It’s no secret that when the Ravens battle the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the defense led by coordinator Dean Pees will have their work cut out for them.
For a defense, the first game of the season is perhaps the hardest game of the year to prepare for, as opposing offenses show little insight into their playbooks throughout the preseason.
“You can study the personnel, because the personnel doesn’t really change,” Pees said at the podium following practice on Thursday. “You can even watch a guy that maybe played on another team and now comes over. So, you know what the guy can do, whether he’s good getting off the line as a receiver, or if he’s not good getting off the line. That doesn’t change.”
The Bengals come to Baltimore with a familiar face at the helm in Marvin Lewis, but a new offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson. Stopping the Bengals offense means stopping wide receiver A.J. Green and putting the brakes on running backs Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill – easier said than done. Jackson’s new hands in the offense could be a tough thing to plan for, Pess suggests.
“What changes is you don’t really know the scheme,” Pees explained. “Hue [Jackson] is now a new coordinator, so it’s different than when [Jay] Gruden was there. But they’ve had a lot of success, so you have to measure how much they are going to change.
“If you change a lot and you had a lot of success, [and then] you don’t have a lot of success, everybody is going to say, ‘Why did you change?’ But at the same time, he’s a new coordinator. He’s going to do the things he wants to do. So yes, it’s always a little bit unknown by everybody I think in the first game.”
The latest look at the team’s depth chart reveals just five defensive linemen, so disguising blitzes and bringing pressure will be a hard task, but one Pees thinks he and the players can accomplish.
“Hopefully the package that we have,” Pees said when asked about a lack of depth on the line, “will dictate [playing time for veterans] and take care of themselves, because we have several different packages [where] we can get a lot of different guys playing.
“A lot of it depends on the offense that we’re playing and the kind of style they are and what kind of personnel they’re in, whether we want to match it or not match personnel. But we have to do a good job, I think, of regulating snaps. But at the same time, I think we’re in pretty good shape physically, and I think guys can play quite well.”
There have been some complaints by some fans about the “vanilla defense” they perceive Pees running, and nothing we have seen this preseason suggests that we should expect a change in that regard.
Here’s to hoping “organized chaos” will make an appearance in 2014.
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