Tag Archive | "albert mcclellan"

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A. Jones, McClellan sign tenders for 2013 season

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens continued to make moves to bolster their defense, two incumbent members of their Super Bowl team officially signed their respective tenders on Wednesday.

Defensive lineman Arthur Jones signed his second-round tender worth $2.02 million for the 2013 season. This means that other teams may no longer negotiate with Jones in an effort to sign him to an offer sheet and potentially pluck him away from Baltimore.

In his third NFL season, Jones emerged as a viable threat along the defensive line as he made six starts and finished the year with 47 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks. He will compete with veteran free-agent additions Chris Canty and Marcuse Spears for playing time along the defensive line as it’s been speculated that Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will move inside to play more nose tackle this season.

After taking Jones in the fifth round of the 2010 draft from Syracuse, the Ravens could still explore a contract extension for the 6-foot-3, 315-pound lineman as he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 season.

Linebacker Albert McClellan also signed his exclusive-rights tender on Wednesday, which was only a formality considering players with less than three accrued seasons own no negotiating rights. Often overshadowed by teammates, McClellan started 12 games at the strong-side linebacker position this season, finishing with 42 tackles and one sack.

A rookie free agent from Marshall who spent the 2010 season on the practice squad, McClellan is an underrated member of the Baltimore defense with versatility that includes the ability to play all four linebacker positions. Coach John Harbaugh told reporters at the league meetings in Arizona last week that the Ravens may elect to have McClellan focus on the inside linebacker position due to the exits of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.

McClellan is also one of the best special-teams players on the roster, finishing with seven special-teams tackles and a forced fumble in 2012.

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Faltering against 49ers offense no option for Ravens

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Faltering against 49ers offense no option for Ravens

Posted on 30 January 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — After toppling two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks on their way to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, the Ravens defense now faces a different challenge entirely.

As unconventional as an offense comes in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers reinvented themselves in the second half of the season, utilizing the pistol read-option attack behind second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. A once-conservative offense that relied heavily on the shoulders of running back Frank Gore has now become a dynamic one, scoring a combined 73 points in playoff wins over Green Bay and Atlanta to give the 49ers their first Super Bowl berth in 18 years.

Whether the pistol formation is the latest flavor of the month or not is irrelevant as it pertains to Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday, but coach John Harbaugh sees lasting appeal in the possibilities the formation provides. The Ravens certainly aren’t treating it like a gimmick after falling to a similar attack that was run by the Washington Redskins in Week 14.

“You can run your whole offense on it. You aren’t limited to an option type attack out of it,” Harbaugh said. “Not just the entire run game but the entire pass game as well. The backs get position to protect. You can run all your drop back stuff, you can run power run game inside and outside, and you can run read option, triple option. So it’s just a very versatile-type offense and it forces you to defend a lot of different elements of the offensive attack.”

The Ravens struggled against the Redskins’ version of the pistol formation, which featured Robert Griffin III, a shiftier runner than the bigger Kaepernick who relies more on his impressive straight-line speed. In the 31-28 overtime loss on Dec. 9, the Ravens allowed 179 rushing yards on 35 carries but were playing without linebackers Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Dannell Ellerbe.

San Francisco’s preference for getting Kaepernick to the edge will provide a challenge to Lewis, who struggles when trying to play outside the tackles, but the 37-year-old’s cerebral presence should offer a boost in trying to accomplish what opposing defenses have failed to do against Kaepernick since he took over for former Alex Smith in the middle of the season.

“A lot of people who played against them just never communicated at all,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “I believe that’s one of the advantages of what we have as a defense. We do a job of communicating real very well, whether you have the dive, whether you have the quarterback. It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals. You have to play it as a group. The only way to slow it down is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

A major key echoed by numerous defensive players has been patience in believing in individual assignments and carrying out jobs within the defense. Against Washington, the Ravens used unblocked defenders largely to attack the backfield, but staying under control and reacting to Kaepernick by forcing him to either hand off to the back or to keep the ball himself inside will be the wisest choice.

