Which is Better? The Ravens Offense vs. Defense


Shifting identity
For as long as I can remember, the Baltimore Ravens have always been known more for their defense, not their offense.

That is until now. A new era has begun in Baltimore, where the defense can no longer take all the credit for winning games.

With Joe Flacco leading an offensive powerhouse, the Ravens seemed to have gone through an extreme makeover. From coaching changes to draft choices, the front office appears to have utilized most of their resources for building a stronger offense.

Cam Cameron was hired by the Ravens back in 2008 to be the new offensive coordinator. The former Miami Dolphins Head Coach helpedĀ  Flacco become the first rookie quarterback ever to win 2 consecutive playoff games. Another coaching change was the recent addition of the former Redskins Head Coach, Jim Zorn. He was hired to be the quarterbacks coach for the 2010 season. Both Cameron and Zorn have extensive backgrounds in offenses, so it’s no surprise what the Ravens were trying to do here.

As for draft picks, the Ravens have clearly re-prioritized their needs. This can easily be seen through the Ravens’ recent draft patterns; they have only taken 1 defensive 1st-round player in the last 7 years. In that same span of time, 4 offensive 1st-round players were taken by the Ravens.

Given all this information, I think we can all agree that in the last few years the Ravens have given more attention to improving their offense than their defense. But like the title of my article says, which is better now?

Joe Flacco’s offense or Ray Lewis’ defense?
To try and compare their respective units, let’s take a look at some stats.

Here are some numbers that tell us how the defense has performed since Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron’s arrival.

  • Scoring defense is the number of points allowed per game
  • Total defense is the number of (pass and rush) yards allowed per game

So the lower the number, the better.

Season Total Defense Rank Scoring Defense Rank
2008 261.1 2nd 15.2 3rd
2009 300.5 3rd 16.3 3rd

Although the Ravens ranked 3rd overall in the league in 2009, they did not show any improvement from the 2008 season. They allowed almost 40 more yards per game and just about 1 more point per game.

Now let’s look at the offense. Same deal here:

  • Scoring offense is the number of points scored per game
  • Total offense is the number of (pass and rush) yards gained per game
Season Total Offense Rank Scoring Offense Rank
2008 324.0 18th 24.1 22nd
2009 351.2 13th 24.4 9th

As you can see, Flacco and his crew have improved in all categories. From 2008 to 2009, the offense gained over 15 more yards per game; they also scored slightly more points per game. The most significant improvement was moving up 13 spots to boast the 9th best scoring offense in the league.

The offense has improved, no doubt. This upcoming season might show one of the greatest Ravens offenses we’ve ever seen. Signing Anquan Boldin and drafting young tight ends will give Flacco the necessary weapons to shine.

The defense, however, has not been improving as much as the offense has been. In fact, it has been the exact opposite; The defense is aging, Ed Reed has a nerve impingement in his neck, 2 cornerbacks have ACL tears, and the pass rushers have been less than dominating.

But even with all of this, the Ravens’ defense has held their own. I have to give tremendous props to this defensive unit that jumped many hurdles and still ranked as one of the league’s best.

Since Flacco is still developing and our receiving core has not yet proven themselves, I must declare Ray Lewis and his defense as the winners. Maybe a few years down the line, the offense will in fact be a better unit than the defense, but for now I simply cannot go against No. 52.

Last season in the Divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, it was the offense that came up short, not the defense. Flacco and company only managed to score 3 points, while the defense kept MVP Peyton Manning to just 3 points in the entire 2nd half. The Ravens’ defense gave their offense an opportunity to come back for a win, but they simply couldn’t score.

Still, the statistics above show an interesting trend. Hopefully, the numbers continue to improve for the offense. Lewis and his defense are the winners now, but let’s see if I change my mind after this season.

What do you guys think? Vote or leave a comment!