Can one play in a preseason game actually show us the impact that new Ravens WR Lee Evans can have on the 2011 season?
I am going to say yes, because when you see the struggles that rookie Torrey Smith is having outside the numbers in the Baltimore offense, the ability to throw the ball down the field is crucial. Evans gives you that—along with top end vertical speed.
Let’s check out the replay of Evans’ TD from last night and then we will get into some quick coaching points…
- Nothing complicated from the Ravens and Evans. With ‘Skins CB DeAngelo Hall aligned in a press-man position, the WR has to win at the line of scrimmage to get into the stem of the route. That is the first step in any vertical route scheme.
- You will hear Jon Gruden on the replay talking about the “9 route.” All we are looking at here is a straight “go route.” Get the outside release and press the sideline to get vertical. It looks simple, but having the ability to test the top of the defense from any point on the field is key to an offense. You have to take deep shots in this league.
- What does this show us? When Hall doesn’t re-route (or disrupt the release of Evans) at the line, speed wins. Working vs. a vertical threat (with a wide split) the CB must get something on the release. Only two routes Evans can run with that split and an outside release: fade or comeback. And once he separates when the ball is in the air, this is an easy throw for Flacco.
As I said above, this is just one play in a game that doesn’t count in the standings. But if the Ravens want to beat the Steelers this year, making plays in the vertical game will add to their overall game plan.
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