The Browns will face their third AFC North opponent in the first four weeks of the season when they play the Ravens at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 1.
Let’s look at three of the biggest keys for the Browns to beat the Ravens at home on Sunday.
Limit QB Lamar Jackson in the run game
While the Ravens are dealing with injuries after losing RB J.K. Dobbins to an Achilles injury, QB Lamar Jackson poses a threat to use his feet and run the ball himself.
LB Anthony Walker said as a defense, they must be smarter in how they rush because of how dynamic Jackson is at quarterback. Jackson can make plays with his feet and his arms, and it presents a different challenge for their rush defense. Through the first three games of the season, Jackson has rushed for 193 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns.
DC Jim Schwartz said they must put an emphasis on relentless effort, speed and physical toughness to stop the dual threat Jackson brings at quarterback.
“He’s one of the best athletes in the NFL that just happens to play the quarterback position,” Schwartz said. “So, if we saw running backs doing that, we wouldn’t bat an eye. We got to tackle him like he’s a running back. Tackle him like he’s a wide receiver. Just because the ball is in his hand doesn’t mean that he’s still not a threat to run. So, I think that probably has a lot to do with it, and we’re going to try to be physical if he does run. We’re going to try to play our game and put some hits on him and those kinds of things.”
DE Myles Garrett added that when Jackson escapes the pocket, they can’t fall for it. They have to be prepared for him to either throw or run. They can’t leave him too much room, so they have to play him like a running back and tackle him in the quarterback area.
Continue opening up the passing game
In Week 3’s 27-3 win over the Titans, the Browns found success in their passing game. Watson connected with his receivers for 289 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, they have to build on that success heading into Week 4. That stems not only from Watson’s connections with his receiving core, but also from the rest of the offense as well.
“I think that confidence is coming back in the passing game, and they had a good front and I think we protected well enough to give them enough chances, you know what I mean?” G Joel Bitonio said. “They had their fair share of the wins, but I think overall the group did enough up front to give them a chance to make those throws down.”
Watson is listed as questionable heading into Sunday’s game with a right shoulder injury. Regardless, if either Watson or backup QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson lead the offense, the passing game will play an important role in Sunday’s game as they build on their consistency.
The Ravens’ pass defense also is ranked 10th in the league, as they have given up 600 passing yards this season. As the Ravens secondary also deals with injuries CB Marlon Humphrey out, and S Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton questionable, the Browns should look to move the ball through the air.
Handle the Ravens’ pass rush
While the Ravens also are dealing with some injuries to their defense, they still present a number of different challenges for the Browns offense, particularly in the pass rush.
Assistant offensive line coach Scott Peters said the Ravens bring a number of different looks and pressures. They can be challenged in the stunt game and the pressure game. Peters also said that the Ravens bring pressures with their nickel and their linebackers, as well as the pass rush for the down players.
“I think those guys present a challenge every time you play them,” Peters said. “So, we just got to be very good and sound in our communication and take the proper sets and just do a good job finishing off.”