When Greg Mattison took over as defensive coordinator for the Ravens last season, he made the point that he wanted to generate a consistent pass rush with his four-man front. The Ravens were never able to make that happen, though, and now they have gone to Plan B.
The solution may involve more stunts, twists and games inside, bringing an extra linebacker or defensive back. That concept is what got linebacker Jameel McClain's first sack of the year in Carolina on Sunday.
"We ran a little cross-dog inside that got Jameel and Cory [Redding] clean in there, so that was a good call and they executed it really well," coach John Harbaugh said this week. "But that's the kind of pass rush team I think we're going to need to be. We're not really a four-man, every-single-snap type of team that's got four guys rushing them straight up through there.
"I think we've got to create some things and give some linebackers and different guys a chance, but then on the four-man rush, be able to get some pressure. We ran a four-man rush on Ed Reed's interception, and Jarret [Johnson] came clean off the edge. So we've got to try to mix those things and create as much pressure as we can."
McClain, linebacker Terrell Suggs and defensive end Paul Kruger had sacks against the Panthers, matching the team's season-high of three against New England. In the last five games, the Ravens have collected 11 sacks. In the first five games, they had just eight.
Harbaugh said Kruger has shown progress in his new role this season, but needs to improve his technique as a pass rusher.
"He's getting better, he brings a lot of energy," Harbaugh said. "Technique-wise, there are a lot of things he can do better to be a better pass rusher, but he's got the ability, I think, to be that kind of guy coming off the edge."