Ravens Scheming To Match Wits With Bill Belichick

Dean Pees has spent more time with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick than anyone else on the Ravens' coaching staff.

Baltimore's Defensive Coordinator spent six years as an assistant under Belichick in New England, but even he has a tough time figuring out what the Patriots will throw at the Ravens this weekend.

"You have to get ready for everything. That's why they are good. That's why they win every year," Pees said. "People talk about my familiarity – it's just the fact that I know coach Belichick and his coaching staff, and half of those guys are gone, it's been so far removed. It's different." 

The Patriots have a history of changing their schemes from week-to-week and making life hard for opposing coordinators.

They can go with an aerial attack led by future Hall of Famer Tom Brady – he topped 300 passing yards in five games this year – or they could ground-and-pound with a stable of running backs. New England's versatility out of the backfield is impressive, as four different running backs have led the team in rushing in games this year.

In Week 11, former Ravens practice squad running back Jonas Gray came out of nowhere to run for 201 yards and four touchdowns against the Colts. The next week, Gray didn't even play and running back LeGarrette Blount led the team in rushing after signing that week as a free agent.

"You never know what you're going to get from Coach Belichick scheme-wise," Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It is just a huge challenge for anybody going in there in the playoffs."

The changes in scheme aren't just for the Patriots offense, either. Belichick will constantly present different defensive schemes for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators to handle.

That versatility can give teams fits trying to figure out what they will see.

"There's no telling," Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said. "I've played him many, many times throughout the course of my career, and he does a lot of things defensively – a lot of fronts, a lot of personnels. And he has had a couple weeks to get ready for us from that standpoint."

Kubiak is no stranger to facing the Patriots over the years. During his eight years as the head coach of the Texans, Kubiak's teams went 1-3 against New England. They did, however, score more than 30 points in two of those contests. 

A key for the coordinators within the game is to make the necessary in-game adjustments based on what they see from New England on both sides of the ball.

"I think the game is responsive," Kubiak said. "You're trying to do what you think your players do best, but the game is responsive all the time. So, it changes all the time."

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