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Can This Defense Overcome Pees?

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I want to get away from the offense topics for a bit. Very little good can come from there at this point. So, does anybody think this defense can overcome Pees' bad scheme and play-calling?

To me there might be a chance. I'm huge on scheme being a bigger factor than individual talent unless you have elite or near-elite players on more than one level of the defense. But the Ravens could have that. Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley, Jimmy Smith (when healthy), and Eric Weddle. I left Suggs out of that group because his on-field play leaves a lot to be desired, but as a leader and dedicated run-defender on the edge he's still valuable. Just not hugely so. Jefferson might work his way into that group depending on his usage.

Then there's also the depth of the defensive line and multiple looks that can be thrown out with all eight of those players. Not that Pees will do that mind you, but anybody he throws out there is a good or at least interesting option. Same at outside linebacker. Bowser, Judon, Williams, and Smith is tremendous. Corner isn't far off either. Losing Young was a big blow but Hill looks promising. With Smith, Carr, and Humphrey starting (maybe, Hill might actually start in the slot) that's still better than what the team has had. Also still good. These position groups are... nearly Dean-proof if you will. Hard to go wrong.

Inside linebacker outside of C.J. is a gamble, but one worth taking on either Correa or Onwuasor. Safety is my biggest concern depending on how much Jefferson plays further away from the LoS and how Weddle handles covering deep more often. That's the only liability I think could cripple the defense. But it can be solved with more dime looks. I'm not concerned about being vulnerable to the run because stopping the passing game is the utmost priority. That's what the best teams in the league do on offense. Not run the ball. Throwing it. There isn't a ton of evidence supporting Pees actually using more dime during the season, and that's why I worry, but at least it's an option that could help cover up the weak parts of the unit while still relying on the strengths (corners, edge rushers, down linemen, and Mosley).

Am I too optimistic here? It's putting a lot of hope on young players, but man I'm ready to do it. They seem good enough to risk it.

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I remember very well one time, where Pees specifically in a key situation showed something exotic with a complete overload of the left on the offensive line and we got an easy, quick sack.

Theres not many of those memories though, and as I can recall, the only time we didn't really complain about Pees was when he had two outside linebackers screaming of the edge with both having double digits sacks.

Last year I was one of the few who thought our defense was vastly overrated, especially considering we faced offenses worse than our own, and we saw it against the Cowboys where we were either gashed in the runninggame or picked apart in the passing game. 

Unless Pees has optimal conditions where his players alone can provide instant pressure, I don't see ham having any succes that warrants the talent we have on defense.

It seems most of his "elaborate" schemes is sending 5 players straight ahead or up the middle. If he brings a 6 man, its usually the guy covering the tight end. He loves letting tight end run loose. If its a corner blitz, someone is going to be wide open as we usually have someone over the top to prevent the big play.

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It certainly seems that this is the best chance for a good Pees lead defense that can be more aggressive than he usually calls.

This is probably the best secondary we've had in Pees' time at the Ravens, especially so if Jefferson is able to maintain his improved form in coverage from last year and we don't make him play deep coverage too often and if Jimmy Smith can stay relatively healthy.  

I think our pass rush should be better than it has been in the last couple of years as well, even without Dumervil on the roster, because of the depth available and the fact that each of the younger guys brings a different skill set to the position.  I just hope that Pees doesn't rely on calling plays out of the base set too much with Judon out in coverage as that is not what he is.

I'm not sure how likely it is, but I'd love it if Pees uses Jefferson as a nickel LB (a role we know he can do fairly well given his performance in a similar role for Arizona last year) and uses Webb and Weddle deep, rather than forcing Jefferson deep to keep Correa/Onwuasor on the field

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The stubborn use of a base defense and playing a run defender at outside linebacker like with McClellan last year is what I hate about Pees.

While he most likely isn't the worst defensive coach in the NFL, it is odd to me, that the same things we complain about are the exact same things Patriots fans complained about for several years ago. When the criticism remains the same over a tenure, then it begins to paint a picture.

I also really doubt, that our ability to stop the opponent on a last drive the last couple of years is simply because "players didn't execute". That is like brushing off your responsibility by saying "I told him to cover that guy and he didn't, its his fault". But when the vanilla scheme comes up, it is really difficult to defend anything if the pass rush isn't there.

The initiate pressure to force throws is what saved Pees with Dumervil and Suggs, but as he hasn't had the same top end skill players the last couple of years, we don't see a very good defense.

