Run defense, more playmakers in demand for Baltimore Ravens this offseason
In my opinion, the Baltimore Ravens played a handful of lackluster games last season (Arizona, Kansas City, the first game against Pittsburgh) and two stink-like-hot-garbage games (the first whatever-you-want-to-call-it against Cleveland and the ill-timed disaster against the Titans).
Lackluster games happen, and the Ravens won two out of those three, with a road loss to the Chiefs the only one that cost them.
As for the stinkers, well, that is where the Ravens need to look for common problems that reared their ugly heads in both games. To me, it was run defense that led them down the most in both tilts on the defensive side. I think of Nick Chubb busting a long run to pretty much lock up that game for the Browns, and Derrick Henry had his way in the playoff game. To be fair, Chubb and Henry caused numerous headaches for opponents this season, and both can certainly be labeled as being included in the “elite” stratosphere of running backs.
But Ravens fans are pretty used to the run defense being elite, as well. And that did not happen this year — not in a season when the Ravens surrendered 4.4 yards per rush in the regular season and 5.9 yards per attempt in that repugnant playoff loss.
So, here’s my defensive zig: Keep spending the bulk of the defensive cap allotment on defensive backs, and draft relatively-inexpensive front seven help across the board this season. Should the Ravens spend big money on a pass rusher? I wouldn’t unless it was a Chris Jones or Jadeveon Clowney — players who can disrupt the run game as much as the pass. And, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t spend a ton on Clowney because of his injury history, thus taking the Ravens out of consideration on that front.
If an off-ball linebacker (Kenneth Murray, Patrick Queen) that the Ravens love is still there when they’re picking, jump on it. If a disruptive lineman is there that they feel can blow up run games is there, take that. And, yeah, if an edge-rusher the Ravens feel has value is there in the first round, take him. Just take whatever front-seven player can help, and trust the defensive backs to cover while Don Martindale’s scheme bothers quarterbacks. But stopping the run must be a priority early and often this offseason.