Prior to the Ravens defense’s fourth-quarter stand in Sunday’s 30-24 win against the New Orleans Saints, the state of that unit was a popular topic of discussion by the NFL Network and ESPN
On NFL Gameday Morning, former San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci was asked if the Ravens had lost their mystique on defense.
"I don't know about mystique, but I know the coach and player personnel is not the same as they used to be," he said. "It's like a BLT sandwich without the tomato. It's not a BLT."
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin agreed, adding, "This defense still plays great defense for this league, but they have lost some of that 'greatest ever' defense. When you hear guys like Ed Reed say, 'Only the W matters,' they understand that they are no longer the greatest ever, but they're still winning."
But former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp said it's not time to panic.
"Mystique is something that's overrated," he said. "It's what you actually do on the field and this Ravens defense still makes plays."On ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown, former Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka said the Ravens have strayed from their tradition of physicality and intimidation.
"They've gone away from their philosophy of playing," he said. "… Get back to being physical. Hit somebody in the mouth."
Former Denver Broncos linebacker Tom Jackson said the defense is aging and isn't getting much assistance from the offense.
"On defense, it's an aging defense," he said. "They're never going to be what they were seven, eight years ago, but on offense, they have an identity crisis. … When [quarterback Joe] Flacco started to throw the ball well as a rookie, they started to think about being a passing football team, and right now, they're right in between – a passing football team and a team that wants to be hard-nosed and run the football – and that puts them in flux."
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