Pernell McPhee is the Next Great Ravens Pass Rusher


Nov 10, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass while being pressured by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee (90) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

When linebacker Pernell McPhee told everyone this offseason that he was going to hit double digit sacks in 2014, most people were predictably skeptical.  After all, the former fifth round pick has accumulated only 10.5 sacks across three seasons.  And following five games this season, McPhee just recorded his first sack last week against the Colts.

But don’t take that as an indication that Pernell McPhee hasn’t turned into the best pass rusher on this Ravens team, because he has.  Playing alongside pass rushing mavens like Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs will ensure you keep a low profile.  But McPhee has been the most consistent pass rushing force on this defense, bar none.

McPhee currently ranks as the number one 3-4 outside linebacker in Pro Football Focus’ cumulative pass rush rankings.  Even though he has been credited for only one sack, McPhee has added 11 hurries and 5 hits to his stat sheet.  This, in spite of only playing on 166 of the team’s defensive snaps so far.  For comparison’s sake, number two on the list, Justin Houston, has played 320 snaps and has 13 hurries and 2 hits.

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McPhee is clearly a pass rushing specialist, and he has so far lived up to that title.  He is also a flexible chess piece for defensive coordinator Dean Pees.  McPhee is primarily an outside linebacker, but he is able to line up all over the defensive line, which makes him a valuable part of the rotation.  And John Harbaugh is well aware of McPhee’s swiss army knife ability.

“[McPhee] already plays on the defensive line,” Harbaugh said this offseason. “He rotates all across the front. He pretty much plays every front position in our sub-package, so he can play there in our base package as well. He can play the five-technique some, so he’s a potential answer there.”

So it’s clear that the team values Pernell McPhee’s unique ability and flexibility.  His ability to play multiple positions has made him a valuable player to the Ravens, and his emergence as a pass rushing force is icing on the cake.  If he keeps it up, he may just reach that “lofty” goal after all.