After a very successful pre-season all eyes will be on the Ravens first round selection--Ronnie Stanley. While the former Notre Dame left tackle has performed admirably in his first four games as a Raven, in his pre-season contests so there is still much for him to prove. Week 1 provides a great test for the rookie as he matches up with savvy veteran Jerry Hughes. The Buffalo Bills defensive end has racked up twenty-five sacks in three seasons.
The Bills previously ran a hybrid scheme under former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and now they have settled in with Rex Ryan’s multiple 3-4 defensive scheme. Hughes is adjusting from a traditional 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, which explains why his sack total fell in 2015. In the second season under former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s scheme I expect Hughes to be much more successful and truly test Stanley on Sunday.
Stanley has tremendous speed to beat Hughes to the edge, and can definitely win there consistently on Sundays. That being said, on tape at Notre Dame, Stanley struggled with over-committing to the outside edge and allowing the edge rusher to beat him inside. One of Hughes’ best assets is his ability to change direction quickly and counter with an inside rush move. I expect the former TCU horned frog to deploy that move early and see how the rookie responds. Stanley has received high marks around the league, and Rex Ryan shared his thoughts in his weekly press conference on the rookie:
Rex Ryan on Ronnie Stanley:"this just in, he's pretty darn good."— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) September 7, 2016
Rex Ryan has high praise for Stanley, and I expect him to throw many twists and stunts to confuse the rookie left tackle throughout the course of Sunday’s game…and there is no better test for Stanley than Rex Ryan’s complex defense. The regular season is finally here and Baltimore Ravens football is just two days away.