As defensive coordinator Dean Pees put it, it has to be. For all the gloom and doom that accompanied the slew of offseason departures, the reality was that the Ravens defense had one of its worst years statistically in team history last season. They allowed the second most yards per game (350.9) in team history, the most rushing yards (122.8) and the fifth most points (21.5). However, the group stood tall in the season's defining moments. Despite losing their top two tacklers (Pollard and Dannell Ellerbe), their leading sacker (Paul Kruger) and their leaders in interceptions (Reed and Cary Williams), the Ravens have gotten better in some spots. The signing of Elvis Dumervil and the return to health of Suggs could give the Ravens the most dangerous pass-rushing duo that they've had in years. The Ravens also upgraded the defensive line, adding size and versatility with Chris Canty and Marcus Spears and rookie nose tackle Brandon Williams. Those additions should allow Haloti Ngata to consistently play inside and fortify a shaky run defense. The speed and athleticism of the defense also should improve significantly with rookies like Elam, Brown and Williams and third-year cornerback Jimmy Smith occupying significant roles. "With all the different guys we've got on D-line, the new guys at linebacker and the speed we've got on the defensive backs, it can be an unbelievable defense," cornerback Corey Graham said last month. "We definitely see it. We will continue to work as hard as we possibly can to make it happen."
Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun