Texans must handle Ravens’ blitz in Week 2

Mark Lane
·2 min read

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson took four sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 34-20 loss in Week 1 Arrowhead Stadium.

If Watson and the Texans were expecting an easier opponent when it came to blitzing, they may not find it in Week 2. The Baltimore Ravens blitzed 329 times last season, the most in the NFL. In Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers blitzed the most with 27, but the Ravens weren’t far behind with 23, the second-most in the league last week.

“You’ve got to be able to handle their pressure,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “I think last year, I think they were — if not the most in the league, they were right in the top five defenses that pressure the most. You’ve got to be able to handle their pressure.”

The mastermind behind the Ravens’ blitzes is defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, who comes from the Rob Ryan school of creative pressure. Baltimore brings unique blitzes on virtually every down, which means Watson and the offense have to be mindful the entire time they are on the field.

“That’s a big part of going against the Ravens,” O’Brien said. “If you can’t handle their pressure then it just keeps coming and you’ve got a problem there. We’ve got to do a good job against the pressure.”

In the Week 11 bout last year, Watson completed 18-of-29 for 169 yards and an interception. The two-time Pro Bowler could not get out of the pass rush’s way as he was sacked six times in the 41-7 loss at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Texans don’t want a repeat of 2019, not even so much as another L in the loss column. Houston is already 0-1 and seeks to avoid an 0-2 start for the first time since 2018. The key to avoiding defeat is to find ways to handle the Ravens’ pressure, and it begins with identifying the blitzes Martindale will be dialing up.