If you ask both Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, the Ravens are set to face both LeBron James and Lamar Jackson on Sunday — in a way.
Against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Ravens know they’ve got their hands full with one of the league’s best young quarterbacks. And when on offense, they’ve got to deal with J.J. Watt.
A year ago, the Ravens thrashed the Texans 41-7 and sacked Watson six times in Baltimore. They’re not expecting a similar result this time.
“We’re not overconfident,” Martindale, the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, said Thursday. “He gets better every year. He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback for a reason, it was just one of those days last year. He, to me, is like a LeBron James-type player in the NFL instead of the NBA. He’s a general, he’s a point guard out there, and we all respect his game.”
In a season-opening loss to the Chiefs, Watson threw for 253 yards on 20-of-32 passing with a touchdown and an interception. A year ago, he threw for 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 games and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second-straight season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Texans have just as much star-power with Watt patrolling the defensive line. He’s battling a hip injury, but his talent isn’t one to take lightly.
A five-time Pro Bowler, five-time All-Pro and three-time Defensive Player of The Year, Watt has tallied 96 career sacks. Although his last five seasons have mostly been marred by injury, he last played 16 full games in 2018. That season, he had 16 sacks and was an All-Pro.
The Texans use him all over the defensive line, which means the Ravens can’t specifically dial up protections and schemes to account for him at a singular location.
“That’s not a fun conversation, that falls in the nightmare category,” Roman, the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, said. “Just year after year, I’ve seen him wreck games. He’s got a very unique style. I told the players he’s like Lamar when Lamar runs the ball — it’s really hard to get a good hit on him. JJ plays in the interior D-Line and it’s really hard to get a good block on him. He’s very unique in his style and he’s one of the all-time greats.”