OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP)In six games with the Baltimore Ravens, Jadeveon Clowney has already surpassed his sack total for all of last season – and defeated three of his former teams.
Not bad for a guy who came on board in mid-August.
“Me coming here, being a part of this group, man, they’re just bringing the best out of me,” the 2014 No. 1 overall draft pick said. “The work comes easy when you’re enjoying it.”
The Ravens have been a sack-happy bunch this season, tying for the NFL lead in that category going into Week 7, and Clowney is one of the reasons why.
The 30-year-old pass rusher had a pair of sacks in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s win over Tennessee. He now has 3 1/2 on the season after managing only two in 2022 with Cleveland.
Baltimore enters this weekend’s game against Detroit ranked No. 2 in the NFL against the pass. That’s after finishing 26th last season and last in 2021. The Ravens have improved in that area despite injuries to cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams.
One caveat is that Baltimore hasn’t been facing elite quarterbacks – aside from Joe Burrow, who has had his own injury concerns. But the Ravens can be awfully encouraged by a pass rush that was a bit of a question mark before the season.
When Baltimore signed Clowney shortly before the season, it seemed as if it was almost an insurance policy – a veteran who might be able to provide some help if younger pass-rushing options such as Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo didn’t pan out. Since then, Ojabo (ankle, knee) has gone on injured reserve and Oweh (ankle) hasn’t played since Week 2. Ojabo has one sack and Oweh has none.
And yet, the Ravens as a team have 24, by 11 different players. Justin Madubuike (4 1/2) and Patrick Queen (3 1/2) are among the team leaders along with Clowney. Safety Kyle Hamilton had three in one half against Indianapolis in Week 3.
Clowney said joining the Ravens has been rejuvenating.
“I told them today, ‘This is the best D-tackle group I’ve played with,’ and it makes my life a lot easier when you’ve got three guys that can go in there and just push the pocket and knock everybody back and shut the run down,” he said Wednesday. “It makes our lives easier on the edge.”
Clowney also says Baltimore’s Mike Macdonald might be the smartest defensive coordinator he’s had.
“He puts everybody in position to make plays,” Clowney said. “The stuff he draws, I’ll be like, ‘Mike, keep dialing it up. Keep dialing it up.’ I enjoy playing for him. Like I said, he makes sure he puts the game plan together, we try to go out there and execute.”
Clowney spent his first five seasons with the Houston Texans after they drafted him in 2014. Then he was with Seattle and Tennessee for a year each before two in Cleveland. The Ravens already have wins over the Texans, Titans and Browns, and Clowney can try for a sweep of his former teams when Baltimore takes on the Seahawks next month.
What’s important now, however, is how well he’s fitting in with Baltimore.
“First of all, he’s a really good player. He’s very talented. Talent travels well,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Also, I would say his attitude and work ethic are just top notch. He has a great mindset. He comes out here every day, gives you everything he’s got.”
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