Edge-rusher should be a bounty of riches for the Baltimore Ravens, but injuries are already wrecking the team’s best laid plans at the position. Jadeveon Clowney was signed late in the offseason to add experience on the edge, but the Ravens still need free agent Melvin Ingram III.
That’s according to Bleacher Report, with the site naming three-time Pro Bowler Ingram as somebody capable of providing “the Ravens more security at a vital position to get through this season.”
The need for an insurance policy has been heightened by uncertainty regarding Clowney and youthful duo Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo: “Jadeveon Clowney and Oweh were both on the injury report this week and Ojabo had most of his rookie season wiped out by a torn Achilles.”
Clowney and Ojabo started Week 3’s surprise 22-19 defeat at home to the Indianapolis Colts, but Oweh missed the game due to an ankle problem. Oweh’s absence, combined with Clowney’s lack of dynamism as a pass-rusher, left the Ravens to scheme pressure against the Colts.
Ingram would ease the uncertainty about the current starters, while also solving any issues the Ravens have generating heat on the pocket without having to blitz.
Ravens Must Win More Matchups Up Front
Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is getting used to Baltimore edge-rushers not winning up front. The Ravens have logged a respectable 11 sacks through three games, but a mere 2.5 of those quarterback takedowns have come from outside pass-rushers.
More troubling is how Ojabo has registered just two pressures, while Oweh has four to his credit. Their struggles have left Macdonald looking for other sources of pressure, a search that bore fruit against the Colts, thanks to safety Kyle Hamilton.
Hamilton was highly effective, but the fact he featured so prominently in pass-rush situations summed up the Ravens’ hidden problem.
It doesn’t help Clowney has been more effective against the run since entering the league as the first-overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft for the Houston Texans. Clowney has never recorded double-digit sacks in a single season, but he’s been active for the Ravens, albeit in a limited role.
The 30-year-old “played 68% of the defensive snaps the first two weeks,” according to Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink of Ravens.com. Clowney was on the field for 49 snaps, 55 percent of the game, against the Colts, per Pro Football Reference.
Clowney’s situational role means the onus is still on Oweh and Ojabo to stay healthy and deliver. Signing Ingram would ease that burden.
Veteran Can Still Get to the Passer
Blitzing 41 times showed Ingram can be a fit for the type of sophisticated, pressure-based scheme Macdonald is calling. The coordinator would surely welcome the chance to design plays to unleash a versatile veteran who can play on both sides of the front seven, either as a traditional defensive end or a standup outside linebacker.
Ingram plays the edge, but he’s often at his best when rushing through the interior, the way he did to generate this pressure against the Colts as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019, highlighted by Trench Warfare’s Brandon Thorn.
A deep rotation of rotating pass-rushers, headlined by Clowney and Ingram, would equip the Ravens to put greater pressure on quarterbacks without having to send Hamilton on every third down.