Why did Eric Weddle fit in so much better than Earl Thomas has with the Baltimore Ravens:
Two veteran safeties have signed with the Baltimore Ravens late in their careers. They were both highly successful with a long run with another NFL franchise before they got to Baltimore. They both had less than pleasant exits from those previous employers. One will go down as one of the most popular players in Ravens history and the other is finding his situation very different.
I’m of course talking about Eric Weddle and Earl Thomas. Eric Weddle had three seasons with the Ravens and fit right in. He was almost like a coach on the field and he was as popular with his teammates as he was with the fans. Weddle was a huge part of the fabric that made up the team. He was a leader and it felt like Baltimore was where he should have been his whole career.
Earl Thomas spent the past day sent away from Ravens training camp, according to reports. After one season with the Ravens, one that netted him a trip to the NFL Pro Bowl, Thomas is in a precarious situation. His future with the Ravens is really up in the air. It’s interesting to say the least. While Weddle embraced the Ravens as much as the Ravens embraced him, Thomas (at least at the moment) seems like a stick in the mud.
Weddle was a team first player who connected with his teammates. He knew the defense as well as Don Martindale did and he made sure the players around him were in the right spot. Weddle made everybody around him better. He was outwardly passionate in a way that connected with this franchise, a franchise that fell in love with that style of leadership in the Ray Lewis days. John Harbaugh is a player’s coach. Weddle was allowed to really put his stamp on the team because it jived well with Harbaugh’s vision.
Weddle came into Baltimore with a wealth of experience, yet he was all about what the Ravens were doing. He wanted to become a master of Martindale’s defense. He took his experience and used it to help him in a new defense. Thomas had nine years with the Seahawks and found difficulty in the transition. Thomas likes to do things his way and is using his experience to justify that. From the outside the picture is easily painted as Thomas being difficult .
The Bottom Line:
Both players came into a new situation with the Ravens at a very similar juncture in their respective careers. Thomas actually fits well from a football perspective. He’s a last line of defense safety who takes care of things down the field. The reason he is having difficulty right now is because he isn’t a chemistry fit. The Ravens can and should make it work. The key here is that it’s going to take some work.
Chemistry is nothing to scoff at. There’s more than a single reason that the 2000 Ravens is the greatest defense of all-time. Not only were they one of the most talented defensive units in NFL history, but they worked together really well. The 2012 Ravens won it all because everything came together at the right time.
Chemistry matters and the Ravens and Earl Thomas aren’t gelling together the way they hoped they would. Weddle was a natural fit for the team, not just the right player. Thomas is the right player, but not an automatic fit.