Aug 23, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens free safety Terrence Brooks (33) carries the ball as Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed (86) defends in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
We probably don’t need to tell you that the Raven’s starting safety duo of Darian Stewart and Matt Elam has been the Achilles heel of the team’s defense through five weeks of the season. Elam has failed to take advantage of the big opportunity gifted to him in his sophomore season, and Stewart has been almost as bad. Meanwhile, third round rookie Terrence Brooks is slowly seeing his snaps increase.
Opposing quarterbacks love to throw in Matt Elam and Darian Stewart’s direction, and for good reason.
But what are the Ravens waiting for? The time to make a change is now, and arguably, should have happened a week or two ago. The Ravens are currently ranked 25th out of 32 teams in pass defense. They are 4th in run defense. Certainly, the dire situation at cornerback is partly to blame, but the safeties have been downright awful in coverage as well. Elam is 77th out of 78 qualifying safeties in Pro Football Focus’ rankings, and Stewart is 46th.
Opposing quarterbacks love to throw in Matt Elam and Darian Stewart’s direction, and for good reason. When targeting Elam, they have posted a 118.8 rating. Against Stewart, quarterbacks have enjoyed a 137.5 rating. The only saving grace is Stewart’s decent play against the run. He has received a positive grade for his run coverage and has 23 tackles and 5 defensive stops on the season.
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Meanwhile, Terrence Brooks has seen his snaps increase each week. After playing zero snaps in weeks one through three, he logged 34 in week three and 47 in week four. Brooks has a positive overall grade for his work so far (better than both Elam and Stewart) while recording a quarterback hit and five tackles. Opposing quarterbacks have targeted him only three times, connecting once for 18 yards. That’s good for a 54.9 rating.
It’s a small sample size, for sure. And Brooks is a young guy who is bound to make a few mistakes. But it’s highly unlikely he can be worse than Elam or Stewart have been. When you have two of the worst starting safeties in the entire NFL, what do you have to lose by making a change?