Playing Time by Committee for Ravens Defense

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp

A Super Bowl has never been won during the offseason but the Ravens have consistently positioned themselves to make a run for a championship year after year. While questions still surround the offensive personnel, the defense appears to be stacked for a sixth-consecutive playoff run.

The roster decisions from the Ravens front office have allowed them to weather the storm from the losses of two future Hall of Fame members of their defense (not only that, but arguably the greatest players to ever play their respective positions).

In less than three weeks, the regular season will officially commence and after what has been on display throughout training camp, the Ravens appear to have themselves a “problem” of sorts – though not necessarily a bad one. The defensive unit is deep – perhaps too deep – meaning that some quality players won’t see as much playing time as they may elsewhere on a non-contending team.

Only 11 players can take the field at once, but the Ravens have been showing during practice that through packages designed to capitalize on each player’s abilities, they have ways to get as many of their playmakers on the field as possible.

During the preseason, the Ravens rookies – including their top two selections, S Matt Elam and ILB Arthur Brown – have looked promising. Neither has been named a starter at their respective positions, but it’s not like head coach John Harbaugh was ever going to essentially hand them a starting job solely based on their draft position. Harbaugh has made it tough on these players to earn a spot and the rookies have responded by making it tough for their coach to not carve out a spot for them on the field.

For Elam and Brown, they’ll be facing the same scenario then-rookie OLB Courtney Upshaw was facing a year ago. Upshaw was very good at stopping the run but the Ravens had Terrell Suggs and Paul Kruger ahead of him on the depth chart. Upshaw saw playing time during run situations and then gave way to Kruger, who was more of a natural pass rusher.

The same philosophy will continue this season as Elvis Dumervil, one of the best pass rushers in the league, will occupy the role vacated by Kruger.

Similarly Brown and ILB Josh Bynes, who has already been named the teams starting”Will” linebacker by Harbaugh will flip-flop. Bynes is bigger and more physical, which equates to being more valuable in the run game. When the Ravens employ nickel and dime packages, you are likely to see the speedy Brown at ILB.

Just how fast is Brown? Ask Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who played against him in college (4:18 mark below).

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As for Elam at strong safety, he’ll be rotating with James Ihedigbo, as Michael Huff has entrenched himself in the free safety position. While Ihedigbo may get the nod personnel-wise at nickel, after Elam’s strong tackling clinic during last week’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, it could be only a short amount of time before he secures the starting job and an even more significant amount of playing time.

Having to find additional ways to get players on the field is a great problem for the Ravens coaching staff to have. It’s also a strong testament to general manager Ozzie Newsome, who utilized his “right player, right price” phillosphy and strong scouting via the draft to assemble another top-notch contender in the NFL.

For more Ravens news and information, follow me on Twitter @RavenManiac .

 

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About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

6 Raves on “Playing Time by Committee for Ravens Defense

  1. Brian Tray on said:

    This should be one of the top defenses in the NFL. With some outstanding talent (Webb,Ngata,Suggs, Dumervil and Canty) they also have unbelievable depth. It’s the depth however that will stand the test of a 16 game NFL season. Injuries are bound to occur but playing 11-12 guys on the front seven will keep everyone well rested and show up in the 4th quarter of many games.
    The Raven’s are in great shape for another SB run.

  2. Mac in Va on said:

    The Ravens said they wanted to get better in the middle and be better against the run and they sure seem to have done just that.

    You can also the future being built around guys like, Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams. I hope they’re in purple and black for a long, long time.

  3. Rxdoxx on said:

    I can now see a fresher Haloti in the 4th q

    Too many times last year he had played a lot, and while still good, wasn’t monsterous in the 4th…. this year I’m expecting him more rested for those end of game distuptions.

  4. Michael on said:

    Hearing great stuff about Cody in camp. If he’s the guy that Ozzie thought he was (he had hip issues all last year, that could ‘splain a lot from last year!), and we have him, Ngata & Brandon Williams as 3 huge-bodies to rotate…..this could be a scary D. Our DL is deep and good. Our LB corps is deep & good. Our DBs still concern me. Not totally sold on Huff or Ihedigbo, Jimmy Smith is still a work in progress & Webb keeps getting hurt. If they play to expectations & avoid injuries, we go to instant top 2-3 in the AFC. From there……anything can happen.

  5. Spy on said:

    I hope the D is better but Ozzie didn’t need to let Boldin go to get the cap space to improve the D,,,,,,,He should have released Leach and restructured Jones then picked Leach back up when no one else wanted him and we would have still had Boldin,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • Big Perm on said:

      Get over the Boldin thing man. He’s just not worth that cap number. Talk about beating a dead horse,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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