Tag Archive | "LeSean McCoy"

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Comments (0)

Ravens-Eagles: Five predictions for Sunday

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Eagles: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 15 September 2012 by Luke Jones

Here’s what will happen when the Ravens travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday for their fourth ever meeting in the regular season …

1. After receiving only 13 touches in Week 1, Ray Rice factors more heavily in the offense and cracks the 100-yard mark on the ground against the Eagles defense. It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Joe Flacco attack Philadelphia in the early stages with the Eagles possessing such a strong pass rush and secondary. The Eagles are vulnerable against the run and allowed 99 yards on the ground to Cleveland last week. If the offense is to be successful on Sunday, Rice will play a larger role because it’s difficult envisioning Flacco chucking the ball all over the field with defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole bearing down on him and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie looming in the defensive backfield. The Ravens may come out throwing early, but they will quickly find more success with Rice carrying the ball between the tackles and trying to get the ball in open space.

2. Not to be outdone by Rice, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy runs for 90 yards and a touchdown against a defense that struggles to set the edge against the shifty back. The Ravens already faced questions about their ability to control the edge against the run, and injuries to linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive end Pernell McPhee will limit their availability on Sunday. McCoy is a far more pedestrian runner between the tackles, but the 2011 Pro Bowl running back thrives in open space and the Ravens will give him daylight too often in the early going. Facing injuries at the wide receiver position, the Eagles would be wise to rely heavily on McCoy’s talents against the Baltimore defense. Baltimore struggled to stop Cincinnati’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week and will have fits trying to keep McCoy in check.

3. Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson combine for a dozen catches and 130 yards as Baltimore’s wide receivers struggle to gain separation. Torrey Smith will likely be blanketed by Asomugha and intermediate target Anquan Boldin will likely draw Rodgers-Cromartie, meaning Flacco will look more to his tight ends than he already does. Pitta led the Ravens with five catches and 73 yards while adding a touchdown against the Bengals as he picked up right where he left off last year in becoming a bigger part of the passing game. However, the Ravens will likely use more two-wide receiver sets with fullback Vonta Leach in the game to lead the way for Rice, which is a personnel set in which Dickson plays more often. Regardless of who’s in the game at tight end — the Ravens like having both on the field as well — Pitta and Dickson will have the upper hand against the Philadelphia linebackers and safeties to make up for the struggles the wide receivers will likely encounter. Quick passes to the tight ends will also aid an offensive line that will have its hands full with Philadelphia’s front four.

4. The defense struggles to pressure Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, but the secondary forces a key fourth-quarter turnover with wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin less than 100 percent. Both starting receivers missed practice time this week and will not be playing at 100 percent on Sunday, which will help the Baltimore secondary a great deal. The Ravens failed to create much pressure against the Bengals and it will be the same story Sunday as Kruger and McPhee play at less than 100 percent. That being said, Vick threw four interceptions against the Browns last week and could be forced to rely more heavily on possession receiver Jason Avant and McCoy out of the backfield with Jackson and Maclin ailing. Always a phenomenal athlete, Vick is still prone to make the critical mistake and the Ravens’ secondary is too talented not to take advantage, even without an effective pass rush to help the unit. In a one-possession game, Vick continues that trend and that turnover will factor heavily in deciding the outcome.

5. After hearing all week about their Week 2 letdowns in 2010 and 2011, the Ravens beat a good team on the road with a 27-24 victory in Philadelphia. Coach John Harbaugh addressed the possibility of a Week 2 meltdown with his team at the beginning of the week and the Ravens want to erase the memories of what happened in the second week of the season in each of the last two seasons. Unlike last season when the Ravens took on what looked to be the underwhelming Tennessee Titans, it’s difficult to overlook an Eagles team with such tremendous talent on both sides of the ball, which likely helped their focus in making preparations this week. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Ravens are immune from another Week 2 loss, but they shouldn’t be caught by surprise this time around. Despite facing a defense with a great pass rush and secondary, the Ravens offense shows once again why it’s a force to be reckoned with as Rice’s big day and an efficient Flacco lead Baltimore to a 2-0 start.

 

Comments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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.”

Comments (0)