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Josh Allen, Bills brace for Ravens' blitzing onslaught

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Josh Allen has been sensational against the blitz this season.


Don’t expect that to deter the Baltimore Ravens’ defense in Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game.

“Our goal as a defense is to try to put as much stress on protection rules that teams have,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale. “The end-all goal is to have a free runner to the quarterback. What you’re seeing is anybody that comes off the bus can blitz for us, and they know that. Sometimes they run into a wall, but they do it at 100 mph and they can beat somebody, too.”

The chess match between Martindale’s scheme and the ability of Allen and the Bills’ offensive line to react will be critical to Saturday’s outcome.

The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing five or more men at the quarterback, blitzing at 41% this season, according to ESPN. It’s the third year in a row the Ravens have led the NFL in blitz rate.

What makes protecting against them even tougher, is they lead the NFL in defensive back blitzes, doing it about 25% of the time.


Last year, the Ravens blitzed the Bills into submission in a 24-17 victory in Orchard Park.

Martindale blitzed on 30 of 48 drop backs, 62.5%, according to Buffalo News charting. That’s the heaviest blitz rate Allen has seen in his three-year career.

The Bills handled it horribly. Allen was just 7 of 23 passing for 64 yards with five sacks against the Ravens. The Bills managed 3.2 yards per play. Overall against the blitz in 2019, Allen completed 55.4% of his passes for 6.01 yards per attempt with six TDs, one interception and 18 sacks, according to News charts.

“It’s a tough watch,” Allen said of reviewing the video. “I didn’t play particularly well last year in that game. A couple bonehead mistakes. They got after us. It’s a team that if they get momentum on their side, they’re scary.”

Fast forward to this season.

Allen has completed 67.5% of his passes against the blitz for a whopping 8.2 yards per attempt, including 14 TD passes, two interceptions and eight sacks.

Like all aspects of Allen’s play, that’s a giant leap forward.



However, the Ravens don’t sit back against anyone.

They blitzed Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in Week 3 of the 2019 season and lost, 33-28. The Ravens faced Mahomes in Week 3 of this season. They blitzed him 23 of 47 drop backs (49%) and lost, 34-20.

Mahomes burns the Ravens. He’s an exception.

Baltimore’s defense ranks No. 2 in points allowed, No. 7 in yards allowed, No. 1 on third downs.

“They rank top five in about everything, starting with scoring defense,” said Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Ravens are not the most effective pressure defense the Bills have faced this year. They ranked 21st in sacks with 39. They were seventh in passer rating allowed (87.1) and 11th in completion percentage allowed (63.8).

Pittsburgh, which the Bills beat 26-15 five weeks ago, ranked No. 1 in sacks (56), passer rating (76.7) and completion percentage (56.7). The Steelers ranked third in blitz rate at about 39%, just behind Miami (40%). (The Dolphins blitzed Allen 51% in the first half of the regular-season finale, and the Bills’ QB destroyed them for four TDs.)

The difference this week is the Pittsburgh defensive front is more static. You generally know where their star pass rushers (T.J. Watt, Casey Hayward and Bud Dupree) are lining up.

Baltimore moves all their players around. The Ravens don’t have speed defensive ends. That’s why they compensate by sending speedier defensive backs at the quarterback.

The risk of all the blitzing is it puts pressure on cornerbacks to play man-to-man coverage. The Ravens lead the league in “zero coverage” – man across the board with no safety help.

“Our secondary is really good,” Martindale said. “We don’t just send the front five. We’re dropping other guys out. That’s how you can mess with their protections.”

Thus, the chess match: Can Allen stay upright long enough for the Bills’ wide receivers to get free of the Ravens’ cornerbacks?

The Ravens’ blitz rate is down a little from last year, when it was 45.2%. Baltimore’s three best edge rushers are big and physical. Yannick Ngakoue has eight sacks, Matt Judon six and Calais Campbell 4. Judon had 1.5 vs. the Bills last season. Maybe the Ravens have the luxury this year of doing more five-man rushes and fewer all-out attacks. Thirteen of their 30 blitzes vs. the Bills last year were six, seven or eight men.

“We’ve got guys who can get to the quarterback,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Matt, of course, has always done a good job and gets there. Yan brings it. He’s always a major threat to rush the passer. I think the key for those guys is the ability to play it all. That’s how we’re built. Rush the passer, set the edge, stop the run, understand the zone and man drops. We did a lot of that (vs. Tennessee), where we brought a linebacker and dropped both ends.”

It may take another Mahomes-caliber effort by Allen for the Bills to survive the Ravens’ pressure.




“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”


Twitter: @HKTheResistance


HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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