The Ravens have had problems with pass defense, too. They have failed to get a consistent pass rush unless they blitz. Both cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams were picked on consistently early in the season, and neither is very physical in jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Blitzing can cover up some problems, but eventually teams have to win one-on-one matchups. Pees said he has the talent to succeed.
"We do, and we also have the talent to be better than what we are playing — that's the biggest point," he said. "We aren't playing up to what we are capable of playing, whether we have guys out or not. Certainly, when Sizz [Terrell Suggs] is out — sure that's different — when Ray [Lewis] is out, when Lardarius [Webb] is out, but we have enough talent to succeed. We just have to play better."
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As this group falters, more and more fingers are pointed at Pees.
"Don't blame the coach," Ravens safety Bernard Pollard said. "Don't blame the coach, because the coach doesn't play. Dean has made great calls. It's about us going out there and executing. We have not been executing. We are tough and physical. Nobody can question the abilities that we have. We get pressure in the backfield. We had guys in the backfield numerous times, we just did not tackle; we did not execute.
"I think for us, like I said, we take that personally," added Pollard. "The coaches have done a great job. They are here all day, every day, planning, putting things together for us to go out there and get the job done, but it's on us to execute. They can't push a button to make us wrap up and tackle. We are pros; we have to go out there and play like it."
Pees was impressed with the support, and he told his players so in a meeting Thursday morning. But it's all meaningless if the Ravens keep playing like they have been the last two weeks.
They've got another tough test Sunday. The Houston Texans have the NFL's No. 14-ranked offense, and they're No. 6 in rushing average at 134.2 yards per game. They've got star running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson.
The Ravens have a new attitude.
"Guys are going to be lost for the season," said Pollard. "It just so happens that we lost two great players on Sunday. Next man up — it's been like that all year. We are still continuing to jell, but I think it's to a point now where we have to take a stand. We have to take a stand. Two weeks in a row, 200 freaking yards rushing? We have to take a stand on what we do. We have to walk out there with pride. We have to play pissed off. We have to. It's a must."