Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale hasn't hesitated in singing in his opponents' praises before a matchup this season, but it reached another level Thursday when talking about the Kansas City Chiefs.
Martindale isn’t getting a break this weekend, making a road trip to face the explosive Chiefs (10-2). Baltimore is coming off a superb defensive performance Sunday in Atlanta, but the Chiefs lead the NFL in scoring (37 points) and quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads in touchdown passes (41).
Asked about the challenge, Martindale went on a roll. It started with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who leads all tight ends in receiving yards (1,082).
“I don’t think that you stop him,” Martindale said. “I think you just try to eliminate the big plays – not eliminate but limit the big plays that he makes because he’s playing at such a high level right now. I think you have to keep things changing.”
Then Martindale talked about the speed of Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who has 66 receptions for 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Tyreek Hill is the fastest human being I’ve ever seen wear a helmet,” Martindale said.
Of course, Martindale didn’t leave out Mahomes, who the coach compared to Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.
“I’m talking about the San Francisco [49ers] Montana, not the Kansas City Montana,” Martindale said.
Earlier this year, Martindale compared Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield to Brett Favre and John Elway. Mayfield threw for 342 yards, his second-highest total of the season, one touchdown and one interception, though the Browns scored just 12 points in an overtime win.
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid is the mastermind behind the Chiefs’ attack, known for his innovative play-calling and ability to maximize his offensive talent. Martindale compared the symmetry between Reid and Mahomes to the one shared by Montana and Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, who won three Super Bowls together with the 49ers.
“I think how everything is cyclical and history repeats itself,” Martindale said. “I think you’re seeing that combination between Andy and Mahomes of Montana and Bill Walsh. I mean, I really do.”
That doesn’t mean the Ravens will concede anything to the Chiefs. Baltimore has the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense and is eager to face this challenge. The Ravens believe they have the defensive personnel to matchup with any team. However, Martindale said it will be key for Baltimore to disguise its coverages, because Mahomes is lethal when he knows what to expect before the ball is snapped.
“I think you just have to keep revolving your coverages around it and how you play it, and just try to give them different looks all the time,” Martindale said. “If they know what you’re in, they will slaughter you. I mean, I wish I could come up with a better analogy of it, but they will slaughter you.”
Terrell Suggs Climbing List of All-Time Sack Leaders, Has Martindale’s Vote for Pro Bowl
With 132 career sacks, Terrell Suggs needs one more to pass Lawrence Taylor (132 ½) and Leslie O’Neal (132 ½), which would move Suggs into 13th place on the all-time list. Taylor is a Hall of Fame and Suggs already has more sacks than Hall of Famers like Rickey Jackson (128) and Derrick Thomas (126 ½).
As Suggs makes his case for the Hall of Fame at age 36, Martindale marvels at the season Suggs has put together with 6 ½ sacks, while still playing sound run defense.
“My son called me on the way home after we landed, coming back from Atlanta,” Martindale said. “He goes, ‘Dad, you know the next sack “Sizz” has, he’s passing Lawrence Taylor?’ I won’t tell you what I told my son because I’m going to keep it clean up here, but I said, ‘Wow!’ You don’t think about that because we see ‘Sizz’ all the time, every day. I think he’s having a tremendous year. I think he’s having a Pro Bowl year. It’s not only that he had a sack in that (Atlanta) game, and where he’s at on the sacks list. Let’s see how he plays the run. He had two tackles for loss in that game as well and setting the edge and the leadership he provides.”
Sam Koch’s Throwing Ability Gives Ravens Effective Weapon on Fake Punts
Ravens punter Sam Koch is 5-for-5 for 69 yards, completing passes on fake punts during his 13-year career. His latest success came Sunday in Atlanta, when Koch threw a strike to Chris Moore for a 21-yard gain on fourth-and-7. This was no ordinary completion, with Koch lofting a soft high toss to Moore, who made a leaping catch despite being well covered.
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg does not take Koch’s throwing ability for granted.
“Sam Koch threw a ball 20, 30 yards down the field – 30 I think it was – to a wide receiver that’s lined up outside the numbers playing gunner on a punt team,” Rosburg said. “That’s an example of the skill level of these players. Sam can throw the ball. There’s a lot of great quarterbacks in this league, but I’m not sure a ball could be thrown over the middle any better than that by a guy from depth like that. It was an incredible play by two incredible athletes. It wasn’t like they were giving it to us. Those two guys went out and made a play.”
Koch’s skill as a passer is something to keep in mind as the Ravens move forward. They have players adept at executing fake kicks, and Head Coach John Harbaugh is not afraid to call them.
“You can draw up a lot of different fakes, but if you don’t have guys to execute them it doesn’t make any difference,” Rosburg said. “Those guys did a great job, and Coach Harbaugh as well, calling it at exactly the right time. All those things kind of came together.”
Chuck Clark Gets Positive Review After First Career Start at Safety
With four tackles and solid pass coverage, second-year safety Chuck Clark earned praise from the coaching staff in his first start at safety.
Clark may be called upon to start again Sunday in Kansas City, with Tony Jefferson (ankle) still not on the practice field as of Thursday. Martindale was particularly impressed with an open-field tackle Clark made against Falcons running back Ito Smith.
"I mean, he stapled that kid to the ground,” Martindale said. “I haven’t seen an open field tackle like that all year. I was really happy for Chuck and expanding his roll and what he did on Sunday.”