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Analyzing Browns defensive backs against Ravens receiving corps

The Browns could find success in man coverage on Sunday

defense vs ravens

When you think of the Ravens offense, the run game and QB Lamar Jackson are the first things that come to mind; and rightfully so, as the combination has been lethal in past seasons. However, this season, the Ravens receiving corps has added another element that opposing teams must look out for when facing Baltimore.

The Browns defensive backs will have their work cut out for them going against the Ravens receivers on Sunday in Baltimore. In the first meeting, the Browns defensive backs had a tough time guarding TE Mark Andrews, who is used more as a receiver for the Ravens, and WR Zay Flowers.

Andrews caught all five passes thrown his way for 80 yards and scored two touchdowns. Flowers caught three passes for 56 yards, including a 43-yard reception that led to a Ravens touchdown.

"We didn't play the best game that game," CB Denzel Ward said of the Week 4 matchup. "So, looking to see how we could clean it up and fix it for this next time around, focus to get a win."

The Ravens receiving corps also has two veterans in WR Nelson Agholor – who has spontaneous games where he is productive – and WR Odell Beckham Jr. – who returned to the lineup in Week 9 after being out in Week 8 with a stomach contusion.

Beckham got his first touchdown reception last week against the Seahawks. Beckham didn't play in the first Browns and Ravens matchup and poses another threat to the defensive backs.

"They have a full arsenal of guys, you mentioned tight ends," DC Jim Schwartz said. "They got a couple tight ends that are tough outs, particularly in the passing game. But veteran player like (Nelson) Agholor, veteran player like Odell, young player like (Zay) Flowers. They have weapons at a lot of different places, and we have to play our best on defense."

Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens

Yet, the Browns have the personnel to nullify their opponents. Physicality will be the common theme of the upcoming game, and it starts with the Browns defensive backs. They can use press coverage to their advantage against Flowers, Nelson, and Beckham, who are skilled but not aggressive receivers who like contact. The trio likes to get downfield and catch deep passes rather than playing between the sticks. The Browns corners can limit their big play ability with the physicality at the line of scrimmage.  

The Browns have two cornerbacks who excel in man coverage. CB Denzel Ward has allowed a passer rating of just 24.2 in single coverage this season, according to Pro Football Focus. CB Martin Emerson has a 40.8 passer rating when targeted this season, which is third in the NFL.

Stopping Andrews with press coverage may be more complicated since he is coming out of the slot and is a big guy. It will be the Browns safety's job to contain Andrews, the best pass option on the Ravens. It can be hard, but the Browns safeties are up for the challenge.

"He's a good tight end, man," S Grant Delpit said. "You can't take it away from him. He's very comfortable in their offense. He finds some open spaces on his own coverage. So, you always got to be aware of where 89 is at. They got a lot of playmakers, but we got a game plan."