They may not be the fiercest group to ever don purple uniforms, but through ten games this season, the Ravens have offensive coordinators thinking twice about running the football.
True to form, on Sunday, the Ravens limited the Tennessee Titans running backs to just 67 total rushing yards. In 10 games this year, the team has not allowed a 100-yard rusher.
While the defense as a whole deserves credit for defending the run, veteran linebacker Terrell Suggs made special mention of second-year player Brandon Williams, saying he’s changed the way that teams try to run on the Ravens.
“The emergence of Brandon Williams has a lot to do with our success and how we stop the run,” Suggs stated. “I said because of Brandon [opponents] have gone to alternative means of running the ball – reverses and stuff like that and screens. … They want to keep him off the field as much as possible.
“Nobody really lines up in base personnel and runs the ball anymore. With Brandon Williams, it starts right there in the center with him.”
In fact, the last time the Ravens allowed a 100-yard rusher was in October of 2013- when Packer running back Eddie Lacy ran for 120 yards – a streak of 20 games..
As the team enters their bye week, the Ravens are ranked as the NFL’s sixth-best defense against the run, limiting opponents to an average of 84.5 yards per contest.
Individually, per Pro Football Focus, Brandon Williams (+6.7), Haloti Ngata (+9.2), rookie Timmy Jernigan (+6.7), Pernell McPhee (+1.7), Terrell Suggs (+7.2) and rookie C.J. Mosley (+10.6) have all done a stellar job against the backs they’ve faced through ten weeks of the season, including Giovanni Bernard and Le’Veon Bell.
“We have the opportunity to get some guys healthy, get rested up,” Suggs said on Monday when asked about the upcoming bye week. “When we come back, we have six games left – three home, three away – and we’re feeling very optimistic about them. So, it’s definitely a good time to have the bye though.”
The schedule that lies ahead over the next six games will certainly test the Ravens strong run defenders as the team looks to make a run to the postseason. They face four of the top 11 rushing offenses down the stretch. The remaining opponents’ current ranks in rushing offense: New Orleans – 6th; San Diego – 30th; Miami – 7th; Houston – 4th; Jacksonville – 21st; Cleveland – 11th.
For a Ravens defense whose philosophy has always been to stop the run before anything else, so far it’s been mission accomplished.
Here’s to hoping it lasts through the next six games, starting against the Saints and Mark Ingram.
Follow me on Twitter @sportguyRSR