When these teams squared off two weeks ago in Los Angeles, the Chargers didn’t really have an answer for the Ravens’ rushing attack. Despite being a run-first offense, Baltimore entered the game with only 6 runs of 20 or more yards through the first 14 games of the season. Against the Chargers, however, they had three 20+ yard runs as well as a 19-yarder.
Los Angeles likes to predominantly play defense with dime personnel (6 defensive backs). This gets lots of speed on the field, but it also leaves them undersized. In Week 16, despite the Ravens’ run-heavy tendencies, Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley still chose to keep dime personnel on the field for most of the night. This certainly contributed to their inability to prevent big plays on the ground, as Ravens linemen were able to get to the second level and flick L.A.’s undersized 2nd-level defenders aside.
More worrisome for the Chargers was that they had significant issues on their defensive line. The Ravens attacked all night with power runs. Baltimore’s play-side down-blocks created big running lanes as you can see in the three plays below.
On the left side of the screen, watch right guard Marshal Yanda (#73) and right tackle Orlando Brown (#78) down-block Chargers defensive tackle Darius Philon (#93). This created a huge lane for running back Gus Edwards.
Notice how safety Adrian Phillips #31 got easily tossed aside, helping spring the big run.
On this next run, a QB power with Lamar Jackson, keep your eyes on the left side of the screen again. This time it was Orlando Brown with tight end Nick Boyle (#86) down-blocking defensive end Joey Bosa (#99). Again, notice safety Adrian Phillips being swallowed up by a much bigger offensive lineman.
This next run, another power, shows Orlando Brown (#78) blocking down on defensive end Melvin Ingram (#54) on the right side of the screen. This set up yet another big run for the Ravens.
Gus Bradley definitely has a big decision to make about keeping smaller personnel on the field this Sunday. Regardless of what he decides, the Chargers won’t win if their defensive line doesn’t play better than they did in Week 16.
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