|Ray Lewis is done for the year, but Dean Pees says the defense has to improve. (US Presswire)|
In the last two games, the Ravens run defense stood by while the Chiefs gained 214 yards in Week 5, and the Cowboys followed that with a 227-yard performance last Sunday. And now Baltimore has lost cornerback Lardarius Webb and middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the season to injuries. But there's no time for wallowing in self-pity. The Ravens travel to Houston this week before playing three division games over five weeks.
The message going forward: getting steamrolled in the running game is no longer an option.
"It's to a point now where we have to take a stand," safety Bernard Pollard said earlier this week. "We have to take a stand in what we do. We got to play pissed off, we've got to. It's a must."
First-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who replaced Chuck Pagano, has also seen enough.
“It makes me sick, is the best way I can put it," Pees said according to the team's website (via PFT). "I mean, it really does. And it's up to me, and it's up to our staff, to get this thing corrected. I mean, I'm as happy as I can be to be 5-1. But I also feel fortunate to be 5-1, the way we're playing on defense. Let's be honest: We're not playing well enough. To say it any other way would sound like a political debate. There's an answer or there's no answer. We've got to have an answer. We've got to do it. Cut the crap and let's get this thing done."
Talk is one thing. Execution is something else entirely, especially when the Ravens are going up against one of the league's best running teams. Whatever happens, Pollard says fans and media shouldn't point fingers at the coach. He's not the guy missing tackles.
"Don't blame the coach because the coach doesn't play. He's making great calls," Pollard said. "It's about us executing. We're not executing. We are tough and physical. Nobody can question the abilities that we have.
"We get penetration in the backfield. We got guys in the backfield many times. We just did not tackle. We did not execute. We take that personal. The coaches have done a great job. They're here all day, every day, putting stuff together to make us play better. They can't push a button to make us wrap up and tackle. That's on us. We have to come out and play."
Even if the Ravens lose to the Texans, they're still in great shape heading into their bye week. They're two games up on the Bengals in the AFC North and three ahead of the Steelers.
There's time to sort out the run defense. And if that doesn't happens, Baltimore can, for the first time in a long time, rely on its offense to pick up the slack.