Sacks And Interceptions Are Key To Ravens Rebound Season

Dec 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) intercepts Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) (not pictured) pass intended for wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) intercepts Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) (not pictured) pass intended for wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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When The Defense Makes Big Plays, The Ravens Will Win

The Baltimore Ravens need to make big plays on the defensive side of the football. That’s part of the winning formula the franchise has developed under the years. It’s one reason why the franchise has enjoyed playoff seasons in six of the last eight years. It’s something the Ravens must get back to.

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In 2015 the Baltimore Ravens went 5-11. Their lack of takeaways was one of their biggest problems. The Ravens managed just six interceptions in the entire season. Two of those interceptions were from Will Hill and Daryl Smith, who are no longer with the team.

In 2014 the Ravens secondary was problematic but the defense still put up 11 interceptions. In the Ravens Super Bowl winning season they picked off 12 passes. In 2011, the year the Ravens were a Lee Evans catch away from a Super Bowl, the defense had a whopping 15 interceptions.

Nov 30, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports /

The decline in the pass rush department is just as problematic. The Ravens had only 24 sacks last season. In 2014 the Ravens had 49 sacks. If you’re keeping score at home, in one season the Ravens went from almost 50 sacks in 2014 to under half that in 2015.

Big plays on defense are ones that kill drives. Sacks and interceptions are the biggest plays a defense can make. In 2014 the Ravens defense had 60 big plays. In 2015 the Ravens defense had 30 big plays. That means the Ravens went from averaging 3.75 big plays per game to 1.87 big plays per game, on defense.

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The Ravens have a pretty big excuse when it comes to their sack totals. Terrell Suggs was injured in the Ravens first game, and did not return. Injuries and poor safety play hampered the secondary.

The Ravens have done a lot this off-season to rebound their big play totals on defense. They signed Eric Weddle to sure up the safety play. Weddle, who has a lot of range at the strong safety position will be a play maker for the Ravens. Putting Ladarius Webb at free safety could help the pursuit of turnovers because he has football smarts and ball skills.

While Suggs is expected to be back at full strength, the Ravens added a bevy of pass rushers in the draft. Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi and Matt Judon can all rush the passer from the outside linebacker position. Willie Henry is a defensive lineman who can get penetration into the backfield.

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The Ravens need to make huge plays on the defensive side of the football. They have to kill drives and set up the offense with great opportunities. It looks like the team has made the necessary strides. This is an area where the Ravens must once again be spectacular.

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