Dolphins used rare defensive formation to beat Ravens
The Miami Dolphins frustrated and confused the Baltimore Ravens en route to an upset win on Thursday night. They did so with a rarely used defensive approach, and Lamar Jackson and company simply could not adjust to it.
Jackson told reporters after the game that the Dolphins ran “cover zero” most of the game. One variation of that defense is “engage eight,” which is extremely popular in the “Madden NFL” video game series. Basically, Miami committed to the run and pressuring Jackson by acting like they were eight defenders into the backfield on several plays. Jackson admitted his opponent’s approach worked masterfully.
Lamar Jackson on Dolphins D: “You know, it was cover 0 the majority of the whole game. They just got hot each and every time. I was dropping back, just couldn't do nothing about that.”
Dolphins blitzing DBs and playing great coverage on backend took over this game.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) November 12, 2021
The Dolphins rode the defense to a 22-10 victory. Jackson threw the ball a whopping 46 times but completed just 26 passes for 238 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He rushed for just 39 yards, and the Ravens had 94 rushing yards as a team.
As you can see in the video below, the Dolphins faked like they were sending eight defenders on most plays. That obviously confused Jackson and the Ravens.
.@Ravens could not adjust or figure this 3rd down defense from the @MiamiDolphins from beginning to end. They have 10 days to find a solution b/c they will see it again. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/dd1T5ECGER
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 12, 2021
The Tennessee Titans used similar formations in their playoff win over the Ravens two years ago. Logan Ryan even made the “Madden” reference after that game.
Great breakdown from Logan Ryan on how the Titans shut down Lamar Jackson: "We had 8-, 9-man boxes all night. You play Madden and run Engage Eight all day, it’s hard to run the ball. We pretty much did that."
They also used Bills as a blueprint. Full quote here: pic.twitter.com/SzjQ206skw
— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) January 12, 2020
The Ravens are obviously going to have to adjust. After seeing how well Miami’s game plan worked, other teams are sure to replicate it.
It’s not easy to come up with a defense that stymies Jackson, and plenty of coaches have alluded to that in the past. Brian Flores has had a disappointing third season with the Dolphins, but he deserves a lot of credit for Thursday night’s effort.