In the offseason, general manager Ozzie Newsome made the decisions to improve the defensed both in free agency and the draft. Also, betting on second and third year players to step up to help improve a defense that entered the 2017 season with high expectations.
Now that we are in December, the defense has led the way for the Ravens. The unit is currently 2nd in passing defense, 7th in total defense and while they are 22nd in rush defense, they have gotten better ever since Brandon Williams returned from injury. They lead the league in interceptions with 18, and in total turnovers with 26. They've been very good, and they have to be with a limited offense behind them.
Of course, the question has come up about the legitimacy of the defense. Mainly, because of the teams they've beaten, and the fact that their last four wins have come against backup quarterbacks . Even Deshone Kizer, who they beat in Week 2, has been benched this season. The only starter they've beaten this season was Andy Dalton in Week 1. Baltimore only is able to face the teams on their schedule and to their credit, the defense has taken care of business.
Whether the defense is overrated or not, they face the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers up next their next two games. Today, they face a Lions offense with Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate lining up against them. Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah make a good one-two punch at running back.
The Steelers offense have given the Ravens defense fits the last two times the rivals have met thanks to Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The road trip to Pittsburgh next week could determine the Ravens season for the second consecutive year in a row, especially if they lose today against Detroit.
Bottom-line is we will find out how good the defense really is today and next week in Pittsburgh. This isn't to say they aren't good, the unit is very good and has carried the team thus far. Newsome built the team to make sure to be strong on defense, but the defense will have to be motivated these next two games to prove they aren't overrated and not just feasted on backup quarterbacks.