Defensive Line: D-
No doubt in my mind, the most disappointing unit on the team this season. No consistent pass rush on the outside. The inability to set the edge in the run game has crushed the defense as a unit. No pressure up the middle on the run or the pass from Terrence Cody or Ma’ake Kemoeatu. Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones… yeah, I got nothing. Haloti Ngata has had an injury-plagued 2012 campaign where he’s had to pick up the slack for the ENTIRE unit. Terrell Suggs might help this unit to get a little bit more pressure, but as we saw last week, it doesn’t necessarily matter. Something has to change.
The main issue with this unit is the amount of missed tackles and/or where the tackles are being made. There aren’t a lot of tackles being made at the line-of-scrimmage or behind the line. Jameel McClain hasn’t been the player he is capable of being. Dannell Ellerbe has filled in well at times on in the pass game and has big shoes to fill with Ray Lewis absent, but like Lewis, Ellerbe offers almost nothing in the run game. Albert McClellan and Paul Kruger haven’t been the players defensive coordinator Dean Pees hoped they were going to be. Courtney Upshaw hasn’t been bad, but still seems to me like he’s more of a hand in the dirt player. Being more aggressive, getting off of blocks and finishing plays by making tackles are the only ways this unit will improve as the season goes forward.
Defensive Backs: D+
This group has lost its best player in Lardarius Webb at the absolute worst time. Cary Williams has shown to demonstrate good coverage at times, but now that he has to face the opposition’s best receivers, he will struggle to say the least and has. Jimmy Smith has shown that all that needs to be done in order to defeat him is double-moves. Far too often, the corners of the Ravens bail on the receivers they are covering after the first move of a route is made. The safeties haven’t been a thing of beauty either. Ed Reed has continued his yearly campaign of not making tackles on a consistent basis. Bernard Pollard has been decent this season on the run, but is lacking on the pass game. The main issue with this group has been the lack of communication in the defensive backfield. Whether it’s man-to-man, cover 2, cover 3 or any other scheme the Ravens run, around roughly five times a game, there are gaping holes in the secondary where the opposing offense takes advantage of. Even the Cleveland Browns could throw on this secondary. Relaying responsibilities is essential to being a successful secondary and the Ravens just look clueless in that department at times.
Special Teams: A-
Justin Tucker has been phenomenal, nothing else needs to be said. Sam Koch has been great as well. Jacoby Jones locked down the kickoff return job with his 108-yard scamper into the end zone two weeks ago against Dallas. The coverage has been good at times, a few mistakes here and there but that happens. Chykie Brown has been an exceptional player in the coverage game this season.
(NOTE: I didn’t do this blog to rate the coaching staff.)
What are your Ravens grades so far this season?
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