It’s a fine balance between being too aggressive and getting caught on your heels against a physical offensive line and talented running backs Gore and LaMichael James. The blocking angles and hand-offs from the pistol formation simply provide looks defenders aren’t familiar in dealing with on a weekly basis. Of course, an extra week of preparation will be beneficial to a Baltimore defense that was on the field extensively in its three playoff wins prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“You can’t force it. You’ve got to be patient,” linebacker Albert McClellan said. “You can’t be too patient though, so you have to kind of be on the edge. You’ve just got to have good eyes. Do your job — don’t try to do somebody else’s job. Once you miss your assignment, that’s when the triple-option and the pistol pretty much take advantage of you. You do your job and everybody’s assigned a man, things will work out.”

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will rely on rush linebacker Terrell Suggs and the combination of Courtney Upshaw, Paul Kruger, and Albert McClellan at the strongside linebacker position to maintain the edges, coaxing Kaepernick to settle for inside hand-offs to Gore and preventing the mobile quarterback from getting free into open space to utilize his great speed. The 49ers prefer to run behind left tackle Joe Staley when they aren’t rushing up the middle, which will put pressure on Suggs to make plays against the run like he did in the Denver game when he finished with 10 solo tackles.

Forcing Kaepernick to settle for the inside hand-off will put plenty of responsibility on the Baltimore defensive line, a unit that struggled much of the season due to injuries but has played well in the postseason. The Ravens contained a strong Denver running game and put pressure on Peyton Manning in the divisional round and hounded Tom Brady in the second half of the AFC Championship.

The combination of Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Terrence Cody at the nose tackle position will have a major chore in controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing Lewis and Ellerbe to clean up against Gore’s inside runs.

“Assignment football. Being where you are supposed to be without failure,” defensive line coach Clarence Brooks said. “Right gap, right responsibility on the run, right foot on the blocking schemes, disciplined pass-rushing lanes. Assignment football, being where you’re supposed to be and doing your job. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”

Even if the Ravens play their assignments to perfection, Kaepernick’s big-play ability may not be completely avoidable as he has proven to be a prolific passer, utilizing tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Michael Crabtree with great effectiveness. Still, the second-year signal-caller’s legs are the biggest concern after the Ravens were able to handle two top — but also one-dimensional — passers in their last two wins.

“You get through it and everybody knows what to do, and then all of a sudden, the guy pulls the ball and is gone,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “You can’t really replicate that in practice as much as you would like to. That’s always a concern.”

As confident as the Baltimore defense is, the unit is preparing for an unfamiliar look. The similarities are there with Washington’s offensive attack, but the 49ers have a dangerous set of receivers in the passing game and a quarterback reaching an unparalleled level of success with only a half-season of starts under his belt.

The San Francisco offense may not strike fear into opponents’ hearts in the same way the Patriots and Broncos did this season, but the sight of Kaepernick escaping to the outside, looking to run or throw is a scary proposition standing in the way of the Ravens’ second Super Bowl title.

“If he runs, you’ve got to hit him,” safety Bernard Pollard said. “He’s basically a running back who can throw the ball very well. He’s showing people that he’s capable of playing in this league. He’s able to win.”

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Broncos

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Broncos

Posted on 18 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Bernard Pierce 15 yard run negated by Matt Birk holding penalty (2nd quarter)

4. Rahim Moore recovers Joe Flacco fumble on 3rd & 1 forced by Justin Bannan (1st quarter)

3. Eric Decker 51 yard TD catch from Peyton Manning (3rd quarter)

2. Joe Flacco pass intended for Torrey Smith incomplete on 3rd & 10 (3rd quarter)

1. Chris Harris 98 yard TD return of Joe Flacco interception (2nd quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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T. Smith, Pierce exit Sunday’s game with concussions

Posted on 16 December 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — As if the sting of a third straight loss wasn’t enough, the Ravens’ list of injuries grew even longer on Sunday as wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back Bernard Pierce both left the game with concussions.

