The Baltimore Ravens start the 2012 season as one of the early favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. The team is loaded with superstar talent on both sides of the ball, and while this team will be tough to beat, one question looms large for this ball club.
Who will rush the quarterback?
In 2011, a large portion of the Ravens’ success is linked to their ability to get to the quarterback. The Ravens would finish the season with 48 sacks. Almost a third of those sacks came from linebacker Terrell Suggs. The reigning defensive player of the year would finish the season with 14 sacks, including seven forced fumbles. That type of play did wonders for the secondary as Baltimore finished fourth in pass defense.
With the way the secondary has played in the preseason, one has to wonder whether or not they can play at a high level without pressure from the front seven. Much of the Ravens’ success in pass rush can also be attributed to former Raven Jarrett Johnson. The Chargers linebacker did a lot of the dirty work at the line of scrimmage so guys like Suggs could have success.
A lot of these questions will be answered on Monday night against the Bengals on the Ravens’ home turf at M&T Bank Stadium. With Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green on the field, it’ll be imperative that Baltimore gets after the quarterback. And while there are plenty of unknowns heading into this season, the talent is there for sure.
Ravens defensive end Pernell Mcphee will definitely be a guy to watch out for on Monday night. His ability to get to the passer is highly underrated. Linebacker Paul Kruger has shown flashes of pass rushing ability, as has linebacker Sergio Kindle. If linebacker Courtney Upshaw has fully healed from the shoulder injury he suffered in the preseason, he’ll be a guy the Bengals will need to keep an eye on as well.
It’ll be up to newly promoted defensive coordinator Dean Pees to put his players in the best position to make plays. Something that former defensive coordinator and current Colts head coach Chuck Pagano did to near perfection. If Pees can have similar success with this unit, he probably won’t be a defensive coordinator for very long.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.