Can Earl Thomas Turn Up In 2020?
We as Baltimore Ravens’ fans have high expectations when it comes to the FS position. Ed Reed set a precedent for the position to be great. Since Ed has left, Eric DeCosta has been looking for the centerfielder to replicate the production the Ballhawk had in his heyday. With that said, I truly believed the exit of Eric Weddle and the entry of Earl Thomas would be the fix for the position issue on the back end. I know it was just his first season as a Raven, but can Earl return to form?
Can he return from the burn?
Maybe my expectations are a bit high for the 10-year Vet? When comparisons to the Hall of Famer Ed Reed come up on the regular, eyebrows raise when production is not at a similar level. Does the lack of picks mean it was a bad year? When it comes to interceptions, Earl hasn’t had a 5-interception season since 2016. I probably wouldn’t even be mentioning Earl right now if the 7-time pro-bowler didn’t get embarrassed multiple times in the playoffs this season as well as the regular season.
— Two-Tone Blue Nation (@TwoToneBlueNat1) January 12, 2020
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a fan of his trash talk but I do admire the football intelligence of the guy. The league and media alike see him with our dominant DBs as the best secondary in football. But I am wondering if Earl is truly worth the $55M it cost to bring him to Baltimore? Before the team’s Divisional Round of embarrassment, according to the Baltimore Sun, Earl had this to say:
“If Tannehill tries to pass on us, I don’t think that will go in their favor.”
A few days later… (in my SpongeBob Narrator voice)
Kalif Raymond with the great Corner-Post route pic.twitter.com/IOdz8VH98X
— Receiver School (@ReceiverSchool) January 12, 2020
Earl wasn’t in the camera angle from the beginning of this play. He played up, assuming it would have been a run and attempted to play the shallow mid coverage. He recognizes the mistake but is too late trying to turn back upfield. Was this on Don Martindale or Thomas? I don’t know. What I do know is that this play is what blew the doors open on the Ravens. If Earl had been where a Safety is typically supposed to be, this play would’ve been avoided.
Free Safeties are the last line of defense against the pass. They play the pass primarily and the run second. I do understand the initiative 29 took to aggressively attack King Derrick Henry, but it cost the team big on the gamble.
Secure the front to keep Earl in back?
Two interceptions in the 2019 season cost the Ravens a cap charge of only $7M in 2019 according to spotrac.com. That number is going up to $15M in 2020. If the Ravens go after the pieces needed to secure the front-7, Thomas may be looking at more than 2-INTs on the year. He won’t have to cheat up to stop the run if the front is providing pressure and sealing gaps. Here’s to hoping the team gets their money worth out of the former Legion of Boom Safety in year 11 of his career.