On Thursday, it was confirmed that Baltimore Ravens’ nose tackle Michael Pierce will undergo season-ending surgery after suffering a torn biceps injury in the team’s win over the Patriots.
We have placed NT Michael Pierce on IR. pic.twitter.com/wbJwC7C2G3— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 29, 2022
The Ravens brought Pierce back for his second stint with the team this offseason after he ended up signing a deal with the Minnesota Vikings following four years in Baltimore. Pierce has been a godsend as a two-gapping nose tackle who has provided a steady diet of pressure for opposing quarterbacks.
Luckily, Baltimore has spent capital on athletic, young interior defensive lineman who have looked up to the challenge so far in 2022. Third year draftmates Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington are fundamentally sound run defenders who consistently stand up to combo blocks, lock out against single blocks and have stuffed quite a few rushing attempts over the last few weeks.
Justin Madubuike is too quick to run away from and expect your OG’s to be able to reach and cut off.— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) September 27, 2022
Would way rather run at him, or have someone down block him. pic.twitter.com/uch9Az5H6d
Two play sequence for Pats TD.— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) September 27, 2022
One good, one bad.
Washington stacking, peaking, shedding, tackling. . .
Then perfect manned up coverage but no rush lane integrity, easy walk in scramble TD, sassy dance pic.twitter.com/wQjfcGAzTU
Madubuike has also been able to provide a consistent presence as a pass rusher so far this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Madubuike has already recorded nearly as many pressures (nine) as he did in 2021 (13) or 2020 (10). The young lineman appears to be having a breakout year in his third season. His combination of length, leverage and explosiveness present quite a quandary for offensive guards, particularly those who try to cross his face when reach blocking.
Justin Madubuike chops the inside arm, clubs the outside arm, then rips under, corners, and dives off of his knees for a sack. He WORKS man. Third down and long in the second half. Gets the Ravens off the field. pic.twitter.com/8xNtLn8Grf— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) September 27, 2022
The Ravens will also be depending on rookie Travis Jones to step into a larger role — a borderline full-time starting one — in the absence of Pierce. Jones had his NFL debut Sunday after suffering a mild knee injury in the preseason. Jones appeared up to the task in the run game, proving to be entirely too much for Patriots’ guards to handle at times.
Travis Jones is going to be a household name. He’s BRUTALLY strong, man. pic.twitter.com/PQmmbUAYnT— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) September 27, 2022
Pats run bend (I think bend not belly) against a six man box.— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) September 27, 2022
Travis Jones absolutely annihilates the combo block.
Calais Campbell 6-tech in the run game is hilarious. No TE can block him. pic.twitter.com/S1Kx6YqJF5
Jones’ abilities seem to be quite easily translating from his days at UConn to the NFL. He has explosive power in his upper body with exceptional core strength. He will be a nightmare matchup for centers. His ability to thrash them by their jersey, combined with a quick first step and arm over move, will certainly result in pressure as he gets more pass rushing reps.
Baltimore also has Calais Campbell and Brent Urban who are proven, consistent defenders against the run. The loss of Pierce isn’t a small one, literally nor figuratively, but the Ravens are capable of manning the fort up front. There are still free agents available like Brandon Williams and Ndamukong Suh, too, while the Ravens could promote Isaiah Mack from their practice squad in the immediate.