Receiving much less playing time than McPhee prior to Sunday, Jones took 78 percent of the snaps against the Texans in an early sign that changes could be coming over the bye week, but he is not the type of end who will be able to pressure the quarterback, either.
Without Suggs rushing on the opposite edge in passing situations, Kruger managed only 1 1/2 sacks and proved incapable of holding down a starting outside linebacker job before being relegated to reserve duties again.
Sunday marked the season debuts for DeAngelo Tyson and Bryan Hall, who were active because of injury concerns, and Harbaugh suggested we may see more of each in the future.
In what might be the biggest ray of hope for the Ravens to correct some of their defensive woes, Suggs proving he was healthy and ready to make an immediate impact Sunday in Houston will allow the coaching staff to rest a little easier during the bye week. In addition to setting a strong edge and making plays against the run from his rush linebacker position, the mere presence of the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year forces offensive lines to account for him on every play.
It doesn’t solve all the Ravens’ problems up front, but perhaps it’s a way to jump-start the likes of McPhee and Kruger, who thrived in part-time roles last season with Suggs wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks, and take pressure off Ngata as a pass rusher.
“He took a lot of attention off me, Haloti, and Paul Kruger when it comes to pass-rushing,” McPhee told AM 1570 WNST.net on Monday. “He takes a lot of attention off us. The type of pass rusher he is, you can’t even explain it. You can’t find those guys. It puts all the attention on him. That’s how we make plays — that’s how we made plays last year.”
As talented as Suggs is, he isn’t a miracle worker as the Ravens need their group of young defensive linemen to improve in a hurry to make any substantial improvements up front.
Much like the linebackers and secondary, the defensive line’s problems may not all be fixable at this point, but the Ravens will take any tangible improvements they can find.
Even with the concerns defensively, a 5-2 record and control of the AFC North go a long way in holding off panic for a group accustomed to excellence. The Ravens have given themselves a margin for error, but the defense also knows what it’s produced so far isn’t nearly good enough.
“We have the time now, and we have the ability to make those changes and kind of recreate our identity as a defense and as a team,” Kruger said. “I think we’re in good shape. It’s no time to lose your mind about it or freak out as a team. We just need to refocus, find the things we need to fix and make that happen.”