Jamie Sharper spent five seasons with the Ravens and helped form one of the greatest midfielder trio in NFL history alongside Peter Bowlware and Ray Lewis.
In 2003 and 2004 with Houston Texas, he topped the league in tackles with 305 tackles and ended a nine-year career with 879. He missed just eight games in his entire career, including a 136-game streak in the regular season.
Sharper, 46, still watches over the Crows on Sunday afternoons, even though he is the defensive coach at Georgetown. While some have already grumbled about Ravens’ second-year midfielder Patrick Queen, Sharper was impressed.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Sharper, who returned to Baltimore for Georgetown’s game against Morgan State on Saturday. “He plays several times and he plays fast because he is a good athlete. In fact, he plays faster than his keys show, so sometimes he is out of step.
“But you can definitely build and win with him. He is physically young and can run from side to side. ”
Queen, a 6-foot 232-pound first round pick from the LSU in 2020, is in a transition period. He has struggled in his first six games this season as a middle midfielder, but has been impressive in his last three games on the underside.
His tackles are bad, but overall he is better. The Queen is still leading the tackle with 47, but has recorded only 13 games on the weak side. He got more penetration and did several percussion plays, including one pouch and forced groping.
There is a big difference in playing in the middle, not playing outside, according to Sharper. Lewis improved those around him, but weak midfielders like Sharper and Bart Scott also made Lewis better.
With Lewis in the center, they took over the blocks, allowing Lewis to use his speed to tackle the entire field. Sharper played for a weak midfielder in Baltimore, but also a weak and middle in Houston. He played in all three positions, including a strong midfielder, in Virginia before the Ravens made him the number 34 overall pick in the 1997 draft.
“I’ve played everything and this is a major adjustment,” Sharper said. “When you are in the middle and they are running, you have to be sure that you can handle it right away. When you are on the weak side or on the back side, you should always stay on the back side of the running defender. You can run with the pulling lineman, but you cannot give up the rear because you are the last line of defense on the front seven.
“You see a lot of offenses in the NFL that are pulling line players or getting them out of the way because they want to get midfielders out of position, and that only takes one step. You just have to remember that an early run will get you to the ball. ”
Compared to being in the center, running defense is less difficult and less physical because weak midfielders are usually not covered. But learning to play defense with passing is more difficult, especially with constant movement and changes, because a strong side can quickly become a weak one. Outside midfielders have a lot more room to reach, and there is also concern about reaching out to specific outside receivers or channeling action into the slot.
It’s not always fun.
“Falling on a hook or going out of bounds [in coverage] will have a bigger impact on him than running, ”Scharper said.
Like most fans in Baltimore, Sharper spotted Queen’s missed qualifiers this season. This can sometimes be the result of Quinn getting too close to the ball carrier and unable to control her body.
Poor selection is a problem not only for the Ravens, but for the entire league.
“For the past three or four years, the basics of learning how to fight with the shoulder and break the leg have been ignored,” Scharper said. “A lot of coaches just look at tic-tac-toe and put the guy in certain positions. Then, when the athlete is unable to practice in the open field or is sniffing, the coach wants to know why. I’ve seen this in college and high school. Everyone also wants to be successful.
“[Queen] will take it off. Sometimes you react to what you see and it’s good to be able to get to your goal as quickly as possible. But you also need to understand where the alley or the pursuit is from behind. You have to slow down for a second, make sure your legs are upright before diving, and try to tackle. ”
According to Sharper, Queen is still in training. He says he will get better against the AFC North teams because he sees them twice a year. The key, according to Sharper, is not only learning your defenses, but how attacks will attack her.
“You won’t be able to reach that level until your second or third year of study,” Sharper said. “When you understand this, you can play more in your position.”
The mobile queen helped both defense and veteran Josh Bynes as he took up the middle midfielder position. Bynes has made 22 tackles since replacing Queen and has become one of the top vocal leaders on the team. The defense still has holes in the background, but the position of the midfielders from the inside and the weaknesses have become less of a concern for coach John Harbaugh.
“I think he really took a step forward,” Harbo said of Queen. “He plays very well. He plays a little more in the VILL position and I think he kind of simplifies in his mind what his responsibilities are. I’m really happy with the way he plays, both in opposition and in passing. Both the zone and the male cover – it looked good. ”