CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 04: Defenders Parnell McPhee #90 and Paul Kruger #99 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrate after a sack against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
I did a poll a few weeks back on which area of the Baltimore Ravens game was of most concern heading into the 2012 season. The pass rush was the biggest concern of our readers far above anything else. This is totally understandable due to the fact that the teams best pass rusher and last seasons defensive Player Of The year Terrell Suggs will miss the majority, if not all of, the season in 2012. Not only that but the pass rush was unanimously underwhelming in the four preseason games thus far.
The Ravens recorded four sacks in the preseason which is right about at the bottom of the NFL as far as the preseason statistics go. Now, of course, we have heard from coaches and players alike that the defense was not running any of their A game material during the preseason but you still have to be a bit concerned that there weren't too many players that seemed capable of simply beating the man in front of them.while facing good quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Mathew Stafford the vaunted Ravens defense seemed to be exposed somewhat in the secondary by their big time, play making receivers. the problem however was not always the secondary. the fact is the pass rush was simply not getting to the quarterback. They were not even almost getting there and forcing hurried, arrant throws. For the most part they could have sat back with a martini in one hand and still completed passes 20+ yards down field.
Well the Ravens want all of their trusting fans to know that this will not be the case during the regular season. Apparently they were just giving their secondary some practice before the games start to really matter. Uh huh...
Well, here is what OLB Paul Kruger had to say on the matter:
"Once we’re in the regular season, I think you’re going to see not a completely different game, but there’s a big difference between those preseason games and regular-season games,"
The Ravens main pass rushing threats will be defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, defensive end Pernell McPhee and outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw. Ngata and Upshaw both were able to register sacks in the preseason while Kruger and McPhee were both shut out in all four games. McPhee had to deal with being the one to get the double teams usually delegated to Suggs so that will be something he is forced to adjust to on the fly
y."It's all good," McPhee said. "I learn off of things and get better. It’s all part of being a successful player."
Upshaw was largely looked over in the draft because many thought his pass rushing prowess would not translate at the NFL level. He is here to prove his doubters wrong and has quite a chip on his shoulder for falling all the way into the second round where the Ravens were able to scoop him up.
"I want to get sacks. That’s my goal," Upshaw said, adding that he feels a lot of people doubted his pass-rushing skills when he was drafted.
Let's hope that new defensive coordinator Dean Pees has as many new tricks up his sleeves as the players and coaches seem to think he does. Disguising the blitz and using defensive backs and inside line backers to rush the passer have been staples in his defenses for years and you can most likely expect to see much of that this season with the 2012 version of the Ravens defense.