There’s no question that the Ravens’ defense has struggled this season and many point to the vast number of injuries as the main culprit. However, while the influx of injuries has hurt the Ravens’ D, there’s a bigger problem that’s fallen behind the radar.
Up to this point, the Ravens’ pass rush has been nonexistent. They rank 26th in sacks and have given opposing quarterbacks way too much time in the pocket. Despite all of this, they are still having some success on defense due to the lack of quality opposing quarterback play.
During last week’s game against the Cleveland Browns, I was astonished at how much time Brandon Weeden had dropping back. There were some plays where he held onto the ball for more than five seconds without getting touched.
Though he had plenty of time, Weeden still failed to make the right reads and couldn’t hit open receivers, helping out the Ravens tremendously. CBS commentator and former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon was calling the game, and even he made some remarks on Weeden’s inability to make easy open throws while not being pressured.
It wasn’t until the final few possessions until we saw Weeden get on the same page with his receivers and start to successfully drive the ball down the field.
One of the main reasons for the Ravens’ dominance on defense last season was their consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs was the main component of that pass rush, and with him still not 100% after his Achilles tear, the Ravens haven’t found anyone to fill the void.
An important thing to note is that the lack of a pass rush should not be blamed on defensive coordinator Dean Pees, as the Ravens’ defense is blitzing an almost identical amount of times as they were last season under Chuck Pagano. Rather, it seems that the personnel has been simply unable to get to the quarterback.
The defensive line has been hindered by the play of Haloti Ngata, who hasn’t been playing at 100% as he’s been dealing with a shoulder and knee injury for the past few weeks.
Luckily for the Ravens, Terrell Suggs looks like he’s starting to get back into rhythm and should boost the Ravens pass rush in the coming weeks.