Ravens defense: The challenges facing Don Martindale in 2019
The Baltimore Ravens defense should be good in 2019 but there are some challenges ahead of them:
The Baltimore Ravens defense has a chance to once again be the top unit in the National Football League. That doesn’t mean that Don Martindale isn’t going to have some challenges throughout this season.
The first big problem is replacing the pass rush production from Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens defense is predicated on pass rush and pressuring the quarterback yet their core of pass rushers is all the sudden unproven. In 2018 the Ravens had 43 sacks. That number can stay the same but if the Ravens want to continue to a force to be reckoned with it can’t go down.
Jaylon Ferguson is a rookie. Shane Ray is trying to get back on the track of being a productive pass rusher. There is no promise that him or Pernell McPhee will provide the kind of pressure the defense needs. Then there is Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser. What they can contribute at this point is anyone’s guess, they haven’t been on the field enough to see their full potential.
The Ravens will have to approach outside linebackers like an offense treats the running back committee. It is a by committee kind of thing and Martindale has to do what allows each player to do it the way that he does it best.
More from Ebony Bird
- Will Baltimore Ravens be rewarded for risky Lamar Jackson decision?
- The Baltimore Ravens Big Gamble
- Ravens Super Bowl odds present fascinating insight on Lamar Jackson’s future
- Should Baltimore Ravens be interested in this recently released WR
- Do the Baltimore Ravens have serious interest in this free agent wide out?
Finding interior pass rush would be a huge help. Pernell McPhee should help with this, much like he did in his first stint with Baltimore. The defensive line group however is mostly built on run stoppers not pass rushers. The real solution to the uncertainty around the pass rush is the secondary. A secondary that is supposed to be an elite group should give Martindale the flexibility to send timely blitzes.
When Baltimore lost C.J. Mosley, they lost a huge player in their defense. Patrick Onwuasor has the chops to make a big difference yet Mosley’s departure messes up a perfect rotation at the inside linebacker positions. Mosley was the rock of the defense. Onwuasor and Kenny Young were a perfect pairing for the other spot. This is the next man up approach happening before the season even starts. The question is how much can contribute and how big of a step can Young take? This is something Martindale has to manage.
The defense is not something that should keep the Ravens up at night. This is a good group of talent. Martindale has to make the right decisions and pull the right strings. Martindale’s expertise is one of the best assets Baltimore has. He has some work to do to make this defense a finely tuned machine. The good news is that he has shown he can do it.