In a league of copycat defenses, the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears may also be different species.
According to Pro Football Reference, Miami ranks second in the NFL in blitz rate; Chicago is in second place. According to SportsInfo Solutions, Miami has three defensive backs with a double-digit pass rush this season, including one with 69; Chicago has one with just nine. Miami has rocked many teams with many cover 0 looks; Chicago has used pressure-heavy coverage just three times throughout the season.
But after the Ravens went up against the Dolphins’ over-aggressive approach in Week 10, which offensive coordinator Greg Roman called a “straight-to-DVD performance” in a 22–10 road loss, coach John Harbaugh knows he’s on tape. have studied. Maybe he’s not the same as the one you see on Sundays in Chicago. Not when quarterback Lamar Jackson, one of the NFL’s worst strategists, has turned to one of the league’s better plans.
“I would expect a bang from him based on what he saw on Thursday,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “So we’re preparing for that too.”
The crows are used to it by now. According to SIS, Jackson has blitzed 31.7% of his drop-backs this season, tied for the NFL’s second-highest rate, behind only Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields (32.0%). Jackson’s 120 drop-backs against Blitz this year not only led the NFL, but placed him second in any season since 2015. (That year, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles faced 235 blitzes in a 16-game season, according to Sis.)
Jackson’s last outing, in which he suffered consecutive presnap cover 0 looks—largely on the line of potential blitzers scrimmage, in man-to-man coverage while defending a defensive back first-down marker—even That wasn’t even his most blitz-crazed season. Miami blitzed him 20 times on 50 drop-backs. In Week 4, the Denver Broncos blitzed him 27 times on 42 drop-backs.
In his first three years in the NFL, Jackson never faced 15 blitzes in a single game, partly due to the Ravens’ run-heavy tendencies. This year he has played four such matches.
“Week in and week out, that’s our main concern, especially as offensive linemen: Keep that guy clean,” center Bradley Bozeman said Thursday. “Boy, he’s special back there. Keeping him clean, let him be able to do what he can, let him be ‘amazing.’ And we’ll keep working and trying to take these blitz, Will keep people away from him and do his best.
The Ravens’ main concern this week is getting Jackson ready for Soldier Field; He missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday as he did not have a coronovirus-related illness. Not far behind on his to-do list: finding a counterpunch to defensive pressure.
Jackson’s struggle against Blitz this season isn’t particularly huge. According to Sis, he has completed 63.5% of his passes for 6.9 yards per attempt, and has four touchdowns and three interceptions against five or more pass rushers. Jackson’s passer rating against Blitz (84.3) is not far below his season-long overall score (93.1).
But in high-mileage situations, Jackson is overwhelmed. They have taken 12 sacks, or one for every 10 drop-backs. Their expected points of minus 17.7 added up – a measure of efficiency that accounts for situational factors such as down, distance and field conditions, effectively evaluating 3-yard runs on the third and from the first 3-yard runs. The short -and -10 – against blitz is one of the NFL’s shortest, according to Sis.
“We’ll fix it, though,” Jackson said on November 11, after finishing 26-for-43 for 238 yards, a touchdown and an interception against the Dolphins. “We have a lot of games left in the season. were good.”
Two years ago, killing Jackson was like playing with fire—and the defensive coordinators got a hell of a lot more in control than just controlling the burn. Despite subpar accuracy (57.8%), Jackson threw 20 touchdown passes and only two interceptions and made the most of his perfection with a 113.2 passer rating. His EPA against Blitz during his Most Valuable Player-winning season: 34.86, one of the NFL’s highest points.
The defense seemed to be learning its lesson. Jackson was blitzed less frequently in 2020 (22.2% of drop-backs) than in 2019 (26.4%). His accuracy against pressure improved, as has happened again this year, but his big play rate stagnated. He threw just six touchdowns. His passer rating dropped to 94.2.
Last week, the Dolphins decided to test Jackson’s presnap commands and midplay processing with brutal repetition. Their foreign blitz was ripped off by the pressure playbook of Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. To free up outside crowds, Miami defenders often engage inner linemen before “popping”, falling into zone coverage discouraging shallow routes in between.
When the Ravens had screens against the blitz, they rarely acted—sometimes where the Dolphins pitched their defensive backs, said tight end Mark Andrews, and sometimes “poppers” to rally the ball. reason. In a handful of pass plays, the Ravens missed the block. Other times, Jackson’s internal clock was slightly slower.
“Pass Pro[tection] There is clearly something that is a constant pursuit of our runs blocking and everything we do,” said Roman. “We’re trying to make it better all the time. When it comes to defense vs. pressure and attack, it all depends. It’s kind of a math game. And once you solve the math problem If you do, it becomes a technique and a game to stop the boys. So I would say overall, it was pretty good in that game, actually, overall. I mean, they had some free runners that — We just have to get the ball out.”
The Ravens can’t get away with turning the corner. Patrick Macery (ankle), the team’s top offensive tackle this season, returned to practice this week to help stabilize the right side of the line. If wide receiver Marquis “Hollywood” Brown (thigh) plays on Sunday, Jackson should have his top three wide receivers available for just the second time this season. Some of the big drama might discourage the kind of security attacks that Miami weaponized in Week 10.
This week Harbaugh welcomed the opportunity to beat the pressure look, saying that the Ravens have “some great answers” to the Cover 0 look. As he said on Monday, “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Considering Chicago’s blazing, mediocre defense—number 23 in overall efficiency according to Football Outsiders—the Bears’ coaches may feel the same way.
“In general, if people want to throw dice, you have to let them play, or you keep watching it,” Roman said.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
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Line: 4 . by Ravens