Eagles v. Ravens: Five Things to Watch For
Hi everybody. I know I said there would be stats posts and video reviews coming this week. And they’re still coming. But some technical difficulties got in the way, and now it’s already Saturday. So in the mean time, let’s look ahead to this Sunday’s matchup with Five Things to Watch for…
1. Jason Babin v. Kelechi Osemele – Babin is likely still looking to get back to full speed in just his second game-action of the 2012 season, following a calf injury that nagged him through the preseason. He’ll be matched up against rookie RT Osemele, the Ravens’ 2nd round pick this past spring. The Ravens went into the offseason with a three-way battle for the two starting OT position, and Osemele beat out former-Viking Bryant McKinnie for the bookend job to Michael Oher. Osemele is big. Really big (Listed at 6’6”, 333). He should have no trouble overpowering Babin if he can get his hands on him. Look for Babin to use his explosive speed to try to beat Osemele around the edge before he can engage.
2. Brandon Hughes – With Curtis Marsh’s hamstring ailing, Hughes is likely to get a larger share of the snaps this week. Look for him to line up on the outside when DRC or Nnamdi need a breather, or when Nnamdi “plays Charles Woodson” for a down or two and moves inside. Brandon Boykin should continue to hold down the job as primary slot defender.
3. Jason Kelce v. Whoever – Kelce, along with the rest of the line, did not have a good week last week. Ahtyba Rubin, a guy you never heard of before last week, looked like a vintage Shaun Smith. Vick was harassed by pressure up the middle all day. The Ravens can send out one or more of these three behemoths to clog up the middle of the line: Haloti Ngata (330 lb), Terrence “Mount” Cody (350 lb), and Ma’ake Kemoeatu (364 lb). Although Cody has yet to fill his potential and Kemoeatu has seen better days, their weight advantages could give them a very big edge over the diminutive (or, well, as diminutive as a 290 lb man can be) Kelce. Ngata is still top 3 at his position and not showing many signs of slowing down.
4. Contain v. Blitz – Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has to choose one of these options on every passing down (which against Andy Reid is every down): Rush at Vick and try to force him into a mistake, or play contain and hope he outsmarts himself. Vick has been very dangerous when blitzed in the past, by either scrambling or using his mobility to outrun defenders while looking for an uncovered man downfield. Early in Vick’s career, Jim Johnson recognized this and told his historically blitz-happy defense to play contain, with much success. It will be interesting to see how often a linebacker, corner, or safety plays a QB spy zone v. how often that player will blitz. The 3-4 will allow Pees to disguise this setup before the snap in a number of ways, and this could prove to be the most important game plan decision of the week.
5. Vonta Leach v. DeMeco Ryans – Leach is one of the best fullbacks in the game. Ryans is one of the best middle linebackers in the game. Whoever wins the point of attack between these two will probably get the best of a given running play this Sunday. They’re also familiar with each other. Ryans and Leach both played for the Texans from 2006-2010, and one would imagine that they have encountered one another in camp hitting drills with a fair bit of frequency.