Baltimore Ravens: What we should make of the defense
What should we make out of the Baltimore Ravens defense?
The Baltimore Ravens defense is the weirdest thing in the world. It’s either amazing or awful and there is little in between. Against the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens defense had a few moments where they looked clueless, helpless and very beatable. Derek Carr and the Raiders marched down the field on the opening drive without much of a contest.
He repeated the feat in the third quarter. Then the Ravens clamped down and kept them scoreless the rest of the way. Terrell Suggs even got a defensive touchdown. Matt Judon got so excited after a sack that he ran into the tunnel for a celebration of true showmanship. The defense had a frustratingly flawed performance. Yes the Raiders got a quick touchdown, but Carr went 16-34 passing for just 194 yards and a touchdown. Yes Jared Cook was as open as any tight end could be, however the Raiders had just under 250 total yards. The defense had lapses, but it’s awfully hard to complain.
It’s a trend Baltimore is familiar with. When the Ravens lost to the Bengals they gave up 21 quick points before playing a much better second half. Against the Broncos, Denver scored 14 quick points just to be shut out for three consecutive quarters. In the Ravens win against the Steelers, the defense buckled in the second quarter. The only games where Baltimore consistently dominated an opponent throughout the entire game were the 47-3 beat down of the Bills and the 11 sack performance against the Titans.
The defense is one of the best in football, at a time where good defense is hard to find. The Ravens defense is ranked number one in the NFL, and it honestly seems hard to believe. The defense has struggled to get turnovers and doesn’t make a surplus of big plays on a week to week basis. That being said this defense is more efficient at getting stops than the other defenses in the NFL.
The Ravens defense also is great at keeping teams off the scoreboard. The Ravens only give up 18 points per game. They held the New Orleans Saints to 24 points, and the Saints average an incredible 37.2 points per game. There are so many things that this defense needs to get credit for, yet it drives Ravens fans crazy.
It is obvious that the standard for defensive excellence is higher in Baltimore than it is across the league. This is the home of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. This is the franchise that is still known best for Super Bowl XXXV and the 2000 defense. This defense measures up as a good one, but it doesn’t meet the high bar that this fanbase has seen be set.
The Ravens defense is tied for ninth in quarterback sacks, but the Ravens don’t have a pass rusher near the top 10. The Ravens defense is inconsistent at bringing down the quarterback. If you took out their 11 sack game they would rank a lot lower in this category.
The sacks go to the hot hand. On any given week you could see Za’Darius Smith or Matt Judon, or Terrell Suggs go off for a big day. It’s also just as likely that the defense doesn’t get much pressure on the quarterback. This is inexplicable because Martindale is not exactly a conservative defensive coordinator and on paper he has the tools to get it done.
The defense has some issues. They need more speed in the secondary. This is a team that has all strong safeties without a ball hawk free safety. The pass rush is on and off and the defensive line doesn’t always make the biggest impact on the game. However the defense has a lot going for it as well. Michael Pierce is having a great season. The linebacking group is athletic and physical. Marlon Humphrey has been a very good cornerback for the purple and black.
The defense is something the Ravens Flock should be thankful for. It is a unit that stands tougher than many other defenses in the NFL. In a league dominated by flashy offenses, the Ravens defense has a lot to brag about. The Ravens Flock should always hold them to the standard that past defenses have set though; it’s kind of a shoot for the moon and end up on a star kind of thing. With this defense you have to take the good with the bad, because it is for the most part well-functioning.