The comments made by Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (who? Exactly.) about New England’s hurry up offense may have been a just a careless mistake by a young player, but that doesn’t make them any less ironic. After all, the Patriots’ hurry up offense could be the very reason the Ravens will be going home this weekend.
Over the past few years the Patriots have created the fastest and most successful hurry up offense in NFL history. Sure, they are currently missing two offensive weapons in Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead, but that didn’t seem to slow them down last week against the Texans when they put up 41 points.
Including the postseason, the Patriots have now scored 30+ points 11 times in 17 games.
Now, even though the Ravens have had a lot of recent success against Brady and the Pats (Brady has 5 INT in his last 2 postseason games against the Ravens), this is a much older and softer defense than past Baltimore defenses. For example, the Ravens ranked 20th against the run this year, giving up over 122 yards per game (last week they gave up 125). Against the Patriots fast paced offense that doesn’t allow the defense to substitute most of the time, stopping the run could become a serious issue for the Ravens, especially late in the game.
Also, the key to beating Tom Brady (much like Peyton) is to get to him off his spot and get him on the ground. The teams that have been able to do that—Giants, Seahawks, etc—have been the most recent teams to force Brady into bad decisions and poor games. Brady cannot handle pressure and hates to scramble. The Patriots have been figuring out the best way to counter the pressure though, by going faster and faster….and faster.
When the defense is constantly exhausted and can’t get their premier pass rushers in and out of the game, it becomes very hard to create pressure. That combined with the fact that Brady has one of the league’s elite offensive lines protecting him, could make it very tough for the Ravens to get pressure.
Obviously, in the playoffs anything can happen, and the Ravens may have an answer for the Pats hurry up offense. However, I think the best solution for the Ravens is to be able to run the ball with extreme effectiveness. I know Flacco had a great game last week against Denver, but the Ravens defense is going to need their offense to extend drives by pounding the ball on the ground and keeping Brady and company on the sideline and out of a groove.
You think the Patriots needed any more motivation to get their hurry up offense going any faster? Absolutely not, but Ayanbadejo was kind enough to provide it anyway.
Follow Cole Stevenson on Twitter: @Cole_Stevenson