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Ravens defense not showing what they learned from Ray Lewis and Ed Reed

The Ravens defense has faltered in so many ways. It begs the question what did the players and coaching who learn from Lewis and Ed Reed?

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens defense once upon a time was a unit that was statistically the best in the NFL for 14 straight seasons from 1999-2012 under the leadership of future hall of fame players in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It was a unit that sometimes lacked athleticism, but always countered that with intelligence in the film room, study habits and discipline on the field.

The Ravens defense once upon a time was a unit that  whether win or lose, the  offensive opponent would feel the bruise after the game. Opposing offenses would be nervous before the game.

Under Lewis and Reed, the Ravens defense managed to help the the Ravens franchise to it's second Super Bowl trophy in franchise history by beating Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in three straight AFC playoff games and beating Manning and Brady on the road in back to back weeks at that. Beating those three quarterbacks in a row may be a feat that will never be accomplished again.

Whether it was going up against Manning or Brady, it was always a chess match. The defense pretty much came prepared to face those two QB's most of the time.

Players who played with Lewis and Reed are still on the roster. Cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb played with Lewis and Reed. Outside linebackers in Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw played with them as well.

The coaching staff listed below coached while Lewis and Reed were on the roster:

  • Defensive coordinator Dean Pees
  • Secondary coach Matt Weiss
  • Defensive coaching assistant Drew Wilkins
  • Linebackers coach Ted Monachino
  • Defensive line coach Clarance Brooks
  • Defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt
  • Inside linebackers coach Don Martindale

The list of coaches above were well established coaches who played a role in the Ravens Super Bowl run in 2012. These are honestly some of the best coaching staffs in the NFL. Which makes the question I'm about to ask even more confusing:

Did anyone on the defensive side of the ball pick up on what Lewis and Reed taught them? Look, I know you can't replace Lewis and Reed. You just can't. Especially not on the football field.

But to have this disaster of a defense literally two and a half years removed from a Super Bowl win in February of 2013 is absolutely horrific.

I knew there would be some fall off in some areas due to experience but not this much. Not in the secondary with guys like Webb and Smith who know what Reed is all about.

The constant lapses in pass defense time and time again is like Reed never existed.

When Manning threw seven touchdown passes against the Ravens in week 1 of the 2013 season I thought about what would have happened if Lewis and Reed were there. I was wondering how those breakdowns could happen after learning from Lewis and Reed over the years.

In the 2014 AFC divisional round last season when the defense gave up a 14 point lead twice, I wondered what the defense learned from Lewis and Reed. It didn't look like they learned much.

I also highly doubt that Lewis and Reed would be confused about the ineligible player situation against the Patriots either. But that's just me.

Apparently they didn't get much out of Lewis and Reed like they should have. And that leads to the disaster we have today on defense with the Ravens. The situation on defense is even worse than the fact that the Ravens have a 1-5 record right now.

Every quarterback is throwing the ball down the field against the Ravens defense like it is going out of style. It's sad.

When the Ravens let Reed go in 2013, I always thought that it was a bad decision. I know Reed had issues with his hip at the time. I know the Ravens wanted to get younger in certain places. But I always thought that the Ravens missed an opportunity to let Reed tutor 2013 first round draft pick safety Matt Elam.

The Ravens didn't let hall of fame defensive back Rod Woodson tutor Reed when Reed was a rookie in 2002 and Woodson went off to sign with the Raiders that year. But the Ravens still had a young Lewis to help Reed. So things worked out.

Things didn't work out this time with Elam. At least not at this very moment. Maybe that will change. Hopefully it does.

Maybe Lewis and Reed were just that great. But at the same time, I can't help but question how players and coaches could not have picked up on the study habits of those two legendary players. It's certainly not showing on the field.

Reed has always wanted to be a coach. Maybe the Ravens can bring him in and assist the secondary. It would be a great welcome.

The Ravens being 1-5 is unfortunate. Things like that happen in the NFL.

But this defensive being near the bottom in the league in points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play and the fourth quarter breakdowns is unacceptable. This is the Ravens defense. A standard has been built on defense in Baltimore for too long for it to be thrown away like this.

Something has to change. Enough is enough.