Limiting production of Ravens running game is key for Bills defense

Buffalo Bills

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. Ravens defeat Titans 20-13. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Last week the Bills faced Colts quarterback Philip Rivers who is at the end of his career, doesn’t have the arm strength he once did and isn’t mobile.

This week, they face the complete opposite.

The biggest challenge for the Bills defense against the Ravens is containing quarterback Lamar Jackson who Micah Hyde called one of the “best athletes in the league.”

That’s because of what he can do with his legs. The Bills have faced a few mobile quarterbacks this season but this is where Jackson thrives. Just last week alone against the Titans in their wild card win he rushed for 136 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.

“With the quarterback run aspect part of the game they’ve got every single quarterback run you can think of. When you talk about that type of offense it comes down to guys being disciplined with their eyes and then being able to tackle out in space and you’ve gotta have all eleven guys running to the football. It’s not an easy task at all, it’s a really good offense,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.

Hyde says the keys to limiting Jackson’s production comes down to three things:

“Number one eyes, number two playing fast and tackling.”

Tackling. That was an issue against the Colts as they had far too many missed tackles. Pro Football Focus had the Bills missing 12 tackles which can’t happen against a guy like Jackson who can make you pay for not stopping him on the first or second attempt.

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier says this is where having linebackers with the skill set of Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano comes in handy.

“They’re both very athletic guys with a lot of range and the ability to be able to tackle in space which is what you have to be able to do against Lamar. I mean it’s hard, he can make anybody miss in space and we saw the 48-yard run in the Titans game. He’s just a terrific player but to have athletes on the field like Tremaine and Matt gives you some comfort but you do know that Lamar is a special guy especially in space,” Frazier explained.

Last year against Baltimore, the Bills held Jackson to just 40 yards rushing on 11 carries and no touchdowns. But he did throw for 145 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-17 Ravens win. While it’s helpful to have the tape on Jackson from a year ago, the Bills know they can’t solely rely on that.

“You had an idea of how talented he was but once our players got out on the field and myself and the rest of the coaches got a chance to see him up close we were like “wow this guy’s really special you know the tape doesn’t do him justice.” He creates so many problems for you on defense and we did some really good things in that ball game but it’s a different team, different year, they’ve grown since then,” Frazier said.

And it’s not just Jackson who poses a threat in the Ravens’ running game. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins has been a huge weapon for them this season especially during their six-game winning streak rushing for seven touchdowns and 468 yards.

“We’ve gotta be able to show we can stop their main run plays and try to force this team to throw the football. Until we’re able to stop their running attack then they’re gonna be running the ball all game long so yeah we’re gonna have to come in and prove that we can stop that running attack,” Poyer said.

“I think that stopping the run and eliminating those big pass plays down field is gonna be a huge key for us,” Hyde explained.

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