Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: A Look at the Baltimore Ravens

201118-ravens

NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

Here's a quick look at the Ravens:

Record: 11-5.

Last game: Ravens 38, Bengals 3.

Last postseason game: Titans 28, Ravens 12.

Playoff record: 15-10.

Championships: 2: 2000 (XXXV), 2012 (XLVII).

Points for/against: 30.7/27.4.

NFL RANKINGS

Offense: 19th overall, 363.1 ypg (1st rushing, 32nd passing).

Defense: 7th overall, 323.0 (8th rushing, 6th passing).

TEAM LEADERS

Head coach: John Harbaugh.

Offense:

QB: Lamar Jackson (242-of-376, 2,757 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, 99.4 rating).

Top RBs: J.K. Dobbins (134 carries, 805 yards, 9 TDs), Gus Edwards (144 carries, 723 yards, 6 TDs).

Top WR: Marquise Brown (58 catches, 769 yards, 8 TDs).

Top TE: Mark Andrews (58 catches, 701 yards, 7 TD).

Defense:

Sacks: Yannick Ngakoue (8).

Leading tackler: Patrick Queen (105).

Interceptions: Marcus Peters (4).

Take/Give: +4 (22/18).

Kicker: Justin Tucker (26-of-29 FGs, 52-of-53 PATs).

Punter: Sam Koch 44.5 (42.5).

Last meeting: November 22, 2020: Titans 30, Ravens 24 (OT).

Of note:

-Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine played at Tennessee State University (2006-09).

-From 1989-2002, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's father, Jack, was the head coach at Western Kentucky University.

-Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox attended Evangelical Christian High School in Memphis and played at the University of Tennessee.

Injury Report

DE Calais Campbell (not injury related)

T D.J. Fluker (knee)

CB Marlon Humphrey (shoulder)

WR Willie Snead (ankle)

C Patrick Mekari (back)

OLB Yannick Ngakoue (thigh)

CB Jimmy Smith (ankle)

Ravens HC John Harbaugh …

on if defending running back Derrick Henry for the third time in a calendar year makes it easier)

Of course not. They do a great job with their offense. They have really excellent playmakers at every position. Of course, Derrick Henry, leading rusher in the league. Very unique, very tough player. Ryan Tannehill, how can you overlook him? I think he's playing as well as any quarterback in football. They built a scheme around him. He executes it extremely well. Makes every throw, play action stuff is really good. He can take off and run, runs quarterback-driven stuff. Operates all the different stuff they do at the line. Catch and run receivers, excellent pass catching and blocking tight ends who are very versatile, strong-handed guys across the board. All those things are things that you have to deal with when you play this team.

(on playing the Titans in the playoffs for the fourth time in his tenure with Baltimore and the characteristics of the Titans)

It's funny because we were – it's interesting, I guess is a better way to say it. We were on the bus after the Cincinnati game headed back towards the airport. I was talking to Ozzie (Newsome) and Eric (DeCosta) and Dick (Richard) Cass, and they've been around quite a bit longer than I have, I've been here since 2008 and they were here since '96. They were talking about the Titans-Ravens rivalry all the way back, 2000s, you know, and all the battles that they had, all the players that are involved there. I started in 2008. We played them twice. They won the first one. We were fortunate enough to win the second one there in the playoffs. Coach (Jeff) Fisher's well-coached team. Just been very physical, very tough rivalry over the years and I don't think too much has changed that way.

(on how he instructs his players to defend Derrick Henry)

It's just not him, it's the whole offense. It's never one thing. Sure, pursuit, gang tackling, eyes in the right spot, how you play your techniques up front. All of those things are important to play defense against anybody in any offense, but that's just multiplied I think because the structure of how they do it built around their players. They've been very good at what they do.

(on the uniqueness of the Titans balanced offense)

Everybody strives for a certain level of balance most of the time. I guess not everybody, but they certainly do. It starts with the run game certainly, and the play action, and the quick passes, the screens, a lot of movement passes, and then the quarterback-driven stuff. All those things are elements that they do very well.

