Stopping the run was a challenge for the Ravens in Monday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had success on the ground and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees was up front this week when he said: “We have to play better against the run than what we did in that game.”
The test for Baltimore gets even tougher on Sunday, as they have to square off against Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, regarded as one of the game’s elite backs. McCoy excels in his ability to get outside the tackles and test the edge of the defense.
“They are going to get tested like they’ve never been tested before in this game against this back,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said about his defense. “[McCoy] is edge-to-edge; he’s sideline-to-sideline as a back. He will test the edges.”
Much of the responsibility in setting the edge to stuff the run falls on the outside linebackers.
Kruger (back) missed practice Wednesday and Thursday and was limited on Friday. He is listed as questionable on the final injury report, and Upshaw would likely start in his place if he’s unable to play.
If the outside linebackers can force McCoy back inside, then the inside linebackers and defensive linemen can come through and make the tackles. The difficulty with the Eagles and McCoy, however, is that he can change direction so quickly.
“The biggest challenge this week is the play may look like an inside-zone play, and he may jump it outside,” Pees said. “It may look like an outside-stretch play the way the line is blocking and the way he takes the ball originally, and he may cut it back. So, it’s certainly a big challenge, and he is the reason.”
In Philadelphia’s Week 1 win over Cleveland, McCoy rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries. He also added six catches for 26 yards. He didn’t get in the end zone and his most significant miscue was a fumble, which was part of a five-turnover afternoon by the Eagles.
While quarterback Michael Vick garners the most attention, McCoy is an instrumental piece of making the Eagles offense one of the most explosive in the NFL.
“He is a complete back, catching the ball out of the backfield, catching the ball on screens, running inside and outside,” linebacker
Lewis even drew a comparison between McCoy and former Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders.
“He is one of those guys that he has a little flavor,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to put him that high up there with Barry Sanders, but he has that type of ability to really jump in the hole, jump out of hole the way you saw many highlights of the many people he made miss time and time again.”
To stop him on Sunday, Pees said the key is to clean up their little mistakes and keep McCoy from burning them outside the tackles.“We can’t let this guy get outside and all that kind of stuff,” Pees said. “It’s typical good defense. That’s how you have to stop the run.”