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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ravens defense has returned to dominance





By Justin Ruoff
September 14, 2016

If you watched the Baltimore Ravens beat the Buffalo Bills 13-7 on Sunday, one thing was very clear.

The Ravens defense is damn good.

Against the Bills, the Ravens were relentless on defense. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor spent the game running for his life. During the rare occasions he actually got time to pass, there was no one open anyway.

As a result, Taylor finished with just 111 yards passing, which was his second lowest total in the past two seasons. Last year against the Titans he threw for just 109 yards, but he was injured in the game, which caused the total to be so low.

On Sunday against the Ravens though, there were no injuries or excuses for why the Bills couldn’t move the ball. Just great defense by Baltimore.

Even Bills head coach Rex Ryan was left saying that a very dominant defense had beat them.

“Number one, I think that’s a pretty darn good defense over there,” Ryan said when asked what went wrong in the game.

“Just looking at yourself sometimes, that isn’t it. I’m probably one of the only coaches that will give credit to the opponent, and that defense played extremely well. They’re well-coached, and they got after us.”

Clearly the Ravens had an excellent plan to keep Taylor and the Bills’ offense under wraps. Defensive leader Terrell Suggs gave all the credit to defensive coordinator Dean Pees after the game.

“[Defensive Coordinator] Dean Pees called one hell of a game,” Suggs said. “He called one hell of a game.
It was all really, don’t let Tyrod Taylor make an explosive play. Don’t let him break the game open for them, and we did that. We did it collectively.”

Pees certainly did call a good game, but it’s easy to look good when you have the type of talent the Ravens do on defense.

The bottom line is that the 2016 Ravens’ defense is the most talented defensive group in Baltimore since the days of Ray Lewis. And the dominance fans got so used to seeing from the Ravens for many years has finally returned.

With Suggs and Elvis Dumervil on the edge, the Ravens have the best pass-rushing duo in football. Timmy Jernigan is one of the better young defensive linemen in the game and linebacker C.J. Mosley is arguably the best middle linebacker in the league. And that’s just the front seven.

The secondary is where the dominance has truly returned, though. Last season they struggled because they got beat over-the-top too many times. The Ravens are usually known for not giving up big plays and last year they gave up way too many.

But the Ravens made major changes to the secondary this year. Mainly, they converted Lardarius Webb to safety and signed Eric Weddle to totally revamp the backend of their defense. And it clearly has returned them to dominance.

“One of our main goals was nothing over the top of us,” Weddle said after the game. “We’re very conscious of what can beat us, and we’re playing together. It’s definitely a good building block for the start of the season going against the weapons they have.”

Now here is the really scary part for every team remaining on the Ravens’ schedule.

The Baltimore defense is going to get better.

In Week 1, linebacker Elvis Dumervil sat out the game recovering from offseason surgery. He’s expected to return in the next few weeks. The dominant defense we saw on Sunday, will add a five-time Pro Bowl pass rusher to it.

Now that’s a scary thought.

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