Baltimore Ravens: Defensive Line Remains Bright Spot

By jeffreykryglik
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While there was a lot that went wrong in the Baltimore Ravens‘ 49-27 loss suffered at the hands of the Denver Broncos, head coach John Harbaugh has to be pleased with effort put forth by the defensive line.

If I’m defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, any time my unit gets after the quarterback and snag three sacks, especially when three of your top-three pass-rushers are in the stat sheet, you have to be excited with that particular positional group. It just so happens that the Ravens were playing Peyton Manning Thursday night and he could release the ball out of his hands in record time.

This unit was stellar in both the pass and run game. The Broncos only carried the ball 23 times for 65 yards. I understand that Manning had a historic night through the air with seven passing touchdowns and 462 yards, so the Broncos gave up on the run because it wasn’t necessary.

As I mentioned earlier, getting after Manning three times is good, but it doesn’t really show just how good and how frequent the defensive line was getting to the level of the quarterback.

Former Bronco Elvis Dumervil appeared to dip-and-rip past tackle Ryan Clady with regularity throughout the entire game. It was surprising to me that he finished with just one sack. The same can be said for Terrell Suggs and Chris Canty, who added a sack each of their own. Haloti Ngata didn’t get to Manning, but his ability to plug holes and demand double teams up front was still apparent in Thursday’s loss.

As far as concerns with this unit going forward?

The status and health concerns of would-be starter Arthur Jones and the overall impact guys like defensive tackles Marcus Spears and Terrence Cody. Jones is a guy who missed Week 1 due to personal health issues and whenever that medical terminology is thrown into the public eye, more than a few red flags are raised.

As for Cody and Spears? They didn’t play all that badly, but they didn’t do anything to stand out. Tackles like that aren’t meant to grab headlines or even a lot of tackles — they are supposed to clog holes and eat up other blockers to clear the way for the linebackers and defensive ends. However, Spears and Cody have to step up if they want to relieve Ngata and Canty with regularity.

As bad as Thursday was, the defensive line was something all Ravens fans can hang their hats on. When the Cleveland Browns come to town next Sunday, expect a higher sack total and maybe a few turnovers.

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