After losing in heartbreaking fashion to Pittsburgh Steelers 31-27 last Sunday the Baltimore Ravens found themselves looking outside the playoff race for the second consecutive season. This is now the third time Baltimore has missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. Now even though the late 4th quarter touchdown from Antonio Brown stole the Ravens playoffs hopes and dreams, you could clearly look back at the Ravens season and understand why they aren’t going to the postseason once again.
We could look at those winnable games against the Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, and New York Giants. We could look at the struggling offense leaving so many points on the field. Also, with the offense not playing to their strengths. Having Joe Flacco throw more while the running backs watched their work load decrease. You could also look at the key injuries that Baltimore dealt with this season like Terrell Suggs, Alex Lewis, and Jimmy Smith who was just recently moved to the injured reserve list.
With that being said, one of the things Baltimore could still improve upon is the defense. We all know that the Ravens were ranked number #2 in rushing defense and ranked number #10 in passing defense this year and defensive coordinator Dean Pees is to be commended for that. However, this prevent defense he loves to use is not only a big reason the Ravens aren’t going to the playoffs but also a huge reason why they lost to the Steelers.
To make it simple, the prevent defense stopped the Ravens from winning games. You can take a look back at the Ravens vs Steelers most recent game for example. Instead of eating up clock for the Steelers, the Ravens prevent defense allowed the Steelers to go down the field. Giving Baltimore with about nine seconds to work with. Honestly, It would have been better to be aggressive but that surely wasn’t the case. If the Ravens gave up a score on one big play, they would at least get the ball back with some time to operate.
The prevent defense is flawed and one of the reasons for it being flawed is because it concedes bits of yards in exchange for time of the clock. Honestly the best time for the Ravens to use this defense was probably the overtime period. The Ravens were pretty much asking for it when they gave the Steelers field goal range and that’s only on Dean Pees and of course the Steelers offense particularly Antonio Brown took full advantage with that late game touchdown.
Don’t get me wrong Baltimore has a pretty good defense still. In fact, the Ravens defense is ranked 5th in total yards allowed with 318.9 yards a game. The Problem is Dean Pees and his ability to get his defensive players in the best position to succeed and most important using his players correctly. It just seems like he doesn't understand it yet and Ravens don't have time for him to figure it out because the defense breaking down is costing them wins and those lack of wins are leading to early vacations for this team.
Honestly, if the Ravens did decide to let go of Dean Pees, a potential replacement could be Rex Ryan. Yeah, we all know how unsuccessful he was as a head coach especially with the Buffalo Bills going 15 and 16 in two seasons also missing the playoffs for 6th straight season. We also know how his signature which is defense was ranked 28th against the run isn’t attractive at all and his team’s ranking at number #19 in yards allowed with 358.9 yards a game is nothing to be excited about as well. However, with that being said, the bills are ranked 7th against the pass which is impressive.
We aren’t talking about Rex becoming a head coach for the Ravens. We are talking about bringing in Rex strictly as a defensive coordinator which he is better suited at when it comes to football. If you don’t remember Rex Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2005 until 2008. During those years the Ravens were known as a fearful defense through the NFL. Ranking #5 in 2005, #1 in 2006, #6 in 2007, and #2 in 2008. And all of that was held under Rex Ryan’s watch.
Rex Ryan has a brilliant defensive mind and having him focus just on defense and nothing else would definitely bring the best out of his defensive mind. We saw the success Rex had with the Jets ranking number #1 and number #4 in defense holding opponents to under 300 yards both seasons. We know Rex has struggled at times on defense but we clearly know what he’s capable of when he’s focused only on defense. And holding teams under 300 years is not something Dean Pees has seems capable of.
Baltimore could benefit greatly from hiring Rex Ryan as defensive coordinator once again despite the less than improved numbers from a Rex Ryan coached team on defense at times. One thing we can’t say is how Ryan doesn’t know how to get his defense players in the best positions to succeed. We saw his success from 2005-2008 so why not give him another shot at it? This is something the Ravens should really think about as they make adjustments this off season to get back into the playoff hunt in 2017.