Ravens: Josh Bynes is salvaging the LB position once again

Josh Bynes, Ravens (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Josh Bynes, Ravens (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

Josh Bynes is back on the Baltimore Ravens and in many ways, it feels like he never left.

Originally undrafted in 2011, Bynes was selected to Baltimore’s roster and stayed with the team for three seasons. He spent the next several years playing for different teams before making his way back in 2019.

Now back again in 2021, the Ravens couldn’t be happier to have him home.

More spiteful teams might say “the prodigal son has returned,” but Bynes’ relationship with Baltimore has been always been cordial.

In his early years in the NFL, he studied Ravens’ great Ray Lewis at middle linebacker. And last week, Bynes even spoke with John Harbaugh about becoming a coach someday.

Even at 32-years-old, his playing career is still far from finished.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bynes was the Ravens’ second-highest graded defensive player against the Chargers in Week 6.

Bynes then earned the highest grade of all Ravens players in Week 7 (83.2), narrowly beating Justin Houston and second-year linebacker Patrick Queen, who also had good games.

Queen, in particular, has flailed in the interior with several missed tackles early this season. After taking over the strong-side LB role, Bynes has added a much-needed veteran presence alongside Queen and helped Queen grow into the linebacker position.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale speaks about Bynes as if he were some kind of Zen master in the defense, but the truth is Bynes’ return has done wonders for the Ravens’ interior linebacker unit.

Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes has rescued defense from near catastrophe

In Week 5, Baltimore gave up a season-high 513 yards against the Indianapolis Colts in a game where Queen and Harrison struggled with both run and pass coverage.

When the Ravens stuck Bynes instead of Harrison in the lineup against the Chargers, Baltimore held them to just 26 rushing yards. Doesn’t take a mathematician to add that up.

Baltimore should be patting themselves on the back right now for picking up Bynes when they had the chance. Earlier this year, Bynes was released by the Carolina Panthers during final roster cuts, and the Ravens signed him to the practice squad for inside linebacker depth.

Fast forward a few months and Bynes has made his way up from the practice squad to not just playing in the starting lineup but leading the team in defensive snaps.

In Week 6, Bynes played in 77 percent of defensive snaps (43), and in Week 7, he played in 73 percent of defensive snaps (46). In four games, Bynes has 16 tackles and one pass defended, but his impact reaches far beyond the stat sheet.

Bynes is making Queen a better player, who clearly needs the guidance despite being a potential breakout candidate this year.

Queen and Harrison both currently rotate in the weak-side linebacker role in tandem with Bynes, who takes significant pressure off the two second-year players to carry the team.

The linebacker combination of Queen/Harrison and Bynes has found success in recent games (not so much against the Bengals, but Baltimore lost that game for a host of other reasons), and as long as Bynes remains the fulcrum of this young interior unit, the Ravens defense just might be okay.

Next. 3 positive takeaways from Baltimore’s disappointing Week 7 loss. dark

Harbaugh can continue to count on Josh Bynes in a crisis, and that’s probably the most important thing Bynes adds to the team in 2021. Fear of Baltimore’s inside linebackers disappointing this season, begone.