Michael Huff Reveling in Baltimore’s Winning Culture


Extreme Makeover: Ravens Defense Edition

Since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans, the Ravens have lost more defensive starters than they’ve retained. With so much turnover, doubting the ability of the Ravens defense to become a cohesive unit for a repeat performance is fair; however, it’s something the franchise is going to let happen. General Manager Ozzie Newsome knew there was going to be an overhaul, but he had a contingency plan in place.

Often overlooked is the fact that Newsome replaced lost veterans with other veterans. Look no further than players like Corey Graham last year to fit the “right player, right price” credo, where Newsome often gets more than he pays for when a player outperforms expectations.

As with Graham last season, the Ravens are hoping to hit once again with an acquisition in the secondary, bringing in one of the most well-rounded defensive backs currently playing in the NFL, Michael Huff.

Following practice on Monday, Huff and I took a break from the ice cream trucks on the practice field to discuss his transition to Baltimore. When I asked him what some of the biggest differences he sees in Baltimore versus his seven seasons as a member of the Oakland Raiders, all Huff could speak about was winning.

“I think just the attitude when you walk into the building,” Huff said. “You can tell it’s just a winning tradition, it’s a winning legacy and [the Ravens] are so used just so used to winning around here that it’s everything that’s expected of you.”

Winning is something that many fans may take for granted in Baltimore, especially given the Ravens’ playoff success under head coach John Harbaugh. On the other hand, Huff knows to cherish each win, especially because it’s something he was unfamiliar with as a member of the Oakland Raiders. After being drafted seventh overall in the 2006 draft, Huff has never experienced a winning season in the National Football League, with a career 36-76 record.

“When you’re here, you just breed success and breed winning,” he said.

Huff got a taste of the playing atmosphere at M&T Bank Stadium last year during a Week 10 55-20 curb-stomping at the hands of the Ravens. Enamored with the stadium atmosphere and fan impact, he’s glad to have Ravens fans on his side this season.

“Loud,” Huff responded when I asked him to describe what it was playing like in M&T Bank Stadium. “Every time the defense is out there, you can’t hear anything. It’s definitely the loudest stadium that I’ve ever been a part of. I’m glad I’m playing here now. It’s on my side now, it definitely makes a difference, too.”

During the game, Huff intercepted Flacco, but that’s something he hasn’t felt the need to really tease his quarterback about since.

“No, I couldn’t really [rub it in] because of how the game turned out,” he said. “We’re on the same team now so I don’t bring it up too much.”

The same goes for punter Sam Koch, who scored his first career touchdown on a fake field goal, and capped the scoring run with a monstrous spike that would make Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski jealous. Huff wasn’t offended at the Ravens running up the score on his team.

“Not at all,” he said. “If we didn’t like it we should have stopped it. I don’t mind it at all.”

Throughout training camp, Huff has taken all of his reps with the first team defense and figures to become the starting free safety, trying his best to adequately fill the ample cleats left behind by Ed Reed. Beside Huff, James Ihedigbo has been running with the first team and rotating with rookie first-round pick Matt Elam.

Huff believes that the safety situation will be played out on a rotational basis to start off.

“It’s a great safety rotation,” Huff said. “We’ve got all three of us play in the box, we’ve got great versatility. I think for us, it’s learning the defense and just how we can adjust on the fly so the offense doesn’t know what we’re doing.”

“Those guys are just hungry and want to learn the game and want to make plays. I give them all the knowledge I have, after playing seven years at corner, safety and nickel,” he said. Then while laughing, Huff said, “I’ve kind of played everywhere.”

Moving across the country and starting fresh definitely throws a kick into your normal offseason plans, but Huff was ready for that challenge, especially since it comes with a chance to win. Huff praised veterans such as Terrell Suggs and Corey Graham for making his transition easier.

“Those guys welcomed me with open arms, showed me the ropes and just welcomed me like family,” he said. “They made the transition easy.”

For the Ravens, an easy transition from losing Pollard and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed is to have Huff build on the team’s success and help younger members of the secondary such as Elam, Chykie Brown, Marc Anthony and Asa Jackson adapt to the game speed of the NFL.

“The main thing is that I try to teach them everything I know,” said Huff. “I’m still learning too so we’re just sharing knowledge.”

Even though the Ravens won’t have the big names such as Reed or Pollard in their secondary, the addition of Huff should improve the unit as a whole this season. The Ravens are younger, faster, and hopefully less injury-prone than they were a year ago.

That’s all they could possibly ask for.

