After harassing quarterbacks for most of the season, the Ravens have totaled just three sacks in their past four games.
Rediscovering their once potent pass rush won't be easy against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Third-year Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who has thrown for 31 touchdowns and 4,015 passing yards this season, has only been sacked 29 times, partly because he has one of the NFL's fastest releases.
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This season, Dalton on average has attempted a pass within 2.23 seconds of the snap in Cincinnati's West Coast passing attack, according to Pro Football Focus. That is the fastest time to attempt since the analytics site first started tracking the stat in 2011.
For comparison sake, Dalton has gotten rid of the ball nearly a half second faster than Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who has averaged 2.71 seconds from snap to attempt.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said that despite Dalton’s quick trigger, the Ravens can’t change their approach when it comes to the pass rush.
“You don’t ever pull back. You’ve got to force him to get the ball out of quick. We sacked him five times last time,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t ever pull back. There are different coverages. There are things where you can show pressure and it’s simulated pressure and things like that. We can put hit calls on receivers. There are different ways of covering guys. We’ll do all of that, but you have to force the quarterback to do one of two things: either get hit or have a quick outcome to the play. … We’re all for the ball coming out quick. If it doesn’t come out quick, we have to get to him.”
Opponents in recent games -- the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots immediately come to mind -- have neutralized the Ravens' pass rush with the quick passing game.
Nose tackle Haloti Ngata says generating pressure on Dalton will be imperative, as playmakers such as wideouts A.J. Green and Andrew Hawkins and running back Giovani Bernard are so dangerous after the catch.
“It’s huge. They have weapons all over the field,” Ngata said. “Their offensive line has been playing really great this year. We’ve just got to put pressure on Andy Dalton and try to make sure that he doesn’t find open receivers or make correct checks.”