Matthew Judon's Fun-Loving, Intense Style Is Reminiscent of Terrell Suggs


Matthew Judon is like a kid playing football, even down to the braces.

Except he's a really big, physical, imposing kid.

The second-year outside linebacker is emerging on the Ravens' star-studded defense, and was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week after his two-sack, one-forced fumble performance Sunday in a shutout win in Green Bay.

There's a lot of praise for Judon these days, but perhaps the greatest compliment comes from the outside linebacker lining up on the opposite side.

Suggs was asked if Judon reminds him of himself. He smiled.

"I guess you will have to go back and look at some tape," he said. "That similarity is definitely there – we both like to have fun playing football.

"Ozzie [Newsome] was very good at drafting him, but don't tell [Judon] I gave him his props, though."

So maybe Suggs isn't about to concede that Judon has reached his level in terms of on-field play (Suggs had 22.5 sacks in his first two years), but Judon is trending in that direction.

Judon has fun when he plays football. It's plain to see, from his wide variety of dances that he pulls out after every sack, to the way he tickled a Tennessee Titans running back at the bottom of a pile.

Away from the field, he's just as loud and confident.

He's so brash that even Judon admits that he rubbed some veterans the wrong way when he first arrived last year as a fifth-round pick. A lot of veterans advise rookies to keep their mouths shut and listen. That's not so easy for Judon.

"I have always been like this," Judon said.

"I feel like when I first came in to the Ravens organization, I was loud, and I was new and I was edgy and people were like, 'We kind of don't like that', because I am supposed to be a rookie. Now that a lot more people in the locker room understand me and they understand where I'm coming from, it is all out of fun and it is all out of love."

Judon has another chance to show his personality on a national stage on Monday Night Football versus the Houston Texans. He remembers trying to stay up to watch it as a young boy, but his mother hid all the remote controllers so he had to go to bed.

"I just always wanted to be a part of the NFL," Judon said. "I thought that would be the coolest thing ever that you can do. Doctors and lawyers, they have a great job, but they're not on TV. You don't see too many triple bypasses on TV."

Despite Judon's love of the game, he landed at Division II Grand Valley State. Despite leading the nation with 20 sacks as a senior, he lasted until the fifth round of the NFL Draft, where the Ravens plucked him with the 146th overall selection.

Now, in his second season overall and first year as a starter, Judon stands among some elite names. Judon is one of just four NFL defenders with at least 35 tackles, five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this season.

He's joined by the Texans' Jadeveon Clowney, L.A. Chargers' Melvin Ingram and Dallas Cowboys' Demarcus Lawrence. Clowney was the first-overall pick in 2014, Ingram was a first-rounder in 2012 and Lawrence was a second-round pick in 2014.

The case can be made that nobody with less experience has been as good of an all-around playmaking linebacker in the league this year.

"He is a very smart player and for a 270-pound-plus guy, he is a really good athlete," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He is kind of living up to our expectations right now."

Judon flashed last year with four sacks in limited defensive snaps. He dropped weight this year to become even faster, while still needing to keep his strength to set the edge as a SAM linebacker. He's been able to do both the dirty work and still make plays.

"Whatever is asked of me to do on the field, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability," Judon said. "It doesn't matter whether I'm supposed to get sacks or not get sacks, that's what I do is get sacks. I'm going to find some way to get sacks, but also do my job."

Judon always has that chip on his shoulder. He said he was excited about being named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week, but he's not surprised and doesn't think anyone else should be.

"I felt like I believed in myself, and then I came in here and showed it, and then everybody started to believe in me, as well. Now, I'm just reaping the benefits," Judon said.

Judon then challenged a reporter, who asked if he always knew he had this potential.

"Do you think you could be a good reporter? Did you?" he said. "This is what I do. I love playing football; I love being here playing football. It doesn't matter if it's cold, raining, sleet, hot – I'm going to go out there and play. Everybody keeps asking me, 'Do I think I can?' Yes. I believe in myself. I don't think y'all believe in me, but I believe in myself."

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