Chalk Talk With Babes: Neutralizing The Miami Pass Rush With Some Ground and Pound

Featured, Sports and Bets — December 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm by

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This week with the Ravens traveling to Miami (Also known as “Baltimore South”) the playoffs are essentially on the line. Both teams stand at 7-5, and the loser will basically fall out of the wild card race.
This week we are going to focus on neutralizing the pass rush of the Miami Dolphins, or more specifically, Cameron Wake, Dion Jordan, and Olivier Vernon. Cameron Wake leads the way with this crew, as a lethal pass rush specialist that anyways plays with a chip on his shoulder. At 6-3 and 262, Wake is a tad undersized, but his quickness is his best attribute. The same could be said for Vernon as well, as he has the same body type as Wake. Dion Jordan is an athletic freak at 6-6 275, which is what led to him being a top three draft pick a few years ago. Wake is the highest rated 4-3 defensive end when it comes to pass rushing according to profootballfocus.com, and Vernon ranks 6th.

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The battle of the day will occur between Wake and right tackle Rick Wagner. Wagner himself is having a pro bowl type year, only allowing two sacks and zero hits, topping the grade charts for right tackles in the league. That doesn’t mean that Wagner should be left on an island all day long¬†against Wake. The use of a chipping back, or occasionally a tight end, would go a long way in limiting Wake’s effectiveness in harassing Joe Flacco.

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To me, the best way to neutralize a great pass rusher like Wake is to run the ball right at him. Like I mentioned before, he is a bit undersized. Wagner will have about 50 pounds on Wake, and will be able to drive him off the ball. Coach Gary Kubiak needs to run not only the zone stretch at Wake, but also powers and leads right off tackle at Wake to wear him down. The Dolphins don’t have the luxury of limiting Wake’s snaps on early run downs like the Ravens do with Elvis Dumervil. So running to the right side¬†early and often needs to be the focal point of the game plan. Because of Wake’s speed off the edge, the Ravens need to stay away from trying to trap Wake or sweep around his edge. That would be playing into his strength of being able to run around blocks in space to make a play. So many times you see defensive ends blowing up run plays in the backfield- it’s because the offense tries to block them with an offside pulling guard. Players like Wake are simply too fast and beat the guard to the point of attack.

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When running away from Wake, the Ravens should throw in the use of a ghost around the backside to keep Wake honest. A ghost on a run play is a receiver coming around the back of the quarterback on a run play to get a fake handoff on what would be an end around. This freezes the backside end from pursuing hard down the line of scrimmage and taking away cutback lanes for the ball carrier. The backside end needs to stay home just long enough to make sure the end around isn’t coming back to his side.
The Dolphins were in the top half of the league against the run two weeks ago, but since have been gashed by Denver and the Jets for over 200 yards in each game. They are allowing 4.3 yards per carry, and have surrendered 6 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Ravens are averaging nearly 132 yards a game on the ground at 4.6 yards per carry. That is good for fifth best in the league, and leads me to believe a 35 plus rushing attempt game is on the horizon. Starting running back Justin Forsett is banged up a bit, so I would disperse his usual 20-25 touch workload out between Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Optimally I would get Forsett 15-18 touches, Pierce 10-12, and Taliaferro about 8-12 touches. The Jets gave a pretty good blueprint of what to do against Miami. By the end of that game, the Dolphins were selling out to stop the run, and the Jets just didn’t have the ability to make them pay in the passing game. The Ravens have that ability, and after these smaller ends get pounded on by the Ravens run game, they are not going be effective rushing the passer off of play action. It’s important the Ravens offense get on rhythm early, and keep Miami back on their heels. A thirty plus attempt rushing output will bring us home a victory from South Beach, Babes.

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