Ever since the 2012 season, when it seemed the Ravens were a little lighter up front than usual, John Harbaugh has been wanting to get back to an old school, stout defensive front.
According to this chart posted on twitter by Philly.com's Jimmy Kempski, the Ravens have the weight part nailed down. Heading into the 2014 season, the Ravens are projected to have the second-heaviest front seven in the NFL, trailing only the New York Jets.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The Cowboys have the lightest projected defensive front 7 in the NFL. Jets are the heaviest. Eagles 7th heaviest. <a href="http://t.co/M7hPiWej8N">pic.twitter.com/M7hPiWej8N</a></p>— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) <a href="https://twitter.com/JimmyKempski/statuses/481071262694133760">June 23, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Here's a list of each starting front seven player's height and weight, based on the numbers posted on the team's website:
DT Brandon Williams: 6-1, 335
NT Haloti Ngata: 6-4, 330
DE Chris Canty: 6-7, 317
OLB Terrell Suggs: 6-3, 260
OLB Elvis Dumervil: 5-11, 260
ILB Daryl Smith: 6-2, 248
ILB C.J. Mosley: 6-2, 232
(The graph has the average weight at 283.3 pounds, while my math has it at 283.1 pounds. I know, splitting hairs.)
It's clear the Ravens want to be big up front and that's what the defense will have this year. But will being heavy up front matter?
Of the top five heaviest front sevens heading into this season, only two made the playoffs a year ago — the Chiefs and Packers. The Jets had the 11th-ranked total defense. The Ravens ranked 12th, the Chiefs were 24th, the Browns ninth and the Packers 25th. (The Jets did feature a rushing defense that finished third a season ago.)
The NFL's top defense from 2013, the Seahawks, have the 27th-heaviest front seven — or sixth-lightest, depending on how you want to look at it.
So while the emphasis on being a big, strong team up front has long been a philosophy in Baltimore, it doesn't necessarily equate to defensive success. The right group of players ultimately do.
Having just about everybody back on this front seven should help, though losing Arthur Jones hurts quite a bit. They should be able to make up the loss of Jameel McClain, who was released early in the offseason.
We'll have to wait and see if the Ravens can produce like it once did with one of the league's bigger front sevens. You know Harbaugh and the coaching staff are determined to get back to being a top five defense like the Ravens once were annually.