By most measures, the Ravens have one of the better defenses in the NFL. They are currently ranked 10th in scoring defense and 10th in yards allowed. They are seventh in the league with 28 sacks. And only the Kansas City Chiefs have defended better in the red zone. So what’s missing? Well, besides the wins?
The Ravens have an uncharacteristic minus-three turnover differential this season, due in large part to the fact that they have created just 10 turnovers in eight games. They currently rank 24th in the NFL with 1.2 takeaways per game. Four teams are forcing at least twice as many turnovers per game than the Ravens.
We were reminded in the Week 3 win over the Houston Texans how a timely turnover can turn the tide in a game as middle linebacker Daryl Smith’s second-quarter pick-six sparked a 30-9 Ravens blowout. But those kinds of plays have been few and far between this season.
“We should be getting more turnovers, and I know on our defense, guys feel that way, too,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We’ve had a number of fumbles caused that we just haven’t recovered that have been -- I don’t want to say bad bounces -- but they’ve kind of bounced right in the opponents’ hands [on] special teams and defense.”
The Ravens recovered one fumble in Sunday’s 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns and have six recoveries this season. According to teamrankings.com, the Ravens have recovered 47.6 percent of their opponents' fumbles, which ranks 18th in the NFL. So while their fumble luck hasn't been great, they are close to the league average in that regard.
Only three teams have fewer interceptions than the Ravens, who have picked off four passes. Smith leads the team with two interceptions. Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham have one apiece. Their safeties have none.
“We haven’t been getting interceptions. We need to get interceptions,” Harbaugh said. “We need to be ballhawks back there, and that starts with being in position and then coming up with the ball. So, it’s not something you chase per se. If you play better across the board, those things should happen for you, and we need to do better with that.”