Pierce sustained his concussion in the second quarter while Smith was injured attempting to make a long reception early in the third quarter. Neither player returned to the game.

“We’ll have to check those out later this week,” coach John Harbaugh said after the game.

Smith made just one reception for 14 yards against the Broncos while Pierce carried the ball five times for 20 yards in the 34-17 loss at M&T Bank Stadium.

Wide receiver Tandon Doss suffered a twisted ankle and linebacker Albert McClellan was dealing with a hamstring issue but returned to the game. Neither player appeared to be in bad shape in the locker room following the game.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs return to action two weeks after suffering a torn right biceps, but his impact was minimal as he was forced to leave at a few different points in dealing with pain in the arm. The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker finished with only one tackle as he played 42 of the Ravens’ 77 defensive snaps.

The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year declined to talk to reporters following the Ravens’ third consecutive loss.

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Can the Ravens Overcome the Injuries to Lewis and Webb?

Posted on 15 October 2012 by jeffreygilley

Lets start with the good news, which many are overlooking.  The Ravens have lost one game despite losing one of the most dynamic defensive players in the NFL earlier in the offseason.  This team could even be undefeated.

So what does all of this mean?  It means that the Ravens are one of the most battle-tested teams in the NFL right now.  They are used to playing in close games and have shown they can win close games, which is an improvement from last year.

But, as many know by now, there is also bad news, very bad news.  The Ravens will be without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb for the rest of the season.  Lewis suffered a torn triceps injury and Webb tore his ACL in the first quarter of yesterday’s game.  Not only are Webb and Lewis great players, but they are also great leaders.

Webb is a lesser known player in the NFL.  Many people outside of Baltimore might not know who he is.  But when healthy, Webb is one of the best cornerbacks in the league.  He consistently shut down opposing wide receivers last season and is tied with Eric Weddle for the most interceptions since the 2011 season.

Carry Williams and Jimmy Smith will be the starters for the rest of the season.  Both are capable of taking Webb’s place but neither will play up to the level that Webb is capable of.  The Ravens were already struggling to defend the pass, so the outlook does not look very good.

Jimmy Smith was a first round pick in 2011 and played very well at the end of last season.  But he is still a young player and has not looked the same through the first six games of 2012.  He will be tested this week when he lines up across from Andre Johnson.

Losing Ray Lewis is devastating.  He is the heart and soul of the team and is still playing well in his 17th season.  Losing Lewis means that Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain will be the two starters.  But, if Terrell Suggs returns in the next few weeks, the Ravens could change things around.

For one, Albert McClellan could move to the inside.  McClellan has been a starter at outside linebacker and has played well but has yet to register a sack.  McClellan started one game at middle linebacker last season against the 49ers when Ray Lewis was sidelined with an injury.  McClellan was impressive in that game and recorded four tackles.

The bottom line is that Joe Flacco needs to keep playing at a high level.  He was practically handed the starting job in 2008 when Troy Smith was sick and the rest is history.  If Flacco can keep playing at a high level and carry this team despite all these injuries, the Ravens will hand him something else, a blank check.

No matter what happens for the rest of the season, we are going to learn a lot about the Baltimore Ravens.

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Ravens Grades After a Quarter of the Season

Posted on 02 October 2012 by jeffreygilley

After a quarter of the 2012 season, the Ravens are 3-1.  The three victories have come against the Bengals, Patriots, and Browns with the only loss coming against the Eagles in week two.  The road ahead has some difficult stretches which includes the Steelers in week 11, the Chargers in week 12, and the Steelers again in week 13.

Here are my grades for the Ravens through the first quarter of the season:

Joe Flacco – A.

Statistics: 63.5 completion percentage, 1,269 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT, 95.8 QB rating.

Joe Flacco looks much different this season.  He is more decisive and has a great supporting cast of receivers, tight ends, and running backs.  For the first time in Flacco’s NFL career, he has a receiving core that is complete and showcases his arm talent.  Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are speedy wide outs that have the potential to take the top off a defense.  Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin work underneath and act as Flacco’s security blankets but can also make big time plays when needed.  Finally, Ray Rice can come out of the backfield and even run routes in the slot to give Flacco an extra target.

