18-catches, 143-yards, and two TDs. If this stat-line was given in one game, then I could see a defensive coordinator losing some sleep trying to prepare for the next game know that was a weak spot. However, this stat-line is the combined numbers of the Cleveland Browns’ and Houston Texans’ TEs against the Baltimore Ravens in weeks one and two. There is bound to be an area where the Baltimore Ravens have to give up something. However, Monday will they change their approach?
The Super Bowl Champs have a monster TE licking his chops at the main area the Ravens’ D is lacking in. Travis Kelce is a 5x pro-bowl TE who will eat this secondary alive if given the opportunity.
Currently, Kelce has been one of the main focuses of opponents and still has managed to get his. Look at this stat line 15-catches, 140-yards, and two TDs through the last two games. Take a look at the top left-hand corner of this article. Do you see a similarity?
So what is the plan? BR.com’s Ryan Mink was asked this exact question in his mailbag and gave his thoughts.
Tight ends are hard for every team to cover because they can create so many mismatches. The Ravens have a great counter for that in Jimmy Smith, who has the size and speed to match up with them. However, Young’s injury changed Smith’s role against the Texans and could do so moving forward as well. Travis Kelce is one of the best in the business and he’s going to make some plays, but if the Ravens can use their versatility in the secondary to mix and match defenders, that could pay dividends.
Mink mentioned Jimmy Smith is the guy to cover Kelce, but does that take away from what the team can do against the run? I love me some 22, but we know he has an injury history a mile long. Placing Jimmy inside causes him to be responsible for interior gaps against the run. Are the Ravens willing to test his durability against Clyde Edwards-Helaire? The team is already down one DB in Tavon Young. There has got to be a better option to stop Kelce and still contain the run.
Getting inside the mind of Raven’s D-coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale is no easy task. However, I imagine a mix of zone blitzing, manning Jimmy up on Kelce on third down, and asking Matthew Judon to cover Mahomes’ favorite target as well. We shall see. Either way, I’ll be waiting all day for Monday night…