The problem with playing the Ravens is there are few - if any - true weak spots.
The offense is shifty - Von Miller called it “unique” and Vic Fangio called the run game “upper level.”
The defense is a relentless, blitz-happy unit.
And special teams is strong.
So how do the Broncos attack this three-headed monster?
The Broncos’ quarterback may not know the answer, but he definitely has the right approach - treat it like a test. Study, prepare...then perform to your strengths.
“I look at it as you respect the game, and on any Sunday, any team can be beat,” Teddy Bridgewater said. “We go out there on Sundays and we don’t get caught up in who it is that we’re playing. It’s all about trying to make this team better and trying to move in the right direction.”
But obviously moving toward another win will undoubtedly get more challenging this week.
“We’ll get an opportunity this Sunday against the Ravens, a team that’s been winning for the past couple years and has been to the playoffs,” Bridgewater added. “It’ll be a true test, for sure, but all the games that we’ve played have been tests also.”
Containing Lamar Jackson
Not only is it tough to play against Lamar Jackson, it’s nearly impossible to find a player who can emulate No. 8 and help the defense prepare for his speed and agility.
“The guy, however fast he is — nobody ever got a 40 [yard dash] time on him — but my eyes tell me he’s really fast, and he’s shifty and elusive,” Fangio said. “This guy is so special and the thing that gets lost because he’s so spectacular running the ball, is this guy can throw it. He’s a complete quarterback and he’s tough. He’s one of a kind, thank God.”
Don’t let this fall under the radar:— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) September 26, 2021
Lamar Jackson converted a 4th-AND-19 to set up Tucker’s kick.
A week after beating the Chiefs on 4th down.
Ed Donatell called covering Jackson the “biggest discrepancy in schemes that you could find in the NFL.
“It’s probably the biggest discrepancy in schemes that you’ll find in the league when you have to play their whole attack and play the athlete. He’s special, he’s unique. We have to change how we play. It’s a challenge for us as coaches and players to be something different to go against their attack because it’s unique in what’s required.”
Pat Shurmur, who remembers scouting Jackson back in 2018 while head coach of the Giants, noted he’s been amazing throughout his college and pro career.
“He’s done some amazing things to help his team win a lot of games,” he said. “He’s a tough guy to stop.”
But the Broncos will have to stop Jackson if they want any chance at a victory, so Donatell said a spy may be used occasionally.
“There are times when there will be people looking after him, but everybody has that responsibility—all eleven people,” Donatell said. “There’s a second play that you’re going to have to play when he gets off rhythm, and you need great discipline in those times, too. It’s really both.”
Von Miller - the recently named AFC Defensive Player of the Month - pointed out it will be important for the Broncos to play “their” style of football.
“He can run, he can throw, he can do all types of stuff. He can shake guys in the hole and outside the hole,” Miller said. “If you get him in space, it’s a nightmare for anybody....They pride themselves on being physical and being a run-first team. We have to match them. We have to come out there, play our style of football and just take it one play at a time.”
Handling the blitz
One of Bridgewater’s strengths has been recognizing pressure pre-snap. That will bode well on Sunday.
“He’s got a good feel pre-snap where it might be coming from,” Fangio said, adding that if Bridgewater gets surprised by a blitz, he doesn’t panic. “He has an innate ability to react to what might surprise him, and he’s calm. He doesn’t rush his decisions. He’s calm under duress and that pays off.”
Bridgewater already knows he’s going to have to get the ball out quick this weekend though.
“Yeah 100 percent. They bring a lot of pressures, and they’ll man you up on the outside,” Bridgewater explained. “They’ll bring pressures and kind of challenge us on the outside to go out there and make plays.”
But once again, for Bridgewater, it’ll be about the preparation.
“Like I said, we’re going to prepare the same way we prepare every week and put ourselves in position to go out there and be successful,” Bridgewater added. “I’m very confident that our room is going to prepare like we’re supposed to, so that Sunday, we can go out and play fast and have a lot of fun.”
Battle of the kickers?
Last week Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker broke the NFL record for longest field goal in a game-winning 66-yarder, something Broncos’ kicker Brandon McManus has been pining to do for years.
And rumor has it that Tucker is aiming to break his own record this weekend at Mile High where the air is thin and the ball travels far.
What fun would it be if McManus finally got his shot at the record and it was for a game winner against the team whose kicker would have owned the record for less than a week?
After traveling similar paths to NFL, Teddy Bridgewater and Lamar Jackson set to face off for first time
"It’s a unique bond. We’re both from South Florida — 32nd pick in the draft. [We] both have strong mothers. [We] have so much in common, and I’m happy for all the success that he’s had in his career," Bridgewater said.
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