Week 10 Defensive Grades For The Baltimore Ravens

By James Taylor III
Mitch Stringer-US PRESSWIRE

Grading the defensive performances from the Baltimore Ravens after their 55-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday in Baltimore.

Defensive Line: C

The grade could be harsher, but with Haloti Ngata being held out, a big game from the defensive line seemed far-fetched to begin with. This unit has already been dealing with lackluster play, so to lose Ngata was a blow for the stability of the unit.

Terrence Cody and Ma’ake Kemoeatu made minimal contributions, as defensive coordinator Dean Pees used rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw at defensive tackle to shake things up. The idea was that Upshaw was a smaller but more explosive option over the slower and larger Cody and Kemoeatu. The partial position move is something to keep an eye on moving forward, especially if Ngata’s injuries get more severe.

It was one of the better efforts against the run this season for the defensive line, as it was the second-lowest running yards allowed this season. It was also good timing with both first-string running back Darren McFadden and second-string running back Mike Goodson missing the game with high ankle sprains, so the injury factor appeared to even out in that aspect.

Linebackers: B+

It was a solid game from a unit that is starting to gel, as they are adjusting to life without Ray Lewis. The star of the game for the defense was outside linebacker Paul Kruger, as the filled up the stat sheet.

Kruger had a very impressive interception, as he batted a Carson Palmer pass up in the air then snagged the ball out of the air for the pick. Kruger further harassed Palmer as he registered two of the Ravens’ three sacks. Kruger also contributed with six tackles, good for fourth on the team. It was the best game of the season for Kruger, as he and Dannell Ellerbe continue to evolve.

The aforementioned Ellerbe co-led the team in tackles with 11, while inside linebacker Jameel McClain had a season-high 10 tackles.

Terrell Suggs had a relatively quiet game as he had two passes defended, but only four tackles.

However, the effort spearheaded by Kruger must be commended, and the linebackers as a whole had one of their deepest efforts of the season.

Secondary: C-

The day started out shaky for this unit, as cornerback Jimmy Smith was scratched with a troublesome groin just prior to game time. Corey Graham slid into the starting lineup for Smith and had a rough day, as he was burned a hand full of times and had only two tackles in all.

Bernard Pollard was by far the most productive member of the secondary, as he co-led the team with 11 tackles. Pollard also registered a sack as he was flying all over the field.

Cary Williams played below average compared to his recent run of play, and Ed Reed also had a pretty forgettable game as he didn’t look like his usual ball-hawking self.

The 368 yards passing wasn’t the strongest effort by the secondary, but it was the first time the Ravens allowed over 300 yards passing since week four. Throw in the fact the Raiders were chucking the ball the entire second half, and it gives the secondary a little bit of leeway.

Overall it wasn’t the best day for the secondary, but under the circumstances, it was a slightly below average day for the unit.

Defensive Coordinator: C

Gives Dean Pees credit for trying creative solutions to fix the stagnant defensive line. Inserting Upshaw into the defensive line mix was a positive step as he got to see how an undersized, yet quicker defensive tackle looked in the 3-4 scheme.

The run defense was above average, while the pass defense was below average, so Pee’s grade is located in between. Despite the disparity in the score, the Raiders actually outgained the Ravens in terms of yards, so that was a bit misleading. However, the Raiders were throwing like crazy in the second half so those yards were a bit skewed. Also throw in the fact that Pees lost two of his starters just before game time in Ngata and Smith and it was a bit of a quirky defensive game to oversee.

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