Ravens could have one of NFL's best defenses if not for big-play breakdowns

The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens are currently ranked 17th in the NFL in total defense. They are tied at No. 7 in rushing defense (allowing 98.2 yards per game), but rank 17th in pass defense (254.3 yards).

Overall, the group has played well, especially the front seven. If the defensive line stayed healthy, the Ravens would be even more dominant up front. But I agree with defensive coordinator Dean Pees: If the Ravens stopped giving up big plays, they could have one of the best defenses in the NFL.

It’s not like they are getting beat physically on the back end for long passes. Most of the breakdowns are because of a lack of communication.

 “It’s a frustrating game in a way, because we were playing so well in some phases,” Pees said of the breakdowns against Green Bay last Sunday. “Thank goodness we’re playing well in the red area, because I wish we wouldn’t get down there quite as much. But we’re playing well in the red area, we’ve played well on third down, [and] we’ve really played well in the first half. To me, we held them to three points in the first half. They got the field goal right before halftime, but we did a good job in two-minute keeping them out of that. But we’re not going to be a Top 5 defense until we quit giving up big plays, whether it be on a missed tackle or just a big play. Even if we eliminate four big plays out of the six games we’ve played, we would be in the Top 6 defenses in the league.

But we’re not, and we’re never going to be until we quit giving up those plays,” added Pees. “And a little bit of it the other day was missed tackles. They got the long run on us. They hit us on a play at the very start of the game, and after that, we settled down on the run. But then at the end, when we really needed to get them stopped, we make a play on the ball, but the worst part of that is we just need to make the tackle. If he catches it, he catches. We’ve still got a chance, [and] the ball is still backed up. You just can’t let him go 40 yards down the field. Now, the ball is totally in their court, and we’ve got to pressure to try to … Even a field goal at that point in time really wasn’t as vital as just getting them stopped. We’ve just got to quit giving up big plays. We’ve got to do a better job of coaching it, and they’ve got to do a better job of playing it.”

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