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Late For Work 11/2: Mattison Opens Up Blitzing Playbook

Plus the Ravens gain ground in the AFC North, Preston’s report card and award-winning plays.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 at 9:57 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Mattison Opens Up Blitzing Playbook

It seems everyone noticed one defensive difference in yesterday’s much needed 30-7 win over the Broncos. The blitz.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated said Baltimore sent blitzing ‘backers more often.

“Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison knew the front wasn’t getting the pressure it needed, and from the start, particularly on early downs, extra defenders like Jarret Johnson surprised Kyle Orton around the edge. Good idea.”

King’s coworker Don Banks noticed the same thing: “Baltimore sacked [Orton] just twice, but the defense flew around and hit everything in sight, and it looked to me like new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison finally hit his stride in trying to fill Rex Ryan’s big shoes.”

ESPN’s John Clayton echoed more of the same. Clayton quoted both Domonique Foxworth and Ray Lewis to prove the point. The Ravens’ middle linebacker said the key was keeping receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal in front of the defensive backs and rushing three and four defenders to stop them.

“We blitzed a lot more with a safety playing high,” Foxworth said. “It puts pressure on the secondary but it also put pressure on the quarterback. The way to beat that is screen and hitches, but we did a good job of coming to the ball.”

Both Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson complimented their defensive leader.

“I think for all the heat that coach has been getting, he put together a pretty good package for the Broncos today,” Suggs said. “You’ve got to give credit to where credit is due. I think Coach Mattison did a good job of putting all of us in the right place and playing a good chess match today.”

“I thought we had a great game plan,” Johnson commented. “We were very multiple. We moved around and did some things, even on first and second down.”

Ravens gained a half-game in AFC North

With the Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) and Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) on a bye, the Ravens (4-3) gained a half-game in the division standings. Baltimore will travel to Cincinnati to play the first-place Bengals in a huge division matchup next week, said ESPN’s James Walker.

If the Ravens can steal one next week at Paul Brown Stadium, that will go a long way in a very competitive division. In a Monday night showdown next week the Steelers take on the Broncos in the Mile High city. Let’s hope the Broncos can bounce back to their winning ways.

Ravens secondary scores an A

Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston was impressed with a secondary that had previously been the Ravens’ Achilles heal. He gave the squad an A:

“The Broncos didn’t challenge the Ravens downfield much,” said Preston. “Cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington were jumping the short routes. When the Broncos did send their receivers deep trying to clear out underneath, safeties Ed Reed and Dawan Landry were disciplined enough to stay close to the line of scrimmage to shut down the short stuff.”

Keep an eye on Rice

Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News says that “it has gotten to the point that opponents must track [Ray] Rice everywhere, whether he’s flying out of the backfield on edge runs or finding a soft spot in front of zone coverage or behind the blitz. His 5-9 frame makes him hard to see and even more difficult to track down and tackle in the open field. Rice has been the catalyst in turning Baltimore’s offense into a thirtysomething-point scoring machine.”

Calm down Mase

Peter King thought Derrick Mason overacted when the referees missed a defensive holding penalty in the first half.

“For a veteran who’s surely been mugged on more than a few pass routes, Derrick Mason of the Ravens went way over the top on a jersey grab by Denver cornerback Alphonso Smith,” King said. “He deserved the 15-yard flag for unsportsmanlike conduct after throwing his helmet. Calls get missed, Derrick. Relax a bit.”

Award-winning plays

NFL.com was impressed with both Lardarius Webb and Mark Clayton. In their top five catches video, Clayton was listed at No. 3 for his 18-yard, high-flying grab in the second quarter.  Then, in “Let’s Go Primetime,” Deion Sanders counted down the top 10 plays from Week 8. At No. 10 was Webb’s kickoff return for 95 yards to open up the second half.

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