Flacco is very comfortable in the new no-huddle offense.  If Flacco can keep playing at a high level, the Ravens might find themselves in the Super Bowl.

Offensive Line: B

When considering all the changes the offensive line has gone through, they have been fantastic this season.  Ramon Harewood is by far the biggest surprise and has been one of the Ravens best offensive lineman through the first quater of the season.  He is a talented run blocker and is good in pass protection.  The line has given up 9 sacks which puts them on pase for 36.  This would be tied for the second highest in Flacco’s career.  Even though the line has struggled at times, keep in mind that they are going through a lot of changes and by the end of the season, this line will continue to improve and could be one of the best in the league.

Running backs: B+

Ray Rice Statistics: 64 carries, 317 yards, 3 TD

Bernard Pierce Statistics: 17 carries, 88 yards, 0 TD

Both the Ravens running backs are averaging at least five yards per carry.  Obviously, Rice is the better of the two players but Pierce has provided a good second option and is a very powerful runner.  Rice is averaging just under 80 yards rushing per game but has done a lot for the Ravens in the play-action passing game.  Rice is very valuable to this offense and Cam Cameron is using him very effectively.

Receivers: B

This receiving core is the most complete that I can remember.  Smith and Jones are down field threats but the Ravens also have a myriad of underneath threats that provide good match ups against linebackers and safeties.  At times, the receivers have struggled to get separation but for the most part, they have been fantastic.  Tandon Doss is a name to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.  The third year receiver out of Indiana has recently received a lot of praise from John Harbaugh.  Harbaugh said Doss will be a threat all season after his 39 yard catch against the Browns.  Doss offers a lot of upside but has to compete with Jacoby Jones who is ahead of Doss on the depth chart.

Defensive Line: C+

The Ravens have struggled to create a pass rush throughout the season.  Haloti Ngata is playing at an all-pro level but Pernell McPhee  has not been the force many thought he would be this season.  Luckily, the season is still young so expect McPhee to play at a higher level.  Although they have struggled at times to generate pass rush, they have been great at stopping the run.  They held LeSean McCoy, one of the league’s elite running backs to 81 yards on 25 attempts and have looked been good in the other games with the exception of the Bengals.

Linebackers: C

The loss of Terrell Suggs has been devastating.  Younger players like Paul Kruger, Courtney UpShaw, and Albert McClellan havent been able to get the job done and win one-on-one match ups.     Combined, the three players have only amassed two sacks.  UpShaw has received much more playing time lately and has played much better than he did in the preseason.  Terrell Suggs is expected to return around week seven.  Suggs wont be himself for the first few games but the Ravens really need him late in the season when they play the Steelers twice in three weeks.  If Suggs returns by week seven, which is his target return date, he might be one hundred percent healthy by the playoffs, should the Ravens make the playoffs.

Defensive backs: C

The Ravens have struggled mightily against the pass this season.  They have given up an average of 295 yards in each game and most recently gave up 320 passing yards to rookie Brandon Weeden in Baltimore.  Overall, the weak spot for the secondary has been Carry Williams.  With the exception of the pick-six last week, Williams has struggled.  Teams have been avoiding Lardarius Webb who is one of the better cornerbacks in the league and Jimmy Smith has played well at times.  I would like to see the Ravens play more press coverage to take advantage of the size Smith and Williams possess.

Special Teams: A

The special teams unit has greatly improved from last season.  Corey Graham, Chykie Brown, Deonte Thompson, and Justin Tucker have all played at a high level.  Tucker is the biggest story because he won the kicking job from Billy Cundiff and has only missed one kick.

Overall, I am very optimistic about the Ravens.  They have a favorable matchup this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and then have the Dallas Cowboys who looked dreadful against the Bears on Monday Night Football.  If Flacco continues to play at a high level and Terrell Suggs can return and play well, the Ravens will have a high playoff seed.

