Some things have changed with the Ravens. But the Patriots still have plenty of familiarity with that team, and no one moreso than Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
The motion-heavy, matchup-based, personnel-switching scheme has presented Belichick and the Patriots problems in the past, and it’s not far-fetched to think that Cameron will be able to find and exploit the holes in this New England defense. Because, really, that’s what the guy does best.
“They give you a lot to get ready for,” Belichick said this morning. “They use different personnel groupings with some key personnel, guys like (Todd) Heap, who’s a very good pass-receiving tight end, borderline receiver. But they do some things with the unbalanced line, slot formations, they give you their versions of Wildcat or Pistol.
“They keep you off-balance. They do a good job of attacking on all fronts, everybody’s gotta be ready to go. It’s not just one thing you’ve gotta stop, they hit you in a lot of different areas. Cam does a good job of mixing it up, keeping you off-balance and attacking your personnel, and scheme at your weak points.
“When you watch them run a play, it’s pretty easy to say, ‘Well, we can see what they’re after on this play, we see how they’re trying to attack something that’s a little bit different.'”
Follow the jump to see just how the Patriots have done against Cameron and his troops …
Sept. 29, 2002 … Chargers 21, Patriots 14: Two 3-0 teams enter, and the Patriots leave with their fatal flaw that year (run defense) exposed. LaDainian Tomlinson explodes for 217 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, as San Diego followed the blueprint the Chiefs drew for attacking New England.
Oct. 2, 2005 … Chargers 41, Patriots 17: San Diego puts an emphatic end to New England’s 21-game home winning streak, rolling to 431 yards of total offense. Tomlinson shines again with 134 yards on 25 carries, and Drew Brees is nearly flawless, completing 19 of 24 passes for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.
Jan. 7, 2007 … Patriots 24, Chargers 21: The Chargers again move the ball at will (352 total yards), Tomlinson has another big day (187 yards from scrimmage), but Philip Rivers is inconsistent in his first playoff start and the Patriots inexplicably pull this one out with some huge fourth-quarter plays and shoddy game management from Marty Schottenheimer.
Oct. 21, 2007 … Patriots 49, Dolphins 28: On one hand, you can note that the Dolphins compiled 382 yards of total offense. On another, you gotta realize how that game was 42-7 at the half, and garbage time started about 10 minutes in. So you can’t really glean much of anything from this one. In the first half, Miami had some success moving the ball in a very difficult situation.
Dec. 23, 2007 … Patriots 28, Dolphins 7: In the cold, the defense put his hands around the Dolphin offense’s throat. Miami was held to 241 total yards behind Cleo Lemon, after coming into the game at 1-13.
Oct. 4, 2009 … Patriots 27, Ravens 21: The Ravens picked up 363 yards of total offense and gashed the Patriots for 116 yards on just 17 runs. Yes, they lost the game. But Baltimore drove 66 yards near the end, and if not for a Mark Clayton drop near the buzzer, the offense probably would’ve won it for the Ravens.
… So there you have it. No, the Ravens don’t have great receivers. But they’re big, physical, and know how to attack the Patriots offense, which also has a lot of experience against a similar Jets scheme (Brian Schottenheimer was Cameron’s QBs coach in San Diego)
Should be an interesting chess match here, anyway.