How did the Ravens gash the Giants for 249 rushing yards?
A lot of plays were won before the ball was snapped because defensive players were in the wrong gaps.
“Depending on the certain defensive call, on any given play certain guys had to leverage certain players,” inside linebacker Blake Martinez said. “Whether it’s the No. 2 receiver, No. 3, end guy on the line of scrimmage, whatever it ended up being.
“All of the sudden they started doing their shifts and motions — all the stuff they did pre-snap — which then changed your certain alignment pre-snap. Once you weren’t in the spot, all of the sudden they snapped the ball. Now you’re two spots behind instead of being in the right spot to start.”
The Ravens use more pre-snap motion than any offense in the NFL, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. In addition to getting the defense to tip off man-to-man or zone pass coverage, motion helps the timing of their unique run-pass-option offense.
“The way I look at it is you have 11-on-11,” Martinez said. “One guy has to be holding the ball, so there’s 10 against 11 to block. If we can fit it right, one guy should be free and we just didn’t do our assignment on each one of those plays to be able to have that free guy being the advantage.”
The Giants missed an uncharacteristically high number of tackles and seemed to be always chasing down ball-carriers from behind. Martinez credited coordinator Patrick Graham’s in-game adjustments listening to player feedback for why the rushing defense improved as the game went on, but the 14-0 first-quarter hole (on the back of 95 rushing yards) was too big to dig out of.
“You couldn’t scrape over the top or get over the offensive linemen or the fullback, whoever it ended up being,” Martinez said. “It allowed them to just have that open running lane.”
When a coach is directly asked about a player’s future, he sometimes feels no choice but to dance around the truth with lip service. Take what 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said about quarterback Jimmy Garappolo as an example of creating wiggle room: “I do believe Jimmy’s going to be our quarterback next year.”
That’s different than Giants coach Joe Judge’s unprompted vote of confidence for quarterback Daniel Jones, which was voluntarily slipped into an answer to a question Monday about offensive line penalties. Judge pointed to Jones’ ball security and decision-making as reasons he is a “key piece” to the future.
“You always want to know about ‘Is Daniel our guy? Are we going forward with Daniel?’ The answer is absolutely,” Judge said.
“What gives us that confidence is even in games like [Sunday] where it didn’t come out perfectly … you watch the tape and you see that guy in there operating, executing, understanding the pressure — and not just standing in there with courage like he’s done all along and taking a hit, but understanding how to take the hit and deliver an accurate pass and move the sticks down the field.”
TE Evan Engram left Sunday’s game late due to injury and was meeting with doctors Monday night. Judge is “optimistic” the Pro Bowler will be able to play in all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career.