1. The Ravens MUST contain Adrian Peterson
Let’s be honest the Ravens defense was manhandled last week against the Bengals; I don’t think they were prepared for the physicality or dedication to the run that the Bengals came out with Sunday. The Ravens are going to have to be more physical and stout at the point of attack if they want to have any shot at containing Adrian Peterson. Another major goal has to be for the Ravens to prevent Peterson from getting into the secondary, with the poor tacklers in our secondary if Peterson gets to the second level he is going to take it to the house.
2. The Ravens MUST utilize the screen pass
No play combats an aggressive pass rusher more than the screen pass. With Jared Allen attacking the quarterback like a rabid dog on every play, a few well timed screens could turn into huge gains for the Ravens offense. Ray Rice really seems to be coming into his own in the passing game and the Ravens and Cam Cameron look like they are going to get him the ball as often as possible via the screen pass.
3. The Ravens secondary MUST stop somebody
Teams have begun to openly pick on Domonique Foxworth and they have had great success doing so. I never believed that Foxworth was a “shutdown” corner but I did believe he could be a serviceable part of a decent secondary. So far he hasn’t managed any positive contributions in the first five games of his Ravens career.
Our corners have two things that make their job harder than people may think; one of which has been greatly debated while the other may make some Ravens fans very angry.
The first is that the Ravens have put a lot of strain on their corners by not getting enough pressure on the opposing quarterback. Even the most pedestrian wide receiver can get open when they have five or six seconds to run around.
The second thing is Ed Reed. Let me begin by saying I love Ed Reed but his style of play puts a lot of added pressure on average corners. Reed’s risk taking, gambling style pulls him out of position often and leaves his corners with no help over the top.
In the end I think Ed Reed’s big play ability is too valuable to take away from our defense, so it looks like Greg Mattison is going to have to release the hounds.
4. The wide receivers MUST get involved
It is completely unacceptable for the best possession receiver in football to go without a catch; but that is exactly what happened on Sunday with Derrick Mason. Mason must do a better job of getting open and Joe Flacco is going to have to do a better job of finding him once he gets open. I do understand that Derrick has some physical limitations due to his lack of elite size and speed but his amazing route running allow him to get open even against the best corners. It seems like on most of the Ravens long, time consuming drives Flacco has found Mason early and often.
If teams decide they are going to do everything in their power to stop Mason then Kelly Washington and Mark Clayton have to pick up the slack. It’s obvious the Ravens lack and elite wide receiver but they do have an elite quarterback and his wide receivers must step up and help him continue his growth.
I’m not as confident this week as I had been in weeks past that the Ravens are going to pull out a victory. That said I am taking the Ravens to beat the Vikings 23-20; with two touchdowns by Joe Flacco including one to Todd Heap.