Throughout training camp, the secondary for the Baltimore Ravens has been one of their top performing groups. Unfortunately, for the first-team defensive backfield, that didn’t translate well during Thursday’s preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Fortunately for the Ravens, the struggles that they endured were all coachable, as the team had multiple breakdowns communication-wise, which was expected with such a tremendous amount of turnover from last year’s group. Following Saturday’s practice, John Harbaugh assessed his priorities as they relate to the secondary.
“First of all, talent, secondly, individual technique is huge – which we have areas to work on there, too – but we’re very far along as a technique secondary. [Secondary coach] Teryl Austin does a tremendous job coaching those guys,” Harbaugh said. “And then communication is the final piece.”
With three preseason games remaining, expect the starting secondary — minus Lardarius Webb who is still being eased back into contact following his second torn ACL — to receive increased playing time to work on their communication.
“[Communication is] why those guys have to play a little bit more, even in these games,” said Harbaugh. “Every kind of formation comes up with all the defenses we run, you just have to see them and they have to be able to anticipate them, and do it over and over again until it becomes second nature.”
Harbaugh was happy with the defensive performance as a whole versus the Buccaneers, only pointing to penalties and mistakes.
“If we don’t do that on defense, people are going to have a tough time moving the ball on us,” Harbaugh said referring to penalties and mistakes. “Same thing can be said for the offense, really. It was really penalties and mistakes. That first quarter wasn’t as good as we thought it should have been, and if we play good solid football – like we will – and you expect these things in the first preseason game.”
The Ravens, they’ve been able to weather the storm of losing two proven veterans in their secondary with key additions during the offseason. Michael Huff has filled in quite nicely since signing with the team as a free agent and the cornerback unit will see an increased presence from Corey Graham, who is arguably one of general manager Ozzie Newsome’s best offseason finds.
Expect big things from the Ravens secondary and don’t be alarmed with communication breakdowns this early on, it’s just a byproduct of having a minimum of four guys having to make split-second decisions.
Eventually it will all come together with game repetitions and then more game repetitions.
Photo courtesy of Carroll County Times