The week 13 matchup of the 2014 season against the San Diego Chargers stands out in the mind of Baltimore Ravens fans as an opportunity wasted by the defense to stomp an offensive line that was down to their fourth string center. Back then, the Ravens did not have the secondary. Following the opening day citron against the Bills, most say the secondary was the strongest unit of the defense.
The secondary's improvement now needs to spring the front seven forward. Cleveland Browns center Cameron Erving presents a serious downgrade from Alex Mack, as Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher Brandon Graham's first sack showed in week 1. The Eagles ran a tackle-end stunt that saw Graham getting a free shot at the quarterback, with Erving being seen running down the field as if a screen pass had been the call.
The Ravens attacked the Bills pass protection with gap exchange concepts that forced Bills running back Le'Sean McCoy to be a pass protector and not an outlet. a similar approach should be used against the Browns.
Linebackers standing up in both A gaps will force Erving to make the mental checks that he seems to be unable to make. An approach built around confusing the Browns offensive line will allow the Ravens pass rush to get the pressure the unit seemed to have lacked when playing Browns quarterback Josh McCown last season.
The Ravens defense flashed against Buffalo. The next step requires the unit to dismantle a vulnerable opponent the Ravens have struggled to beat in the last three seasons.