Film Breakdown: Like Mayo On Rice

This film breakdown will be one picture because it summarizes everything that has to do with the Ravens, Ray Rice, and how the Patriots can stop him. That's all it takes.

This one picture is the Ravens run game. Let's break it down by color.

Pink Arrow - The Pink Arrow follows receiver Anquan Boldin. He started on the right side of the field, but was motioned over to the left. As you can see by the baby blue arrows, Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie shift over in order to trace the steps of Boldin. The Ravens love this motion. Why? Almost every single time they motion the receiver across the field, it forces the opposing defense off balance and in one direction: following the receiver.

So when the defense adjusts to follow the receiver, the Ravens catch the defense out of position and attack the very same side the motioned receiver just left. Every single time. It allows Ray Rice to cut behind the blockers as the second level of defense is out of position.

The Patriots must read the motions and not abandon their position. It's all about discipline.

But how do the Ravens know when to motion?

Black Circle - That's the deep safety for the Jets. The Patriots must have their versatile safeties compensate for these motions because the Ravens will attack the side with the deep safety. It's only a few extra yards for the deep safety versus the safety in the box, but it's the difference between a 2 yard gain and a 5 yard gain- and that's all the difference in the world.

When the Ravens motion, the Patriots have to move the safeties; if the motion is to the left, Pat Chung has to drop deep. If the motion is to the right, Devin McCourty has to step back. The safety on the receiver must step back, while the safety on the empty side of the field must step into the box.

Red Arrow - Fullback Vontae Leach is a very good lead blocker and his match-up against Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes will be one of the key fights of the day. Leach is extremely good at getting through the hole and taking away the gap defender, opening a cutback lane for Rice. Spikes should follow Leach and engage him whenever possible and allow Jerod Mayo to trace Rice. Leach can most likely overpower Mayo, but Spikes has the strength to plug the gap.

Keep in mind that the Ravens offensive line loves to kick slide in the direction of the run. They try to seal the defenders out and away from the running play. The Patriots will have to use the opposing momentum against the offensive line and use brute strength to force the Ravens offensive line to close the lanes they're trying to create with their slides.

Yellow Arrow - Ray Rice is dangerous. The Patriots can't just limit Rice. They have to prevent all of the Ravens blocking schemes prior to Rice taking the ball in the backfield. Rice will only be as dangerous as those in front of him and the Patriots must be ready to stop and read all of the motions.

Green Arrows - They represent the Jets defense ends, who were responsible for limiting Rice to 66 yards on 25 carries for a 2.6 average. You'll notice that they're not in the traditional 5-technique position on the outside shoulders of the offensive tackles. They're in the 4-technique spot in between the shoulders of the guard and the tackle. Rice is a between the tackles runner who is dangerous once he slices outside. The Jets tried to contain him between the tackles to prevent him from hitting the open field. The Patriots should copy the same exact strategy as the Jets. Here's why:

Defensive ends (Brandon Deaderick/Shaun Ellis) line up at the 4 technique, between the tackle and the guard. The nose tackle (Kyle Love/Vince Wilfork) will take the 0 technique, directly across from the center.

The nose tackle will bull the center into the backfield. No pass rush, just collapse the pocket and watch both sides of the center to make a play.

The defensive ends will occupy both the guards and the tackles. The DE's job is to split the blockers and get into the backfield and prevent Rice from hitting his favorite gaps behind the guards.

The inside linebackers (Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo) will attack the A Gaps that should be wide open. Hopefully the linebackers can read where Leach is heading and seal the gap.

The outside linebackers are on contain and can help clean-up the run play if the Ravens commit to a running lane.

The offensive guards are in a tough situation. Either they slide to block the linebackers crashing the A gap, which leaves the inside lane for the defensive ends to peel inside and make a backfield tackle on Rice, or they continue to block the defensive end and hope that Leach and Rice can make a play in the open field.

Basically, the defensive ends lining in the B Gap forces the guard to pick their poison: either block the defensive end and leave the linebackers free, or slide to defend the linebackers and leave the defensive end free.

So looking at this one picture, we can tell the following:

The Ravens will motion a player and run to the now-empty side.

The Ravens offensive line will slide in the opposite direction of the motion.

The Ravens will motion away from the deep safety.

Lining up the defensive ends at the 4 technique will contain Rice to the middle of the field.

Leach is key in springing Rice into the open field; the opposition must stonewall Leach before he gets free.

Watch for it.

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