For the entirety of my writing career across scattered platforms, my pride as a writer has come in the style and type of report I believe that I do best. I prepare people for games, if I may be allowed say so about myself, very well. In this piece, we here at Full Press Coverage want to prepare you Saints fans (and anyone else) for Sunday’s showdown in Baltimore by getting you up to date with everything you need to know about the Baltimore Ravens. We are going to talk about key match-ups, what you can expect the Saints to do, and predict how the game will go on Sunday.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Ravens Offense You Need To Know About
Here is a quick rundown of all the Ravens offensive players you need to know about to view the information we are about to give you. Also, this key will help you identify key players when you turn on the game this Sunday afternoon.
5 QB Joe Flacco- Joe Flacco has quarterbacked the Ravens ever since being selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft out of Delaware. He has a cannon for an arm, and is one of the tallest quarterbacks in the league at 6’6″. He’s 33 years old, and owns a Super Bowl ring. Despite all of these positives, Flacco is known as one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league. He’s completing 62% of his passes currently, and has thrown 9 touchdowns to 4 interceptions this season with a passer rating of 87.1.
34 RB Alex Collins– Alex Collins is just 24 years old, and is arguably a top 15 running back in the league. He’s a violent, physical runner, very reminiscent of Marshawn Lynch, who played college ball in the SEC wearing an Arkansas uniform. He came into his own last season, becoming the featured running back about halfway through the season. So far this season, he’s averaging 3.6 yards per carry and has run for 271 yards and 4 touchdowns. He offers some receiving threat, and has 9 catches and another score through the air.
37 RB Javorius Allen– The Raven’s third down back, Javorius Allen is a better receiving threat then he is a runner. Allen is big too, standing 6’0″ and 222 pounds, and the Ravens like to use him down by the goal line as well. He’s caught 24 passes and scored 4 touchdowns all year, but is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
15 WR Michael Crabtree– If you have watched the Saints play for years, you may remember Michael Crabtree from his time as a San Francisco 49er. Crabtree has turned 30, but he is still producing at a high level. The number one receiver on this team, he has caught 30 passes so far for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns.
13 WR John Brown- A former Arizona Cardinal, John Brown is a small speedster. Brown is just 5’11” and 175 pounds, now turning 28 and his fifth year in the league. Brown has been productive as well this season, averaging 20.2 yards per catch and scoring 3 touchdowns.
83 WR Willie Snead– This name you should remember. Remember that undrafted receiver that Drew Brees turned into a household name? He’s now catching passes from Joe Flacco, and is producing as the teams third receiver. He’s tied with Crabtree for the team lead in receptions with 30, and has scored a touchdown this year.
TE 87 Maxx Williams
89 Mark Andrews
86 Nick Boyle
81 Hayden Hurst– Yes, this team utilizes four different tight ends on this squad. Maxx Wiliams and Mark Andrews are vertical receiving threats who can spread the defense with good ball skills. Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle are also good receivers, but are better blockers. Hurst missed the first four games to injury, but is back and looked good against the Titans last week. Tight ends on this team have caught 40 of their 59 targets for 410 yards and 1 touchdown.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has done a pretty good job, for the most part, with getting his offense to score points when they have needed to. The Ravens stick to pro style schemes running a smash-mouth type offense with a good balance of spread influence. That hasn’t stopped them from throwing well.
2 Route Schemes
Take this play from the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans. The Ravens like to run a lot of two man route schemes in their own territory as they drive down the field. In today’s pass-eccentric league, why would a team try to do that?
In this case, the Ravens were facing a very good defense in the Tennessee Titans, who generally hold opponents to just three or four scoring drives per game. That means that they had to get the best out of Joe Flacco. Because Flacco is so inconsistent with pressure in his face, the Ravens over protected him and went to an eight man protection. Because the secondary is spread out and there aren’t a lot of receivers attacking down the field, it froze half of the defense.
I know that it sounds funny that professional football players would get stumped by something so simple as a two man route. That’s the thing, sometimes simplifying things on one side of the ball let’s the other side overreact. The defense is trying to figure out how to beat the route combinations, who is covering who, and then trying to protect the back end from a big play. What ends up happening is that the defense overthinks it, and not do what they need to do.
The play has it’s dump off options, two of the blockers (a tight end and the running back) have the option to Fox (that means check to see if they need to block before sneaking out into a route). If the defense defends the two deep routes, Flacco knows that he can extend the play and get it to a check down depending which way he runs to extend the play.
Here’s another example of this two man route scheme, this time against the Cleveland Browns. These formations, to the defense, read run. The double tight end look to the bottom of the screen and bunched receivers to the top. As you can see, Cleveland is anticipating a run with eight defenders creeping into the box.
When the Ravens get you with the two man route scheme, they generally open up the playbook and start giving Flacco more options to throw the football. Here’s another play, against the Titans again.
This is called a Fade Curl pattern. A very common play to help move the sticks is when all of the receivers run curl routes. The curl is a timing route and requires the quarterback to make a pre-snap read and find the proper match-up to attack on the play. When defenses are in zone coverage, the safety will normally see all of the curl routes and freeze, waiting to see where the ball is going to he can make the tackle.
Then, out of the slot, you send a receiver deep away from the safety toward the sideline with a one-on-one match-up. That’s what happened here, and John Brown torched Adoree’ Jackson.
What can we expect the Saints to do on Sunday?
The Saints are going to need to keep things simple. The key here is not to let the offense use the two man routes to move the football. As soon as they get past their own forty yard line, they play more aggressively. That could be a huge key for the Saints secondary in this game.
If it were my game plan, I would play a Tampa Cover Two scheme to start off the game. Marcus Lattimore is expected to be cleared to play this Sunday, and he could make things difficult on Michael Crabtree. I want the safeties to be more involved in covering John Brown and Willie Snead.
Coming off of a bye week, I’m sure that Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Dennis Allen have a plan to defend this offense. They need to be aggressive and keep pressure on Flacco to force bad decisions. If they can do that, this team can move to 5-1 very easily on Sunday.
Prediction – Saints pull it out, 27-17