(on where he's seen the most growth from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson this season)

I don't really have a ranking on that, but I think quarterback position is really hard to pinpoint one thing because the overall, it's all about the overall with that position. There are so many aspects to it that you have to be good at just have to have a chance at anything. He's continued to improve across the board in every aspect really. It's a tough year, no offseason. It was a big developmental year. It's only his second year starting from the beginning of the season. He's 23 years old and we didn't have the offseason program. We didn't have much of a training camp. That was something I think that hurt all the young guys, and as a developing quarterback that was part of it. He's been, that growth has happened during the season. He's definitely playing his best football of the year at this time. It reflects how hard he's worked at it throughout the course of the season.

(on managing expectations for young players after having success early like Lamar Jackson)

Not so much what do you do to top it because it's all about winning games and ultimately winning a championship, and that's something that Lamar (Jackson) has been focused on from day one. But to the premise of your question, I would say yeah. It's probably true for anybody and understandable and it's always something to deal with. I don't care if it's success or failure, triumph or disaster, whatever it might be. Those two imposters if I was to quote (Rudyard) Kipling here, you guys can go check that one out, right? Try to treat them just the same and he's done a good job of that. Anybody get the reference there? No? I'm not get much feedback on that.

(on head coach Mike Vrabel instilling his playing style and characteristics into the Titans identity)

Heck yeah. Every team reflects the person or their coach. His team, he's always been just a real petty, tough player, and that's the way his teams play.

(on if the Titans defense does anything effectively to help the offense)

Of course, and we know it because we played them. We know how good they are, and how tough they are, how hard they play, how aggressive they are, and how they're going to try to take away what you do well. We have a lot of respect for them.

(on what has changed after their regular season matchup that has allowed Baltimore to win five straight games)

There's been so much, just an incredible series of events I think throughout the course of this season for every team. Every team may be a little unique, but every team has had these crazy series of events, some are going through them now. We just dealt with them well. We handled them well. We weren't playing very good football there at one time. We managed to pull through that and just keep pounding the rock and trying to improve, and we've managed to improve but at this point, it's just one-game seasons. We have to try to put our best foot forward on Sunday.

(on how he wants his team to approach this game after many are calling it a 'revenge game')

It wouldn't be something we really talk about. I understand the storyline. I think it's an interesting storyline. Of course, we recognize that, but at the same time, that's not what helps you play your best football. We need to play our best football against, in the playoffs, against any opponent, certainly against this opponent. You have to play your best football to have a chance to win and that's really what we're focusing on trying to do.

Titans HC Mike Vrabel …

(on if it's easier or harder to face the Ravens for the third time in a calendar year)

It's always hard to play, to prepare for a good football team, for a sound, physical football team that's got a history of winning. They're playing well. We'll just have to dial in stuff that we needed to improve on those last couple games and try to try to take care of these keys as we see (what) are going to be the ones that are going to help us beat the Ravens.

(on the challenge of defending what Baltimore does well while trying to create defensive matchups)

Not sure we have many people that can match up with Lamar Jackson's speed, so if you have, let me know and we'll throw them in there. But we're going to have to play sound team defense. It's option football. When it's not, then we'll have to be sound on the pass game. He's clearly a threat. He's clearly an unbelievably dynamic player. Poses a lot of problems. We'll have to begin our preparation with the players tomorrow afternoon.

(on what stands out about the Ravens rushing attack)

Everybody believes in it. They believe in their scheme. They do a nice job up front of covering guys up and staying on blocks. Receivers are willing to block. The threat of the quarterback to run the football is always an issue, and their backs are talented. They have backs that play with great vision, run behind their pads, they run heard. It'll be a big challenge.

(on Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins being more of a threat now than he was in their first matchup)

He's playing with confidence and I think sometimes the more carries you get, the more confidence you get, and you get a better feel for how things are going to be blocked, and how runs may break, where the cut may be. It seems like a greater
confidence level.

(on if there are common threads in the Ravens offense that can allow the defense to replicate past performances)

I think there is. Obviously not every play is a read or an option-type play. But when it is, you're going to have to be sound and there's going to have to be responsibilities that everybody is going to have to take care of. Because if not, that's when they take advantage of your missed assignment and the quarterback pulls it, or the running back has it. You can't jump out of gaps. Everybody's responsible for something. But then you have to be good on the plays that aren't designed to be read or option-type plays. They're moving the ball down the field or they're regular gap-scheme runs and so that's the challenge, that not every play is a read. We'll go back through and try to identify those plays that we need to improve on from the last time and try to be better this time.