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Jones Brothers Take Center Stage as the Ravens Take on the Patriots

Posted on 22 September 2012 by jeffreygilley

When the Baltimore Ravens line up against the New England Patriots Sunday night, the Ravens will be looking for revenge.  The Patriots ended the Ravens season in the AFC Championship but the Ravens had many chances to win the game.  Joe Flacco outplayed Brady and the defense bailed him out of the rare mistakes and reads he did not make.

Although the Ravens will be looking for revenge, this game does not hold any real significance come Monday morning.  Sure, both of these teams are considered Super Bowl contenders but the season is still young.  This game does however, have the potential to determine the playoff standings come the end of the regular season.

Throughout the first two weeks of the 2012 season, the Ravens and Patriots have not lived up to expectations.  Both had a disappointing week two loss and have not been particularly good in their areas of usual strength.  The Patriots added new weapons in the offseason such as Brandon Lloyd.  Although Brady has new pieces to work with, the offense has showcased the explosive potential they are capable of.  The Ravens on the other hand have struggled defensively.  The defense gave up 371 passing yards to Michael Vick and struggled defending the Bengals rushing attack in week one.

Many are picking the Ravens to win this game, and I hope they are right but I dont see the Ravens winning this game.  Tom Brady doesn’t lose back to back games and the Patriots have improved defensively.  The loss of Aaron Hernandez will prove to be significant though.  Hernandez can play every skill position on offense and with his absence, the Patriots and Tom Brady are going to have to be more creative.  I expect the Patriots to spread the Ravens out and force the Ravens to play in space.

If the Ravens want to win this game, they will have to stop Rob Gronkowski.  They have the cornerback depth to deal with the Patriots receivers but their linebacking core is a different story.  Many of the Ravens outside linebackers are young and inexperienced.  Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan will have to play well in run and pass defense.

Although the Ravens outside linebackers are young, I think Courtney UpShaw has a chance to have a breakout game.  He wont play as much seeing as Paul Kruger is healthy but he has a chance to make a big impact on this game.  The Patriots will be so focused on stopping Haloti Ngata that Upshaw, when playing on third downs, will not be facing many double teams.  Look for UpShaw to have a good game.

Last time the Patriots played in Baltimore, they were undefeated but the Ravens almost pulled off the upset of the century.  All of the recent games between the Patriots and Ravens have been very close and this game will be no different.  In my opinion, the Patriots will win this game by a field goal but I really hope I am wrong.  Having Arthur and Chandler Jones playing for opposing teams will make this game much more interesting.

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Tuesday musings from the Ravens beat

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Tuesday musings from the Ravens beat

Posted on 18 September 2012 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens enjoying their customary Tuesday off before turning their full attention to the New England Patriots on Sunday night, I offer some thoughts from the beat through the first two weeks of the regular season …

> One of the few defensive bright spots of the 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday was the play of outside linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan. Drawing the start in place of the injured Paul Kruger at the strongside linebacker spot, the rookie Upshaw did a solid job setting the edge on run plays and was one of the few players to pressure quarterback Michael Vick with any level of consistency.

Compared to his preseason performances in which he seemed sluggish and hesitant in his defensive responsibilities, Upshaw displayed a good motor in backside pursuit and finished with six tackles with one going for a loss. He wore down a bit in the second half after receiving his most extensive action to date and still looks uncomfortable when asked to drop into pass coverage, but Upshaw looks to be in much better shape and is finally starting to show the potential general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens saw in him with the 35th overall selection in April’s draft.

McClellan was one of the best players on the field for the Baltimore defense against the Eagles, finishing with six tackles with two going for losses and breaking up a pass in coverage. Though undersized at 6-feet-2 and 245 pounds, McClellan did an excellent job setting the edge as the Eagles averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.

With Upshaw showing signs of improvement and Kruger’s struggles at the strongside linebacker position going back to the preseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see defensive coordinator Dean Pees settle on McClellan and Upshaw as his starting outside linebackers and move Kruger to the situational pass-rushing role he held in past seasons. McClellan hasn’t shown an ability to get to the quarterback, so it might be in the Ravens’ best interests to replace him on third down with Kruger and allow Upshaw to line up at the other defensive end spot in obvious passing situations.

