Battle Plans against Denver

Offensive and Defensive Keys to the Victory: Offense: When the Ravens moved right tackle Edwin Mulitalo back to left guard, they essentially put up the alarm signals that they were going to reestablish their running game. But the Ravens could run their way into a stone wall when they face the Denver Broncos this Monday Night, who have the No.1 run defense in the NFL.

If the offense is to succeed, they will need to establish an early lead and a passing game to help open up lanes for running Jamal Lewis to slash through.


To do this, it might not be a bad idea to run a no huddle offense to keep the Broncos' hefty defensive tackles (Chester McGlockton and Lional Dalton) on the field for as long as possible. The Broncos rely on substituting their defensive lineman to keep them fresh, so running a quick offense could tire out their players some.  


Chris Redman would have to be on top of his game to have this game plan work. He'd have to scan the field quickly, find the void in the middle of Denver's two deep zone and take what the defense gives him. The Ravens would also do well to instruct Redman to get rid of the ball quickly. If someone isn't open, Redman shouldn't force a pass into double coverage.


And for the second week in a row, Todd Heap should be used as a weapon to stretch the field and to force either safety to help cover him down the middle. If he isn't involved in the game plan, something will be wrong.

If Redman can find a rhythm throwing the ball, then they can use Lewis to loosen up the Broncos' stingy run defense some in the second half.


The only place the Ravens can successfully attack the Broncos' line is on the right side, where undersized Reggie Hayward and Keith Washington rotate, while manning the position.


Defense: With all due respect to Tampa Bay and Carolina, the Broncos will easily be the Ravens' biggest offensive test this season.


Denver can pretty much do it all. They can control the line of scrimmage by running down your throats with tailbacks Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Olandis Gary. They can hammer a zone defense by deploying tight ends Shannon Sharpe and Dwayne Carswell down the middle of the field.


If you play receivers Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey man to man, they are savvy enough to get open over the top. And unlike the receivers from Tampa, these guys can gain yards after contact pretty consistently.


They've also got a blazing third wideout in Ashley Lelie, who is better than any nickel/dime corner the Ravens can put out there to cover him.


The only hope for the defense is applying constant pressure against the pass through a variety of blitzes and stunts. If the Ravens can get pressure on quarterback Brian Griese, hitting him early and often, he may not be able to handle the heat consistently.  

Simply put: the Ravens cannot hold the Broncos down without getting forcing 1-2 turnovers.


If Griese is given too much time to throw, he should be able to pick apart the Ravens' zone defense.


Two battles you have to watch:


Jamal Lewis versus Al Wilson: Wilson and Lewis know each other pretty well. The two were teammates and roommates at Tennessee University, and are still friends off the field. Two years ago in Baltimore, Lewis ran over Wilson, the Broncos' inside linebacker, in a 21-3 blowout in the divisional round of the playoffs. This time though, Wilson will have some room to roam with 300-pounders Lional Dalton and Chester McGlocton eating up blockers in front of him. Expect Lewis to run into his former teammate quite frequently on Monday.


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