Ravens WRs Focused On Beating Press Coverage


When the Ravens flipped on the tape from their 9-6 win over Kansas City Monday morning, they talked "quite a bit" about one aspect of the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

Getting off press coverage.

"We have to handle that," Harbaugh bluntly said.

Baltimore had just 164 passing yards on Sunday, down from its average of 301.3 passing yards it entered the game with. Quarterback Joe Flacco completed just seven passes to wide receivers: four to Anquan Boldin and three to Torrey Smith.

Part of the reason is because Chiefs cornerbacks Brandon Flowers (5-foot-9, 187 pounds) and Stanford Routt (6-1, 195) were getting physical at the line.

The Chiefs pressed and gave the Ravens Cover 1 looks, meaning there is just one high safety and tight man-to-man coverage outside, for most of the game.

So how do the Ravens combat that?

Harbaugh said they can use bunch routes, motion to stacked receivers and rubs, where two receivers closely cross one another in hopes of delaying the trailing cornerback. The Chiefs illegally did that move twice Sunday, once resulting in a touchdown being called back.

All three maneuvers are intended to create chaos for defenders. It can be more difficult to keep tight containment throughout traffic.

"Stacks, rubs, just one-on-one nine routes against press coverage to get past a guy; those are things that we can do better," Harbaugh said. "We've done that pretty well at times this year."

Flacco said better routes will do the job.

"We have good guys out there, so it's just a matter of them running crisp routes and getting the ball out," he said. "That's how you beat it. If you get a little sloppy here and there and you aren't as precise with the ball, that's when you can let some of that tight underneath coverage get to you."

The Ravens have the speed on the outside with Smith and Jacoby Jones to simply outrun single coverage, particularly if there isn't safety help over the top. Baltimore did that on occasion in Kansas City with fades and wheel routes, but didn't make the plays.

The deterrent with getting off press coverage is that so many cornerbacks are not only fast, but big these days too. Baltimore has gone with the movement too, drafting Jimmy Smith last year and using he and Cary Williams (both over six feet tall) on the outside.

Baltimore will see some big bodies this Sunday against the Cowboys with former Chief Brandon Carr (6-0, 210), first-round pick Morris Claiborne (5-11, 185) and Mike Jenkins (5-10, 198). The Cowboys have the top-ranked secondary in the league, allowing just 169.5 passing yards per game.

"These guys [Dallas Cowboys] have two excellent corners – they have four excellent corners," Harbaugh said. "People are willing to match their corners up, and we just need to take advantage of that and make some plays. That's what our guys want to do."

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