SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 13: Defensive end Pernell McPhee #90 of the Baltimore Ravens pressures quarterback Tarvaris Jackson #7 of the Seattle Seahawks during a game at CenturyLink Field on November 13, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 22-17. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Without the reigning Defensive Player Of The Year Terrell Suggs the Ravens will be looking to find ways to get the rest of their pass rushers more involved in 2012.As usual this will all start with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata is the first person other teams look to prepare for, even when Suggs is on the field. He can eat up double teams and move around all over the line. However, the player to watch this year may well be second year defensive end Pernell McPhee. McPhee is the Ravens most promising young pass rusher.
Look for new defensive coordinator Dean Pees to move McPhee around the line much like they have done with Suggs over the years. With Ngata taking up multiple linemen he can look for one on one match ups with guards. So far McPhee has looked more comfortable as in inside rusher but he demonstrates great speed of the edge as well.
McPhee finished the 2011 season with six sacks. Second on the team to Suggs. He could see a lot more playing time in 2012. NFL.com columnist Bucky Brooks agrees...
A fifth-round pick in 2011, McPhee was not expected to be a major contributor in Year 1, yet he finished second on the team with six sacks as a rookie. McPhee displayed exceptional movement skills and thrived as an interior rusher in the Ravens' sub packages. He routinely defeated offensive guards with his remarkable first-step quickness and also collected sacks with relentless effort and pursuit.
With Suggs out of the lineup indefinitely, the Ravens will look to give McPhee more opportunities to get after the passer. They will continue to feature him prominently in nickel packages and explore getting him onto the field on early downs to take advantage of his disruptive skills. While the extended playing time threatens to wear him down, the potential benefits certainly outweigh the risks.
In looking at possible ways the Ravens might tap into McPhee's skills, I would expect to see more interior movement schemes to take advantage of his quickness. McPhee does a fantastic job working the edges of blockers, so slanting into gaps is a strong possibility. The Ravens will also bring more five- and six-man pressures directed at the A- and B-gaps to free up McPhee on the interior. The presence of the blitz forces offenses to alter their protection schemes, leaving McPhee to feast off isolated matchups. Given his speed, quickness and relentlessness, the one-on-one battles could yield big results for the Ravens. -Bucky Brooks