BALTIMORE -- Ravens defensive end Chris Canty summed up his team’s defensive performance Saturday night in one word.
“Lackluster,” Canty said, following a 31-13 loss to the Redskins.
In three preseason games, the Ravens are surrendering an average of 33 points per game. They have given up 100 yards rushing against the Saints, 238 yards rushing against the Eagles, and 111 yards rushing against the Redskins.
The Ravens’ second string and third string units yielded most of that yardage, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees hasn't shown his hand yet. However, the Ravens can’t be lured into thinking that the defensive light switch will turn on automatically Week 1 against the Broncos.
“We’ve got a lot of things to clean up,” Canty said. “Defensively, we’ve got to find a way to stop the run. We’ve got to find a way to create some turnovers. We’ve got to find a way to put pressure on the passer. Those are just things that we did not do well tonight. Those are things that have been our trademark, our calling card, so to speak, the last couple of years.”
Here are three potential problems for the Ravens’ defense:
1. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan’s health.
Jernigan left Saturday night’s game with a knee injury Saturday night, and coach John Harbaugh said he did not have an update at his post-game press conference. The loss of Jernigan for Week 1 would leave the Ravens with another void to fill defensively, both against the run and the pass.
2 Outside cornerback depth
Lardarius Webb (hamstring) did not play Saturday, David Greenwood was helped off the field late with a knee injury, and rookie Tray Walker had a rough night, giving up one TD pass and missing a tackle that led to another TD. Rashaan Melvin started in place of Webb and did a decent job. But despite the offseason additions of cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Cassius Vaughn, Jimmy Smith and Webb remain crucial to the secondary because of their one-on-one coverage skills outside the numbers. If Webb isn’t 100 percent by Week 1, expect Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to find some mismatches to his liking.
3. The pass rush
Terrell Suggs made an outstanding interception Saturday night, and both he and linebacker Elvis Dumervil look ready for Week 1. But despite having those two elite edge rushers, will the Ravens but as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as last season, especially if Jernigan misses significant time?
The Ravens will spend the next two weeks addressing those issues. But so far this preseason, their offense has looked ahead of their defense.