The Baltimore Ravens spent no expense trying to strengthen their pass rush this offseason and their efforts will come to fruition vs. the Houston Texans.
Many aspects of the Baltimore Ravens defense were great in 2019. The unit had four Pro Bowl players, including three in the secondary. Teams were tasked to try moving the ball against this defense and it got seemingly better during the 2020 offseason. The only real question mark was whether or not it could rush the passer more effectively.
The Ravens struggled to get after the quarterback last season despite constantly playing with a large lead, forcing opposing teams to throw the ball. The defense accumulated just 37 sacks. To get better at getting after the quarterback, Baltimore made three crucial moves to improve its pass rush during the offseason.
- It franchise-tagged its leading sack producer, Matt Judon
- It traded for Pro Bowler Calais Campbell
- It signed Derek Wolfe, who is coming off a career-year
With those three moves, it’s clear as day that the Ravens had a high-priority of getting better at rushing the passer.
All eyes were on this pass rush in week one vs. the Cleveland Browns. The Browns don’t have the best offensive line in the NFL but it was vastly improved this offseason thanks to the Free Agency signing of Jack Conklin and using the tenth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft on Jedrick Wills. The unit also had Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio returning for his seventh NFL season.
Cleveland’s investments in their offensive line proved to outshine Baltimore’s investments to their pass rush, as the latter nabbed just two sacks on the day. Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen got his first career sack, while third-year man Tyus Bowser grabbed the other. This, obviously, was not what the Ravens had in mind given their expenses made.
While sacks aren’t the end-all-be-all when it comes to rushing the passer, it is what people look at the most and Baltimore didn’t have the outing it wanted.
The good news for the Ravens is they get to play the Houston Texans this week. Why is that good news? Because the Texans offensive line is not a good one, meaning we should see more sacks and an overall improvement by the pass rush.
To Houston’s credit, it does have a Pro Bowl tackle in Laremy Tunsil. Beyond him, however, it’s a desolate wasteland of talent. Center Nick Martin is the next best player, while second-year tackle Tytus Howard was a complete liability vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, by the way, sacked Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson four times. This bodes well for the Ravens chances to get some sacks.
It helps that last year Baltimore brought down Watson seven times. The Ravens are familiar with this line and how to rush it successfully. The sacks will come aplenty this week.
When all is said and done, I expect the Baltimore Ravens pass rush will look much better vs. the Houston Texans. It’s a bad offensive line and the Ravens will likely get a big lead offensively that’ll force the Texans into more passing situations. This is definitely the week that Baltimore sees it’s assets made to the pass rush flourish.