NEW ORLEANS -- Considering the Baltimore Ravens
arrived in New Orleans on a path that demanded road wins over quarterbacks Peyton Manning
and Tom Brady, it's not easy to quantify the stress of facing a dual-threat quarterback in the Super Bowl.
"Just a different style, so we've got to figure out a way to have a good scheme and a good game plan for him," Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
In point of fact, the Ravens lost six games this season. Two of them came against mobile passers -- the Eagles and Mike Vick in Week 2 and the Robert Griffin-led Redskins in Week 13. Several defensive players on the New England Patriots
' roster said after a 41-34 loss to the 49es that Kaepernick was faster than they expected.
Pees is taking measures to avoid the Ravens being surprised by Kaepernick, who is averaging 11.2 yards per carry in the postseason including a 56-yard touchdown run, and has a 105.9 passer rating.
"I thought that happened to us in the Washington game," Pees said, comparing Griffin's speed to that of Kaepernick. "You go out there and practice assignment, assignment and assignment of football. You get through it and everybody knows what to do, and then all of a sudden, the guy pulls the ball and is gone. You can't really replicate that in practice as much as you would like to. That's always a concern."
The Ravens can contain Kaepernick, Pees said, "if we do what we're supposed to do."
Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed doesn't believe the game plans employed against Vick and Griffin apply to Kaepernick because those games were "miles ago."
"He definitely poses the same type of problem," Reed said. "Any time you have a quarterback like a Vick, Randall Cunningham or a Doug Williams, those guys like that who can be in the pocket and also throw the ball, it poses a problem."
Having two weeks to prepare for Kaepernick won't hurt. Reed said the common theme for all 11 defensive players critical to containing the 49ers' read-option running game is trust. Defensive end Haloti Ngata believes communication is most important, especially against the Pistol formation.
"It's tough. When we played Washington with RG III, they hit us in the beginning of the game with a bunch of read-option and pistol formation plays," Ngata said. "We had to adjust, and once we did, we did better. Hopefully, it doesn't take us too long to adjust (on Sunday), and hopefully the things that we've been practicing will work. We can't hesitate, and they've been successful getting a lot of teams to hesitate and guess. Communication is key. You have to understand what you're doing."
The 49ers' offense has become vast, so much so that offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he expects to show several things in every game that teams have never seen from San Francisco. Pees is coaching in his fourth Super Bowl, and won't hesitate adjusting a game plan the team worked to fine tune into the early part of this week.
Wednesday was a critical preparation day. Reed and inside linebacker Ray Lewis lead an expansive and extensive study of the Sunday opponent each week. Though lacking some of their creature comforts of home, the veterans kept that plan in New Orleans, intending to pour over all things 49ers in granular detail at the team hotel base at the Hilton Riverside.
"You look at Robert Griffin III, you look at Kaepernick and they're very special talents," said safety Bernard Pollard. "They're guys who can kill you with both their arm and their legs. It goes back to being smart as a defense. Everyone can't try to do everyone else's jobs. If you do that, they're going to find an opening. We've had two weeks to prepare. Anything that's happened in the past doesn't matter. We just need to be sound and know what we're doing."
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