Ravens running game key to win against Dolphins


The Baltimore Ravens will have another opportunity to establish the running game when they face the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are ranked last in the NFL when it comes to run defense. They’re allowing a league high 138.5 rushing yards per game.

That is a surprising statistic considering they brought in Ndamukong Suh during the offseason. He was supposed to be the anchor in the middle of the defensive line that would allow the linebackers to get clean hits on the running backs. Suh has done his job of occupying blockers, but the problem is the linebackers aren’t filling like they should.

The New York Jets were able to gain 137 yards on the ground against the Dolphins last week. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell both averaged over four yards per carry. The Jets got things started from the very beginning of the game with a 16-yard run on their first play from scrimmage.

The run featured a perfectly executed wide zone backside cutback run by Ivory and the Jets. The play got the defense flowing to the strong side of the defense and D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the Jets Pro Bowl left tackle sealed Koa Misi just as Ivory cut his run back to the weak side of the formation.

The other key block came from Jets wide receiver Quincy Enuwa. Enuwa executed a perfect cut block on Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon that along with Ferguson’s seal block opened up a huge lane for Ivory to run through.

As mentioned earlier, the Dolphins are last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed. Opposing teams are also attempting a league-high 32.7 rushes against the Dolphins. Marc Trestman needs to strive for balance in the Ravens offense. This is something that can and must happen against the Dolphins.

Just to put things in perspective, opposing teams are using the rushing attack as 47.4 percent of their offense when facing the Dolphins. This is yet another statistic that lands the Dolphins last in the NFL.

The Ravens feature a combination of Terrance West and Buck Allen against the Cleveland Browns last week. They found success in the running game, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but they didn’t stick to it. Trestman only called a combined 19 carries for West and Allen. The Browns happen to be the NFL’s second-worst run defense, giving up 135.6 yards per game.

That being said, why would the Ravens not commit to the run against a team that is so bad at stopping it? Another thing to keep in mind is that Matt Schaub is the quarterback. Establishing the run will make things much easier for him. It will allow the Ravens to work the play action passing game that Schaub has found success in before.

Schaub pointed out how important it is to commit to and establish the running game. “In any game, we want to try to establish the run, it sets up so many things for us in our play-action stuff, and it keeps the defense off balance. It’s when we’re at our best,” Schaub said. “You don’t want to be one-dimensional, and whether you’re playing a team that defends the run well or doesn’t, you still want and establish that. Because you never know how the game is going to flow, and you want to maintain control of the line of scrimmage.”

One way to control the line of scrimmage on offense is to stick to the running game. Trestman needs to let the offensive line get in a groove and wear down the Dolphins defense.