Ray Lewis missed a fourth consecutive game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. In his absence over the last month, we’ve gotten a small taste of what life might be like for the Ravens without the man who pioneered this franchise.
For just about everyone in Charm City, it’s difficult to imagine life without the spirit and heart and soul of this organization. For 16 seasons, Lewis has been the captain, who has inspired one of the league’s most tenacious defensive units in NFL history. After not seeing Lewis over the past month, one thing is for sure: Life will go when he retires.
The Ravens defense has been the same old defense we’ve come accustomed to seeing here in Baltimore, and that’s a testament to the 36-year-old Lewis.
It’s evident, now more than ever, the culture Lewis has established in Baltimore will continue well beyond his playing days. The message he has he preached to numerous rookie draft picks have been taken to heart. Physical, hard-nosed, smash-mouth football has become the identity of the Ravens’ defense.
The numbers show the Ravens’ defense has stepped up in the absence of their All-Pro middle linebacker. Through the first nine games of the season, Lewis was on the field. However, when you compare the stats over the last four games, where he was out of commission, the numbers are surprisingly better.
By no means does this mean there’s a direct correlation, because without a doubt, the Ravens are a better team with Lewis on the field. But the numbers indicate the defense is just as formidable without Lewis.
Here’s what the numbers look like, according to Amber Theoharris of MASNSports.com.
“From Weeks 1-10, the Ravens’ defense gave up 16.9 points/game and 284.6 yards/game. They averaged three sacks/game, 1.9 fumble recoveries/game and .89 interceptions/game. From Weeks 11-13, the Ravens’ defense gave up 13.3 points/game and 295.3 yards/game. They averaged 4.7 sacks/game, one fumble recovery/game and 1.7 interceptions/game.”
What Harris ended up concluding, was that the Ravens in weeks 11-13 were better in every defensive category except yards per game and fumble recoveries. And even in those two categories, the numbers are extremely close.
Let’s not forget, the sample size is greatly compromised because Lewis has missed just four games compared to playing in nine games.
In recent weeks, the Ravens have made a lot more game-changing type plays on the defensive side of the ball. It could be attributed to a number of factors, the team could be playing at an entirely higher level, or stars like Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb and rookie Jimmy Smith feel as though they have to compensate in Lewis’ absence. Or, maybe it’s because all the attention is constantly being thrown Lewis’ way, and there’s finally room for a new star to blossom.
Regardless, the Ravens future is very bright. The personnel the Ravens currently possess is talented enough to carry the torch whenever Lewis decides to call it a career.