NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Many NFL pundits have had trouble diagnosing the Ravens and more importantly, how they’ve changed from last year’s record-setting offense.
The 6-3 AFC North team has lost two of their last three and injuries continue to mount.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has 10 days to scout the team they handed the most surprising upset loss of last year’s playoffs and here’s what he had to say about this year’s Ravens:
“Excellent group. They’re pretty much consistent on what they’re doing with each back. Their skill sets are fairly similar. I think that most of the plays are similar concepts, or the same, so I think they are they will appear interchangeable. They’re usually utilizing them all. They’re all playing. They’re all getting carries and it’s a huge challenge. It’s a huge challenge to stop the running game and those guys are downhill runners, good vision. They’ve all taken care of the football. It’s going to be a challenge for us to not only stop them but the quarterback and anybody else they may hand it to.”
Greg Roman’s offense relies heavily on the run-game and spreading the ball to different offensive play-makers. Vrabel discussed their usage of the option and misdirection.
“I think that you prepare for option football with alignments and assignments, and obviously run to the football and the way that you tackle, but it’s not all option football. The runners, they play all three guys. Lamar (Jackson) is a huge part of what they do. They’re very good at running the football and they use the quarterback as a large piece of that having 90 carries. Some of those are scrambles and play extension, but it just comes down to alignment and assignment and the execution.”
Vrabel’s squad has struggled throughout the season getting to the quarterback, but against an athletic quarterback like Lamar Jackson, limiting his mobility is crucial.
“I think it’s just how you affect them. Guys try to tip the ball, he does a great job of arm angle, he doesn’t care. There’s free rushers all over the place. People run blitz zero and there’s a free rusher inside or outside, and it doesn’t bother him one bit. He either pumps them and takes off and runs or just steps up and delivers a ball. He does (have) a lot of confidence in what he’s doing. Trying to find ways to disrupt him is going to be critical. Try to get him on the ground. Not diving. Not trying to kill him. Not trying to go for a big hit, but just trying to have the ability to somehow get him on the ground.”
Jackson’s explosive plays have been limited this season compared to his MVP campaign in 2019.
“I think that’s misleading. It’s still scary. He still goes 60 or whatever he went on third down against the Eagles, and then just watching him in the red zone go scramble 20 yards in two seconds against the Steelers for a touchdown up the middle. Just seems like he goes as far as he has to. I don’t see any difference. Still explosive, still very talented. We’re going to have to get a lot of people around him and make sure that we’re staying on our feet and try to try to get him down.”
This Ravens team is used to playing with a lead and it’s where they’re most comfortable. When you see the stat that Jackson is 0-6 when trailing by 10, the first thought is to get off to a fast start.
“They start fast. This is a team that plays with a lot of speed. You turn the ball over, they’re capitalizing. They’re leading their football games 143 to 83 in the first half, so they’re building a substantial lead by the average. That allows them to play to their strengths, run the football and pressure the quarterback, pressure meaning mistakes, interceptions, sacks, long-yardage situation.”