1.) Combating a quick front seven: Although New York has an undersized front seven, it is a group that's active and quick. Ends Shaun Ellis and John Abraham form one of the top pass rush duos in the league; Dwayne Robertson is an emerging player at the three-technique defensive tackle position; and the linebacker core, led by rookie Jonathan Vilma, completes a swift trio.
One of the issues that an offense faces when matching up against such a fast front seven is being able to gain positive yardage consistently. There will be times when the linebackers or the lineman get penetration using their quickness, and the result is a play that ends behind the line of scrimmage.
What the Ravens must do is try to take advantage of New York's over aggressiveness, by running plays that will force the Jet defenders to read and react before making a move to stop the ball carrier. Specifically, the Ravens can run some misdirection running plays and waggle passing plays to get New York's front seven flowing in the opposite direction of where the play actually develops.
2.) Throwing behind the zone defense: One of the ways to attack a cover two scheme is to throw the football down the middle of the field, behind the linebackers. Without Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, the Ravens may not be able to attack the inside voids as they might have if he were in the lineup. None the less, the Ravens have a couple of capable, solid inside route runners in Randy Hymes and Daniel Wilcox who can gain yardage in that area of the field, so more crossing, square in and slant patterns should be utilized.
3.) Force feeding the ball to No.31: After receiving less carries than he may normally receive in a given game, look for Jamal Lewis to carry the rock 25-to-30 times against New York's defense. The key to attacking a fast flow defense like that of the Jets is to run north/south, not east/west. The Ravens should have more success using Lewis in isolation running plays up the middle, where the Raven lineman can be in position to reach the second layer of the Jets' defense.
If Lewis is given the chance to carry the ball in heavy doses in the second half of Sunday's game, he and the Ravens' offensive line should be able to wear down New York's front seven.
Defensive Game Plan
1.) Keeping Carter in the pocket: With Quincy Carter at the controls of Jets' offense as opposed to Chad Pennington, New York may run less West Coast offensive passing plays that are based on timing and rhythm. Carter is at his best when he is outside of the pocket, when he has the chance to throw the ball on the run, or use his scrambling ability to keep the chains moving.
Moreover, Carter is not that adept at scanning a defense while he is in the pocket, which is why he executed a lot of bootleg and waggle pass plays at Dallas, which requires the quarterback to make one or two reads instead of four or five.
The Ravens must not allow Carter to be a playmaker. They must force him to be a successful pocket passer. One of the ways to dictate this role to Carter is to blitz less, relying more on a controlled four or five man rush to apply pressure up front. The Ravens can also show blitz before the snap, but pull back, forcing Carter to make an improper hot read at the line of scrimmage.
2.) Stopping the Jets' rushing attack: In a game like this, where a new quarterback is taking over the reigns, it is paramount that the Ravens stop a very good Jets' rushing attack so that the Jets are forced to be a one-dimensional offense. New York's running scheme is similar to that of the Kansas City Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams. The blocking schemes are complex, as New York uses a lot of perimeter running plays to spring Curtis Martin loose. The Jet interior lineman are as good as any in the league at getting out in space to block second level defenders, while offensive tackles Kareem McKenzie and Jason Fabini do a nice job of holding up the edges in enough time to allow Martin to make his cuts.
Discipline will be required to defend the Jets' rushing attacking. All of the Raven defenders up front will need to stick with their assignments. Up front, it will be important for the Raven lineman to get off their blocks, or if they are not being blocked, stop Martin in the backfield before he has the chance to veer off tackle.
One-on-One Battle to Watch
Kelly Gregg versus Kevin Mawae: This is a battle between two of the better players at their respective positions. Mawae is a future hall of famer, and even at the age of 33, he is still regarded as the best center in the NFL. Mawae is not the biggest player, but he uses great technique to win leverage battles at the point of attack, and he is simply the best pulling lineman in the league. Gregg is also an under dog in the size department, but he also possesses great fundamentals, and he will fight through every block until the play is blown dead. Although beating Mawae is a daunting task, Gregg must hold his own for the Ravens to have success against the Jets' rushing attack.