The Ravens must hope their first defensive performance of 2013 was their worst.
Giving up 49 points and seven touchdown passes to Peyton Manning was humbling to the entire defense. The Ravens have between now and Sunday to fix what went wrong, as they prepare for Sunday’s home opener against the Browns.
It starts with the secondary. Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo both struggled at safety, as did Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith at corner. Several miscommunications led to Broncos receivers being left wide open. The Ravens’ tackling was shoddy. Their technique in coverage was inconsistent.
Back at their practice facility Monday, Graham said the Ravens had lost sleep, but not their confidence.
“It was tough for us as a defense as a whole, and probably as a team,” Graham said. “We have to play better. We know what we’ve got to do, and that was unacceptable. “When you lose guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, obviously it’s big, but I feel like we definitely have the guys to get it done. We’ve just got to get on the same page, find a way to go out there and win games.”
The Ravens are clearly a defense in transition. It will be interesting to see if rookie safety Matt Elam gets increased playing time as the season progresses. However, even if the secondary improves, will the Ravens be more susceptible to big plays, and less stingy in the red zone?
After reviewing the film, Ravens coach John Harbaugh took a positive, yet realistic approach.
“It was fundamentals, and there were some scheme issues that we have to do a better job of as coaches,” Harbaugh said. “That kind of performance, in the end, is never going to be acceptable. We’re capable of playing far better than that. We have to.”
Opponents will keep attacking the Ravens’ secondary until it plays with more consistency. Getting lit up by Peyton Manning is one thing. However, if struggling Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden lights up the Ravens on Sunday? Then you know the Ravens have serious issues.