Could be a long night in Baltimore for Weeden, Browns

Cleveland Browns QB Brandon Weeden and his struggling offensive line might be in for a world of hurt against the Baltimore Ravens on “Thursday Night Football.”

Even with the losses of edge rusher Jarrett Johnson to San Diego in the offseason and Terrell Suggs due to an Achilles injury, the Ravens are still finding ways to rush the passer because of their scheme. Their ability to confuse protections by providing different looks and disguising their blitzes makes up for their lack of premier pass rushers. They are proficient with twists and stunts while bringing pressure off the edge, which leaves offensive lines in disarray and often leaves a lineman on air while a free rusher clobbers the QB. The Browns’ offensive line has struggled with protections all year and this scheme has the ability to expose them tonight.

Attacking an empty formation, the Ravens occupy the LT with No. 90 DT Pernell McPhee and loop No. 91 LB Courtney Upshaw inside to tie up the LG and C. Despite bringing just 5, the twist and McPhee’s ability to shorten the edge leaves No. 59 LB Dannell Ellerbe for a free rush on the QB.

The Ravens have the personnel to play man on the outsides with no help while bracketing the offense’s most dangerous threat (in this case TE Rob Gronkowski). The Ravens disguise this blitz well and the offensive line is unable to account for Ellerbe.

Cleveland’s only chance offensively will be to frequently utilize screens and draws to try to keep the Baltimore pass rush hesitant and off balance. The Browns will need to find ways to get the ball to Trent Richardson in space, where he can build a head of steam and be as difficult to bring down as any back in this league. They will need to get the ball out of Weeden’s hands quickly and take advantage of openings in the middle of the field against the Ravens’ rushes with tight ends Benjamin Watson and Jordan Cameron. If Cleveland can do all of these things, they will have a chance tonight in Baltimore.

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