The Baltimore Ravens have traded for Yannick Ngakoue. Here are three big things to think about this big trade:
1. The defense just got what it needed to be special
The Baltimore Ravens defense was strong before the trade for Yannick Ngakoue. The Ravens currently rank 10th in yards allowed per game and second in points allowed. The Ravens only have three interceptions yet they have a league best eight takeaways via fumble. This ties the Ravens for second with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for total takeaways. So things are for the most part going right. Do you know where the Ravens rank in sacks?
The Ravens actually are tied for third for the most sacks. The pass rush was the one perceived deficiency of the Baltimore defense and yet they’re a top five team when it comes to taking down the other team’s quarterback. With the addition of Yannick Ngakoue, who had five sacks for the Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore is getting a huge boost in the pass rush department.
At the beginning of the season it was believed that an improved defensive line would allow Don Martindale to blitz less and get a lot of pressure any way. Well, Calais Campbell did add to the interior pass rush, however the blitz was still a heavy prescription for Martindale. If the Ravens want to get past the Kansas City Chiefs (and getting to the Super Bowl is very much still the goal) then Martindale cannot send the kitchen sink at Patrick Mahomes.
To beat the best quarterbacks, the ones that can diagnose complicated blitzes at a second’s notice and make you pay, you need to be able to generate pass rush with your four to five man rushes. The Ravens have a big game (big game may be an understatement) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The AFC North is probably going to come down to a tight two-team race between the Ravens and the Steelers. Beating Pittsburgh over the years has always had a lot to do with hitting Ben Roethlisberger.
Adding Ngakoue gives the Ravens a much more natural pass rush. This is going to be what the Ravens drew up at the beginning of the season but on steroids. The defense should go from great to special. It’s a move that gets Baltimore closer to looking like a Super Bowl team.