Ravens Film Room: BAL Defense vs. Broncos offense
That’ll never get old.
It’s finally here, and it couldn’t come at better time for Baltimore sports fans who are ready for an escape from their baseball counterparts. It’s football season and the Ravens kick things off against a familiar foe in Peyton Manning. Even though his teams have never been a division rival of the Ravens, it seems as if we have seen plenty of him over the years.
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The Broncos offense also adds the Ravens last offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, as head coach. Kubiak runs the offense,but so does Manning. Will the two masterminds be able to co-exist? Will one trust the other, or try to continually overrule the other? Other questions have arisen this preseason about Manning’s ability. He’s throwing a lot of lame duck passes. He’s missing wide open receivers. There was even a report that at times, even in the warm weather, Manning can’t feel his fingertips. Kind of important for gripping the football.
I’ll choose to buy into the notion of Manning’s talents diminishing when I see it happen in more than a couple regular season games in ideal conditions. Manning is still without a doubt the best regular season QB in the game’s history. On that note, lets take a look at what we could see from Manning’s Broncos and what the Ravens defense can do to stop it.
First, a play from the Ravens last matchup with Denver in the 2013 season opener. This is on the Broncos first drive of the game. The Broncos go empty backfield on 3rd and 3, which is something Kubiak is also prone to do. You’ll see the Ravens best CB, Jimmy Smith, is lined up on the Broncos best WR, Demaryius Thomas. The play is designed to give Manning at least three short options to hit in order to move the chains. It looks like Knowshon Moreno’s job is to keep Lardarius Webb from doubling up on Wes Welker. Eric Decker’s job is the same, running at Michael Huff to allow Thomas to win one on one against Smith.
Second, and what’s most important here, is how the Ravens defended this. Look at where all of the pass defenders are. In the hip pockets of their men. Aggressive. Not giving them the chains easily at all. This has been a point of emphasis, and the one major gripe I, and Ravens fans have with Dean Pees. You have talented guys on that side of the ball. This is 3rd and 3 early in the first quarter. Why if it’s the end of a half, or a fourth quarter, he instructs the defense to give space, back on their heels, just don’t get beat deep. Teams pick them apart underneath, when the Ravens can obviously handle being aggressive. Decker is past the chains, and if Huff is giving him plenty of space, he can break that route off right there. If Julius Thomas (middle) is given space, it’s an easy first down.
Manning looks to his best guy, and Smith has him blanketed, bring on the punt team. Pass interference? It wasn’t called. I’ve seen less contact get called. But this is as tight a defense as you can get away away with. It’s what the Ravens need to do in their upcoming matchup to have successful day. Aggressive. Off coverage should be thrown out of the playbook against Manning who eats that up for breakfast.
Now lets take a look at the Broncos in the red zone, more recent, and also familiar. This clip from preseason week 3. Gary Kubiak takes tight end Owen Daniels, with him everywhere he goes. The former Ravens TE is the focus here. 3rd and goal, Manning send Daniels in motion. It gives Demaryius Thomas one on one coverage on the left, and If I was a betting man, my guess would be the fade to him in the back of the endzone. Good thing I am not, because that isn’t where Manning goes.
At the snap, uh oh. San Francisco brings the house blitzing eight guys. now on Manning’s right he has three receivers versus two defenders. Probably the easiest six points Manning could ever earn.
What just happened? Owen Daniels is wide open, and the most academic quarterback missed him. He throws to rookie Cody Latimer, who couldn’t hang onto the ball as the defender stuck a hand in there. Did Manning really just miss that easy of a read? Or did he say, this preseason, I know what Daniels can do, I want to see if I can trust this rookie down here by the end zone?
That was just one example of Kubiak’s expertise of getting his tight end open in the red zone. Lets take a look at a few examples from the Ravens 2014 season with Kubiak calling the shots. First one is week two against the Steelers. Ravens come out in a jumbo set on 2nd and goal. Kyle Juszczyk has gone in motion to the right, putting him, Dennis Pitta, and Crockett Gillmore over there. Looks like a slew of blockers for Bernard Pierce to run behind. The Steelers send all 11 guys…
But the Steelers forgot about Daniels as the lone receiver on the left.
Later in the game, he got wide open again.
In the second game with Pittsburgh, it was Crockett Gillmore.
Needless to say, down inside the ten, don’t sleep on the tight ends. Don’t let Peyton score this easily. It’s not just one single way that he gets his TEs this open. There is no “tell” to pick up. Just, cover them always.
Keys on defense:
Cover the tight ends
Make Manning beat you with the deep ball
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]