It’s interesting that Ravens fans are so highly critical of the team’s secondary play during the 2009 season. After a rough start during which they faced a posse of highly capable gunslingers (Rivers, Brady, Palmer and Favre) yielding 311 yards per game on average, the unit eventually hit its stride.
They did meet up with a buzz saw named Manning who picked them apart for 299 yards in November but on whole, defensive coordinator Gregg Mattison’s backfield played well.
You don’t think so?
Consider this, during those early season contests and coupled with the game against the Colts, the team yielded a total of 1,542 yards through the air. During the balance of the schedule they gave up 161 yards per game through the air.
The league’s best secondary for the season (NY Jets) yielded 154 yards per game.
Maybe those quarterbacks had something to do with the early season struggles?
Perhaps the unit was adjusting to Mattison?
After the bye week, always a time to reflect and adjust, the Ravens’ pass defense yielded just 181.7 yards per game, second best in the league.
Prior to the break the defense surrendered 6 plays of 40+ yards in six contests but only 2 plays of 40+ yards the rest of the way.
Perhaps the most important statistic of all, the Ravens’ defense allowed only 13.2 points per game on average after the bye. The league best on the season was the Jets’ 14.8 ppg.
Even more telling, the pass defense turned in this impressive performance without a consistent pass rush. The Ravens were tied for 18th in sacks (32) and overall pressure was down as evidenced by declining quarterback hurries.
And let’s not forget that injuries took a toll.
Ed Reed missed four games during the second half of the season while starting corner Fabian Washington missed six. His replacement Lardarius Webb was lost for the final 2+ games of the regular season.
One year with Mattison is now under their collective belt and injured players are on track to return (Washington, Webb and Haruki Nakamura).
Certainly reinforcements and depth will help but that said, the secondary is nowhere near as needy as most fans would like to believe.
Fix the pass rush and then watch an already capable secondary suddenly be considered among the league’s best.
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