By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens have to focus on fundamentals:
The Baltimore Ravens are taking on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football. It’s crucial that the Ravens don’t make this harder than it has to be. It sounds simple and almost too obvious but it’s the biggest lesson the Ravens can take to heart before the battle with the Browns.
The Ravens defense needs to do the things that win football games without being noticed. It’s not about making a highlight play you’ll remember for the rest of your life; it’s about defenders being where they are supposed to be. The Browns are a team that is struggling on offense – yet they are playing a Ravens defense that gives up big plays. The Browns have playmakers. Mistakes will give the Browns life. It’s that simple.
The Ravens are going against Nick Chubb. Chubb is one of the best running backs in the NFL and he may be this generation’s version of Jamal Lewis. Chubb is deadly when you let him get a full head of steam. Don Martindale can call all the crazy looks he wants, if the defense doesn’t win the battle at the line of scrimmage it doesn’t matter.
The Ravens need to be in the right position in this game. The two biggest phrases of the evening are going to be gap sound defense and outside contain. Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston are crucial parts of this defense in this effort against Cleveland. They cannot allow the Browns run game to break to the outside. When Baker Mayfield tries to sell the play-action they must crash towards him with Ray Lewis-level passion.
Don’t make it easy for them, Make it easy for you:
Open-field tackling is crucial in this game. All it takes is a missed tackle on Jarvis Landry or Donovan Peoples-Jones for a big play to change this game in the Browns favor. If the Ravens win this game their defenders have to make use of their shoulder pads and they have to wrap up.
There can’t be big plays given up because of a bad attempt at a tackle. Blown coverages aren’t on the menu tonight, they simply can’t be. The Ravens have to communicate with each other in the backend, no matter who is out there on the field when it’s go time.
A defensive shutout would be nice. It’s not expected. The Ravens are far more likely to have a back and forth kind of game with their division foe. What needs to be the expectation is doing the simple things. Fundamentals have lost Baltimore games this season. Defensively it’s been the biggest reason the Ravens are giving up so many big plays down the field.
The offense has responsibility too:
The offense has to finish drives. It’s a must. Field goals don’t win big games. The Ravens’ inept performance on third downs has been their doom too much this season.
Lamar Jackson has the ultimate responsibility of not allowing things to go South. It’s up to him to avoid negative plays and take what the defense gives him. Jackson has to take off and run when he sees daylight. He can’t get greedy and wait for the deep routes to develop all day long.
Greg Roman has to call a game that makes sense to the game on the field. If things aren’t going right he needs to be able to call adjustments out during the game. It can’t be like it was against the Miami Dolphins where he had the team stay a bad course.
You can watch all the tape in the world. You can come up with the best game plan. When you boil this all down there’s one thing that matters. The Ravens have to make a conscious choice not to do things the hard way this evening. When the Baltimore Ravens battle the Browns they must do the fundamentals. It sounds simple, but it’s true. The Ravens can make this game harder than it has to be, or they can choose to play the right way on a big night.