The Ravens have played outstanding dime defense the last 7 weeks.
During that time, they have played with 6 DBs 17 times and surrendered just 14 yards (0.8 YPPA) including 3 sacks and 2 turnovers. Until yesterday, the current stretch had all been 3rd or 4th down with 4+ yards to go. However, on the Bengals last meaningful series Sunday, the Ravens went to it on 2nd and 9.
There are risks with getting personnel substituted after a successful conversion or a gain that sets up 3rd and short, but the great Ravens defenses of the past have been successful with 6 and 7 DB sets. With the emergence of Chykie Brown, Omar Brown, and James Ihedigbo it’s apparent the Ravens have playmakers available to fill those roles.
Let’s approach this from another angle. The 2000 Ravens had an iconic set of defensive starters that most Ravens fans can still name in less than a minute. Go ahead, take a moment, then look them up at the bottom of this piece. With a group like that, there wouldn’t be need to play dime, let alone quarter, would there? In 1,163 snaps (20 plays excluded), spanning 20 games, the greatest defense of all time played 401 snaps of either dime (339) or quarter (62). That team managed to get Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams back on the field as needed. Marvin Lewis’ defense had 22 sacks (5.5%) and 25 turnovers (6.2%!) with 6 or 7 DBs. Those rates were 3.4% and 4.2% with 5 or fewer DBs. Who were the mystery men? I’d wager few fans can name those veteran contributors to the 2000 team (see below for answer).
Back to 2012. Today’s game screams out for an athletic group on the field in passing situations. One of the Ravens’ biggest weaknesses has been the inability of their linebackers to make an impact in coverage. Additional DBs on the field would address this problem while adding flexibility to the pass rush.
For the trivia answers and the rest of the week's defensive notes, please visit: