The Ravens find themselves at 1-6 Tuesday morning, but they do have something to be happy about after a season of turmoil and poor defensive play. Well it's still more poor defensive play, but they are improving.
While allowing the Arizona Cardinals to put up 26 points is something that most fans might scratch their heads at, if you look a little closer, you can see a defense that might be starting to gel around each other and play better. Make no mistake about it, the Ravens had poor tackling throughout the game and that can be attributed to 14 of the 26 points Arizona put on the board, and that is something that will have to be addressed and remedied, but I take that more for an aberration than the norm.
The Ravens got after Carson Palmer and applied pressure to him all game long. Despite only having a single solid pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens got 2 sacks on Palmer during the game and could be seen bouncing him around a few more times. The pressure got so much that the Cardinals offense switched over to a quicker passing attack in the second half, relying on poor tackling and the cushion from the secondary to get yards. The key is that even with the tackling issues, they still held a potent Cardinals passing offense to 275 passing.
This is an offense with Larry Fitzgerald who came into the game with 583 yards receiving. Wide receiver John Brown just torched the Pittsburgh Steelers for 196 yards the previous week. Against the Ravens, they combined for 104 yards. Through the 7 weeks of the 2015 NFL Season, Palmer has thrown over 300 yards 4 times, with 421 against the Pittsburgh Steelers just the week prior.
Looking at the run game, if Brandon Williams held running back Chris Johnson for another second or if the refs blew the whistle like they should have, Johnson would have had only 60 yards on the ground. It would have been a 3.52 ypc average instead of the 6.8 that he did get after that 62 yard run on the botched play.
Again, it didn't end in a win for the Ravens, but there is some silver in that lining. With a more aggressive scheme, the cornerbacks Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright and Lardarius Webb did well enough against a nasty combination of three wide receivers that could easily be the top dog on this Ravens' team. As the season wears on, if the defense can put together that type of performance and lock up their tackling technique, they could end up holding teams below 20 points while the Ravens offense has been averaging 23 points per game.
Small victories folks, we need everything we can get this season.