Ranking first in Greg Garcia's favorite defensive stat, DVOA, the key to Chuck Pagano's 2011 defense was the use of three safety packages. Dean Pees made use of them in 2012, probably due to the presence of legendary safety Ed Reed manning the deep middle of the field.
Kendrick Lewis' addition should open the door to the return of three safety packages in Baltimore. Composing of the aforementioned Lewis, the solid Jeromy Miles and the immensely talented Will Hill as the nickel linebacker, a role Bernard Pollard thrived in under Pagano. Substituting size for speed could be the answer to stopping the high powered spread offenses making waves across the league.
Daryl Smith, now a year older, Should not be asked to drop back 20 yards deep as a tampa 2 linebacker. Tampa 2 days, as proved by Monte Kiffin 2013's absolute train-wreck of a defense, are dead. Substituting Smith for Hill allows the defense to get more creative and perhaps even more blitz happy.
It would look like this. A three wide receiver set would be matched by either Lardarius Webb or Kyle Arrington in the slot. Depending on size match-ups, the outside receivers would be matched on one side by either Webb or Rashaan Melvin and Jimmy Smith would blanket the opponent's boundary wide receiver. Will Hill would line up beside C.J Mosley in an Eric Berry role and Miles and Lewis would line up 10-20 yards deep as the two deep safeties.
The dime package is what allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to field the NFL's best pass defense. Their scheme squeezed out talent out of rather average players like Ron Parker, Hussain Abdullah and rookie Phillip Gaines. The whipping they delivered the patriots, the same team who made mince meat out of the Ravens soft zone concepts, did not happen by accident.
Today's NFL calls for more speed than size. Teams now use small safeties as linebackers, and that type of player is becoming more and more common. The Seatle Seahawks, the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills are all examples of teams who field elite defenses due to the heavy use of extra defensive backs. The Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers employ safety like linebackers in DeAndre Levy and Thomas Davis which spearheads their defense.
The dime package also opens up the blitz packages that made Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano so famous. Defensive backs, when blitzing are naturally much faster than most linebackers. The loss of Pernell Mcphee will without doubt hurt the Ravens pass rush. Manufacturing pressure could become a necessity. Having packages with Lardarius Webb in the slot will also maximize the blitz's effectiveness, as proved by his performance against the Bengals in week 10 of 2013, where he almost single handily won the game.
The options are there. Even the forgotten Arthur Brown could make a return to nickel packages as a blitzer where blinding speed could be of use. The table is set. The pieces are in place. Whether they will be employed is another story.