Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Ravens pass defense on pace to be worst in franchise history

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

With the Ravens entering the final quarter of the regular season following Sunday’s disappointing 34-33 loss to the San Diego Chargers, the pass defense will need to raise its level of play substantially to avoid a dubious distinction.
Giving up 376 yards in the air as San Diego’s Philip Rivers picked them apart, the 7-5 Ravens are now on pace to surrender 4,383 yards through the air in 2014, which would shatter the franchise-worst mark of 3,969 set in the inaugural 1996 season. That year, Baltimore finished 4-12 with a pass defense that finished last in the NFL.
The Ravens woke up Monday morning ranked 31st in the league in pass defense with only the Atlanta Falcons surrendering more yards through the air.
Where are Isaac Booth, Donny Brady, and Antonio Langham when you need them?
Of course, we’re in the midst of a pass-happy era in which offense reigns supreme — making the numbers difficult to compare to those of 18 years ago — but the Ravens haven’t had any answers in a secondary that was already facing questions long before significant injuries suffered by starting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. Smith is done for the year with a Lisfranc injury, and Webb continues to look like a shell of his former self after a back injury that took away his entire training camp and forced him out of three of the first four games of the regular season.
The Ravens have been unfortunate, but they were also poorly prepared to handle any injuries on the back end of the defense.
After former No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham departed via free agency, general manager Ozzie Newsome did not add any quality depth behind his starters in the offseason, instead counting on Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown to pick up the slack. Instead Jackson suffered a serious turf toe injury in Week 5 — he could return as soon as next Sunday’s game in Miami — and Brown struggled so mightily that Baltimore waived him in early November.
As a result, defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been forced to turn to journeyman Danny Gorrer and former safety Anthony Levine to go along with a struggling Webb. Many are inclined to blame coaching whenever a unit struggles, but you can only be so creative with schemes — the Ravens tried just about everything on Sunday — to overcome such personnel deficiencies.
The safety position has been just as problematic with 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam being a major disappointment in his second season. Pees has used a carousel of names — Darian Stewart, Jeromy Miles, Brynden Trawick, and rookie Terrence Brooks at various times — with only Will Hill looking to be a solid option at this stage of the season.
As for the record books, the Ravens will receive a respite from playing Pro Bowl quarterbacks as they’re slated to face Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles, Houston’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, and either Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel — maybe both? — in the season finale against Cleveland. That said, Tannehill is in the midst of a good third season with the Dolphins and Fitzpatrick is coming off a six-touchdown performance in Week 13, so it won’t be a total cakewalk of opposing quarterbacks.
You can only hope Sunday was rock bottom for the pass defense as the Ravens will need an excellent final month to catch the first-place Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North or at least advance to the playoffs after last year’s absence.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I attended both the Maryland-Rutgers game as well as the Ravens-Chargers game, two gut-wrentching losses during the same weekend. How much worse can it get?
    (L.J. – Brutal. Just brutal.)

  2. Your right Luke. This has to be the Ravens’ all time worse secondary. Half of those guys should really be on the practice squad and the blame has to fall directly on Ozzie’s shoulders. Other than Jimmy Smith he has done nothing over the last 5 years to address what is arguably the most important position in football outside the QB spot. In the pass happy NFL you need at least 4 solid DBs and with Smith out we don’t have even one.Instead Ozzie rather draft linebackers like Mosely and Upshaw and defensive lineman like Cody and Jerrnigan instead of what we really need. Webb looks like he ‘s 40 years old. They should move him to safety next year or release him. Matt Elam has to go down as being a major bust. The only time I hear his name is when he has been beaten on a play or is called for a holding or pass interference penalty.
    The fact is we aren’t going anywhere this year with the secondary that is back there now. Even if we some how mad it into the playoffs we are one and done

Comments are closed.

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