Dev's Battle Plans: Ravens at Lions

Every week, long time Ravens Insider site staffer and all-round Ravens guru Dev Panchwagh will break down the Ravens' strategy for the upcoming game. This week the Ravens travel to Detroit to meet the Lions.

Offensive Keys:

1.) Perimeter runs: The key to successfully running the football against Detroit is to get the defensive tackle tandem of Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkerson blocked or to run away from them. The duo forms a massive 700 pound barricade in the interior of the Lions' defensive line. For the Ravens to have success running the football against the Lions' front seven, they must use more of a perimeter rushing attack geared towards getting Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor to carry the ball off tackle or to cut back off the left side if the backside is sealed off.

In addition, using the counter and trap run plays off the right or left side is a good way to not only run away from the big boy duo, but to force both tackles to chase the run from sideline-to-sideline.

2.) Size advantage: Dre' Bly and Andre' Goodman are cover corners with good speed and play-making instincts, but they lack the size and strength to match-up against physical wideout who can out-muscle them for the football. Against Bly and Goodman, the Ravens should use Todd Heap and Clarence Moore to match-up against the corners in man coverage situations on the outside. Heap and Moore may not have the speed to get behind either cornerback, but they have the length and leaping ability to snag the ball away from them on comeback and jump routes.

Defensive Keys:

1.) Disrupting the rhythm passing game: The best way to fluster Joey Harrington is to force him to hold the ball longer than he needs to. Over the last couple of years, Harrington has dealt with a lot of pressure in his face, and although he has been able to get rid of the football, the timing of his throws is usually not in-sync with where his receivers are supposed to be.

The best way for the Ravens to disrupt the timing and rhythm of the Lions' passing attack is to jam the Lion receivers at the line-of-scrimmage and to bring a heavy pass-rush, preferably off the edges, as the Lions exterior pass-protection is more susceptible to breaking down than the interior.

2.) Checking Marcus Pollard: In order to compensate for the loss of Charles Rogers, Harrington may lean on Pollard more. Pollard has already been one of Harrington's favorite targets so far this season. The tight-end has the speed to get down the seams, and the size and awareness to make tough catches in the middle of the field.

Pollard must be accounted for, especially in third-down situations when Harrington could be looking for an out. If Pollard is covered, Harrington may have to turn to another safety valve in critical conversion situations.

3.) Protect against Jones' big-play ability: Defenses have emphasized shutting down Kevin Jones and the Lions' rushing attack all season, which is why Jones has been off to such a slow start. Last week against Tampa Bay, Jones rushed for 38 yards on 12 carries.

The Ravens have been dominant against the run so far this season. Last week against the Jets, the Ravens stuffed Curtis Martin and dared Brooks Bollinger to defeat them, and that type of game-plan will be employed against Jones.

Not only do the Ravens need to shut-down Jones, but they also have to make sure that he does not rip off any long gains. Jones has the speed to go the distance if he has a clear lane to run through. Once he gets past the first line of defense, he is nearly impossible to contain in the open field.

The defensive line must cause havoc at the line-of-scrimmage and the linebackers have to tackle Jones if he is able to get passed the line.

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Dev Panchwagh is a long-time member of the Ravens Insider staff.  Talk to him about this article on the RavensInsider message boards where he posts under the super-secret ID 'dev21'.

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