“The Ravens might not have the marquee pass-rushing names you would like to see on defense, but they do have a defensive guru who will be just as important to the pass rush as the talent on the field,” Woodward wrote.
“Martindale has been more aggressive in general, but especially on 3rd and long situations or ‘do or die’ situations,” Woodward added. “… Not only is he aggressive, but he’s also creative with how he maneuvers the defense. A lot of Martindale’s system is predicated on communication pre-snap and making on-the-fly adjustments. It’s not just calling a play and rolling with it. It’s about teaching the defense how to read what the offense might be doing and teaching them how to make those adjustments.”
NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling named the Ravens’ outside linebackers one of the thinnest position groups across the NFL. Woodward said that while the Ravens might not have the best pass rush group, Martindale’s ability to scheme pressure will be crucial to the defense’s success.
According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens sent four pass rushers on blitzes, the lowest of any team last season (53 percent), but sent five or more pass rushers, the highest of any team (39 percent). In the Week 17 playoff-clinching win against the Cleveland Browns, Martindale ran Cover-0 on four straight plays with the game on the line.
“The Ravens’ pivot from Joe Flacco to Jackson at quarterback set off radical changes to the team’s strategy and effectiveness that reverberated to the defensive side with differences in typical play totals and game scripts,” FO’s Scott Spratt wrote. “But from the first half of last season to the second, the Ravens didn’t change their frequency of four-man rushes or blitzes. And with both strategies, the team enjoyed similar 10- to 15-percent improvements in their pressure rates and 25- to 30-percent improvements in their defensive DVOA after their Week 10 bye.”
The Ravens received pass rush contributions from other positions last season. Four defensive backs recorded at least sack one sack and inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor totaled a career-high 5.5 sacks in a breakout campaign.
SiriusXM’s Jim Miller joined Glenn Clark Radio on Wednesday and expects the Ravens’ best pass rush to come from blitzing.
“If you look at that Baltimore defense, almost every one of those defensive backs had a sack,” Miller said. “[Martindale is] not afraid to blitz Tony Jefferson, or Tavon Young, or any of the defensive backs … You’ve got a rotation of guys that can provide pressure.”