Ravens pass rush doesn’t pass
If you were asked, “Where do the Ravens need the most help?” chances are your response would be, “Rushing the passer.”
Currently the Ravens are the 29th ranked defense against the pass despite playing 3 of their 4 games at home. Teams have dropped back 171 times against the Ravens yet the team has produced only 9 sacks, good for 14th in the league. The 162 attempts against Dean Pees’ unit is the fourth highest total in the NFL.
Making the Ravens pass rush seem even more putrid is that the team’s secondary is generally regarded to be among the league’s best. That’s amounts to more incriminating evidence against the Ravens’ front seven.
So where can they look for help?
In-season trades in the NFL are rather rare and with the emphasis on the passing game, teams aren’t going to deal pass rushers without something significant on the back end.
So don’t hold your breath on that one.
Which leaves the Ravens with 3 ways to improve their 5-Mississippi pass rush:
- Scheme more effectively
- Hope that the current players gel together and improve
- Get help from players who currently are not seeing the field
Pees unfortunately so far is much more reminiscent of Greg Mattison’s vanilla approach than he is Chuck Pagano’s. When he opts to rush three in the red zone with the quality of DB’s he has, it’s hard to expect much more in the way of scheming that will disrupt the passer.
So that brings us to execution.
Can the current group improve?
Pernell McPhee was limited in training camp but it stands to reason that he’ll get better sooner than later. Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan are showing signs of playing better but their improvement is showing up more in the running game than in the passing game.
And then there’s Paul Kruger.
With his fourth season now 4 games deep, Kruger has played in 39 career games and he’s registered 8 sacks. And while he came on last year as a situational player, this season he seems to be sticking to blockers like Velcro.
So where else can the Ravens turn?
Well there’s Sergio Kindle. The former star Texas Longhorn just can’t seem to earn “active” status on game day and you have to wonder why. Why does he sit when the defense desperately needs a push off the edge yet the Ravens can activate an unproductive player like Anthony Allen?
Why does Deonte Thompson need to be active when Jacoby Jones is available to return kicks? Isn’t it worth giving Kindle a try even against the lowly Browns?
“In order for a guy to become active – as you know – on the 46, there has to be role for him on Sunday”, said John Harbaugh on Monday.
So if Kindle can’t fill the role of an edge rusher (clearly a job opening the Ravens have), why is he even on the roster?
Then there’s Adrian Hamilton, who led the nation in sacks (20 ½) in 2011 as a member of Prairie View A&M Panthers, a NCAA Division I-AA school. He now sits on the Ravens practice squad. Isn’t he worth a shot as a situational substitute?
Can’t the Ravens sacrifice Anthony Allen’s 2 special teams tackles over the course of the past 4 games?
Nobody asked me but giving Kindle or Hamilton a shot given such ridiculously modest opportunity costs seems like a low risk.
With quarterbacks like the Mannings, Rivers, Roethlisberger twice, Schaub, Dalton (again), even Palmer, Romo and RGIII on the docket, buying time until the return of Terrell Suggs isn’t acceptable. Even rookie Brandon Weeden chucked it for 320 yards despite at least another 50 yards in drops.
The danger signals are there and the Ravens better not ignore them.
Otherwise, get ready for a weekly track meet.
Hey, is Usain Bolt available?