Safety is as Advertised
Much to the chagrin of their many critics the (3-0) Baltimore Ravens sit atop the league statistically in many defensive categories as we approach the quarter pole of the 2016 NFL season.
And while it’s true that they have yet to play the league’s best teams, clubs can only play the schedule handed to them. In doing so Dean Pees’ defense currently ranks as the NFL’s No. 2 unit in yards allowed (254.3 ypg) and No. 4 in scoring (14.7 ppg).
While the improvement of the defense has been easy to see compared to a year ago, many fans and players point to one person who’s playing a key role in the defensive resurgence.
“Oh, man,” responded ILB Zachary Orr. “We joke around and say that is ‘coach Weddle.’ He really is a coach on the field.
“He is constantly talking to all of us, not just to me, but C.J. as well and other DBs. He is just constantly reminding us, little tips [such as], ‘Get your depth here; this is what they like to do.’ In the heat of battle, it is great to have someone like that who can remind you of little tips that the offense likes to do.
“It has been great, and we love having him back there. It doesn’t hurt that he is a playmaker as well.”
Eric Weddle played 63 snaps against Jacksonville and turned in a solid performance contributing on two Blake Bortles pressures while adding two passes defensed, including a would be Allen Hurns touchdown.
The free agent pick up has fit right into a leadership role on defense, something that’s been sorely missed since Ed Reed‘s departure.
“They just weren’t really used to a guy not only loving the game, but willing to help and willing to be there for them”, responded Weddle on Wednesday when asked why guys were taken aback about how vocal he was as a leader.
“I don’t know how it has been in the past, but everywhere I have been, I try to lead more for the guys that I have played with than for myself.
“I want them to know as much as I know myself,” added Weddle.
“At the end of the day, if my teammates don’t know what is going on and can’t play at a high level, we are not going to be the best we can be. I think they were just taken aback, like, ‘Why is he helping me so much? Does he really want me to be good?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, man. I’m very secure with myself.’ I don’t have an ego; I don’t worry about what is being said or my playing time, whatever.
“I’m here to play, I’m here to help and be the best team possible. Once they met my personality, I think they knew what I’m all about.”
All hands will be needed on deck on Sunday as the Raiders boast the NFL’s number two overall offense (8th in passing, #2 in rushing). Weddle will be relied on heavily due to his knowledge of Oakland’s quarterback Derek Carr, who is a close friend.
“Yes, I’m pretty close with Derek [Carr],” Weddle stated. “I talked to him on Monday, and we are excited to get on the field again and go at it. The best team is going to win.”
“It was just a little jabber back and forth. It was all in good fun, good humor,” laughed Weddle when asked about the nature of their conversation.
“He likes the way we are playing, and obviously, they are doing pretty dang good on offense.
“He is excited to take the field against me.”
The Ravens will look to improve their 5-0 record at home against Oakland on Sunday as their defense, particularly Weddle, certainly appear ready for their biggest challenge yet.
Now, about that offense……..