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Our defense in 2014 overcame Pees, but largely because we had the best pass rush in the NFL that year with Suggs, Dumervil, and McPhee. It'll take a similar effort this year to accomplish that. I think it's an uphill climb though.

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after years of investing the motherload of draft capital into Dean Pees defense, he better field a top noth unit for once.

if he cannot do it again this season, with improved backfield, young pas rushers to his deposal, stacked dline, i dunno what it needs for Harbaugh to kick his sorry a*s.

do i trust him to suddenly be creative and agressive in his scheming, now that he should have everything at his disposal that a lack of supposedly hindred him the years before? nope.

actually it would be the perfect time to send this bonker into retirement now and get some young, creative mind (see Patricia in NE for example) to groom the young talent we have accumulated lately. but who am i kidding, even if he cans Pees JH will just continue to hire some ol' buddy of his and be content with being just good enough.

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I don't like Pees  but I do sometimes feel like folks on here in particular overhype how bad he is. So while I'm more nervous than I would be given the talent we've got, I do think there's reasons to feel confident as well. 

That said, I think we sink or swim with the corners this year. The big key in terms of 'overcoming' Pees is making sure that he has decent trust in his cornerbacks. When he gets nervous about who's got playing corner, he overcompensates and ends up creating the kinds of cushions that the good QB's all know how to pick apart. 

We've got 2 good corners (Jimmy and Carr) + a 1st round rookie + a guy in Jaylen Hill who is so far showing promise. If we get decent health out of that crew and Hill and/or Humphrey don't turn out to be terrible, then I feel pretty good about our defense's ability to ball out this year. But if we end up through injuries/bad form with Rashaan Melvin equivalents out there, that's exactly the sort of scenario that i think Pees can't handle at all. 

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I'm not concerned about Pees at all. As far as I can recall we've never given him a good secondary to work with. Now we have one. We should be able to blitz a lot more and really just do a lot of things we couldn't do before. 

What I think may limit us is the fact that we don't have a player like Watt, Miller, Mack, Kuechly, Peterson, etc. And I've never seen a truly great defense without that type of player. If one of the vets was going to be that they would be by now. It's probably not going to be a rookie. Urban has a lot of ability and was raw coming out and Judon looks like a beast in the making. So maybe one of them but that's expecting a lot. So while I think we could be a top 5 defense. I'm not quite buying into the "special" or "great" rhetoric 

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2 hours ago, DontTazeMeBro said:

I'm not concerned about Pees at all. As far as I can recall we've never given him a good secondary to work with. Now we have one. We should be able to blitz a lot more and really just do a lot of things we couldn't do before. 

What I think may limit us is the fact that we don't have a player like Watt, Miller, Mack, Kuechly, Peterson, etc. And I've never seen a truly great defense without that type of player. If one of the vets was going to be that they would be by now. It's probably not going to be a rookie. Urban has a lot of ability and was raw coming out and Judon looks like a beast in the making. So maybe one of them but that's expecting a lot. So while I think we could be a top 5 defense. I'm not quite buying into the "special" or "great" rhetoric 

Just to play devil's advocate and because I really don't have the time right now to go back and look at the roster's we've had since 2012 -- is it that we didn't have the players in the secondary, or is it because Pees' scheme made the players we had look worse than they were? We've always had Jimmy Smith, we've always had Lardarius Webb, we've had a revolving door of safeties over the years though but we did have Will Hill who was pretty solid. 

IMO it's hard to have a great secondary when you ask your corners to play 12 yards off WR's on a 3rd and 5 when you're bringing pressure. It's also hard to have a great secondary when you're consistently playing players out of their natural fits (IE not using Jimmy in press coverage, using Matt Elam as a FS, using Kendrick Lewis as a FS, etc. etc.).

Like most, I think this year our defense is coming into the year with the expectation that it's going to be top 3 in the league. Anything less than that is a complete failure IMO and since Harbaugh is extended, it will fall squarely on Pees.

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DTMB is pretty much right about Pees not having had a good secondary before, and its the same reason why I said that this is Pees' best chance at being more aggressive - the lack of which is part of why so many of us don't like him that much imo.

Last year is pretty clearly the best secondary we've had in a while, and even then it lacked depth (no 3rd safety, scrubs at 4th/5th CB) and even then only sort of worked out because an undersized 4th round rookie in Tavon Young exceeded all expectations.

