The Construction Of Ravens Defense
The Baltimore Ravens defense will be fun to watch in the upcoming season. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees, has a lot to work with. With the most talent he has had during his tenure in Baltimore it should be his most successful year. Let’s take a look at the Ravens defense, and all the fun Dean Pees can have with it.
Everything starts up front, and the Ravens defensive line is built well. With defensive linemen for days, the unit will stay strong for the whole game. Rotating players in on the defensive line is huge. Not only does it keep players from wearing out but it prevents injuries from over exertion. Durability has been an issue for veterans like Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty. The depth the Ravens have means they will be worn down less and subsequently provide more production. Outside of Ngata and Canty, the defensive line is young. Brandon Williams, Kapron Lewis-Moore and DeAngelo Tyson are all going into their second season (Lewis-Moore did not play last year due to injury). The Ravens welcome the additions of two talented rookies in Timmy Jernigan and Brent Urban. Terrance Cody is a veteran who may still make the team yo add depth, despite his lack of performance as a Raven.
The Ravens have a prototypical 3-4 linebacking group, with size and quickness. On the edges the Ravens have the fearsome duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. On running downs the Ravens rotate into the game Courtney Upshaw. Don’t be surprised to see the versatile and still blossoming Albert McClellan work into the outside linebacker rotation. The interior starters will be CJ Mosley on the weak side (generally
over the left guard in a 30 technique) and Darryl Smith on the strong side (generally over the right guard in a 30 technique.) Arthur Brown will also work into the defense.
The Ravens play a 3-4 but mix up their looks and include a hybrid front. One way to be a hybrid defense is to do a “scissors shift”. In the regular 3-4 defense the outside linebackers will move to the weak side and the defensive end will shift to the strong side. Terrell Suggs in this example now has his hand in the dirt as a defensive end, becoming the fourth lineman. Don’t get to into the 3-4 or 4-3 thing. Players move around to create confusion. The personnel dictates more than the type of defense.
We have had all this fun, and we have not even mentioned the secondary. The addition of Terrance Brooks changes everything. He is athletic, he is can quite literally do it all. Brooks, most importantly, is the perfect complement to Matt Elam. Elam is best in the box and is surprisingly effective against tight ends in man coverage. Now that Brooks is the traditional deep third safety, Elam can roam around more freely. I could see the Ravens trying to use Elam in a Troy Polamalou type role. The Ravens have to top tier corners in Jimmy Smith and Ladarius Webb. Dean Pees likes to mix coverages playing a lot of cover 3 and man coverage. Asa Jackson is the most likely player to assume the Nickel position, but don’t rule out Chykie Brown. Against teams with great slot receivers, Webb can cover the slot. He is also a great blitzer when in the nickel back alignment.
The Ravens pass rush was far too pedestrian in 2013. They depended solely on Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervile off the edges. Darryl Smith and CJ Mosley are both great blitzers from the inside. Expect the Ravens to use timely blitzes to get offenses off the field. I like the idea of using Terrell Suggs as a spinner (moving him around to blitz from multiple locations). I also believe that the Ravens could use more stunts. Matt Elam could become a great blitzing strong safety especially if the Ravens use him more in the box.
I don’t see any holes in the Ravens defensive depth chart. With lots of depth and versatile players, they have a chance to dominate.