> Speaking of passing plays, much has already been said about the Ravens’ decisions in short-yardage situations on Sunday with few supporting the calls of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

The Ravens were faced with six situations in which it was third or fourth down and two or less yards to go and the offense elected to pass every single time. Running all six plays from the shotgun formation, the Ravens failed to convert on any as the final two offensive plays with less than a minute remaining drew the most scrutiny.

Whether observers want to admit it or not, third-and-short has become a passing situation more often than not in today’s NFL. The Ravens aren’t the only team in the league to throw the football in those spots as it’s become a more wide-open game than what we watched in the past.

That said, it’s perplexing to not only watch the Ravens throw exclusively on that down and distance but also do it from the shotgun formation, a package in which your choice of running plays is more limited. Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice said it best following Sunday’s game when reminding everyone that the Ravens have arguably the best fullback in the league in Vonta Leach. It seems wasteful not to at least present a bigger threat of a run in those situations by having quarterback Joe Flacco line up under center, with Leach and Rice behind him. Even if the Ravens still elect to throw, this simple alteration might keep defenses guessing more in those short-yardage spots.

Coach John Harbaugh said it best Monday when reminding everyone that hindsight is 20-20 and that any play call looks great when it works and foolish when it doesn’t, and it is worth reminding everyone that Flacco missed an open Dennis Pitta on that third-and-1 play on the game’s final drive. However, the Ravens’ 0-for-6 showing in short-yardage situations on third and fourth down screams that it might be time to change up their philosophies a bit.

> Through the first two weeks of the season, it’s no secret that Flacco has picked up right where he left off late last season in targeting Pitta frequently in the passing game as the pair has connected 13 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. Seven of those catches have gone for first downs as the third-year tight end has been a go-to target when the Ravens need to move the chains.

CONTINUE >>>

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Keys to Sunday’s Game Against the Eagles

Posted on 16 September 2012 by jeffreygilley

The Baltimore Ravens looked very impressive against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one.  While the Ravens were feasting on the Bengals, the Philadelphia Eagles were struggling against the Cleveland Browns.  Michael Vick turned the ball over five times but also led a game winning drive with a touchdown pass to Clay Harbor.  Although the Eagles looked awful, expect them to bounce back and challenge the Ravens.

The offensive line must protect Flacco

With the exception of Matt Birk, the Ravens offensive line was impressive in their victory over the Bengals.  Ramon Harewood, a sixth round pick in 2010, made a surprising start at left guard.  He struggled at times but was a devastating run blocker.  With his size and athleticism, the Ravens can have success running the ball against the wide-nine in Philadelphia.

If the Ravens want to have success on offense, Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele must perform at a high level.  The Ravens new offense seems to be based on the vertical passing game which makes protecting Flacco even more pivotal.  If Flacco doesn’t have time to throw, the Ravens can turn to the run game which is a weakness of playing the wide-nine.

Stop LeSean McCoy

When this game is over, Ravens fans will miss Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson even more.  Both excelled at setting the edge and forcing ball carriers back inside.  The Eagles like to run to the outside and LeSean McCoy has the speed to turn the corner and get upfield extremely fast.  Therefore, the Ravens young linebackers must be able to set the edge and shed blockers.  Luckily for the Ravens, the Eagles are without Jason Peters which should make stopping the run much easier for the Ravens.  Expect the Eagles to challenge the Ravens to the outside throughout the entire game.

Pressure Michael Vick

This seems obvious but if the Ravens can pressure Vick like the Browns did in week one, the Ravens have a very good chance to win the game.  Young linebackers like Courtney UpShaw, Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan, and Sergio Kindle must pressure Vick early and often.  Courtney UpShaw received more playing time than expected last week and is pushing Albert McClellan and Paul Kruger for either of the starting outside linebacker spots.  UpShaw was unimpressive in the preseason but showed a lot of promise in week one.  Expect to see UpShaw a lot more as the season progresses.

