When you face a Rex Ryan-coached defense, you know the blitzes are coming.
You don’t know who will be blitzing, or from where, you just know bodies will be flying toward your quarterback from all angles.
Ryan’s aggressive defensive scheme, which was dubbed “organized chaos” during his tenure with the Ravens, is now a major part of what makes the Jets so tough to match up against. They force offensive linemen to make quick decisions on who to pick up in pass protection by sending multiple defenders at the last minute, and pressure quarterbacks into hurried decisions because of the confusion that they can create up front.
“They’re very innovative,” Ravens center Matt Birk said. “They do things that nobody else does, nobody else has seen before, nobody else has ever thought of. And they do a great job of, not just their coaches, but their players understand it. They understand what they need to do, what gap they need to be in, how they need to rush. That’s why they’ve been so good for so long. The players have a great understanding of what’s going on, as well. So, that’s it. We’ll just study the best we can and go out and do the best we can.”
Often times, Ryan’s defensive looks completely contradict typical logic. The Jets have been known to blitz multiple defensive backs on the same play, and then drop their burly defensive linemen into coverage.
They’ll overload one side of an offensive line while sending no one to the other side, and will rotate coverage on the back-end to cover for any exotic looks up front.
Teams have to prepare for every blitz possibility when facing the Jets, because Ryan could show them anything on gameday.
“They will bring every guy and they will drop every guy,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “There (are) only a few teams in the league that you really can say that (about), looking at your chart. Every defensive lineman eventually drops into coverage. Every defensive back, for the most part, either has blitzed this year, or last year, or the year before. There are 11 guys over there - you account for all 11. You try to make sure that doesn’t put you in a mindset of hesitancy, because you still want to be physical. You better have everybody on the same page, everybody communicating what they are seeing.”
What can an offensive line do to combat the chaos that the Jets bring up front? For the Ravens, it certainly helps going up against a creative, pressure-oriented defense in practice every day. Players and coaches say having that experience is a huge factor when Baltimore faces other exotic defensive fronts.
Beyond that, Birk says it will be crucial for the offensive linemen to talk to each other on the field, and shout out their blocking assignments to try and avoid any confusion.
“It can be pretty stressful, and you know they’re going to show you stuff and do stuff that they haven’t done yet,” Birk said. “You can only prepare so much, but you study hard. The important thing is that we communicate and get everybody on the same page. If everybody knows where everybody is going, then Joe (Flacco) can do what he needs to do.
“You obviously want to be successful and move the ball and get points and all that, but part of that is avoiding the catastrophic play, and that’s something they’re pretty good at. They’re good at making plays. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on their defense, so I guess you just do the best you can.”