At this point of the season, it is apparent that the Ravens offense will not be up to snuff. With seventeen total players on injured reserve, including all-world guard Marshall Yanda, the Ravens offense has been decimated by injuries.
The other side of the ball largely remains unscathed. Terrell Suggs' heart is still pumping and he is still playing at a high level. Jimmy Smith is healthy and consequently one of the league's few shut down corners.
After rather impressive (but flawed) first two games, the Ravens defense has seemingly fallen off a cliff. This past Sunday's bout against the Steelers highlights the deficiencies of the Ravens defense. Some will point at the offense not being able to sustain drives as the reason for the lackluster performance but it was the first drive of the game, where both teams were fresh, that was Pittsburgh's longest.
The reality is that the Ravens defense do it to themselves. The Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills have similar offensive deficiencies than the Ravens, yet somehow find themselves putting up better performance (Bills against Atlanta, Jaguars against Jets and Texans, Seahawks against Packers and Colts.
The game plans have not varied. Baltimore's four man pass rush has been largely anemic and innefective. Even with three stellar press man cornerbacks and versatile safeties, Dean Pees has not been creative with his blitz packages. With a Brandon Williams-less defensive line, it was safe to assume the Steelers were going to feature the run. Even with one of - if not the - best run defending safeties in the league in Tony Jefferson, Pees did not bring him down to the line of scrimmage and the Ravens were gashed repeatedly, leading to easily convertible third and shorts.
Even when the Steelers were forced to pass, they found success. The Ravens defense was supposed to lead the way. They were supposed to be a force to be reckoned with. Instead, they've looked largely the same as in other years under Dean Pees: decent, sometimes good but largely succeptible and incapable of winning on their own.
John Harbaugh claims that no big changes are coming or are needed. Most look to Marty Mornhinweg as the culprit, but offensive coordinators have been chewed up and spat out in recent years. The defense has seen countless personnel changes and upgrades, yet the play on the field has not seen the surge the upgrades in talent warrant. It is the other side of the ball that should see coaching changes, as the once great Ravens defense is once again under achieving.