Defensive coaching staff: what to expect

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The Baltimore Ravens didn’t have many changes on the defensive coaching staff, retaining nearly their entire staff from a defense that ranked just outside of the top-10 last season. With the new pieces in place to work with, the defensive staff will look to take the defense back to its stomping ground in the top-5. The defensive staff starts with defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, and is filled out with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino, inside linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo,  and assistant secondary coach Chris Hewitt.

The defense made strides last season after a lackluster season in 2012, although, they did help win a Super Bowl. Here is what to expect with each position coach this season.

Dean Pees: Defensive Coordinator

Pees continues the 3-4 defensive scheme tradition for the Baltimore Ravens, and he will look to incorporate the new pieces into that scheme this upcoming season. The biggest criticism of Pees is his similarities to former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. What is meant by this is that he tends to sink into a conservative play-calling style, and at times, that hurts the defense. Pees could use stunts more often in his scheme, and with the new tools added to the defense, this should come this season. CJ Mosley, Brent Urban, the return of Kapron Lewis-Moore and the emergence of DeAngelo Tyson will help aid in the emergence of more exotic blitzes.

Chuck Pagano was known for his risk-taking blitzes that paid big dividends, but also hurt at times, but it got the job done more often than not. Pees will need to find a good mix to start earning the trust of the fans. Having a free safety who can roam the field in Terrence Brooks will help get Matt Elam up near the line of scrimmage where he belongs. When played in this capacity, Elam can be a very effective safety and wreak havoc all over the football field.

To put it simply, this may be the “put up or shut up” year for Pees. He has all of the pieces in place to guide a top-5 defense, and with a offense that could reach new heights, this team has the potential to be the best Ravens team in a long time.

Clarence Brooks: Defensive Line Coach

Many have wondered why Clarence Brooks has never gotten a crack at the defensive coordinator spot, but that isn’t important right now. What Brooks does well for the Ravens has been present for a very long time: he coaches that defensive line really well. The front-seven is the most important part of any defense; they stop the run and create pressure on the quarterback to help the secondary. For as long as anyone can remember, Brooks has guided the defensive line to excel in this.

With pieces like Urban, Lewis-Moore, Tyson, Brandon Williams, Chris Canty and more, Brooks has a chance to have a really special defensive line. This is the group that will set the the tone each game, something Brooks loves.

Ted Monachino: Outside Linebackers Coach

Monachino has a relationship with Terrell Suggs that dates back to his Arizona State days, and that bond helps this group out exponentially. Suggs is the unquestioned leader of not only the group, but the defense as a whole, and is known for his trash-talking style. The main outside linebackers in the group are Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw is the main run defender of the group and rotates in with Dumervil depending on the situation. Suggs is the three-down player of the group, as he is good against the run and as a pass-rusher.

Monachino is a name to keep an eye on in the future if a potential defensive coordinator spot is open with the Ravens or any other team. He has done a solid job since taking over the role.

Don Martindale: Inside Linebackers Coach

Martindale has a fun task this season of having three linebackers who can play the run and pass very well with newly drafted linebacker CJ Mosley, second-year vet Arthur Brown and veteran Daryl Smith. All three will figure into the rotation and the only question that remains is whether or not it will be Brown or Mosley who starts next to Smith. The expectation is that it will be Mosley, however, Brown will factor in to the defense this season in a significant way. The pick of Mosley was not an indictment on Browns’ ability, it was a pick for the future. An inside linebacker duo of Mosley and Brown for the next ten years is a scary thought for opposing teams.

Martindale will be looking to get the two comfortable in their roles to make an immediate impact this season, and that is likely to happen as the two have extreme amounts of talent. This is a position group that will be fun to watch do work.

Steve Spagnuolo: Secondary Coach

Spagnuolo is a fun coach to play for by all accounts, and is noted for his defensive play-calling as the defensive coordinator with the New York Giants in 2008. With the pick of Terrence Brooks in the third round, the team can use Matt Elam in his fullest capacity while allowing Brooks to man the middle of the field deep. The emergence of Jimmy Smith last season also completes the secondary with the team possessing two top-end corners to pair with a dynamic safety duo. The biggest question for the secondary is who takes over the nickle spot, and that question should be answered by the end of training camp. The expectation is for a player like Asa Jackson to emerge as the favorite, but an undrafted player like Sammy Seamster could emerge from the pack of unknowns.

This is another fun group to look out for this season, and if the front seven can produce a stronger pass rush, you can expect more interceptions from this group.

The moral of the story on defense for the Baltimore Ravens is that this is a young group with a lot of promise. If the new pieces pan out and do their job, there is no question that this group could be a top-5 defense by the end of the season. This defense is one of the more loaded defenses in recent memory for the Ravens, and if they play up to potential, this is a very good all-around team.

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