In the mist of the 55-20 beating on Sunday, Baltimore’s defense played well in run defense, allowing 72 yards rushing, their best since Week 3 against the patriots. They still allowed 20 points, and 368 yards passing, which both are not acceptable in Baltimore. It’s still the middle of the season so that doesn’t matter all that much. But in the playoffs, this won’t work.
Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis, Jimmy Smith, Pernell Mcphee, and Lardarius Webb are the high profile injuries on defense that at the very least, continue to linger. Nine games have already been played. There’s not much a team can do from a personnel stand point to fix the defense. The Ravens best bet is that Ray, Suggs, Ngata, Reed and Pollard are all on the field together later. Outside of that not much can be done.
The Ravens won’t win games like that every week, but they will have to have the same mindset on the offensive side of the ball. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice will need to carry the team.
Cornerbacks playing 10 yards off the wide receivers and still allowing big yards. How about playing press more since Terrell Suggs is back? They can’t get much worse than they are right now. Can the overload blitz packages from 08-2011 work? Maybe.
Courtney Upshaw has been used in a unique way the past two weeks with interior pressure. How long that will last we don’t know. He was also used in ILB packages in Cleveland. They can mix and match all they want, but with the way the defense is playing, individual talent will need to take over.
The natural instincts of a Lewis, a Suggs, a Ngata, a Reed, and even a Benard Pollard will need to show up for the stretch run. That’s where defense is right now. They have been ineffective to the point where sheer talent will need to take over. The good news is Flacco and Rice are good enough to handle that load. The bad part from their pride stand point, winning on defense won’t be a consistent formula for success for the rest of the season.
Contrary to what some pundits say, the Ravens are very well alive. However, the perception that this is a defense-first team is no longer accurate. It is leaning towards a balanced team despite the defensive struggles.