Defense Explains Reasons For Philly Woes


The Ravens defense wasn't sounding alarms after a tough outing Saturday night.

The unit did not fare well against any of the Eagles offenses, from the first team to the third team, in Saturday night's 40-17 preseason loss.

Philadelphia put up 476 yards of total offense and the first team offense drove 84 yards on 14 plays to score a touchdown on its opening drive. The Ravens' defensive starters surrendered back-to-back touchdowns.

Considering the Saints didn't start Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees in the preseason opener, it was the Ravens* *defense's first true test.

The Ravens owned their poor play, but also feel they know how to fix the miscues. There were reasons to explain some of the struggles.

Asked if he still feels good about the defense, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said, "absolutely."

"We don't want to let them jump on us 14 points, but it's the NFL," Suggs said. "Sometimes that happens where teams jump out on you, but it's all about how you respond. I think we responded pretty well.

"We will never see the Philadelphia Eagles again unless it's in San Francisco. When that time comes, we'll probably game plan."

The lack of a game plan was a big reason why defenses typically don't look so hot in the preseason. While the opponent has pre-scripted plays (although generally still rather basic ones), teams often run entirely base defenses.

Defenses can still have success without a game plan, but it's harder when facing such an elaborate and unique offense such as the one employed by Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly. Not to mention the talented players running it, with quarterback Sam Bradford and Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray both making their debuts.

"It's definitely a tricky offense to prepare for. They definitely didn't do none of that when we were practicing against them," Suggs said with a laugh.

"They're unique. They're really the only team that runs it the way they do and as efficient as they do. Other teams they try to, but they're not as efficient as these guys."

What made it even more difficult was that the Ravens' phone communication system failed. They couldn't get the defensive calls in because the phones were cracking up all the time, Harbaugh said. That left players out of position "a bunch of times."

"With a fast-paced, no-huddle team, that's pretty much the biggest thing that you want to do is fast communication," linebacker C.J. Mosley said.

Another part of the problem was penalties. There were four (two accepted) on the first drive alone.

The Ravens would have forced a third-and-5 on the first drive, but Suggs was flagged for roughing the passer. Neither Suggs nor Head Coach John Harbaugh were happy with the call because they said Bradford should have been considered a runner, not a passer, in the read-option. The Ravens also would have forced a third-and-7, but outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was called for defensive holding, giving the Eagles a first down.

"Penalties were killing us. It was a sloppy first quarter," cornerback Jimmy Smith said at halftime.

Harbaugh was asked if the penalties could be attributed to trying keep up with the Eagles' up-tempo offense. Instead, he again pointed to not having a game plan.  

"We didn't prepare for it by design," he said. "If we were playing in the third preseason game, we'd probably prepare for it. I know we'd prepare for it because we game plan that a little bit more. There's no way we're going to game plan the second preseason game when we're still installing and trying to develop guys and find players and all that."

Still, Harbaugh didn't like what he saw from his run defense, as he listed it as one of the things the team will need to improve.

The Eagles ran the ball seven times for 39 yards on their opening drive, an average of 5.6 yards per carry. The secondary didn't give up any big plays through the air, but were consistently hit for chunks on short throws.

"Part of it is game plan, but at the end of the day you have to execute your job," Harbaugh said. "Some of it was game plan, some of it was being fundamentally sound. Some plays they gashed us, we got pushed a little on the line and our linebackers didn't press down enough."

The Ravens will game-plan more for their third preseason game Thursday against the Washington Redskins, considering that is a final dress rehearsal for the starters before the regular season.

"It's not what you want to happen, but you need to be humbled sometimes," safety Will Hill said. "We learned a lot about our team and our coaching staff today, how resilient we could be and who is going to fight no matter what."

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