(on the effectiveness of the Ravens tight ends)

They're good players. I think Lamar (Jackson) has a lot of trust and confidence in them. He likes to see it in front of them, the vision, they work the middle of the field. They're tough matchups. Those tight ends that have good length, big catch radius, is a comfort for the quarterback.

(on building a non-division rivalry with the Ravens and what it's like to play a non-division rival in the playoffs)

We do have a lot of familiarity with them. The rivalry is that we've played them. We went down there in the playoffs, came back and played them again. Like Jim (Wyatt) mentioned, it's three times in a calendar year in a non-divisional game. All these teams that finished 11-5 or better, that's a great accomplishment. To be able to do that and have the opportunity to play against the Ravens in the playoffs is something that is special. We have a lot of respect for them. We understand it's going to be a difficult task. I don't know what that is. I don't know what that's like. I don't know other than you have to play well. You have to do things that aren't going to get you beat. You're going to have to take care of football. You're going to have to be sound because they're going to be able to take advantage of all the mistakes that you make, whether that be in any phase.

(on what Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell brings to the defense)

A lot of instincts. He's an instinctive football player. We talk about a lot of times, defensive linemen, they just don't have a grasp of the overall defense I think, or maybe the scheme that's up against them, and Calais (Campbell) and those guys do. He's dropped out before, early in the season, tipped a pass that was intercepted. He's got great length. He can push the pocket. It'll be a huge challenge, again, with (Brandon) Williams and him also being back.

(on how defensive tackle Brandon Williams improves the Ravens run defense)

He's stout. He's instinctive as well. He does a great job. He's hard to move, plays with his hands, plays with a body lean. They're well-coached. Joe Cullen does a great job with that group. I've got a lot of respect for those guys and how they play.

(on if there is a connection in the Week 11 meeting between having held Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to 3.9 yards per carry and Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown to zero catches)

I don't know if they're connected. I know that we'll have to do a great job in the run game, whether they choose to read somebody, whether they choose the gap scheme, or whether they choose to run zone scheme, whatever it may be. But the quarterback is going to have the football in his hands and he's going to be dynamic, whether they're reading somebody or he's taking off in the in the passing game. Obviously, Hollywood (Marquise Brown)'s targets have increased and they're finding ways to get him the football.

(on Lamar Jackson's development and redefining the meaning of conventional quarterback)

He's won a lot of games. He takes care of the football, throws a deep ball. He's got plenty of arm strength. The shots are going to be something that are going to be critical. That's his style. It's not going to change, nor should it. That's who he is. He's dynamic. It's tough to bring him down with one guy in the open field. It's tough to rush him and understand how he's going to – if you stand there and let him throw he's going to complete them, and then also be able to have the ability to take off and run and extend plays and that becomes as much of a headache as anything else.

(on making adjustments versus sticking to predetermined keys when defending Lamar Jackson)

I think you have to be careful that they're pretty confident in what they've done. It's proven, and we'll have to be ready for really anything, but I think that they're going to be consistent in what they've done and probably shown on film. They've made some wrinkles here lately. They've gone to bigger people, two tight ends, two backs, XL personnel. But at the end of the day you're going to have to force the ball outside and see if you can chase them down.

(on defensive areas to be especially sound in against an unconventional Ravens offense)

When they read you, you're going to have to be sound, and everybody's going to have to take care of their responsibility. If they're responsible for an inside run fit then they're going to have to stay inside, and if they have to match a guy on the edge, they're going to have to match the guy on the edge. When they do option you it becomes responsibility football. Sometimes in that Pittsburgh game, that first Pittsburgh game, they ran a much more, I would say, traditional run scheme that had a lot of success too. That's where they catch you off guard is thinking that everything is going be a zone read and it's not, and they catch you off guard and smash you.

(on the importance of the defense sticking to their assignments and not freelancing)

Very important to be disciplined and try to make them earn it. If they're going to beat you, you have to try to make them earn it and not have critical errors, uncover somebody, or let somebody go, or miss a run fit that allows (J.K.) Dobbins, or (Gus) Edwards, or (Mark) Ingram to crease you, to not allow the quarterback to crease you. We handed one with (Mark) Andrews there down in the red zone or high red area. We'll have to try to eliminate those types of things.

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