Matthew Judon Is Proving He's an All-Around Linebacker


The question about second-year Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon this offseason was whether he could transition from "see quarterback, get quarterback" to an all-around player.

Judon had four sacks as a rookie, but saw a heavy majority of his snaps in pass-rush situations. Now, as the Ravens' starter opposite Terrell Suggs, Judon is being asked to do a lot more.

Last Sunday in Oakland, Judon put his growth on full display, and received glowing remarks from Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees Thursday.

"Matt Judon had a great game in all areas on Sunday," Pees said. "He just really had an outstanding game. He had an outstanding game in the run game; he had an outstanding game in the pass game."

Judon was credited with four tackles, including one for loss, and one pass deflection.

The pass breakup may have been the most impressive play. The Raiders tried to expose Judon with a wheel route in the red zone and he kept tight coverage. On the first play of the second half, Judon broke up a short bubble screen to set the tone.

After Sunday's win, Judon interrupted an interview with wide receiver Mike Wallace to say that he, the linebacker, has the best feet on the team. He claims to cover Wallace on any route in practice.

The wheel route coverage certainly surprised reporters, but not Judon.

"I never did it in a game in college, but I did it in practice a lot of times," Judon said. "It's just something you all have never seen before."

Judon was asked if he could explain his great growth from Year 1 to Year 2.

"I think it's because I'm not a rookie anymore that you all feel that way," he told reporters. "But I feel like I've been playing at a high level for a minute now and I'm just getting on the field more."

The Grand Valley State product saw 33.4 percent of the defensive snaps as a fifth-round rookie. That's basically one-third of the action. This year, he's seeing about two-thirds of the snaps (67.1 percent).

According to Pro Football Focus, Judon is asked to rush the passer 48 percent of the time, defend the run 39 percent of the time and cover 12 percent of the time. Last year, it was 60 percent pass rush, 37 percent run and three percent pass coverage.

One thing that hasn't come yet is a sack, which is where Judon made his biggest mark last year.

Pees compared Judon's situation to that of former Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who had six sacks as a rookie in 2011, then just 3.5 combined the next two years. McPhee was often asked to set up sacks for his teammates.

In 2014, McPhee broke out with 7.5 sacks and signed a big contract with the Bears the following offseason. The Ravens will have to deal with McPhee this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

"It'll come," Pees said of Judon's sack production. "There are times I ask him to do some things that maybe you guys might not necessarily see."

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