Harbaugh: Ravens will bring more heat

Improving the pass rush is a priority in 2011

March 10, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens recorded a team record-low 27 sacks last season and finished 21st in pass defense, their worst ranking since 2002.

What will the Ravens change on defense in 2011? Rush more players.

"You can make an argument that we rushed three a little more last year than we had in the past and we will in the future, in all honesty," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't think, by any stretch, that [the three-man pass rush] is going to be a foundation of our defense. That's not what we're built on. That's not we're about."

The Ravens were criticized last season when defensive coordinator Greg Mattison relied heavily on his front four to generate pressure on the quarterback and often decided to rush only three defenders at critical points in the game.

Chuck Pagano is now the defensive coordinator after Mattison left for the University of Michigan, but Harbaugh said there will still be a time to rush just three players and drop eight into coverage.

"When you get a quarterback in a rhythm where he feels like he's got to get the ball out quickly and you drop one more guy into coverage where you anticipate he's going to go with the ball," Harbaugh said. "When you get into a habit where they have a sense that you're rushing three and you get that quarterback into a rhythm where he can really hold the ball, that's a problem. When that happened last year, that hurt us. That's not something we want to have."

It appears that the Ravens want to return to their aggressive roots on defense.

"I won't say we're going to rush three as much as we did last year. I think we'll do it less," Harbaugh said. "I think you'll see it at times. But more often than not, you're going to see pressure."

Foxworth: Owners' stance 'laughable'

Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who is a member of the NFLPA executive committee, isn't optimistic about a new collective bargaining agreement getting reached by the end of the week, calling the NFL owners' financial information offer "laughable."

One of the major obstacles in the NFL labor negotiations is the players union's desire to see a team-by-team breakdown of their finances and the owners' unwillingness to do so. The owners have offered profitability data from 2005 to 2009 and the number of teams that have seen shifts in profitability.

"The numbers that they've offered us can be extrapolated from the numbers that are printed in Forbes magazine. It's nothing substantial," Foxworth said on CNBC. "The idea that they can ask a billion dollars from us without giving us the opportunity to crawl through their numbers is somewhat disrespectful. Essentially what they're doing is asking us to buy a car and only allow us to look at the car through the showroom window and not kick the tires and drive it around. It's really aggravating for us."

End zone

It appears that Ed Reed isn't retiring. In fact, the Pro Bowl safety isn't even close. "I've talked to Ed a number of times this offseason," Harbaugh said. "He feels he can play four or five more years." … Harbaugh said he isn't worried about the chemistry between quarterback Joe Flacco and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who will have increased responsibilities over the quarterbacks. "Joe and Cam get along well," Harbaugh said. … Harbaugh said the decision to fire Jim Zorn in January was difficult because they had grown close along with their families. Zorn has since been hired as the quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. "It was tough for me personally," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes you just got to make a decision that's in the best interest of everybody involved, including Jim. I'm very convinced this is the best thing going forward and this is the best thing for Jim."

Jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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