When you think of the Baltimore Ravens, you think of a team that makes plenty of plays because of how they fly around on defense. Everyone from the defensive line to the secondary is called upon to play with intensity and high energy. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said that the team needs to play with more energy if they want to avoid a poor showing like they had against the Oakland Raiders last week.
According to Pees, not playing with energy affected the way that he called the game against the Raiders. The pass rush misses Terrell Suggs. Losing Suggs forces Pees to be more creative when it comes to generating pressure on the quarterback. Sending defenders on various blitz assignments can put a strain on the secondary. Pees pointed out why he didn’t dial up as many blitzes last week.
“You can manufacture pressures, but then you’re putting the secondary even more on an island, because they’re out there now one-on-one,” Pees said. “I didn’t really feel like I could … Because I didn’t feel we were playing with energy, that’s the worst time to pressure, because it means you’re not going to get there, and you’re really not playing aggressive in the back end.”
That energy is what makes players more aggressive in man coverage. It’s what makes them come up and make a sure tackle on a receiver that catches a short pass. Pees said that the first two games of the season were polar opposites.
The defense played with a lot of energy against the Denver Broncos in the season opener and it showed. They didn’t miss tackles and the coverage was tight. They didn’t give up any big plays but actually scored a touchdown on an interception return.
The Raiders game was a different story. The energy was lacking. They missed key tackles in third down situations that led to the opposition getting first downs. Oakland was able to generate multiple chunk plays that either scored a touchdown or put them in position to score a touchdown.
Pees made no secret about what he expects from the defense going forward. “To me, it was just kind of the intensity of what we played, and it wasn’t good. For whatever reason, we didn’t play with energy,” Pees said. “It’s up to us to get them to play with energy and play at a high level, and it’s up to them as players to produce at a high level.”
How does a team respond after a poor showing like last week? It starts with leadership. Pees touched on how the coaches have to take on a leadership role. They have to be full of energy during the practices to get the players prepared to deliver the intensity that is needed to be sound defensively.
A lot has been made about the leadership that was lost when Suggs went down. There’s no better time than now for a coach to step up and a leader on offense. Rest assured that Pees will not let the defense come out flat against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.