The Washington Football Team has been bombarded with injuries along the defensive front of late.
Defensive end Chase Young, the second overall choice in April’s draft, won’t play Sunday. Neither will Matt Ioannidis, who is out for the season. But Washington’s front is still one of the toughest fronts in the league.
Jonathan Bostic has four quarterback hits and two sacks this season as an inside linebacker. On the edge, 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat has two sacks and five quarterback hits. The veteran Ryan Kerrigan has two sacks and is followed by Jonathan Allen with 1.5, Landon Collins with 1.0 and Da’Ron Payne with 0.5.
Of Washington’s starting front four on Sunday, all four were first-round draft choices.
“You just have great respect for that front,” coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “They have a lot of good players, and they play really well, and they’re coached really well. And the front four; they’re basically a four-man front, and they’re very deep. They’re about seven players, eight players deep there. They’re very good players.”
The team’s 13 sacks, weighted heavily by eight sacks in Week 1 against the Eagles, ranks second in the league, behind only the Steelers. And for this week, one of the areas the Ravens might be most vulnerable at could play well to Washington’s strength.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler last season, is questionable to play with a shoulder injury. Center Matt Skura is on his fourth game back from major knee surgery and playing to the left of rookie Tyre Phillips.
Baltimore’s offensive line has given up 10 sacks so far this season and, perhaps without Stanley on Sunday and D.J. Fluker as his likely replacement, Washington could have a decided advantage in the front seven.
“And then, I really like their inside linebackers,” Harbaugh continued. “Guys who have been around. They play really hard. They know what they’re doing. They really fit the front four very well. And then even in the back end, they have one of the best safeties in football, a young safety from Penn State (Troy Apke) who’s coming on — is very talented — and some very experienced corners.”
The Ravens, despite losing one of the league’s best interior linemen in Marshal Yanda over the offseason, have still managed to rush for 166.3 yards per game this season without a true workhorse back. That rushing attack will certainly be pushed to the test against one of the best defensive fronts they’ve seen all season.
Across the board, the Ravens are clearly the more talented team at most positional matchups on the field. The offensive and defensive front, however, just isn’t a matchup that bodes well for Baltimore headed into Sunday.