Ravens OLB Justin Houston proving he still has plenty left in the tank

Ravens, Justin Houston Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Justin Houston Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Baltimore Ravens re-signed Justin Houston this past July, the belief was that the 33-year-old outside linebacker would be little more than a reliable veteran presence in the Ravens’ pass-rush rotation.

After all, that’s what he was last season. Houston joined the Ravens on a one-year deal in 2021 and he went on to finish with 4.5 sacks in 15 games. It was a fine season for Houston who appeared to be well past his prime.

But in 2022, Houston has proved that he still has plenty left in the tank. He’s been the Ravens’ best pass rusher and his sack numbers are comparable with some of the best in football.

In just five games this season, Houston has already recorded six sacks. He’s just four sacks away from becoming the Ravens’ first double-digit sacker since Terrell Suggs in 2017.

And he’s doing so at an unbelievably-high efficiency rate.

Justin Houston has been a revelation for the Ravens in 2022

Houston is averaging a sack every 20.5 pass-rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus. For comparison’s sake, Micah Parsons has a 26.3 rate. Nick Bosa has a sack once every 24.3 rushes. Old friend Matthew Judon, who has 8.5 sacks, has a 22.2 rate.

Houston has been one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL this season. His six sacks are tied for fourth among all edge rushers despite the fact that he’s only played five games.

At age 33, Houston is on pace to finish with the most sacks since his unbelievable 22-sack season back in 2014. Even if he slows down, he seems destined to become a double-digit sack guy by the end of the year.

Odafe Oweh is proving to be a valuable chess piece who actually leads the team in pressures. Jason Pierre-Paul has assumed the role that many believed Houston would as a reliable veteran contributor. But Houston is leading the pack.

Once Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo return from injury in the near future, the Ravens might just have the deepest and most talented pass-rush corps they’ve had in a long time.

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And they’re all being led by a 33-year-old “has-been” who is playing some of the best football of his 12-year NFL career.