With all of the changes the Ravens went through in the off-season, some wondered if the first half of 2012 would just be a time for everyone and everything to try and come together.
The defense was up and down during that time and got hit even harder by injuries to players like Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb and others, like Jimmy Smith. They were having trouble stopping both the run and pass and not getting a great pass rush.
But things have been slowly changing since the break. The pass rush is getting better. The defense against the run and pass, while still not where they'd like it to be, has certainly improved, and the Ravens have won three straight, including two on the road. They'll have another test this weekend when they go to San Diego to see the Chargers.
There's been a lot of improvement on the defense. The return of Terrell Suggs certainly has helped. Corey Graham has done well at cornerback. Paul Kruger's coming on and becoming a pass rushing threat.
The defense likes what they've seen, but Suggs said they're just working at improving on a regular basis.
"Well, we have to see at the end of the 16 [-game schedule] where we fare," Suggs said when talking to the media on Wednesday. "We are just going to keep trying to play very good football all around, good defense, and keep trying to compile wins. We’re going to continue to try to get better each week. We just have to wait and see where we end up at.”
The work against the Steelers last week might have been the best effort this season. Sure, Pittsburgh was using a back-up quarterback -- battling a few broken ribs -- but Byron Leftwich is an NFL guy.
Philip Rivers will provide another test this week. The defense just need to work on continually improving. If they can do that, it will pay off down the line.