Baltimore Ravens fans love Patrick Queen for his tackling, tenacity, and now, his optimism.
When asked about the Ravens’ defensive gaps, Queen didn’t bat an eye and barreled forward in his interview with confidence and aplomb.s
"“We’ve got those new guys up front in the draft. So there’s a lot of stuff to look out for. And we just want to be that same defense we were, a top-five defense. All the pieces that we’ve got, all the coaching that we’ve got added to the team — it’s going to be a big season. And I can’t wait.”"
The Ravens lost Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in the offseason which delivered a huge blow to their roster. So just how realistic is Queen’s hopes of the Ravens becoming a top-five defense in the league this year?
Well, Queen himself will have to pick up where he left off. In 2020, Queen started in all 16 games of his rookie season and accumulated 106 total tackles, 10 quarterback hits, three sacks, and one interception.
As a rookie (a rookie!), he’s already got a hefty highlight reel and even one touchdown, but his professional start wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
He allowed 75 percent of passes thrown his way to be completed and surrendered three touchdowns in coverage, which isn’t exactly “top-five” defensive material.
Patrick Queen has complete faith in the Baltimore Ravens defense in 2021.
As for his teammates, Marlon Humphrey will continue covering the Ravens’ rumps and eagle-eyed ballhawk Marcus Peters will keep opponents on their toes. But Judon and Ngakoue’s positions still remain unfilled with unproven defensive options.
Tyus Bowser has a bullseye on his back as the edge rusher anchor expected (and needed) to make the biggest impact this season. In the last four seasons, Bowser has recorded just 10.5 sacks, which may not have completely warranted the $22 million dollar contract he signed last March.
In 2021, he’ll have to work harder to earn his keep and definitely take down more opposing quarterbacks if Baltimore wants to remain a top-five defense.
Behind Bowser, more established players like Pernell McPhee will also need to step up, but so will the rookies as well. The “new guys” Queen references in his interview are first-round pick Odafe Oweh and fifth-round pick Daelin Hayes, who flashed scintillating promise on their respective college teams.
But this is the pro league, and pass rusher has one of the steepest learning curves of any position. Add to the mix the Ravens’ complicated blitz-heavy defense, courtesy of defensive maestro Don Martindale, and the newbies may have too much on their plate in their first year.
Last season, the Ravens allowed the NFL’s second-fewest points (18.9) and seventh-fewest yards (329.8) per game, and they also owned the second-ranked third-down defense.
No matter what linebacker or edge rushers you have on your team, those numbers are going to be difficult to replicate. With fledgling youth replacing accomplished talent on the Ravens defensive line, Queen’s top-five defense projection seems more idealistic than realistic.
A little hope never killed anybody, though.
Check out Patrick Queen’s full interview, especially if you want to see Queen break out into an awkward smile.