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Brandon Williams has been a difference-maker up front

An upgrade at nose tackle has propelled the Raven's run defense to an elite level.

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Cliff McBride

I don't miss Terrence Cody and I'm fairly sure you don't either. Brandon Williams, the 6-1, 335-pound ball of muscle is perhaps the biggest addition to the defense, since he was not featured on it last year. The magnitude of the upgrade was apparent on the very first play of the biggest game of the year (so far), as he blasted center Maurkice Pouncey five yards in the backfield.

His run stop percentage currently ranks sixth for defensive tackles, per PFF. That's good enough to rank ahead of Marcel Darius, Nick Fairley and Dontarie Poe, among others. Williams' improvement gives the Ravens' base defense an edge. With Williams, going against teams with average or below average offensive lines almost guarantees success. He makes the base defense a force to be reckon with.

Against Carolina, considered to be a run-first team, Williams played 32 of the 69 defensive snaps, scoring a grade of 1.8. The Panthers rushed for 67 yards on 2.8 yards per carry. Williams played 21 of the 67 snaps against the Bengals. Cincinnati rushed for 67 yards on with a 3.7 yards per carry. While the improvement is slight, if put into perspective, a yard can make a difference. 2.8 yards per carry is domination. 3.7 is but a level under.

We cannot measure the impact he has, commanding double teams, freeing C.J. Mosley to fly around the field. Coincidentally, with Williams playing great against Carolina, Mosley had his best game in terms of run defense.

Williams' improvement means the Ravens cannot be pushed around. If the edges are set, there is nowhere to run. Looking at the schedule, the Browns, Texans, Steelers and Bengals are the four run-first teams left. If the secondary comes together, as they have the past two games, the defense should win their matchups.

The run defense, at the moment is on point. Getting to third down has not been a problem. But until last week's game, getting off the field on third down was. Half the equation is resolved. Now Lardarius Webb's return, along with the arrival of Will Hill should complete it.