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About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

15 Raves on “Michael Huff Reveling in Baltimore’s Winning Culture

  1. g money on said:

    I love it. A guy like Huff has to be ecstatic to be in a place like Baltimore after losing for his entire pro career. Our defense is going to be lights out this year!

  2. Rxdoxx on said:

    [quote]After being drafted seventh overall in the 2006 draft, Huff has never experienced a winning season in the National Football League, with a career 36-76 record.[/quote]

    Nice number stat, reading that reminded me of someone else similar.
    Cory Redding drafted 66th in 2003 by the Lions, went to Seattle for a year in 2009, then came here.
    His record when he came here was 31-81 through his first 7 years, 5 games worse than Huff.
    And he played great for us, falling in love with the winning atmosphere….. sounds like we have next man up in the loser to winner line.

  3. pvrcbabe on said:

    The reason we always seem to get good free agent players, is because of our winning tradition, excellent facilities and an owner who knows how to treat his players. Everything with the Ravens is first class and I am sure that word gets around! Who wouldn’t want to play here?

  4. Mark on said:

    Huff sucks and I’m glad he’s gone! You Raven fans will see just how much of a liability he is in run and pass defense. He never lived up to being drafted that high and should have be cut long ago!

    • Sdot on said:

      Mark u sound very jealous …I don’t think ANY1 could be very successful on that horrible squad you call a team in Oakland. Huff is and has always been a stud and it is evident by the fact that u traveled ALL the way on our site to offer “shade”. The guy played corner and safety on a Terrible defense and still was solid. I can’t wait to see what he does on a real defense.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        People said the same about Cory Redding when he arrived. San Francisco back in a day said the same about Rod Woodson when he signed as a UFA. Corey Graham was supposed to be just a special teams ace. Cary Williams was picked off the Texans practice squad. The point is sometimes when you find the right fit and then surrounded by better talent and a winning culture, players can play better and that has usually been the case for the Ravens.

        • Jones Jacoby on said:

          people are also saying the same thing about Marcus Spears he sucks and all he is just a run stopper and has no pass rush skills well i tell you who he sack last year Big ben lol.

    • Brandon on said:

      So…every player the Raiders have drafted in the past 10 years is a bust…? Or maybe your organization is just a black hole. See what I did there? ;)

  5. Raider on said:

    There are some valid concerns about Huff. He takes bad angles and misses too many tackles. He also has a habit of allowing the deep man to get past him in pass coverage. I liked him best as a nickel. He can shut down any TE man to man. Just ask Antonio Gates. He’s a solid player and stays healthy, but he’s a big step down from Ed Reed. Still, I wish him the best.

    • Sdot on said:

      Those r all things that can be coached. The ravens have a world class training and Coaching staff that not many teams can contend with. He will surprise many people. Would be nice for Oakland fans to a knowledge this after they see how much of an impact he will have.

  6. Brian Tray on said:

    The three most important signings Ozzie made were Huff @ safety, Smith @ MLB, and Canty @ DL. These were glaring holes that he filled with proven veterans. He also drafted three potential starters at these positions….Elam, Brown and Williams. I think Upshaw and Suggs will be our OLBs and Dumervil will be brought in to rush the passer, much like Kruger was last year. Dumervil is not great against the run.
    Ozzie used Boldin’s money to upgrade the defense and IMO was an excellent decision. We now have a strong, deep and potentially dominant defense instead of a very good but aging possession receiver.
    Watching our defense get run over last year was sickening even though things worked out in the end. This year will be far different and I believe a more successful season (if that’s possible!!!!)

    • LOL on said:

      Dumervil may not be as stout vs. the run as some guys (just look at the guy, it pretty much goes without saying he ain’t no run-stuffer) but that’s why a guy like Upshaw is so important. Suggs will stay in for virtually all snaps I assume (occasionally being spelled by Simon perhaps?) but on the other side I see a pretty even split for snaps between Doom and Upshaw. Upshaw on first and on second-and-short, Doom on third, second-and-long, basically all passing situations and any packages that call for a strong side pass rush presence. When you have the personnel to rotate, why wouldn’t you want to keep everyone’s legs fresh? I think ILB will be similar. I’m thinking Bynes and Smith will be the starters, McClellan will get lots of rotational snaps, and Brown (whose speed in camp is already creating buzz) may even be able to sub into slot coverage against 12-personnel and 3-wide sets, rather than going into nickel, which already has my mind racing at the zone blitzing and stunt possibilities it may open up….

  7. Tony on said:

    Goob, I love that you got a great job now and I love reading your articles along with the great staff here, but damn it! I want regular GOOBVISION!!!!

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