NASHVILLE, Tenn. — QB Lamar Jackson and the entire Baltimore Ravens offense is going to be a load for the Tennessee Titans defense this week.

Baltimore utilizes a medley of option plays, fakes and motions in order to give defenses very few options when it comes to approaching a gameplan.

Defending all of that is a tall task.

“It’s about playing assignment football,” safety Kevin Byard said. “With all the motion, with all the jets, all the smoke and mirrors, you really have to be assignment-disciplined.”

In order to better understand that idea, I asked one representative from each position group on the Titans defense to explain what exactly their primary responsibility is when it comes to facing Jackson and the Ravens.

TITANS’ SECONDARY

If the Titans are able to keep the Ravens’ high-flying offense from completely wrecking the game, their secondary could be a big reason behind the success.

Particularly, Byard and his partner in the defensive backfield at safety, Kenny Vaccaro, could be the Titans’ saving graces.

Both Byard and Vaccaro are very versatile players. They can drop and play deep zone, they can man up on receivers, and they can tackle and play near the line of scrimmage.

Because of that, both of them figure to play a very large role against the Ravens’ rushing attack.

The key to doing so successfully, according to Byard, is to force Jackson to the outside.

“When it comes to defending Lamar Jackson—and all of this is easier said than done because he’s been the most dynamic player in the NFL—you want to make him go lateral,” he said. “You don’t want to give him any seams up the middle because we’ve seen what he’s done.

“Honestly, the way I look at it, with a guy like him, a 5-yard rush isn’t that bad. You don’t want to give up the 30 and 20-yard varieties.”

TITANS’ DEFENSIVE LINE

A major key to forcing Jackson to take the ball outside will be the Titans’ play up front on defense.

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has consistently preached, since he arrived last year, that the quickest and most efficient avenue to getting pressure on a quarterback is to do so right up the middle.

While Jackson definitely has the speed necessary to easily run away from interior defenders and get to the edge, penetration and disruption up the middle would seem to be a good first step to thwarting the Ravens’ option plays.

Three-time Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey agrees.

“If we get out of our gaps, they’re going to be hitting us for 100-yard runs,” he said. “It will be key for us to stay gap-sound, shed blocks and help the guys behind us so that, when they fill in, the running back can’t get into the gap.”

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

The Titans have a very fast and athletic pair of starting inside linebackers in Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown. As fast as they are, though, it will be important for them not to simply run and chase against the Ravens.

“When you start chasing things, sometimes you just open up more problems,” Vrabel said.

Instead of chasing or trying to be heroes, the Titans simply need Evans and Brown to play fundamentally sound defense.

A temptation for a linebacker would be to try and make “the big play” against Jackson, be a hero or otherwise alter their status quo, but that’s a trap that Evans is wary of falling into.

“Don’t allow them to change the tempo of the game, change how you play, he said.” If you just stay true to your technique and your fundamentals, you’ll be fine.”

The most important area of technique for Evans and Brown when it comes to Jackson, in particular, will almost certainly be good, form tackling.

“Get him down, that’s the main thing,” Evans said. “Get him down as fast as possible. He extends plays with his feet, and I feel like he’s still underrated with his arm.”

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS


Playing outside linebacker against an offense that utilizes the offense can be incredibly tricky, as the OLB is often the player that the QB is reading on the play.

The OLB has to make a number of quick decisions, such as whether to take the quarterback or a running back.

That being the case, as with inside linebackers, it can be easy for an OLB to overthink things against the option and make a mistake in the process.

As such, Kamalei Correa, who starts at OLB for the Titans opposite Harold Landry, shared similar thoughts to Evans when he described his personal responsibility against the Ravens.

“Get him down by any means possible. They run a lot of stuff, so it’s our job as a defense to just be sound in what we do. Really, just bring him down by a shoelace, a big hit, or whatever the case may be, but don’t let him score touchdowns.”

Cover image: Jeremy Brevard & Tommy Gilligan/USA Today

Advertisement
https://atozsportsnashville.com/tennessee-titans-every-level-of-the-defenses-responsibility-against-lamar-jackson/
Facebook Comments