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Pees: Defense needs to clamp down on first down


Pees: Defense needs to clamp down on first down

The Ravens defense was gashed for more than 200 rushing yards by the Bills on Sunday, a shocking development for a front seven that had been stout against the run in the first three games.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees said there was plenty of blame to go around -- "We’ve got to play the plays better, and we’ve got to coach it better, and we’ve got to adjust it better" -- but he said the crux of the problem was that the Ravens simply gave up too much yardage on first down.

"That’s where we got in trouble," Pees said at his weekly media session on Thursday. "It’s hard when it’s second-down-and-4 and second-down-and-3. All of a sudden, now you’ve got to really try to tighten it down to get to third. ... We’ve just got to do a better job playing-wise, coaching-wise, the whole scheme-wise, of doing a better job on first down, especially first-down run."

By Pees' estimate, Buffalo gained 150 yards on first-down plays. The Bills, led by C.J. Spiller and Vincent Jackson, had 13 first-down runs of 5 yards or more. Even third-string back Tashard Choice took a first-down handoff for 7 yards.

That leads to second- or third-and-short, which leaves the defense back on its heels.

"Third-and-8, they got a lot more ground to cover, and we got some monsters that can pass rush," defensive end Arthur Jones said. "Third-and-2, a quarterback or a running back can always sneak through a small hole. It just puts strain on the defense."

The Ravens actually rank tied for sixth in third-down defense. Teams have converted 33.3 percent of third downs against the Ravens, and the Bills fared worse, going 5-for-18 (27.7 percent). But it only takes a couple of big first-down plays to get a drive moving in the wrong direction.

"Third-and-2, third-and-3 – [it’s] hard to defend some of the passes on the underneath routes," Pees said. "If you play man, the guy gets picked. If you play zone, you’re off a little too far. The whole playbook is open to the offense. When it’s third-and-eight, the whole playbook is open to us. So, we’ve got to get them to that.”




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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.


“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.