Ravens OLB Justin Houston’s age 33 breakout is not an anomaly

Ravens, Justin Houston (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Ravens, Justin Houston (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Justin Houston was lauded as a future NFL Hall of Famer by his quarterback, Lamar Jackson, after a huge 27-13 win on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints.

Houston has found sustained success between three teams with 110.5 career sacks. He’s established himself as a high-level veteran between the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, and now the Baltimore Ravens.

His experience, demeanor, and leadership are huge reasons why the Ravens brought him in last offseason. Houston’s return was not guaranteed this season as he has stated that he considered retirement in the offseason.

But a retiree Houston is not. A college standout at the University of Georgia, accumulating 20 sacks, Houston looks just as he did back then. In six games this season, Houston already has 8.5 sacks.

That is already his best season since 2019 with the Colts. Entering this year, Houston has averaged 9.27 sacks per season. This season, he is almost there by the bye week. A season like this is almost unlike anything we have seen before. Except for Houston, it is.

In 2014, Houston had his best season where he amassed 22 sacks. This is the season that was the turning point in the veteran’s career. Eight years later, he has his best chance of approaching this number.

Entering the bye week, what makes it even more impressive is that backup has just arrived.

Why Justin Houston’s best games might still be ahead of him

For the Ravens, Week 9 saw the return of Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo. Bowser, suited up and played 67% of defensive snaps and showcased his versatile skillset. Ojabo, on the other hand, is set to return after the bye despite his lingering injury.

The return of these players, plus head coach John Harbaugh’s confidence in a swift recovery for Jason Pierre-Paul’s in-game ankle injury, is huge for the Ravens.

Houston is chief among the veterans on this roster. the Ravens are going to be able to rotate two or more of their edge rushers at all times. Keeping fresh bodies on the field will help the longevity of the production through the postseason, proving this team is built to last.

For Houston, in particular, this is vital. His thoughts of retirement show that the wear and tear of a storied career like his are taking a toll on his body.

To be able to give him the most productive reps and give him the necessary rest to recover, he can become just as productive, if not more so than ever before.

Exiting the bye, the Ravens have a number of favorable matchups. These matchups can help pad Houston’s stats and provide momentum for the defensive unit.

With the addition of Roquan Smith, the tackling at the second level should be better. He will also add pass coverage ability that the Ravens have not had. Entering last week, the Ravens were allowing some of the most receptions to opposing running backs.

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best in the league, was held to just three catches. This is something that should show the fanbase that the best is yet to come. As the defense builds this chemistry, they will also establish dominance.

Next. The Ravens need Odell Beckham Jr. now more than ever. dark

Justin Houston will be able to take full advantage of this, coming onto the field on passing downs to wreak havoc on teams as they are frustrated not getting their offense started — the perfect balance, one created for players like Justin Houston, to thrive.