At home, the New England Patriots Red Zone defense allows slightly over 1 Touchdown per game. On the road the Ravens’ Offense scores a little more than 2 Touchdowns per game.
With two premier outside Cornerbacks, the Patriots strengths on defense are pass coverage, especially in the Red Zone. When the Ravens are in the Red Zone, look for the Patriots defensive game plan to focus on stopping the run and force Flacco to throw the ball. Let’s examine the Patriots Red Zone passing defense and see where can the Ravens find success.
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The Patriots Cover 1 Defense
Cover 1 is a man to man defense with a single high Safety covering the middle of the field. The Patriots use this coverage scheme to stop the run or the pass. Against the pass, the coverage is designed to take away routes that break to the sidelines and force Receivers to the middle of the field where help comes from Linebackers in Zone Coverage or a Free Safety at the top of the coverage.
The Patriots Man-Under Two Deep Coverage
Man under two deep coverage is another man to man defense, but with two Safeties at the top of the coverage. Each Safety is responsible for covering half of the deep field. The Patriots use this coverage as a method to bracket or double team two receivers. The Safeties can scan the Quarterback’s eyes and drive down onto routes in medium coverage. The safeties also have the ability to help cover fade routes from faster receivers.
How to attack the Patriots Red Zone Pass Defense
Fade Route to the outside Wide Receiver
Using a vertical release, a receiver such as Steve Smith Sr can work on a Cornerback in press-man coverage to get an outside release. Steve Smith Sr has the strength and quickness off the line to beat either Revis or Browner and compete for the ball in the End Zone.
An x-factor is Torrey Smith. Smith has the speed to beat a defender in man coverage, but does he have the quickness off of the line to get a clean release with outside leverage?
“You have some talented guys that we have a lot of respect for,” Smith said. “But, we go against NFL corners all the time, and obviously, Darrelle is one of the best. We also have to go against [Browns cornerback] Joe [Haden] throughout the year, who is one of the best, as well.” – Torrey Smith
Catch the ball underneath and get yards after the catch
Against a cover 1 or Man under 2 deep coverage, the Ravens can take advantage of Torrey Smith’s speed and get him the ball underneath the coverage. Use blockers to allow him to gain yards after the catch.
Move the Free Safety from middle of field
Against a cover 1 defense, Flacco can move the safety from the middle of the field with his eyes as he goes through his progression reads. Flacco can also throw a fake pass to one side of the field to get the Safety moving, and then throw to the other side of the field.
Bunch formations offer the Ravens offense several advantages against the Patriots man defense. Condensing the receivers can open space on the outside. A Receiver has room on the outside to outrun the Cornerback to a spot where this is room to run after the catch. The Cornerback does not have the protection of the sideline and has to defend against inside routes as well as outside breaking routes.
Nadeem was born and raised in Baltimore and now lives in Chicago with his wife and two kids. He is a graduate of Loyola College in Maryland with a degree in Engineering. Nadeem started to write about the Ravens in 2013 for his site Ravens Film Review, and progressing to work for I Hate JJ Redick. and later Russell Street Report.