Ravens won't be intimidated to face New England
Life has become a little easier for the Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees in the last few weeks.
Pees spent much of the season finding players to fill holes for the crazy number of injuries the Ravens had to deal with. He also had to change and adjust schemes for a defense that had problems for long stretches this season.
But the defense's health has improved since the playoffs began and should be even better heading into Sunday's AFC title game with the Patriots. Ever since the start of the playoffs, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs are finally back on the field together for the first time. Haloti Ngata is feeling better, as are others, and the defense has been more effective.
Pees, when speaking with the media on Thursday, said that the coaches faced a different challenge every week in the regular season.
"It was kind of like every week we were kind of designing things and drawing things up in the dirt to try to make sure that we were giving our guys the best chance to succeed and had guys kind of playing a little bit of everywhere," Pees said. "So, it’s kind of nice having guys back and actually having guys line up where maybe they ought to be lined up and not have to – I don’t want to use the word gimmick – but try to draw things up to get a particular pressure, maybe, on third down to get it run to try to maybe move guys around. Whereas now, I feel like this is as healthy as we’ve probably been all year.”
There's no question that guys like Lewis and Suggs aren't at 100 percent with all they've been through. However, just having them back on the field helps the defense.
Lewis can make sure everyone's in the right spot, and Suggs can help with the pass rush at some point. To not have two former NFL Defensive Players of the Year play one play together in the regular season is really something that can hurt a defense.
Now, the defense is feeling better. And so are the Ravens.