Stats show Ravens pressuring QBs more under Pees

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Despite playing four games in 17 days, the Baltimore Ravens concluded the first quarter of the season with a 3-1 record.

While most are happy with the team’s record, the apparent regression of the Ravens defense has been alarming for some – thus initiating the usual finger pointing for answers. Fans are always looking for someone to blame.

After their first four games this season, the Ravens have declined in sacks, forced fumbles and interceptions compared to last season. So far, this defense hasn’t been flashy, and they aren’t as feared as they once were.

The icing on the moldy cake came last Thursday when Brandon Weeden exploited the Ravens defense for 320 yards, while being sacked only once and intercepted only once.

During his one season at the helm of the Ravens defense, Chuck Pagano was a breath of fresh air, as he restored the “organized chaos” approach the defense had under Rex Ryan. When Ryan left to coach the New York Jets, immediate successor Greg Mattison’s style wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he frequently sent three-man rushes during critical situations, so fans loved what Pagano brought.

After Pagano’s departure to Indianapolis to coach the Colts, Dean Pees was promoted to defensive coordinator. The Ravens defensive performance thus far has many prematurely and inaccurately labeling Pees’s aggressiveness – based on statistics – to that of Mattison, which is totally inaccurate.

Statistics provided from the Ravens actually show that Pees’s defense has been just as –if not more – aggressive than Pagano’s defense from 2011.

Through the first four games in 2012, the Ravens pressured* opposing quarterbacks 130 times under Pees, compared to 129 last season under Pagano.

*Pressure (as defined by the Ravens’ coaches) – Defensive plays that send five or more rushers at the quarterback (fans usually call them “blitzes.) OR packages that send three attackers at one spot in the offense, meant to “overload” the offensive line and prevent them from shifting/sliding to the attacked side. The Ravens’ overload packages usually involve Haloti Ngata dropping into coverage while either Bernard Pollard or Lardarius Webb attack the line of scrimmage from their secondary positions. Overloads are designed to get a “free runner” at the quarterback. 

Even though the Ravens had two more sacks, six more forced fumbles and two more interceptions at this point last season, Pees has brought the same amount of pressure.

The amount of three-man rushes has been almost the same as well. Last season, Pagano only rushed three on four plays through four games, where as Pees has done it five times. The biggest difference is that this season, the Ravens have gotten two of their nine total sacks from a three-man rush.

For comparison’s sake, the Ravens pressured Tom Brady 19 times in the AFC Championship game last season – this year, Pees dialed up pressure 38 times.

The pressure/sack ratio may have been higher under Pagano but that’s not to the fault of the defensive coordinator – it’s on the guys actually playing.

Clearly, not having Terrell Suggs is a huge detriment to this defense. Through the first four games last season, Suggs already had four sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.

To date, outside linebackers have only accounted for two of the Ravens’ nine sacks – 1.5 of which are from Paul Kruger.

Even though the Ravens have managed to win three of their first four games, they can’t rely on the offense clicking on all cylinders each week.

Within a week, the Ravens defeated the Patriots and the Browns but only forced one turnover total in the two games.

The feeling here is that, had the Ravens had Suggs on the field at the beginning of the season, Pees’s defensive philosophy wouldn’t even be in question. Aside from Kruger – who is still green himself – high expectations have been placed on rookie Courtney Upshaw and unproven Albert McClellan.

Asking either of these guys to replicate the production of the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is unfair.

Until Suggs returns (and gets the rust off), the Ravens defense will continue to “struggle” compared to last season.

Pointing the blame at Pees for their performance is unjust and doesn’t make sense. There is only so much the coordinator can do; the rest is up to those on the field.

Expecting Pees to get the same production as Pagano was able to without one of the key pieces of the defense in place would be like calling the Ferrari in your driveway a piece of junk because the gas tank is empty – completely unfair.

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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

8 Raves on “Stats show Ravens pressuring QBs more under Pees

  1. Eric on said:

    Great article. The Ravens need to trade a 3rd rounder for a pass rusher. They can restructure a few contracts to make room under the cap. If they do this, they can have a great year. Without pressure or even the concern of pressure, every QB in this league can have 300+ yards against us.

  2. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Obviously the pass rush isn’t going to be the same without Suggs. But schematically the pass rush isn’t what it was under Pagano. They don’t overload and drop into zones the way they did last year. The Ravens can talk about their “pressures” all they want but they aren’t disguising and mixing their pressures enough to get quarterbacks to move off their spot.

    Through 4 games last year opponents completed 52.7% of their passes. Through 4 games (under Mattison) in 2010 they completed 55.4%. This season that number is 60.5%. If you can’t hit the quarterback, at least disrupt his timing and his spot behind the LOS.

    • Chad on said:

      Tony I think it has to I ore with the better schedule this year rhanninnthe past as well as the condensed schedule 4 in 18 than scheme. You watch a lot more tape than most and sure stats do not lie but let’s wait one until the bye before we hang our DC. Sure maybe we should have gone after Spags this year but we chose to stay in house for the hiring. I still think we could be a good defense maybe in the top 12 or so at the end of the season. Top 5 offense and Top 12 Defense equals great opportunity for a playoff run. Let’s not overreact like we tend to do here in BMORE.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        Chad, I believe that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I also believe that pointing out tendencies and weaknesses isn’t a sign of weakness but rather the first part of the process towards improvement.

    • Filmstudy on said:

      I agree with your assessment, Tony.

      I also think of “pressure” is an outcome, not a scheme. So the Ravens can achieve pressure, but they can’t simply send pressure.

  3. Filmstudy on said:

    You mention 5, 3-man rushes for the season through 4 games. That’s very different from my total count of 14. Those break down as:

    Cin: 4
    Phi: 7
    NE: 0
    Cle: 3

    Most count stats come down to definitional differences, so I looked back to the first 4 games of 2011:

    I get 3, 5, 1, 0 for 9 total in the first 4 games of 2011.

    Any idea how the Ravens define the number of pass rushers? It would not account for the entire difference, but do they count rushers after the pocket is broken?

  4. Filmstudy on said:

    Often differences are definitional, but I have a very different count of 3-man rushes for 2012:

    Total is 14 with by game totals of 4, 7, 0, 3.

    Last year through 4 games, I had 9 3-man rushes.

    You have a good definition of “pressure” provided. Can you get an explanation of how they count pass rushers?

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