With so much mystery surrounding the offense of the Baltimore Ravens this season, fans and media alike are swarming the team’s defensive players. Players like newcomers Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr look to make their presence felt in Charm City, while veterans like Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs simply add more to their resumés. How does this defense measure up to the other units dating back to the team’s inception in 1996? Let’s take a look at the top 4:
- 2000 Ravens: Baltimore faithful have been accustomed to strong defenses over the years, the most memorable being the unit from the 2000 Super Bowl team. In Super Bowl 35, the Ravens utterly dismantled the New York Football Giants to the tune of a resounding 34-7 victory. That team, headlined by the GOAT Ray Lewis, standout linebacker Peter Boulware, and Hall of Fame Safety Rod Woodson, led in several league rankings. This included points scored by team (1st), yards allowed (2nd), passing yards allowed (2nd), rushing yards (1st), and rushing TDs (1st). This is the only defensive unit that is mentioned in the same conversation as ‘85 Chicago Bears. Four coaches from the staff (Rex Ryan, Mike Smith, Jack Del Rio, and Marvin Lewis) became head coaches in the NF.
- 2017 Ravens: While this defense has yet to play a snap that counts, there is some serious potential to be in the top 5. A team with the most big names since 2000, this squad is anchored by young playmakers Brandon Williams & C.J. Mosley. Although replacing Zachary Orr’s 132 tackles will be very difficult, Kamalei Correa has shown enough growth in his sophomore preseason to at least make a dent. This team looks to repair its image after a last second loss to division rival Pittsburgh where they let up a 75+ yard drive and touchdown to Antonio Brown. That drive ended up winning the game for the Steelers and ending the Ravens’ playoff hopes.
- 1999 Ravens: This defense actually had a better yards-per-play mark (4.1 yds) than the 2000 defense (4.3 yds) and almost the same core as it as well. Although it finally came to a head the next season, the team wasn’t great in the turnover category and were a bit iffy in redzone defense. The team went 8-8 behind an even worse offense than was seen the next season.
- 2006 Ravens: This iteration of the defense managed to go 13-3 and make it to the playoffs after a disappointing campaign in 2005 (6-10). 13-3 is still the franchise-high wins mark in a season. Led by legendary safety Ed Reed and then-phenom linebacker Adalius Thomas, they garnered 28 interceptions and 60 sacks, the first team to do so since 1990. Four defensive players from this team were named to the pro bowl and the unit is considered one of the most dominant defenses of the new millennia.
The scary thing is, with all the young players that comprise the current defense, they have the ability to outproduce every defense listed here. The revamped secondary, something that they haven’t had in a long time because of injuries that have ravaged those positions in recent years, could get the unit over the top.
But with the pass rush strength looking to return, look for the secondary to make a lasting impression.
Join me next week as I provide a preview the final preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, deliver a detailed analysis of who to look out for, and a projected Week 1 53-man Roster.
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