Harbaugh: Improvement on D starts with front 7
The defensive front seven is the strength of the Ravens right now. It’s not just the starters. It’s the depth.
The Ravens can come at teams defensively in droves. They have Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones, and Chris Canty up front, with Marcus Spears available when somebody needs a break. At linebacker, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are bringing a strong pass rush off the edges, backed up by Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee. Meanwhile, after a poor game in Denver, inside linebackers Daryl Smith and Josh Bynes did an excellent job against the Browns reading plays and making tackles.
Facing the high-powered Texans on Sunday, who are averaging 30.5 points per game, will be another test for the Ravens. However, the Ravens believe their talent and depth up front gives them a chance to become an elite defense.
“We’ve got a lot of guys getting after the quarterback, and that’s a good thing,” Suggs said. “That’s the mentality we said we’re going to have. We’re going to stop the run, we’re going to get after them on the pass. “I think that’s the benefit of having depth. Pernell McPhee, he’s just a phenomenal player. I’ve been speaking of Marcus Spears since we signed the kid. We’ve got tremendous depth. I’m happy to be on this team.”
The coaching staff is not reluctant to make substitutions along the front seven, because they have confidence in any personnel grouping.
“If you noticed, we didn’t have to keep our outside linebackers on the field the whole time,” said coach John Harbaugh. “We were rotating Terrell in and out of the game. Dumervil rotated with Courtney. Pernell was in the game for Terrell, played a lot on the run downs and did a real good job. The more guys you can play, the better off you’re going to be at every position.”
Dominating the Browns defensively is one thing. Dominating the Texans would be another. The Ravens will get another indication of where they are defensively this weekend. But the depth of their front seven is hard not to notice.