Despite his slow start to season, Ravens still focused on stopping Zach Ertz

Ravens focused on stopping Ertz despite his slow start originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

After totaling just 15 receiving yards over his last two games, you could understand if the Ravens put their defensive focus for this Sunday’s game against the Eagles elsewhere. However, players and coaches took a much different tone when discussing Philadelphia’s star tight end on Wednesday.

“They’re great at catching the ball, they run savvy routes,” Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith said about Ertz and fellow Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert. “Ertz has been doing it for a little while now so we know what he’s like. He’s really savvy with his routes like I said, has great hands and he has good speed so he’s going to be a factor this week that we’ve got to take care of.”

“It’s a west coast style offense, similar to what you see in Kansas City,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Of course Coach Pederson and Coach Reid worked together for a long time, so we kind of understand how that system works a little bit and how challenging it can be to defend it.”

The Ravens have had mixed results against tight ends so far in 2020, especially to open the season. Cleveland’s David Njoku (3 rec, 50 yds, TD), Houston’s Darren Fells (2 rec, 23 yds, TD) and Kansas City’s Travis Kelce (6 rec, 87 yds) all did damage against Baltimore’s defense during the first three weeks of the season.

Ertz enters this contest with 20 catches on the season, which is 5th most among NFL tight ends, but has disappointed overall if you listen to Philadelphia talk radio or angry fantasy owners on social media. He’ll have a stiff test against the 6-foot-2 Smith, who has seen his role in the Ravens secondary evolve.

“His experience makes a big difference, he’s just seen a lot of things,” Harbaugh said about Smith. “He basically fundamentally knows how coverages are built and are organized. Now he’s had to do in the last really year and a half is really dig into the details of the different spots, he’s done a really good job with it.”

“There are some good examples of guys that have done it, even here all the way back to Rod Woodson and of course Brandon Carr. But I don’t think it’s really that normal for guys to make, I don’t want to say a move or a switch because he’s still playing corner, but to expand like that. Really proud of him for how he’s done with that.”

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