenses within the NFL stopping the run. The Ravens operating sport with a returning and seemingly wholesome JK Dobbins regarded again to its greatest final week towards a reliable run protection; think about what they might do towards this poor one.

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are nonetheless excellent run defenders, however with such weak point elsewhere, the Ravens will have the ability to focus their scheme and marshal their sources in direction of neutralizing the Browns’ glorious edge defenders. Within the first assembly they did this by pulling Ben Powers and kicking out Garrett, or by bringing Pat Ricard in movement, who’s large enough and athletic sufficient to maintain Clowney from making an influence as a run defender (together with a really odd movement the place Ricard runs on the spot earlier than persevering with his movement on the snap).

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The opposite traditional option to assault the Browns is within the honey gap. The Ravens acquired an early completion to Devin Duvernay on this sport down the sideline into the honey gap, which is excessive of the cornerback however in entrance of the deep security in a Cowl 2. That is one thing I referenced in Battle Plans earlier than the primary assembly, and the Ravens might do with concentrating on it once more on this sport, though that sort of contact throw is one thing at which Lamar Jackson is way more proficient than Huntley.



The “begin doing” for this protection is straight ahead. The Browns ran the ball moderately effectively towards the Ravens in Week 7. Nick Chubb averaged 5.7 yards per carry, however solely rushed 16 instances. Whereas 16 rushes for Chubb was one among his lowest marks within the earlier portion of the season, the Browns haven’t run the ball all that a lot since Watson has been beginning at Quarterback the final two weeks.

Given a few of the struggles they’ve had within the passing sport the previous two weeks, with Watson’s first foray again into the NFL after his lengthy absence, you’d suppose the Browns would need to run the ball some extra to take the strain off Watson. That is Watson’s house debut, and towards a divisional opponent, a wholesome dose of Chubb offers them one of the best probability of popping out with a victory.

I’ve written at size earlier than in Battle Plans in regards to the Browns method to operating the soccer, so I received’t cowl outdated floor right here. What I’ll discuss is how this Ravens staff is much better geared up for stopping most potent operating offenses within the NFL given the personnel turnover that we’ve seen since that Week 7 assembly.

That sport marked the fourth time the Ravens had allowed a staff to hurry for over 100 yards on them. It was additionally the final time this protection was gashed by a speeding offense this season. Since then, they common solely 53 yards allowed on the bottom and no staff has gone over 100 yards.

This could undoubtedly be put down to a few issues that they didn’t have in that first encounter with the Browns.

  1. The acquisition of Roquan Smith has made their protection far stronger up the center and has helped to rework the play of Patrick Queen.
  2. The return of Tyus Bowser from damage has locked down a high-level of play in all aspects of the sport from only one man as an alternative of a committee.
  3. The utilization of Kyle Hamilton extra in and across the line of scrimmage.

All of this has reworked the protection and has allowed them to be much less changeable with their personnel. All three gamers – Smith, Bowser and Hamilton – are versatile and excel in all totally different phases of the sport. Preserving the identical guys on the sector and sustaining the identical stage of play regardless of what they face has been essential.

The Ravens are not run throughout as they attempt to mitigate their losses towards the go with lighter defensive personnel.

In opposition to the Browns this week, this could serve them very nicely.


David Njoku’s lingering damage considerations had been newsworthy for Ravens followers because it appeared to place his standing in jeopardy for this assembly between the Ravens and Browns. Njoku, who hasn’t all the time lived as much as the lofty expectations that his athletic profile had created for him, has all the time appeared to have good video games towards the Ravens and Week 7 was no exception.

The Ravens have been quietly higher at defending Tight Ends this season, 13th best within the league in comparison with being usually within the backside third in latest seasons passed by. However Njoku is a participant on the place to be feared.

The Ravens should cease permitting Njoku to get open shortly as a security valve on possibility routes when the Ravens blitz. As with most issues the Ravens do on protection, Bowser shall be essential for this. I’d even allow them to have one early with Bowser speeding the passer earlier than using the Hearth Zone later with Bowser dropping into protection on Njoku’s facet.

In addition they must sacrifice a few of their capacity to get strain, to get a hand on him on the line of scrimmage; permitting him a free launch didn’t work within the first assembly between these groups.

You’ll see although, that I’m not suggesting an all-out plan to cease Njoku. That’s as a result of the Browns use him nicely as a decoy too. There have been instances in Week 7 when the Ravens had been too fixated on stopping Njoku and the Browns used it to open house for others. Donovan Peoples-Jones is having a quietly good yr, and Amari Cooper is a savvy veteran receiver. The Browns acquired the ball to Cooper deep as soon as when the Ravens had been oversold on an Njoku route throughout the formation.

The Ravens having Marcus Williams again for this sport shall be a bonus for these conditions, and Hamilton’s enhancing play can also be key for stopping Njoku. The Ravens protection appears very totally different, and between all these totally different part components, they need to have the ability to cease Njoku getting such straightforward appears.


One factor the Ravens did exceptionally nicely towards this Cleveland offense by way of stopping the run, was to assault the Heart. The Heart again then was Ethan Pocic, who had been having a profession yr as a run-blocker however this was due extra to using his athleticism in house as a puller. When the Ravens used a few of their glorious Defensive Linemen to get into his pads early when he wasn’t pulling, and rock him backwards, the Browns struggled to get their run sport going. This could have the ability to be the case towards Hjalte Froholdt too, who ought to be the Heart on Saturday.

Wyatt Teller being again for this sport does complicate this method considerably, however the Ravens might want to set a tough edge anyway, which they definitely did within the earlier assembly between the groups. Calais Campbell was significantly vital on this regard and the Ravens will want that once more this week. That ought to give Smith and Queen one of the best probability to make performs within the backfield.