If the Ravens are to succeed running the ball, they may not want to come right at the Jaguars front seven, at least not initially.
Jacksonville is a blitzing team that likes to get up field in a hurry. This type of attack can hurt the Ravens' ability to run the ball because the Jaguar defenders have the quickness and speed to get into the backfield before Lewis can get started.
However, if the Ravens run draws, delays and toss sweeps to the corner, they should be able to use the Jaguars' aggressiveness against them.
2. Screen passes and Shovel passes: As was noted above, the Jaguars are an aggressive team and they won't sit back in coverage as they have the last couple of years. Again, offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh must take advantage of the holes that should unfurl when the Jags bring blitzers off the corner and use their tackles to get a push up the middle.
Utilizing the screen pass in the flat properly will slow down the Jaguars' aggressiveness, if the blockers can get in space on time.
To counter attack the up field pass rush that the Jaguars' young defensive tackles, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud establish quite well, quarterback Chris Redman should throw a couple of shovel passes here or there, preferably on obvious passing downs.
3. Big passing plays can be had: Quarterback Chris Redman tried to sit back last week and cut through the zone defense of Indianapolis, but he was only successful at penetrating passes through the middle of the field.
This week, look for the outside to open up some. The corners from Jacksonville usually play a good amount of man to man defense, relying on the safeties to cover their tracks if the wideouts get past them. If the Raven receivers can get off the line of scrimmage in time, and Redman is accurate enough, he'll get his chances to throw over the top of the corners in coverage before the safeties can come over to help.
Defense Three Defensive Keys to Victory:
1. Containment in the lanes: The Ravens' rush defense, which is ranked eighth in NFL, will have its stiffest test on Sunday against tailback Fred Taylor. Taylor has the speed, elusiveness and cutback ability to carve up an aggressive Ravens' front seven.
It will be imperative for the Raven linebackers to keep their shoulders square when Taylor darts off tackle, and not let him run passed them and through a crease. The Ravens have to force Taylor to challenge them head on, and there must not be any missed tackles by Ravens defenders on Sunday.
Frankly, one or two missed tackles will lead to huge gains produced by the homerun hitting tailback.
2. Pressure off the edges: In years past, when Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator, you could expect to see the blitz used sparingly against Jacksonville's high powered offense. That won't be the case this year, as current defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will likely use a contained blitzing pass rush from all angles on most passing downs.
If the Ravens are to have a successful day getting after quarterback Mark Brunell, they must attack him from the right and left side, forcing him to step up in the pocket. The formula to force that type of pressure is there, as Michael McCrary will go up against rookie left tackle Mike Pearson and Peter Boulware will line up against right tackle Zach Wiegert.