Free agency has come and gone, and so has the lovable DL Michael Pierce, off to a land with a bigger paycheck in Minnesota.
The Ravens were a top-five defense against the run last season and Pierce had a lot to do with that. With a frame of 345Ibs, coupled with impeccable strength, it was a mighty task for running backs to get around Pierce. He’s certainly one of those “stat sheet doesn’t show their true value” type of guys.
Pierce wasn’t too helpful in the pass rush, though, as he only pressured the quarterback three times in 2019. Maybe that could’ve gotten better as time went on, but we’re not here to speculate on what the soon-to-be 28-year old will accomplish in his future. Pierce’s presence was pivotal for the Ravens in stopping the run in 2019, but now that he’s no longer in Charm City, it’s now up to newly acquired Calais Campbell to fill the hole in the defense.
What Campbell offers is different from Pierce, in fact, it’s almost the exact opposite. Where Pierce struggles in the pass rush, Campbell excels. He posted 6.5 sacks and pressured the quarterback 33 times in 2019. He may be turning 34 this upcoming season, but Campbell has proven that age is just a number for him, seeing as the best three years of his career have all come in his 30’s.
When you compare the two, the stats show an exceptional upgrade in the pass rush department. If you compare just the stats of 2019 of the two players, you’re looking at an upgrade of six sacks, two forced fumbles, 21 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback pressures. If Campbell performs even 75% of that in Baltimore, you’re staring at more than double your pass rush just by replacing these two players.
Baltimore also signed Derek Wolfe in free agency, who just so happens to also excel at the pass rush. So, while the defensive line might not be quite as strong at stopping the run this season, they’ve added a ton of pass-rushing prowess on the front seven.
With the league moving more and more into the air, that doesn’t seem to be a bad thing.