Every week I ask the Baltimore Ravens Flock on Twitter to send me some questions. The theme is Ravens vs. Titans:
Answer: It’s hard to have a lot of confidence in the Baltimore Ravens run defense after the New England Patriots were about 30 yards away from 200 on the ground last week. The Ravens were without Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams, and that’s almost assuredly what they’re dealing with this week.
Stopping Derrick Henry requires a better effort from a shorthanded front seven. Patrick Queen has to bring his A-game and be in unadulterated attack mode. Look at the box score after the game. If the Ravens win this one, Queen has to have 10-15 total tackles. The defensive line has to get more push. It starts with execution, mindset, and attitude. Baltimore has to want it more than Tennessee does.
The real problem is actually Brandon Williams. Without Williams, the Ravens have no real nose guard. The Titans should probably call iso plays up the gut with high frequency. So blitzing the A-gap on running downs isn’t a bad idea. We’ll get to that in a second…
Injuries don’t just hurt the Ravens though, the Titans’ offensive line is a little banged up as well. Roger Saffold, who is their left guard, is listed as out. Their starting center is questionable. The Titans won’t have their full best against the Ravens full best. We’ll have to see where it tilts the matchup, but this could cool down the Titans’ advantage here.
One thing that Don Martindale can do is dialing up run blitzes. Blitzing to stop the run doesn’t get talked about as much as blitzing to crush the passer, yet it’s often just as important. The Ravens can’t let Derrick Henry get a full head of steam. If the defensive line needs help clogging things up, Martindale needs to give them help. Aggressiveness was the answer against the Patriots. Martindale found the antidote too late, yet it was the answer.
I’d rather have the Ravens give up a few play-action passes than see Henry eat this team alive. The key is plugging the gaps, by hook or by crook, and playing hungry and sound. It can be done. We’ll see if it is.