Back on January 21 I blogged that the Ravens had other concerns besides the secondary that require more immediate attention – specifically the passing game and the pass rush.
Before the bye last season, the Ravens secondary was shredded by some top flight quarterbacks and they gave up six plays of 40+ yards. After the break, they yielded just 2 during their remaining11 games. Tom Brady did next to nothing against the Ravens in the playoffs and Peyton Manning wasn’t the reason the team didn’t advance further in the playoffs. The blame for that rests on the shoulders of the offense.
So the team made the move to get Anquan Boldin; they’ve added Donte Stallworth and re-signed Derrick Mason; and now in the draft they’ve added two promising tight ends and a Brandon Stokley-like receiver in David Reed.
Many will argue that the best way to help the secondary is to improve the pass rush. The additions of Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody help in that regard. Now most will tell you that Cody is a two down guy and does little to help a pass rush. But given his ample girth and ability to push offensive linemen around, his interior thrust coupled with Haloti Ngata should help collapse the pocket and make it easier for Kindle, a re-committed Terrell Suggs and the developing Paul Kruger to make a difference on the edges.
Folks forget that after the bye last season, Greg Mattison’s unit was the second best pass defense in the league. Chris Carr played much better and even the beleaguered Frank Walker played better. Walker will never be a starting corner in the league but he does bring toughness and tenacity to the nickel and/or dime position.
Might they all benefit from an improved pass rush?
Might they all be more comfortable in Mattison’s system?
Critics are quick to point out that the team has injuries at corner (Lardarius Webb & Fabian Washington) and it’s possible that neither will be at full strength to start the season. But let’s not forget that both were out down the stretch last season. Both were spectators in Oakland, New England and Indianapolis.
Both should be available early in the season.
A look at the early season schedule shows the Jets, Bengals, Browns, Steelers and Broncos on the docket prior to a trip to New England. Outside of Carson Palmer, I’m not seeing much of a threat there in the passing attack of the other opponents.
Besides, there will absolutely be some fallout on the rosters of teams during training camp. Because there is no salary cap, there’s no reason for teams to shed players from rosters now. Most teams welcome the battles that are sure to ensue during camp as players fight for their careers. Teams will love the competition.
The losers who play corner could be short-term winners for the Ravens.
An improved roster now is great.
But the one that matters most is that which takes the field on Monday Night, September 13 in Meadowlands Stadium.