Baltimore Ravens Secondary a Primary Concern

Geoff PeckhamContributor ISeptember 21, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 20:Malcolm Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers and Fabian Washington #31 of the Baltimore Ravens both catch the ball  at Qualcomm Stadium on September 20, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)

OK - the Ravens can score points. That much is clear. They can run the ball, pass the ball, protect the passer and look good doing it too. They can also stop to run and rush the passer with the same elite finesse they have for years.

But no team is perfect. Despite a strong 2-0 start, it’s abundantly clear that the Ravens need to improve in their pass coverage.

San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers shredded the Ravens secondary for 436 yards in the second game of the year. A week earlier, they gave up 177 yards to the lowly Brodie Croyle in their home opener.

It’s early in the season, but the Ravens cannot hope to remain a contender in the AFC, let alone for the Super Bowl, if they continue to give up big plays down the field. With the likes of Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers on the schedule.

The Ravens maintain their faith in their defensive backs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t think there isn’t room to improve.

“The pass defense stuff is really very correctable. It’s really a matter of sometimes guys in a big game like that trying to do too much—trying to do more than you have to do,” said head coach John Harbaugh. “We played together better back there, trusted the guy next to us a little bit better and stay in position, and we’ll be fine. 

“That was the encouraging part of it. Our guys see that, and it’ll be corrected.”

Rivers is widely considered to be one of the more elite passers in the game, but the Ravens have a reputation to maintain, and having a quarterback put up career numbers against them doesn’t bode well for it.

But as Harbaugh pointed out, the Chargers’ receivers are much larger than the average NFL cornerback or wide receiver.

Nevertheless, Domonique Foxworth and Fabian Washington aren’t as big as the prototypical cornerback should be. But they are as fast. They need to reward the Ravens’ front office and coaching staff’s faith in them as starters.

Both corners acknowledged as such via their twitter accounts after the game. Washington proved last season he could be a starter, and Foxworth has overcome slow starts before. But the rest of the defensive backs need to step up.

Dawan Landry has an interception to his credit this season, but he’ s still adjusting after missing most of last season. Frank Walker is solid if not spectacular, rookie Lardarius Webb is still learning, Chris Carr is more of a return man and as great a player he is, and Ed Reed can only cover so much ground.

Perhaps this group is just missing Samari Rolle, who was put on the Physically Unable to Perform List and cannot return to action until Week 6. Or maybe they’re still adjusting to new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Regardless, they need to improve and they know it.

And maybe that’s all it will take—knowing they need to get better. And whether it’s a change in scheme or personnel, the Ravens believe they will.

Because if the secondary does tighten up, the Ravens just might be the best team in the AFC.