Breaking down run defense: Baltimore Ravens vs. Derrick Henry
So the Baltimore Ravens have to stop Derrick Henry? Let’s look at the problem:
Before we get into anything with the Ravens you have to give credit where it is due. The purple and black aren’t the first team to struggle with the Heisman Trophy-winning running back from Alabama. Derrick Henry is arguably in the middle of a Pro Football Hall of Fame-worthy career. He picked up over 2,000 yards this season.
Henry was held under 100 yards rushing five times this season. The Buffalo Bills held him to 57 yards but they don’t care because they lost 42-17. The Jacksonville Jaguars held Henry to 84 yards in a game Tennessee won 33-30. Pittsburgh kept him to 75 yards on the ground and the Chicago Bears had similar success limiting him to 68 yards. Finally, the Green Bay Packers only gave up 98 yards.
The Jaguars game doesn’t make much sense because Henry ran the rock 25 times and the Jaguars don’t exactly stop anything well. The Bills game is a weird one, you almost have to think that if these teams played now the score would be reversed. The Packers game doesn’t matter, it shows you that Henry will still have a fairly productive day one way or another but running up the score doesn’t hurt.
The Steelers game applies to the Ravens because they have a very similar defense. What do the Steelers have on defense? The Steelers starting defense is a lot like the Ravens when it is healthy. Cam Heyward fills the Calais Campbell type. Tyson Alualu is similar to Brandon Williams. He does the dirty work on the defensive line. Stephon Tuitt is a thicker framed Derek Wolfe. This is where it starts.
Against the Titans, Heyward had two tackles. Alualu and Tuitt both had one. They earned their paycheck and then some. They weren’t there to make the plays but rather to make the plays possible for their defense. They clogged up the gaps in between the offensive linemen. Gap sound defense with aggressive linebacker play never allowed Henry a full head of steam.
What do the Bears have on defense? They have a great and almost immovable nose guard in Bilal Nichols. Akeem Hicks and former Raven Brent Urban, make a very similar starting three defensive linemen as Baltimore and Pittsburgh have. They have players that fit the billing.