The Baltimore Ravens 2017 defense fluctuated from great, to decent to oh come on. The first thing the Ravens defense needs to work on is consistency:
The same team that recorded three shutouts in the 2017 season lost in Pittsburgh, 39-38. The run defense was either great or they got gashed, there was no in between. How else do you explain, that a team that finished ranked just outside of the top 10 in rushing yards per game give up 231 yards to the Bears ground game? The Ravens defense couldn’t decide if it was meant for greatness or if it was simply average. New defensive coordinator, Don Martindale, has a lot of figuring out to do.
Injuries did play a factor in everything, but they are not the whole story. Losing Brandon Williams for a stretch and Brent Urban for another stretch hurt the run defense. The problem is that the run defense had slip ups when they were on the field. It’s easy to say that effort was the problem. It sure seemed like the Ravens slept walked through a game here or there. However, that seems like an over simplification as well.
Moving forward the Ravens need to do three things to improve their run defense, which seems to be the biggest spark for inconsistency. The Ravens need to work on being gap sound on defense. Run defense is sometimes as simple as just filling the rushing lanes. Secondly, the Ravens need to get a more consistent push from their defensive line and the linebackers need to make more plays in the backfield. Finally, the Ravens must keep the opposing offense off schedule. Getting off to a good start on 1st and 2nd down will put the opponent in bad spots on 3rd down. This solves a lot of problems for the defense.