The secondary in 2014 wasn't great - Elam and Darian Stewart (who was about league average when he was here) were the starting safeties and the CBs were Jimmy Smith (who only played 8 games), Lardarius Webb and a bunch of scrubs (Anthony Levine, Rashaan Melvin and Asa Jackson all started multiple games at CB)

The other seasons the defense was mediocre (12th in 2012, 12th in 2013 and 24th in 2015)

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5 hours ago, drd23 said:

DTMB is pretty much right about Pees not having had a good secondary before, and its the same reason why I said that this is Pees' best chance at being more aggressive - the lack of which is part of why so many of us don't like him that much imo.

Last year is pretty clearly the best secondary we've had in a while, and even then it lacked depth (no 3rd safety, scrubs at 4th/5th CB) and even then only sort of worked out because an undersized 4th round rookie in Tavon Young exceeded all expectations.

The secondary in 2014 wasn't great - Elam and Darian Stewart (who was about league average when he was here) were the starting safeties and the CBs were Jimmy Smith (who only played 8 games), Lardarius Webb and a bunch of scrubs (Anthony Levine, Rashaan Melvin and Asa Jackson all started multiple games at CB)

The other seasons the defense was mediocre (12th in 2012, 12th in 2013 and 24th in 2015)

An based on that and experience. It doesn't seem like Pees elevate the defense much. He uses what he has, and while it may be bland and basic, its not worse than a Rob Ryan or the likes who get to creative and waste away the talent on defense.

With Pees though, its the decisions, and too many times we have just seen him being content with giving up 7-12 yards to prevent the big play or hope the pass rush get to the qb in time. When commentators talk about Pees elaborate scheme and Patriots fans and us have wondered why the players most of the times almost goes 1 on 1 with the opposing left tackle and we play a soft man coverage and hope the other team makes mistakes. We let the offenses get the initiative that way instead of taking it away from them. That seems to be enough for Harbaugh and Newsome, but we lost quite a lot of games because we let the opponent have the initiative.

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I agree with the notion that now that we have, on paper, a solid defense on all levels, that will allow Pees to flourish a bit more.  Hopefully, we're past the point of needing to scheme around weaknesses and instead can focus on allowing players to use their abilities at a more consistent rate vs. needing Pees to scheme them into successful positions.

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14 hours ago, Danand said:

An based on that and experience. It doesn't seem like Pees elevate the defense much. He uses what he has, and while it may be bland and basic, its not worse than a Rob Ryan or the likes who get to creative and waste away the talent on defense.

With Pees though, its the decisions, and too many times we have just seen him being content with giving up 7-12 yards to prevent the big play or hope the pass rush get to the qb in time. When commentators talk about Pees elaborate scheme and Patriots fans and us have wondered why the players most of the times almost goes 1 on 1 with the opposing left tackle and we play a soft man coverage and hope the other team makes mistakes. We let the offenses get the initiative that way instead of taking it away from them. That seems to be enough for Harbaugh and Newsome, but we lost quite a lot of games because we let the opponent have the initiative.

I would agree with this. I specifically remember I think it was 2 years ago when I got a trial of NFL GamePass and posted a bunch of breakdowns on the old forum of Pees' coverages, there was the game against Oakland. I remember it was a 3rd down and about 5 to go. Pre-snap our corners were 10 yards off the ball while our front 7 brought pressure. The Raiders quickly audibled to a quick out route to Crabtree (I think), picked up the first down without any kind of trouble, and the drive continued.

That's the kind of **** that drives me (and many other fans) up a tree with Pees. Sure, he hasn't had GREAT corners while he's here, but his schemes just make no sense. Why are you playing to not allow a deep pass on 3rd and short when you're bringing pressure?! You're giving up the first down!

But regardless, none of what's happened in the past is relevant any longer. This year we have arguably the deepest pass rush we've ever had, the strongest secondary we've ever had, and the most talent since the superbowl run. The expectations could not be any higher.

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I'd like to address this: good secondary or not, Pees' blitz/pressure schemes are awful. For the most part they're among the most vanilla in the league. Just line up the guys and hope they beat the blockers 1-on-1. The Ravens now have the guys to (hopefully) do that, but let's not give Dean credit for that. Same goes for when Suggs and Dumervil dominated a few years ago. They did that, it wasn't Pees putting them in a specific position to succeed. That's what separates competent defensive coordinators from the rest. 

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Also, kind of related and has been brought up a while ago but:

2000. That was 17 years ago. Pees and his scheme is an actual NFL dinosaur.

But the quarter... haha I liked using that in Madden back in the day. Still waiting for it to make it's comeback in the NFL.

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