Old School Vs. New School

Nfl Preview 2004

The Ravens

September 09, 2004|By JAMISON HENSLEY

A starter-by-starter comparison of the Ravens' 2000 defense and this year's unit. Results -- which ended in a 6-4-1 edge for the 2000 team -- are based on an anonymous poll of coaches and league executives.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Rob Burnett

97 tackles, 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

VS.

Tony Weaver

63 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Both are hard-nosed players, but Burnett was the NFL's best lineman in the first month of the 2000 season. Many expect Weaver to reach Burnett's level in a few years.

Edge: OLD

Tony Siragusa

75 tackles, 0 sacks

VS.

Kelly Gregg

104 tackles, 3 sacks

Gregg is more valuable and versatile because he can control the line with leverage as well as disrupt plays with penetration. "Goose" was more one-dimensional, clogging up the middle with size and brute strength.

Edge: NEW

Sam Adams

69 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 forced fumbles

Marques Douglas

89 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble

VS.

No contest here. Adams was the most dominant lineman in the league that year, jumping off the line with great anticipation of the snap count and ripping through defenses with power. Douglas is an overachieving role player.

Edge: OLD

PASS-RUSH END

Michael McCrary

103 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

VS.

Terrell Suggs

33 tackles, 12 sacks, 6 forced fumbles

Although Suggs is a more talented pure rusher, McCrary was the more popular choice because of his relentlessness against the run and pass, chasing down opponents all over the field.

Edge: OLD

LINEBACKER

Peter Boulware

45 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

VS.

Peter Boulware

79 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles

Injury limited Boulware in 2000 and will do the same this season. He is a better all-around linebacker now, but no one knows when he will return from offseason knee surgery.

Edge: EVEN

Jamie Sharper

102 tackles, 4 passes def., 5 forced fumbles

VS.

Ed Hartwell

140 tackles, 5 passes def., 2 forced fumbles

Sharper had more range and delivered more big plays. Supporters for Hartwell question whether Sharper could have carried the defense the way Hartwell did when Ray Lewis was sidelined for much of 2002.

Edge: OLD

Ray Lewis

187 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 10 passes def.

VS.

Ray Lewis

225 tackles, 1 sack, 6 interceptions, 13 passes def.

Lewis is the team's unquestioned leader now and causes more havoc in the passing game. His increased dedication to game preparation offsets any decline due to shoulder injuries. Still, being named the Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP made 2000 one of the best seasons for a linebacker in NFL history.

Edge: NEW

CORNERBACK

Chris McAlister

50 tackles, 4 interceptions, 23 passes def.

VS.

Chris McAlister

52 tackles, 3 interceptions, 16 passes def.

McAlister has finally emerged as a shut-down cornerback, taking the best receiver out of the game week after week. In 2000, he showed flashes of brilliance in the playoffs after a streaky regular season.

Edge: NEW

Duane Starks

59 tackles, 6 interceptions, 28 passes def.

VS.

Gary Baxter

106 tackles, 3 interceptions, 16 passes def.

One of the closest calls of the voting went to the faster Starks over the more physical Baxter. A more natural corner, Starks shook off an up-and-down regular season by playoff time, when he made three interceptions -- running one back for a touchdown in the Super Bowl -- and broke up three other passes.

Edge: OLD

SAFETY

Rod Woodson

82 tackles, 4 interceptions, 10 passes def.

VS.

Ed Reed

92 tackles, 7 interceptions, 19 passes def.

Reed is a disciplined safety who is a playmaker in his prime. Woodson, who had started to slow a bit at that point of his career, brought more leadership yet tended to freelance more from his free safety spot.

Edge: NEW

Kim Herring

66 tackles, 3 interceptions, 12 passes def.

VS.

Will Demps

59 tackles, 2 interceptions, 11 passes def.

Demps makes more plays because he has a knack for being around the ball, but Herring was a more talented defender who could cover more space. Herring had the ability to handle some receivers one-on-one if needed.

Edge: OLD

(Note: Statistics for 2000 players are regular season only; stats for 2004 players are from the 2003 regular season.)

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