Wild Card Weekend Standouts - Rob Hamilton
EDGE MATTHEW JUDON, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Key Signature Stat: 22.1 pass-rushing productivity.
No one was more effective at pressuring the quarterback this weekend than Baltimore’s Judon. The seldom mentioned third-year pro has grown into a key cog in Baltimore’s defense the past two seasons. On Sunday, he hit Philip Rivers four times and pressured him once more on his 17 pass-rush snaps.
He also produced three stops in the run game to round out an excellent all-around performance.
The official game book credited Matthew Judon with five quarterback hits and two tackles for a loss. He made several excellent stops when setting the edge.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Endures the Next Step in His Evolution as an NFL QB: A Playoff Loss - Charles P. Pierce
“We just played like we didn’t want to be here. I did, not my team,” Jackson said. “I feel like I played poorly. I feel like there were a lot of things we could have done, I could have done, I feel, [to] put us in a better situation. We have to move on now, get ready for next year. ... At the beginning, a lot of throws weren’t hit that I was supposed to make, turnover, I fumbled once, and I wasn’t playing my game today. I’m ticked off about that, definitely.”
“[Jackson] played really well in two-minute. I don’t think [Flacco] would have played any better in two-minute than Lamar did,” Harbaugh said. “Give Lamar credit, right? For the way he played in two-minute. He played really well. You have to say, based on that part of it, at that point in time in the game, it was the right decision. We went down and scored two touchdowns.”
“He’s the future,” Baltimore safety Eric Weddle said of his quarterback. “He’s such a bright kid, unbelievable energy and personality. He’s likeable. He works hard. As you guys can tell, he’s devastated right now, and that’s what’s going to drive him in the offseason.”
“And, he’ll come back 10 times better than he was this year. For what he did, and to the belief that he gave not only our team, but our city, this organization, is pretty special. And, no matter how bad they were playing, we still figured out and knew that he was going to turn it around, because that’s what he just does. He doesn’t get too high. He doesn’t get too low. We made a run at the end. We just ran out of time, but he’s going to be a great one. I love him to death, and I can’t wait to see where his career ends up.”
Lamar Jackson has two main areas focus on this offseason. He must master throwing mechanics and footwork to ingrain more consistent accuracy. Improving ball security should also be a top priority.
The NFL’s Wild-Card Round Was a Referendum on Modern Coaching - Robert Mays
Malleability is a necessary trait for teams and coaches at this stage of the season, and that’s what made the Chargers’ strategy on Sunday so noteworthy. This year, most of the coaching that was lauded around the league was by newly minted offensive masterminds. But Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s game plan against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens was a stroke of defensive genius. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out on Sunday, the Chargers used seven defensive backs on 58 of their 59 defensive snaps against Baltimore. Previously this season, no team in the league had utilized seven DBs on more than 17 plays in a game. Bradley clearly believed that the best way to combat Jackson’s running ability was to flood the field with speed, and for much of the afternoon, he was right. The Chargers paired their safety-heavy approach with an expert game plan along the defensive line that matched stunts and shift alignments to various Ravens motions and formations. By packing three players on the interior of the line and emphasizing penetration, Bradley’s front four was able to set up shop in the Baltimore backfield (and it didn’t hurt that linebacker Melvin Ingram was the best player on the field).
John Harbaugh and the Ravens are reportedly making progress on a long-term contract extension. Assuming he remains with the franchise, the head coach may consider making a change at offensive coordinator after the Chargers out maneuvered Marty Mornhinweg.
Terrell Suggs: ‘I would love to be a Raven for life’ - Herbie Teope
Suggs, however, hopes Sunday’s playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers doesn’t mark the end of his accomplished career.
Instead, he plans to keep playing and Suggs certainly wouldn’t mind finishing his playing career in Baltimore.
”I would love to be a Raven for life,” Suggs told reporters after Sunday’s game, via the team’s official website. “I’m healthy. I feel like I’ve still got some juice in the tank. I would love to be a Raven for life.”
“It’s up to them,” Suggs told reporters. “I mean, we’ll have to see what happens. It’s a long time between here and March, so we’re just going to enjoy it, hope we can work it out. But if not, I’m going to be lining up for somebody next year.”
John Brown also expressed an interest in returning to Baltimore. Linebackers C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith are likely to be the Ravens most costly free agents.