Ravens Need To Prepare For Underrated Browns Pass RushPosted on November 01, 2013 by Gordon McGuinness
As the Ravens head to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Sunday, they face a familiar foe in outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Kruger, a second round draft pick by the Ravens back in 2009, was key to the team's Super Bowl run a year ago, including a three sack performance against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. After departing for Cleveland via free agency, Kruger started off the 2013 season slow, but has come on more in the last two games, where he has recorded a sack, a hit and eight hurries from 49 pass rushing opportunities according to Pro Football Focus. That works out at an average of some form of quarterback disruption once every 6.12 pass rushes. However it's not just Kruger that the Ravens need to be concerned about on Sunday, with him only form one third of an impressive trio.
They also have talented rookie Barkevious Mingo, who has taken his lumps in his rookie year, but has also shown some nice flashes, with four sacks through his first seven games in the NFL. His 18 total quarterback disruptions have come on 204 pass rushes, working out at once every 11.33 pass rushes so, while he's not getting to the quarterback as often as Kruger has been recently, he's still very much someone that has to be accounted for.
One of the biggest question marks for the Browns as they switched to a 3-4 defense was how Jabaal Sheard would handle the move to outside linebacker. He's missed some time through injury, and hasn't looked to be at his best in the two games since returning, managing just four hurries. However you only need to look back to the Week Three game against the Minnesota Vikings where he got hurt to see just how disruptive he can be. He played just 35 of the teams 80 defensive snaps that day, going out with an injury early in the third quarter, he had already managed a sack, a hit, and four hurries, giving right tackle Phil Loadholt nightmares throughout. For the year he has 17 quarterback disruptions from 113 pass rushing snaps, working out at a disruption once every 6.64 pass rushes. At his best he's their best pass rusher, but it's a question of how close to that level he is at, with the past two weeks not looking overly convincing.
They aren't a team with one standout pass rusher you need to watch out for, but the combination of the three is what makes the Browns a dangerous opponent, and likely a handful for Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher. They've been the highlight of the Ravens offensive line this season however, and are up to the challenge if they play to the best of their abilities.