Chuck Pagano has been lauded as an aggressive defensive coordinator, one that isn’t afraid to bring pressure from any angle at any time.
Thanks in part to his let’s-get-after-the-quarterback mentality, the Ravens have racked up 27 sacks this season, the third-most in the NFL. The usual pass rushing specialists - Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, etc. - have gotten the job done, while a few younger guys, like Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee, have flourished, as well.
Despite the overall success of his defense this season, Pagano isn’t happy with the amount of pressure his group is getting on opposing quarterbacks the last couple weeks.
The blame doesn’t fall on his players, Pagano said, it falls on him.
“I’ve got to send them more. I’ve got to call more (blitzes),” Pagano said. “That’s not on them, that falls on my shoulders. We’ve got to be more aggressive, and we’ve got to come after them.”
After averaging over 3.5 sacks per game through the season’s first seven contests, the Ravens have recorded just one sack each of the last two weeks.
Prior to those two games, Pagano’s defense had recorded fewer than two sacks in a game just once this season.
Linebacker Ray Lewis said earlier in the week that he feels like opposing offenses know the Ravens plan on bringing pressure, so they’re keeping more blockers in to protect the quarterback. Pagano agreed with Lewis, and added that teams are running the ball on the Ravens a lot more lately, which obviously will bring down the sack totals.
But Pagano wasn’t making any excuses. The Ravens need to get more pressure, he said, and that starts with him dialing up the aggressive play-calls.
“We’ve got to do a great job on first and second down and get them into throwing situations,” Pagano said. “No matter what the situation is, if they want to keep six, keep seven in, we’ve got to design ... I’ve got to a better job of putting our guys in position to get after the quarterback. So I’ve got to go after him.”
Pagano and the Ravens will have a tough time getting after the quarterback this Sunday; the Bengals have allowed only two sacks in their last four games combined, and have given up just 13 sacks all season, tied for third-best in the NFL.