A week after he was critical of the Ravens’ coverage breakdowns, defensive coordinator Dean Pees defended the play of starting safeties Matt Elam and Darian Stewart, saying he thought the team’s secondary played well in the victory over the Carolina Panthers.
“I think they're doing real well,” said Pees when asked specifically about the two safeties. “I'll admit that I don't think we played very well on the back end in the Cleveland game, and that was a lot of guys. It's never one guy. There are a lot of things that happen there and it wasn't just Matt and it wasn't just Stew. Last week, I thought Matt Elam played real well. We put him in the slot and nickel with very few reps against a good quarterback.”
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton targeted Elam often and was rewarded with two long completions to Jerricho Cotchery. However, Pees praised Elam’s coverage on the completions.
“I don't know if you guys saw the same film I saw but there were two passes I don't know who would've defended them,” Pees said. “We do a lot of stuff, and to throw a guy in a new position and learn it overnight, that's tough to do. My hat's off to Matt. I thought he came back real well last week, and played well in the slot for us. We're trying to roll guys in there like Terrence [Brooks] and some other guys and give a lot of guys a look and let them do what they do.”
Elam, who struggled mightily and allowed several receivers to get behind him the previous week against the Browns, said he has worked all week in practice on reacting better to the ball.
“Every time I get a chance, I look back and try to play the ball,” he said. “This is the league. They’re going to make great throws. You just have to make great plays."
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, which has the league’s No.1 passing offense, the Ravens’ pass defense currently ranks 24th, allowing 260.3 yards per game through the air. The Ravens also have just one interception and that was by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
The Panthers’ only touchdown last week came when Stewart was late getting to rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was uncovered on an easy, 28-yard touchdown pass.
“Last week, we played so well and … give up one easy touchdown,” Pees said. “To me, they shouldn't have scored any. We gave up just an easy one, a gift. We just got to quit doing that. If we can quit doing that, we can really be a top defense.”