Friday, January 4, 2013
What to expect with the return of Ray Lewis
By Micah Adams, ESPN Stats & Information
AP Photo/Nick WassRay Lewis has missed the last 10 games, but is expected to return Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens host the Indianapolis Colts. What does his return mean for the Ravens' defense?
How will Ray Lewis' return impact the Ravens defense on Sunday versus the Colts?
For starters, expect a more aggressive pass rush. In the first six games this season with Lewis, the Ravens sent five or more pass rushers on 39.6 percent of opponent dropbacks. Only five teams used added pressure more often during that span.
In 10 games without Lewis, the Ravens utilized five or more pass rushers on 25.5 percent of opponent dropbacks, less often than 20 other teams.
Not only is Baltimore utilizing added pressure far less often without Lewis, it has also been far less effective when it does blitz.
In the first six games, the Ravens defense did not allow a touchdown pass and held opposing quarterbacks to a Total QBR below 20 when sending at least five pass rushers.
In the 10 games without Lewis, the defense gave up five touchdown passes and no interceptions when blitzing. During that span, only six other teams failed to intercept at least one pass when bringing added pressure. All six of those teams missed the playoffs.
If Lewis plays and the Ravens revert back to their blitz-happy schemes, how might that affect the performance of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck?
The rookie has not been sharp against added pressure, especially on the road. In his past two road games, Luck completed just 13 of 31 passes (42 percent) against five or more pass rushers.
On the season, Luck has a Total QBR of 43.0 on the road against the blitz, nearly seven points below the league average. He completed only 51.1 percent of his passes against added pressure on the road, which ranks just below Mark Sanchez and good for 27th out of 36 qualified passers.
It’s likely that Luck will not be a happy camper if the return of Lewis means a more aggressive pass rush by the Ravens on Sunday.