Menu - The Hub For New England Patriots Fans

New England Patriots > Patriots Blog

Will The Patriots Defense Get After Joe Flacco?

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
December 6, 2016 at 8:02 am ET

Will The Patriots Defense Get After Joe Flacco?(PHOTO: usa today - USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 3 minutes

They Should… If They Want Success This Week

The Patriots enter the final quarter of the season and it promises to be the most difficult one of the 2016 season. Home games against Baltimore and the Jets are sandwiched around road trips to Denver and Miami. This week the Pats play host to the Baltimore Ravens who are hitting their stride as the playoff push begins. And facing Joe Flacco, the QB who’s won playoff games in Foxboro (twice), the question is, should the Pats be aggressive this week?

If they follow the trends, they should. Flacco is a much different quarterback when under pressure as opposed to when he’s not. He, as well as the Ravens offense, has struggled for much of 2016 but they’re getting hot at just the right time. On the season, he’s completed 321 of 497 passes, for 64.6 percent with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for a passer rating of 84.1 which are hardly his best.

Entering last week’s game against Miami who had won six in a row, Flacco had thrown for just 11 touchdowns and 11 picks on the year. But he torched Miami for 386 yards (which was a career top 5) and four touchdowns in the Ravens 38-6 rout of the Fins.

Last week facing rookie Jared Goff at QB, the Patriots were aggressive and mixed up their coverages as well as their blitzes and thoroughly confused Goff on many occasions. While Flacco is hardly a rookie and has a Super Bowl win and had great success against the Patriots in the past, a similar approach may be the right idea.

Look at the numbers and they play out an aggressive approach. When Flacco isn’t sacked the Ravens are 15-4. When under no pressure, Flacco’s completed 70 percent of his passes this season with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 94.7.

But when he’s been under pressure, those numbers plummet. His completion percentage falls to 46.5 percent and he’s thrown just one touchdown and 5 interceptions for a passer rating of 48.3.

But before everyone thinks the Patriots should sell out and bring the blitz on every down, there are a couple of other factors to consider. One is the Ravens offensive line. While injuries decimated that unit up front and they were using multiple combinations earlier this season, they’re healthy now. Baltimore has stuck with the same starting combination on the OL for the past three games and the offense has responded.

Rob Ninkovich and the Patriots defense will have the challenge of trying to get after Flacco this weekend. (USA TODAY Images)

They have run for over 300 yards and passed for 872 in those past three contests. The Ravens are built to win now. Ttheir three top receivers are on the wrong side of 30 but are having very good seasons. Mike Wallace has found new life in Baltimore and has 57 catches for 851 yards (14.9 average) with four touchdowns including a 95-yarder. The ageless Steve Smith has rebounded with a very solid showing in 2016 after going on IR last year. The mercurial Smith has 54 catches for 589 yards (10.9 average) with three touchdowns. Tight end Dennis Pitta has made an amazing comeback from a hip injury. There were questions whether he’d ever play football again, but he’s finding his form at just the right time. Pitta has caught 61 passes for 529 yards and two touchdowns, both against the Dolphins last week.

The Patriots try to take away the big play and force teams to work their way down the field. The bend but don’t break approach may well find its way into the game plan this week as the coaches would be wary of the big play ability of both Wallace and Smith. With an improved offensive line, Flacco could hit the deep ball that he’s had success against New England with in the past.

That’s the approach they’ll probably take but if this season’s history is taken into consideration, a more aggressive approach may be the right call. As a result, it will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia game plan the Ravens this week. Facing the Baltimore defense is an entirely different story…stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Like this article?
Support Steve and buy him a coffee.

PHOTO: Tom Brady Scares Fans With Latest Facebook Post

About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Baltimore Ravens Bill Belichick Dennis Pitta Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Joe Flacco John Harbaugh Matt Patricia Mike Wallace New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Ninkovich Steve Smith Tom Brady

  • Comments are closed.

  • More Patriots News Headlines:

    Monday Patriots Notebook 4/15: News and Notes

    Monday Patriots Notebook 4/15: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    For the Patriots, the question seems to center around whether or not it's going to be North Carolina's Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy who gets…
    8 hours ago
    Patriots News 4-14, Mock Draft 3.0, Gilmore, Law Rally For Bill 

    Patriots News 4-14, Mock Draft 3.0, Gilmore, Law Rally For Bill 

    By: Steve Balestrieri
    Mitchell is an ascending prospect with the size, length, speed, and athleticism to threaten all three levels (short, intermediate, and long) on the football field.…
    2 days ago
    Potential Patriot: Boston Globe’s Price Talks to Georgia WR McConkey

    Potential Patriot: Boston Globe’s Price Talks to Georgia WR McConkey

    By: Ian Logue
    Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey is a player who many believe will be among the list of receivers taken early in the upcoming 2024 NFL…
    3 days ago
    Friday Patriots Notebook 4/12: News and Notes

    Friday Patriots Notebook 4/12: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    Ninkovich believes that the New England Patriots would be better served to target someone who would be more of a threat to the defense, preferably…
    3 days ago
    Not a First Round Pick? Hoge Doubles Down on Maye

    Not a First Round Pick? Hoge Doubles Down on Maye

    By: Ian Logue
    “There’s really two things, and they’re entwined as one,” explained Hoge. “You can’t have one without the other, they have to work together and it’s…
    4 days ago

    Share via
    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap
    Search For Links: - CLOSE
    For searches with multiple players
    add commas (Ex: "Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty")