Can The Ravens Stop RG3?
December 7, 2012 in What to Look For
This week the 9-3 Baltimore Ravens will travel down I-95 to face their instate rival, the 6-6 Washington Redskins.
1. Containing RGIII
It is as simple as this, if the Ravens can't keep rookie sensation Robert Griffin III in check, they will lose. In Redskins wins, Griffin has 324 more pass yards, a 12.5 in completion percentage, averages 3.69 more yards per pass, 7 more TD passes, and his passer rating increases by 42.9 points. Griffin's run game also is effected as he averages 1.3 more yards per rush. Overall, he ranks 2nd in the NFL in yards per attempt with 8.19 and leads all QBs with 714 rushing yards, yards per game (59.5), and leads the NFL in yards per attempt with 6.8.
Odds are the Ravens will have trouble with him as they are hurting on defense. Over the course of the season only 4 players have started every game. In the passing game, Griffin will face the Ravens original number 2, 4, and 5 cornerbacks on the depth chart. Considering, Charlie Batch, a 3rd string QB passed for 276 yards against the Ravens last week, the Redskins could easily pass for over 300 yards. The main thing the Ravens will have problems with is Griffin running the ball. The only running QB the Ravens have faced this year is Michael Vick. Vick rushed 10 times for 34 yards but from my memory none of those were designed runs. The Redskins will have runs specially called for Griffin which can be very effective. The biggest assignment for the Ravens will go to the outside linebackers which will be discussed later. Expect Robert Griffin III to have a good game against the Ravens with over 300 yards of total offense.
2. Terrell Suggs
Last week against the Steelers, Suggs left the game late in the game with an arm injury and never returned. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Suggs tore his biceps. Head coach John Harbaugh said "He basically has a bicep, a very serious strain, it could be called a tear, it’s something he could possibly play with. He’s figuring out now with the trainers and the doctors.” If you are looking for players that have played with a torn bicep, look no father than the Redskins who had DEs Andre Carter and Phillip Daniels do this in 2009. This season, Miami Dolphins LB Karlos Dansby has been playing with a torn bicep. Suggs has said “I have been told a couple of guys in the NFL are playing with torn biceps and that it may get better, it may not. You may need surgery, you may not. I don’t really know. Like I said, we’re going to go over it and decide what’s best to do for the team and myself.” He also said "We kind of live by the creed, ‘If you can breathe, you can play.’ But we just got to check it. We got to see how it holds up throughout the week."
Whether Suggs plays or not is huge. He is the most important player for the Ravens on defense when it comes to stopping Griffin. While he only has 2 sacks this year, he has set the edge in the run game very well. With Suggs playing this season, the Ravens have relied on a four-man pass rush more than before. "According to ESPN Stats & Information's John McTigue, the Ravens have the second-best Total QBR allowed (28.9) since Week 7, sending such pressure after posting the second-worst in the first six weeks of the season." What this really means is the if Suggs doesn't play, they will blitz more often. However, this hasn't worked against Griffin this year. Against the blitz he has thrown for 9 TDs, 0 INTs, completed 68.2% of his passes, and has a QBR of 98.4. When teams don't blitz his QBR drops to 74.1. I do expect Suggs to play because he is such a competitor. Proof comes from his fast recovery from a torn achilles this year. His effectiveness would be very limited but the Ravens will need him this week and for the playoff run.
3. Run Defense
This matchup comes at a bad time for the Ravens. The Redskins are 1st in the NFL averaging 167.2 rush yards per game while the Ravens rank 23rd allowing 125.8 yards per game. Redskins RB Alfred Morris ranks tied for 3rd in the NFL with 1,106 rushing yards this year while QB Robert Griffin III leads all QBs. What makes the matchup even worse for the Ravens is their LBs corps is hurting right now. We already discussed Suggs above, and their best run stopping LB Dannell Ellerbe missed last week with an injury and will probably be questionable this week. If the Ravens start stacking the box to try and stop the run game, then the Redskins will just pass it right over them. The Ravens front seven will need to come and play this week and force the Redskins to pass.
4. Passing Offense
As bad as this sounds to Ravens fans, the way to attack the Redskins defensive is through the air. The Redskins give up 299 pass yards per game which ranks 31st in the NFL. They also rank 4th in the NFL in rush yards per game allowing 91.5. This is definitely a balancing act for the Ravens though. Whenever the Ravens lose, star RB Ray Rice doesn't get the ball enough and QB Joe Flacco throws the ball inaccurately. This has especially be true on the road. Hopefully for Flacco, he will play good in Washington DC as he usually plays good at home which will only be about 1 hour away. Key for Flacco to succeed is the receivers getting separation from the Redskins secondary. One player to watch is WR Torrey Smith who has only 1 game with more than 5 catches since a week 4 win against the Browns where he had 6 catches.