Battle Plans against Cleveland

Offense: Three Offensive Keys to Victory: 1. Left side edge: Against the Browns, the point of attack will be on the left side of the line, where Jonathan Ogden and Edwin Mulitalo have a massive advantage over Tyrone Rogers and Orpheus Roye.

The Ravens will look to wear the duo out as the game progresses. Baltimore will also try to exploit linebacker Earl Holmes' lack of sideline to sideline speed.

 

Ogden and Mulitalo, in addition to center Mike Flynn, need to successfully pull off the left side in both running situations and when Blake executes the screen pass, a new staple in the Ravens' offensive playbook.

 

Ogden, who is one of the best run blocking tackles in the game, will likely have the responsibility of taking out two defenders in succession when Lewis gets the chance to run the ball off the edge.

 

In order for the screen passes to work, center Mike Flynn will have to slow down Gerard Warren just enough so he can give Jeff Blake sufficient space to complete the pass, and both Flynn and Mulitalo mustn't let any of the linebackers slip through to disrupt the timing of the play.

 

2. Two tight end sets: The Ravens have deployed a two tight end successfully over the last couple of weeks. Todd Heap, who is making his first Pro Bowl appearance this year, is one of the top three pass catching tight ends in the league. He's a smooth route runner, is a fundamentally sound pass catcher, has the speed to separate down the field unlike any other tight end besides Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe at his peek, and he's a load after the catch.

 

Heap's counterpart, Terry Jones, brings more physicality and blocking prowess to the table. Given more time, Jones should continue to improve his pass catching skills in the middle of the field, where there is much more traffic to deal with.


Between the two of them, the Ravens have the best young tight end duo the in the league.

 

Cleveland will undoubtedly look to shutdown Heap, most likely using both a safety and a linebacker to keep him in check. With the extra coverage rolled over to Heap, Jones will need to make plays, and if he does, the Ravens' passing offense should open up down the field.

 

3. Taking your shots: The Browns will likely try to take away the Ravens' short passing game, especially if Heap and Jones can snatch some passes in the middle of the field early and often.


In all likelihood, the Ravens will have to look towards going vertical off of play-action fakes, preferably close to the right and left sides of the field.

 

Blake is fairly accurate in the deep passing game, especially when compared to his intermediate accuracy, and he has a strong arm.

 

The key will be if the Raven wideouts can separate down the field like they did in their last matchup against Cleveland, when Brandon Stokley caught two touchdown passes from Chris Redman.

 

This time, the Raven receivers will have to keep on holding onto the ball when it comes their way like they did against the Texans last Sunday.

 

Defense Three Defensive Keys to Victory:

 

1. Pressuring Couch: Getting as much pressure as the Ravens did against Tim Couch in October will be much trickier.


In the first matchup, the Ravens sat on Couch's short routes and forced him to throw the ball deep. Without the help of a solid running game to keep
Baltimore' defense honest, Couch wilted against the Ravens' blitz.

 

This time though, the Browns have more confidence in their ground attack, so Couch will use a lot more play-action fakes to freeze the safeties and linebackers from getting into coverage.


Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will have to use a confined five man pass rush, where the backers are stunting up the middle, to flush Couch out of the pocket.  

 

2. Watch for the spread: Without Dennis Northcutt in their lineup, the Browns' passing attack will pack a slightly weaker punch.


However, the Browns still have three solid wideouts with speed in Quincy Morgan, Kevin Johnson and Andre Davis.

 

The trio will be deployed vertically often, testing corners Chris McAlister, Gary Baxter and James Trapp in coverage.

 

Although the Ravens will play a two deep zone to negate the Browns' long passes, safeties Ed Reed and Anthony Mitchell will have to break on Couch's passes extremely quickly, or else he will still hit his receivers in stride.


In addition to dealing with the Browns' wideouts, the Ravens must also be aware of the presence of running back Jamel White, who could be used as a flanker in space. If White is matched up against the Ravens' outside backers, Couch will look to hit him deep.

3. Off the edge run support: The Ravens aren't the only team that will look to establish their running game off the edges.


Cleveland now has a viable rushing attack, as rookie William Green has emerged as their go to tailback.


With Green and White, the Browns will hammer the ball off the edge, and they will also use plenty of counters as well. The Ravens have had problems with defending the perimeter running game all season, because end Adalius Thomas and nose tackle Kelly Gregg can be turned on an angle, opening up a crease for the running backs to scamper through.


Both players must do a better job of holding their ground against
Cleveland. In addition, the linebackers must fill their gaps, stay square and the safeties must not over pursue coming off the weak and strong sides.

 

Two battles you have to watch:

 

Robert Griffith versus Todd Heap: Griffith will be the Ravens No.1 target the exploit in the passing game. While Griffith is a tremendous run stuffing safety, who's also a thumper over the middle of the field, he's slow and stiff in man to man coverage situations. Look for the Browns to help Griffith when he is matched up against Heap, by using a linebacker to stay in front of the pass catcher. Still, the Ravens know that Heap can leap over double teams to catch a pass, so even if the Browns have two men covering the Pro Bowl tight end down the field, Jeff Blake will loft the ball high enough to allow Heap to make a play on the ball.

 

Kenard Lang versus Ethan Brooks: When these two battled each other in the fifth week of the season, Brooks came out on top, as he held Lang to zero pressures, hurries and sacks recorded. Still, Lang is known more for his ability to stop the run than his ability to rush the passer off the edge. Brooks is a mediocre right tackle at best, and his strength is not as a run blocker. The Ravens will not look to run the ball of his side; so once again, Brooks' main responsibility will be to shadow Lang and to pick up the blitz off the right side.


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