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Ravens 2021 Position Review: Outside Linebackers

Sack totals don’t tell the story of how consistently disruptive this unit was for most of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After a turbulent 2021 season that was ravaged and ultimately derailed by injuries, the Baltimore Ravens are completely focused on moving forward. Before we fully turn the page to the 2022 offseason, let’s look back at the overall performance of their outside linebacker position group from this last year.

Tyus Bowser

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

2021 stats: 17 games, 17 starts, 59 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven sacks, 15 quarterback hits, 26 pressures, two forced fumbles, and four pass deflections

Even though he didn’t record double-digit sacks, Bowser still recorded a career-high in that category. He was just as consistently disruptive on the edge as his former teammate and three-time Pro Bowler, Matthew Judon. He capitalized on the opportunity to rush the passer more than he had in recent years while still maintaining his high level of play in coverage, despite not recording an interception after setting a career-high with three in 2020.

Bowser suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the regular season finale, which might cast some doubt about his availability to start the 2022 season. However, the team is confident that he’ll make a full recovery in time to play.

Odafe Oweh

NFL: NOV 21 Ravens at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

2021 stats: 15 games, two starts, 33 total tackles, five tackles for loss, five sacks, 15 quarterback hits, 27 pressures, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one pass deflection.

After not recording a single sack in his final collegiate season, the first-round rookie silenced his doubters early on his the year with three in his first five career games. Oweh played his best in primetime games, where he made his biggest plays that swung the momentum in the Ravens’ favor.

His elite athleticism was constantly on full display with the way he chased down ball carriers and quarterbacks alike with tremendous speed, relentless effort, and tenacious backside pursuit. Hopes and expectations for Oweh will be high heading into year two under new defensive coordinator in Mike MacDonald, who has a knack for getting the best out of young, athletically-gifted edge defenders.

Justin Houston

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: 15 games, 15 starts, 34 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 24 pressures, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one pass deflection

While his sack total wasn’t gaudy, the future Hall of Famer’s ability to generate pressure was consistent and the impact of his presence on the team as a leader and mentor was profound. Houston was instrumental in the development of Oweh and was still able to show he can be a difference-maker after over a decade in the league. Re-signing him might cost a little bit more than the bargain deal they initially got him for but it should still be a priority nonetheless.

Jaylon Ferguson

Minnesota Vikings v Baltimore Ravens

2021 stats: 10 games, six total tackles, three quarterback hits, and two pressures

For the third straight year, the 2019 third-round pick failed to live up to the ‘Sack Daddy’ moniker he earned in college at Louisiana Tech. He was a healthy scratch for seven games and recorded career lows across the board. The biggest play that Ferguson made in 2021 was a blocked punt that set up a short field for the offense in Week 11 against the Chicago Bears. Barring injury, his roster spot will be far from secure heading into the final year of his rookie contract if he isn’t moved in the offseason.

Pernell McPhee

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

2021 stats: 10 games, 14 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback hits, and four pressures

In what was likely his last ride, the 11-year veteran edge defender turned out a solid season and was more impactful from a leadership standpoint than he was as a contributor on defense. He was still a stout run defender in the first 10 weeks of the year before landing on injured reserve for seven weeks and probably played his last NFL game in the regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.