Prediction

I see the Ravens winning this game but it will be no easy task.  Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are expected to play for the Eagles and pose a home run threat on every play.

Although Flacco played very well against the Bengals, he cant test the Eagles secondary too much.  Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha are very talented cornerbacks and can blanket receivers.

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Run defense has “hands full” trying to stop Eagles’ McCoy

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Run defense has “hands full” trying to stop Eagles’ McCoy

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Luke Jones

There was plenty to like about the Ravens’ 44-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, but one area of concern coming from an otherwise dominating performance was the lackluster run defense on display in the season opener.

The Ravens allowed 129 rushing yards on 28 carries as Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the way with 91 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. It was an uncharacteristic performance in comparison to what you’d expect from a Baltimore defense, but personnel changes have led many to wonder whether the Ravens will continue their tradition of stuffing the run this season.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee struggled to get much of a push at the line of scrimmage while outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Albert McClellan were inconsistent setting the edge as the Bengals consistently gained yardage on the ground to set up short-yardage situations on third down. Fortunately for the defense, the Ravens’ offensive explosion forced the Bengals to abandon the run, and the defense buckled down in the second half.

“It was just little minor technique errors on our part that we can fix, we should fix,” said Harbaugh, who deemed stopping the run as a staple for the Baltimore defense. “[It was] probably guys trying to do more than they actually should try to do and continue to have confidence in the guys around them a little more.”

The Ravens will face an even bigger challenge in stopping the run this Sunday when they take on the Eagles in Philadelphia. In addition to the big-play ability and speed of quarterback Michael Vick, the defense must deal with fourth-year running back LeSean McCoy, who’s already earned the reputation as one of the best backs in the NFL.

Named to his first Pro Bowl last season, McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns and is a dangerous runner when able to get into space. Also a threat out of the backfield, the 2009 second-round pick caught 48 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees must preach discipline to his defense when facing a player with the ability to cut back and make tacklers miss in the open field. Still in the early stages of his pro career, McCoy earned high praise from the elder statesman of the Baltimore defense on Wednesday.

“He is one of those guys that he has a little flavor,” inside linebacker Ray Lewis said. “I don’t want to put him that high up there with [Hall of Fame running back] Barry Sanders, but he has that type of ability to really jump in the hole, jump out of the hole the way you saw many highlights of the many people he made miss time and time again. You really have to cradle him. You have to keep him in the box and make him play football inside those boxes, kind of where he doesn’t want to be.”

That responsibility will fall heavily on the shoulders of Kruger and McClellan, who struggled to make much of an impact in the season opener. The outside linebackers combined for just three total tackles as questions remain whether they can do a sufficient job in place of the departed Jarret Johnson — who is now in San Diego — and the injured Terrell Suggs.

Making their job even more difficult is the nightmarish threat of Vick taking off when plays break down, but anyone who pays close attention to the Eagles will tell you McCoy is the key to making the Eagles offense thrive.

In Philadelphia’s Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns, he ran for 110 yards and caught six passes for 26 yards.

“He will test the edges,” said Harbaugh, who is reminded of former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook when watching McCoy. “I think our guys out there did a good job this last game, but they are going to get tested like they’ve never been tested before in this game against this back. ‘Shady’ [McCoy], we had fun interviewing him when he was coming out from [the University of Pittsburgh]. He is a great guy. He has a tremendous personality, and I think the flair of his play matches the flair of his personality. He is a home-run hitter.”

Avoiding those home runs and keeping McCoy between the tackles — where he becomes more pedestrian as a runner — will be the ultimate test on Sunday as the Ravens will look to prove that Cincinnati’s success on the ground was more of an aberration than a harbinger of what’s to come this season.

The Ravens have never faced the shifty McCoy as the teams last met in 2008, but it’s clear the 5-foot-11, 208-pound back has their full attention this week.

“He is a complete back,” Lewis said. “[He will be] catching the ball out of the backfield, catching the ball on screens, running inside and outside. Yeah, we have our hands full this week.”

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