Matt Elam and Darian Stewart Form Worst Safety Duo in NFL
By Brett Foote
Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) tries to break free from Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb (21) and strong safety Matt Elam (26) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Ravens won 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
The Raven’s starting safety duo of Matt Elam and Darian Stewart have been sorely lacking in coverage through five games this season. That much is obvious. But just how bad have they been, and can the duo really be the worst in the entire NFL? Looking at the numbers, it’s entirely reasonable to say that.
In terms of coverage, Pro Football Focus ranks Elam 50th and Stewart 46th among 59 qualifiers (played at least 50% of their team’s defensive snaps). Elam has played on 167 snaps in coverage and has been targeted 16 times, giving up 13 receptions for 240 yards. 90 of those yards came after contact.
It’s no surprise that the Ravens were willing to take a chance on Will Hill, and don’t be surprised if they push him into the fold once his suspension is up after next week.
Stewart has played on 178 snaps in coverage and has been targeted 16 times, giving up 12 receptions for 216 yards, 65 of which came after contact. No other team in the NFL has two safeties that rank as low as Elam and Stewart in coverage. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars duo of Josh Evans and Winston Guy rank higher (43rd and 48th, respectively).
So how about run defense? In run stop percentage, Darian Stewart ranks 9th among 57 qualifying safeties, while Elam is 45th. Stewart has played 115 snaps on running plays, making ten tackles and recording four stops. Elam has played on 111 snaps on running plays, recording six tackles and two stops.
In overall rankings, Matt Elam comes in at 75 among 78 qualifying safeties, while Stewart is 24th. Going simply by these rankings, the Jaguars easily have the worst safety duo in the NFL, as Evans and Guy rank 71st and 77th respectively. But those two play on one of the worst teams in the NFL that has no help up front to push the pile or put pressure on the quarterback. The Ravens have a very, very good front seven.
One last stat we’ll look at is QB rating allowed. When Matt Elam is targeted, he has gifted opposing quarterbacks with a 118.8 rating, which is good for 65th out of 78 qualifiers. Stewart is even worse, giving up a whopping 137.5 rating, which puts him at number 69. No safety duo ranks below them in this regard.
More from Ravens News
- Ravens’ Super Bowl odds stagnant amidst Lamar Jackson trade rumors
- 5 Georgia Bulldogs the Ravens might draft to follow Todd Monken
- Get ready, Baltimore, you’re going to love Todd Monken
- Ravens news: Bengals fall to Chiefs in AFC thriller, a new OC in the mix, and more
- Ravens news: Anthony Richardson buzz grows louder, an unsung hero, and more
It’s no surprise that the Ravens were willing to take a chance on Will Hill, and don’t be surprised if they push him into the fold once his suspension is up after next week. The team also spent a 3rd round draft pick on Terrence Brooks, who failed to beat out Stewart for the starting job prior to week one.
Will Hill was PFF’s number 3 safety in 2013 and is an obvious talent upgrade for the Raven’s woeful safety unit. Brooks has seen his snaps increase each week and has actually received a better grade than both both Stewart and Elam. It’s quite possible we are going to see a changing of the guard soon, as we should.
Brooks played 0 snaps in weeks 1-3, 34 in week four, and 47 in week five. He has been targeted three times, giving up one reception for 18 yards. Brooks has added five tackles and opposing quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Cam Newton could only manage a combined 54.9 rating when throwing his way.
It goes without saying that the Ravens need to make changes, and quickly. While Darian Stewart can continue to rotate in on obvious running downs, where he has played well, Matt Elam needs to be riding the pine until the team figures out how to help him achieve the promise he once held.