Ravens beat: Taking look at Reed-less Ravens

September 16, 2010|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

There is no argument that the Ravens' defense is more dangerous with Ed Reed in the lineup.

But there's also no argument that the Ravens are better prepared to play without their Pro Bowl safety than ever before.

Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals will provide another test for the Reed-less Ravens on Sunday. Based on how the Ravens have fared with Tom Zbikowski, they are confident the secondary can handle Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

In the five games that Zbikowski has started for Reed during the past two seasons, the Ravens are 3-2 and have allowed an average of 165 passing yards. The defense has given up four passing touchdowns and made nine interceptions (Zbikowski has two of them).

In the 12 games with Reed in 2009, the Ravens were 6-6 and surrendered an average of 229.6 passing yards. The defense allowed 13 touchdowns through the air and had 13interceptions (Reed had three of them).

Some would say the numbers with Zbikowski are skewed because of the quarterbacks the Ravens have faced. The Reed-less Ravens have gone against two top-notch quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger), two mediocre ones (Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez) and one declining one (Daunte Culpepper).

Others contend the Ravens play more disciplined defense with Zbikowski, who doesn't freelance or take as many chances as Reed.

Reed, who is on the physically-unable-to-perform list after offseason hip surgery, causes opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators to alter their game plans. They dedicate time scheming how to avoid Reed or how to try to get him out of position.

A six-time Pro Bowl player, Reed has intercepted 53 passes in 125 games -- one pick every 2.5 games. He has returned six for touchdowns. Only Darren Sharper and Charles Woodson have more since 2002.

The Ravens missed Reed more in 2005, when he was sidelined six games with an ankle injury. The defense tried to replace him with Chad Williams and Dale Carter. The team even used an extra linebacker instead of a second safety for two games. The Ravens went 1-5 during Reed's absence and gave up 10 passing touchdowns.

With Zbikowski, the Ravens have stabilized the position and are set to play the next five games without Reed, which are against the Bengals (Palmer), Cleveland Browns (perhaps Seneca Wallace), Pittsburgh Steelers (Dennis Dixon), Denver Broncos (Kyle Orton) and New England Patriots (Tom Brady).

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

A look how the Ravens have fared in the five games when Ed Reed has been replaced by Tom Zbikowski at safety:

2009

Date ; Opp. ; Quarterback ; Pass yds ; Pass TDs ; Ints ;

12-7 ; G.B. ; Rodgers ; 263 ; 3 ; 2 ;

12-13 ; Det. ; Culpepper ; 135 ; 0 ; 2;

12-20 ; Chi. ; Cutler ; 94 ; 0 ; 3*;

12-27 ; Pitt. ; Roethlisberger ; 259 ; 1 ; 1 ;

2010

9-13 ; NYJ ; Sanchez ; 74 ; 0 ; 0 ;

*Caleb Hanie was 2-for5 for 8 yards, INT

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