Marlon Humphrey has a new swagger.
With that confidence comes higher expectations.
None bigger than the ones he sets for himself.
“Anything that ends with a ‘Bowl,’ whether that’s Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, any of those things are always big goals,” he said about his goals this season. “Just making big plays; big plays lead to Pro Bowls, Pro Bowl players lead to playoff teams and then playoff teams can have a chance to win the Super Bowl.
“So, whatever way you can help your team win. I think the best way to help your team win is to try to play your best ball that you can play.”
Humphrey, who changed his number from 29 to 44 this offseason, is emerging as one of the top playmakers in the league. Last season, he had “Highest Cornerback ‘Clutch’ Grade” by Pro Football Focus, meaning he was the toughest player at his position to complete a pass against.
Humphrey is also a key player in a Ravens secondary that should be among the best in the NFL. He will start opposite Jimmy Smith or Brandon Carr with Tavon Young in the slot. Tony Jefferson and Earl Thomas will start at safety.
Even with those veterans in the mix, Humphrey plans to take a bigger leadership role. The Ravens need to find someone that has a strong voice, especially after the loss of Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and C.J. Mosley this offseason.
“We’ve definitely lost a lot of key guys, and guys that kind of led the team last year,” he said. “There are a lot of stories you’ve seen about new faces on the Ravens, but you guys see a lot of new faces, and I see a lot of new opportunities. A lot of guys, especially in my draft class and the class last year, are stepping into bigger roles – including myself – so, I look forward to that as an opportunity and for new guys to make plays and make names for themselves, to become those household names that guys like C.J. Mosley and [Eric] Weddle [are] and those guys who have left.
“So, a lot of opportunity, and I’m just excited to see guys emerge into these new players and new leaders.”
The Ravens are going to need the secondary to come up big with a schedule that includes games against the Patriots, Chiefs, Texans and Rams.
Defensive coordinator Don Martindale is going to need an effective pass rush to help support the secondary. That will be a work in progress throughout the offseason. The Ravens lost several key defenders, most notably linebackers Mosley, Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, each of whom were able to land massive contracts in the free-agent market.
The addition of Louisiana Tech pass rusher Jaylon Ferguson via the 2019 NFL Draft could be a boost. The Ravens also signed former player Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray, hoping they can have bounce-back seasons and get to the quarterback.
The team will be challenged to hold the No. 1 ranking in defense again this season. Humphrey is not ruling out that scenario.
“It’s definitely a goal, and the thing I love about the NFL is every year is different,” he said. “There are a lot of good players that played well last year, but every year is a whole new year. Nothing ever really gets carried over. So, we finished No. 1 last year and that felt really good to get that and end up being a playoff team, but ‘Wink’ has already started saying, ‘No team is the same. Every team is different. Different guys make different plays. Different scenarios happen in games.’
“So, that’s always the goal to be the No. 1 defense, and we were able to do it last year. With some new faces, we’ll be able to work and try to be able to do it again.”
Maybe Humphrey’s confidence can be contagious.