Super Bowl: Baltimore Ravens, 5 Defensive Players Who Must Make a Difference
5 Players Who Need to Make A Difference On Defense
With the big game happening tonight it might be about time to jump on the player breakdown bandwagon and throw in my two cents worth on what the keys for the Baltimore Ravens tonight are and why they have to make a difference.
This first part is going to focus on the defensive side of the ball which has traditionally been the Ravens strength, but as previously discussed I don’t feel that this instalment of the defense has been up to snuff with the high standards that have been set in the past.
With that said, once Ray Lewis got back into the fray, the team has turned things around slightly and have managed to go on the road and take down two of the best quarterbacks in the league in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, with the performance in the AFC Championship game being very notable against the leagues best offense.
With having had two weeks to prepare for the pistol style offense that the San Francisco 49ers run and knowing how studious the key players such as Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are, I have a lot of confidence that Baltimore will be able to give Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh an early scare with their play in the early game. That’s not to say that the Ravens are going to shut down the 49ers all game but I think that some may be surprised with how the game goes early on.
Time to stop talking now and present you with the five Ravens I think are the most important to the teams defensive performance.
1. Ray Lewis
I bet you didn’t see this one coming! The Ravens will hope that Ray’s play will have Kaepernick scared like a deer caught in the headlights. Deer jokes aside I can’t even begin to fathom how much detail number 52 has gone into with his preparation this week and I think he will be ready for the tough 49ers run game. The only thing I am wary about is if Kaepernick begins to keep the ball a lot in the option game, as I think his quickness and athleticism could leave Ray in the dust. Frank Gore on the other hand, whilst he is a fantastic back, I don’t feel like he will give Lewis many problems as he’s not the shiftiest of ball carriers and might have a hard time trying to run over the 17 year vet.
2. Haloti Ngata
No matter what kind of offense you’re playing, the best way to disrupt their game plan is to get into the backfield quickly. If Haloti is on his usual game then I can definitely see him getting his mitts on Colin Kaepernick a couple of times. If Ngata makes a big enough impression it could cause some indecision within Kaepernick’s mind and lead to some misreads or even muffed exchanges if the QB doesn’t focus properly. There’s no doubt that Ngata will draw a lot of attention from the 49ers O-line and life in the trenches will be tough, but if he plays up to his usual standard there’s no doubt the he will be a significant force in the game.
3. Dannell Ellerbe
When I’ve watched the 49ers offense these past few weeks I’ve noticed a little bit of a pattern, Vernon Davis will at some point become the go-to guy for their offense and will rip off a series of big catches. The Ravens have a similar pattern; Ellerbe will be assigned to cover the opposition’s tight end. This battle is so key because Davis is such a matchup nightmare for any defense and with Bernard Pollard lurking around the box to stop Gore, Kaepernick and Michael Crabtree as well as Reed playing over the top to cover Moss, Ellerbe might go through stretches of the game where he is matched up 1-on-1 with Davis. If he limits the big play, the Ravens will be in good shape.
4. Cary Williams
Whilst I’m not 100 percent sure how the Ravens are going to match up their corners against Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, I have a feeling that Williams being the slightly taller and longer corner will find himself matched up against Crabtree whilst Moss is dealt with in other ways. Crabtree has developed into a dependable target and you will often see him moving the chains on quick slants and timing routes so the task for Williams is to use his long wingspan to disrupt some of this timing routes and get the 49ers offense off the field on third downs.
5. Ed Reed
Another obvious pick but Ed Reed’s importance can’t be stressed enough as he will be the one that gets everyone lined up in the secondary. Kaepernick has shown himself to be a smart quarterback, but has he really seen all the complexities of a NFL defense yet? I’m not saying that the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers didn’t give him the works this playoffs, but I don’t think that he has seen the kind of smoke and mirror games that Reed likes to play combined with his ball skills and fleetness of foot. Out of all the players in this game, Ed Reed is the one I would bet on to deliver a huge play when it’s needed, and Ravens fans will be hoping for one of his famous pick sixes.