Baltimore Ravens: Week 9 Defensive Grades

By James Taylor III

Grading the defensive performances by the Baltimore Ravens after their 25-15 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Defensive Line: D-

It was another lackluster performance from the front line for the Ravens’ defense. Haloti Ngata was non-existent as he did not make a single tackle. His tweaked knee is clearly giving him problems, as his zero tackles in the 53 defensive snaps he took clearly indicates. Arthur Jones was the best of the bunch, as he started at left defensive end in place of the injured Pernell McPhee. Jones made four tackles and was the only member of the d-line to show up to play. Terrence Cody again got the start at nose tackle and again disappointed with only one tackle. The Ravens allowed over 100 yards rushing for the sixth time, as the defensive line once again lost the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Linebackers: C

The linebackers had a pretty pedestrian day at the office. Dannell Ellerbe led the team in tackles with nine, and also had the Ravens’ only sack of the game. Ellerbe did all that playing with casts on both his thumbs, so his effort has to be commended. Terrell Suggs was not nearly as noticeable as he was before the bye in his first game of the season against the Houston Texans. T-Sizzle recorded only four tackles as he played in 54 of the 70 defensive snaps for the Ravens. Jameel McClain chipped in with six tackles and one pass defended.

Secondary: B+

It was a busy afternoon for the secondary, as the Ravens used more defensive backs than they had all season. The increased rotation of defensive backs was in response to the Lardarius Webb injury, as the unit looked its best since the Pro Bowler was lost for the season. Cary Williams continued to evolve as the Ravens’ top cover cornerback, as he had his fourth interception in five games. Jimmy Smith played much better opposite Williams, as he tied safety Bernard Pollard for second on the team with seven tackles. Cornerback Corey Graham also contributed with six tackles as he saw increased playing time. Ed Reed had five tackles, but had a team-high three passes defended, one of which he intercepted to essentially clinch the victory for the Ravens. Overall the secondary made 46 percent of the team’s total tackles and held Brandon Weeden to 176 yards passing, with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a great bounce-back game for a unit that had been reeling.

Defensive Coordinator: B-

There was plenty to fix during the bye week for Dean Pees and his defense. Pees’ first adjustment was to call the defensive plays from up in the coordinator’s room rather than on the field as he had for the first seven games. That may have helped Pees scheme red zone defenses, as the Ravens epitomized bending without breaking. The defense again allowed over 100 yards rushing, but the Browns went 0-for-5 in terms of converting trips to the red zone into touchdowns. The Browns did turn all five of their red zone opportunities into points, as Phil Dawson drained five field goals. However, in a game that was not decided until late in the fourth quarter, the lack of touchdowns allowed proved to be huge. In regards to the passing defense, the Ravens allowed 144 less passing yards to Weeden this time around, after he burned them for 320 yards in week 4. Overall it was a huge step forward for a defense that was on the brink of disaster. This game was something to build on as they embark on a difficult second-half schedule.

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