If there’s been one weakness to the Ravens’ defense in 2020, it’s been in the run game.
Whether it be due to injuries, COVID-19, inexperience at the linebacker spot or just the simple fact that they’ve played against some of the best rushing attacks in football this year, Baltimore’s run defense must improve if they want to be a contender in the AFC.
As the Ravens prepare for the Browns in an AFC North matchup with significant playoff implications, former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez identified the run game as something Cleveland needs to emphasize on Monday night.
“[The Browns] have to major in a heavy dose of [Nick] Chubb, a heavy dose of [Kareem] Hunt and it’s gotta be play-action, quick game, throws on the move and limit Baker [Mayfield’s] exposure in five and seven-step drop-backs,” Sanchez said on Get Up. “That’s not [Mayfield’s] game, I think we can all agree. He’s not an elite quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win games, especially with this roster.”
Mayfield’s had a bounce-back year after a 2019 season in which he threw 21 interceptions. Thanks to a potent rushing attack, he’s been able to limit turnovers and make defenses pay for stacking the box. But as Sanchez points out, he’s still not all the way there as a passer yet, so it’d be wise for the Browns to let him ride the running game rather than the other way around.
The Browns ran it well against the Ravens in Week 1 despite getting blown out, but that’s because they couldn’t take care of the ball. If the Ravens can’t turn Mayfield over enough in this one, they’ll have a tall task in front of them holding the second-best rushing attack in the NFL in check. Still, Sanchez likes the Ravens because of the Browns’ history of coming up small in big games.
“I still can’t go with the Browns, they always let me down,” Sanchez said. “I’ll go with the Ravens.”