The Baltimore Ravens have a defense many believe could be one of the league’s best as soon as next season, and a big reason has to do with the emergence of plenty of young stars on that side of the ball in recent years.
One of their biggest stars might be one yet to emerge, but 2020 could be the season that happens. According to Bleacher Report, defender Jaylen Ferguson could be the next player to step up and break out. So far in camp, that’s been the theme as it relates to the Ravens and writer Kristopher Knox, who is predicting a better season for the youngster.
“Much of the NFL world is waiting to see what quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense do for an encore in 2020. However, the Ravens may be more interested in making strides on the defensive side of the ball. While Baltimore ranked third in points allowed, it had some difficulty getting to opposing quarterbacks, totaling just 37 sacks despite playing much of the time with a sizable lead.
A second-year leap from pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson could certainly help improve the Ravens rush, and according to defensive coordinator Don Martindale, Ferguson is physically ready for that leap.
“His body has changed,” Martindale said, per Matthews Stevens of Ravens Wire. “He’s a year older. All those second-year and third-year players start to get that old man dad strength—you know what I’m talking about there. They’ve had a year away from college football and they can really train and just focus on themselves and not the combine.”
The Ravens traded for veteran defensive end Calais Campbell this offseason, which should also help bolster the pass rush. But getting more out of Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks as a rookie, would be tremendous for the defense’s long-term outlook.”
If Ferguson can develop as hoped, it would be huge for the Ravens and the entire outlook moving forward this season. The team needs as many dangerous pass rushers as they can get moving forward, and he could add to the major depth of the entire group this season on the field moving forward.
Mark Schlereth Says Ravens Have AFC’s Best Defense
Are they the best group in the NFL, though? That might be the case according to Fox Sports analyst Mark Schlereth. As Schlereth said in a recent video, he is picking the Ravens as the best defensive group in the conference thanks to what they can do in terms of personnel.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) August 6, 2020
“There’s a bunch of ’em, but I’m going to go with the Ravens because they match their defensive personnel with what they do so well on the offensive side.”
The Ravens defense also quietly plays a huge role in the team’s success even though the offense generates more headlines. It was the team’s defense which helped play a huge role in both of the Super Bowl titles the franchise has claimed, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the squad getting back to their elite ways.
Ravens Defense Called Better Than Steelers
That certainly doesn’t mean the team’s defense is any slouch. In fact, they might be the best in the entire NFL if Good Morning Football analyst Kyle Brandt is to be believed. In a segment on the show, Brandt made the case that the Ravens and not the rival Pittsburgh Steelers have the best defense in the league.
— GMFB (@gmfb) August 13, 2020
“I love the Steelers, but they don’t even have the best defense in their own division. Because it’s the Ravens. Give me Baltimore. The secret about Baltimore last year, after they got Marcus Peters, they were the best defense the rest of the way. I think the optics were bad because of what happened against Tennessee. So what do they do? They get Calais Campbell, they drafted Patrick Queen, they got muscle. I think it’s the Ravens, but it’s close. Pittsburgh’s really talented.”
It’s true that the Ravens didn’t have a banner finish to the 2019-2020 season, but made tons of improvements for 2020-2021 on the field. With these improvements, it would be easy to see the team taking over the mantle as the best defense in football and getting back to their nasty roots.
If Ferguson develops as hoped, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Ravens defense would be even more elite than it already has been.