You have to give the Baltimore Ravens and their defense one thing: they don’t lack for confidence. While the team has spent quite a bit of resources into building the best unit that they can, they did lose a couple of important components since last season, namely Timmy Jernigan and, at least for this year, Tavon Young.
That also doesn’t factor in the importance that Elvis Dumervil once had when the defense was actually consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, which really hasn’t been the case for the past two years. But the man they spent more money on than anybody unsurprisingly believes this unit can be the best the franchise has ever seen.
That would be nose tackle Brandon Williams, whose five-year contract that he signed with the team this year averages slightly more per season than the four-year contract extension given to cornerback Jimmy Smith in 2015, both at over $10 million per season.
According to Jamison Hensley, writing for ESPN, Williams said during a magazine interview that “the bar set by our defense is already very high, and our goal is to notch it up even more”. He was making reference to the Ravens’ championship defense in 2000, which many regard as one of, if not the greatest defensive units in the history of the game.
“The defense that helped us win that 2000 Super Bowl is the standard, and every year we’re trying to reach and surpass that standard. We’re never satisfied and we always want to get better”, he said in the interview mentioned.
That 2000 unit still holds the records for the fewest point and rushing yards allowed over the course of a 16-game season, averaging just a hair over 10 points per game, and just 60.6 rushing yards per game. They also posted four shutouts, the most since the Steelers of 1976 did so.
“The defense that is being built in Baltimore is one of the best”, Williams said. “We’re going to do something really special this year, I can feel it. Our defense is amazing”. He also had an answer for those who would question why he might set such expectations.
“Why wouldn’t you set that kind of high bar?”, he said. “You don’t set yourself a small goal. You shoot for the moon and land among the stars. You need to have the highest of goals, and if you get close to them, that’s amazing”.
It goes without saying that they will have their hands full in attempting to better that feat. For starters, they allowed 20.1 points per game last season, and almost 90 rushing yards.
The last time that a defense even posted an average below 70 yards per game for a season was the Lions in 2014, and that was at 69.3. the Steelers’ defense of 2010 posted one of the best figures in league history with 62.8 yards per game. The Vikings’ 61.6 yards in 2006 was the only other one since 2000 to post a figure below 70 yards. And the only other team to old opponents to fewer than 12 points per game—at 11.9—was the Titans of 2000.