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Are Ravens Changing Defenses?


As the Ravens looked for ways to improve off last year's disappointing 5-11 finish, everything has been put under the microscope.

The team changed the structure of the offseason training program and looked for ways to tweak its practice routine. The front office made changes to the roster and the coaches adjusted their schemes.

As the Ravens went through that process, a common speculation in the media has been that the defense may undergo a significant scheme change. Baltimore's base defense has traditionally been a 3-4 system, but Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees was asked at minicamp whether they're transitioning to a 4-3.

"I read something about that once," he responded with a laugh. "We're not changing to a 4-3 defense. We aren't changing to anything."

Pees explained that it's not as simple to just label the Ravens as a 3-4 defense. They are constantly using different fronts and moving players around based on matchups.

"We're everything," Pees said. "Basically what we are is we look like a 3-4 personnel that plays a lot of 4-3 defense. But it's not necessarily a standard 4-3 that everybody thinks of, there's under and over. There are all different ways to play 4-3 defense, and we're multiple."

Baltimore's defense has mostly been the same system throughout the franchise's history.

While the offense has undergone scheme overhauls when coaching staffs have changed, the defense has primarily stayed the same. Pees pointed out that the Ravens used a mixture of 3-4 and 4-3 defenses when Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison and Chuck Pagano were all coordinators before him.

"When haven't we been 3-4 and 4-3 and multiple other things?" he asked.

While the foundation of the system isn't changing, Pees did say that the staff is looking for ways to improve what they do. A noticeable change has been all the attention put on turnovers during the offseason practices, and there could be a few other differences that become more evident once training camp begins.

"We're playing what we play, and we're trying to tweak it, and we studied some things in the offseason that we think will make us better – both in the front and both in the coverage, and that's what we'll do just like you do every year," Pees said. "There is no wholesale change here."

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