NFL Super Bowl – Can the Ravens stop Colin Kaepernick?

The Football Educator’s guest blogger Frank Martin attempts to answer this question, “Can the Ravens stop Colin Kaepernick?”

By now we’ve all been inundated with Super Bowl preview stories on topics such as PED’s, the Harbaugh brothers and even how Jerry Rice measures up to Randy Moss.  But going forward there is only one question that matters.  Can the Ravens stop the read option?

Answer:  They better.

I believe San Francisco is too talented to NOT win the Super bowl.  Their roster is loaded with high round picks (many of whom are first-round picks) that HAVE made the most of their talent.  (As opposed to teams like Cleveland)

While the Ravens roster is among the most talented in its own right, more things have to “go right” for the Ravens to win.   That’s why the Niners are my pick come Sunday.

But stranger things have happened.  In fact, the Big Game is built on strange things happening.  So it wouldn’t be out of the realm for Baltimore to win the game.  If they do, here’s one thing that needs to happen.   The Ravens need to remain stout against the run for the duration of the game.  We’re talking all four quarters.  A performance you’ll be describing on Monday as ‘epic.’

If they don’t, then Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and company better come to play or this thing will get ugly.

It’s a cliché.  I know it.  Making a team one dimensional is always the key.  But I have to say it too… A stout run defense will force the Niners in more passing situations than they want to be in.  Even though Colin Kaepernick is talented, this scenario would favor the Ravens.

So here’s what Baltimore needs to do… Stop the zone read.

Some background:  You’ve heard all about the play for three weeks…  It’s revolutionized football!  Ha!

Or been around forever… (Chris’ is a must read website)

The zone read is a re-incarnation of the veer.  The offense options off an un-blocked defender.

It’s not easy to stop.   It’s a monster of a play.  The beauty is the play’s simplicity.

Here’s how Kaepernick used the play to dominate college football. (below)

After H-back motion, Kaepernick will read the DE to the play side (circled). If he commits to the RB, Kaepernick keeps and follows his H-back around the edge.  If the DE hesitates or runs to the QB, Kaepernick gives to his running back.

A few steps in, indecision by MLB gives the H-Back time to get outside for the seal.  (below)


To me, the key is making the MLB hesitate.  When the MLB hesitates, it gives the second level blocking time to set up.  After the H-Back seals, the play side tackle reaches and seals the play side LB.  The slot Y WR has a free run to the play side safety.  Everyone is blocked.

Like I said, a thing of beauty.

No doubt, the Ravens are going to have to play sound assignment football to stop it.

Here’s how they tried to stop the same play in week 15 against the RG III-led Washington Redskins.

Note: This is example with far different personnel than the Ravens will line up with on Sunday. Against Washington,  Suggs, Lewis an Ellerbe were out.  #53 Jameel McClain and #50 Albert McLellan are in the middle for play one.

On the first play of the game, the Redskins ran the same read option play as above to a gain of 29 yards. (below)  I signaled out the MLB on the play, as his reaction is key to this play’s success.

Next up, the play as Morris and Griffin meet at the mesh point.  (below) 

At the mesh point, notice #99 Kruger has committed to the QB.  RG III responds by giving to the RB Morris.  The H-back heads to the second level outside the left tackle.  MLB #53 McClain is left with a one on one match-up RB Morris.

Here’s the look from behind: (below)

In a split second, Morris sees McClain, reads his blocking and cuts back toward the middle of the field.  (below)

A couple steps late, every Baltimore defender is blocked and McClain is out of position.  The Ravens played sound football and lost on the play.

The question going into Sunday is, (with Ellerbe, Suggs and Lewis back in the line-up) ‘Will the Ravens be able to make these plays?’

I don’t know how the Ravens will defend the play, but I do know but I think one key will be how Haloti Ngata and the rest of Baltimore’s interior linemen handle the 49ers offensive line.  If they can keep Ray Lewis and Dannelle Ellerbe clean (and those two stick to their assignments), the Ravens have a chance to limit the ground game.

But like I said, there are a lot of “ifs.”  Oh and what happens when you start leaning in on the run?  Play action.  Scary huh?  Just another reason I like San Francisco on Sunday.

Other videos to help your pistol education:

Midline read

Nevada vs Cal

Deconstructing Nevada

Like me on Facebook , follow me on Twitter @Ted_Sundquist, check out EYE-DRAFT, and pre-order my new book Taking Your Team To The Top at

Speak Your Mind