Flying with the Flock: Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants
On Sunday the Ravens must play spoiler against everybody’s favorite feel-good team: the New York Giants.
Fortunately, the Giants aren’t that good. I know they’ve won 80% of their games and just beat the Packers but I’m not sold on them.
When I watch their offense, everything in the passing game looks difficult. If Kadarius Toney doesn’t play, they have exactly 0 playmakers at wide receiver. Their entire offense is run inside of 10 yards as every play is either a short pass or a run. They’re tied for 29th in the league in average yds/pass attempt and Jones is dead last in the league in attempted air yards per pass attempt. Daniel Jones is decent but receivers just don’t get open. If left unchecked running back Saquon Barkley has the power to wreck a game so the Ravens should fully commit to crowding the box and stopping him. This is the game to be aggressive defensively.
Let our cornerbacks hold up against the Giants’ practice squad receivers so Saquon sees a sea of purple in front of him every time he touches the ball. New York’s O-line isn’t anything to write home about. Left tackle Andrew Thomas is an absolute monster but aside from that, I was unimpressed in watching them.
Packers’ defensive tackle Kenny Clark abused the interior of the line, so Baltimore’s Justin Madibuike will be counted on to have a similar impact. Their guards are unathletic and rookie right tackle Evan Neal has allowed 5 sacks in 5 games. Thomas will likely erase whoever’s across from him, but everyone else on Baltimore’s D-line should be productive.
The other thing I noticed in watching New York was Daniel Jone’s running ability, he’s averaging over 8 rushing attempts per game and it’s often what allows the Giants to keep their drives alive. Once at full gait, Jones might be as fast as Lamar, but he’s one still clutzy and awkward, when he’s brought down he topples harder than anyone in the league. Imagine Big Bird running with the football and that’s Jones. If the Ravens’ opt for an all out stopping of the run approach they’ll need to also make sure the legs of Jones don’t bail him out on crucial downs.
Hello Old Friend…
Wink Martindale will be coaching on the sideline’s of a Ravens’ game for the first time this season. Unfortunately, this time he’ll be doing his best to make Lamar Jackson’s life miserable. Wink has taken his uber aggressive cover 0 defense to the New York. He’s blitzing more than anyone in the league, 43% of the time per Pro Football Reference, a 12% increase from his final year in Baltimore.
The good news for Baltimore is that Lamar Jackson has been at his best this season when facing the blitz. In week 2 Miami thought they could blitz him into submission but quickly learned that Jackson is much improved when facing pressure.
New York runs nearly as much man coverage as Miami so it would seem, if no changes are made, Lamar is due for another monster game. But knowing Wink, changes will be made, it’s why he’s really the X factor in this one. Four seasons of facing Lamar in practice might mean one of the best defensive minds in the game will have an added advantage in this one. Yikes.
The Giants defense is greater than the sum of its’ parts. And it should improve as they get back Leonard Williams this week. They don’t have any stars on the defensive side of the ball but they’re sound, missing the 6th least tackles in the league. The Giants’ D-line is big on the interior and Ojulari’s speed off the edge is a threat.
I’ll be cringing anytime I see Lamar go down on that cursed Metlife turf. I want to see minimal rushing attempts from Lamar to prevent the field from claiming another star player’s ACL.
NFL games are already razor thin, so what’s going to separate this one? How about the fact that Baltimore has a 200 mile commute to Metlife Stadium, the Giants have a 3,500 mile one. Having to deal with jet lag following their emotional london game is enough of an advantage to make me confident that Baltimore will handle business in this one.