Over the next two days, we are going to bring you our Ravens101 suggested To Do list for the Baltimore Ravens as they head into their bye week. This team has a lot of areas it can improve in for the final nine games of the season, but we have narrowed it down to four major ones and coming in at number four is the return defense of the Special Teams unit.
The Ravens special teams unit is usually one of the best in the league, and this year it is still better than most, but their inability to keep opponents to short returns is hurting them in these close games they are playing on a weekly basis.
For instance, just this past Sunday, if Baltimore holds Pittsburgh to a short return on that final kickoff, the odds of them driving into field goal range get smaller and smaller the fewer return yards they garner. Instead, the Ravens allowed a 44 yard kickoff return that allowed the Steelers to start their drive on their own 37 yard line. Oh by the way, if not for the heel of Emmanuel Sanders touching out of bounds, he would have returned the kickoff all the way back for the touchdown.
Baltimore is doing OK in in the punt return aspect of defending returns in that they have not allowed a touchdown, but they have the 9th worst average punt return average in the NFL allowing an average of 9.6 yards per punt return.
It gets worse when you start to talk about kickoff returns. Baltimore has struggled in defending kickoffs, when Justin Tucker doesn't boot it through the endzone for a touchback, and it shows. The Ravens allow an average of 26.4 yards per opponent kickoff return, which is the fifth highest in the entire NFL.
Lastly, which is a combination of both kick return defense and punt return defense, as well as how the offense performs, the Ravens' opponents average starting field position on the 30.4 yard line, which is the fourth worst in all of football. When you defense is consistently dealing with shorter fields, it is going to ware you down, which could be why the Ravens defense seems to struggle towards the end of the game.
Do these numbers surprise you? What do you think of the Ravens special teams defense? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
Stay tuned to Ravens101 as we continue our countdown later today with number three on our bye week to do list for Baltimore.
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