The Ravens’ Week 11 contest against the Houston Texans is a highly anticipated matchup featuring two young, playmaking quarterbacks, but for Texans defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, the trip to Baltimore is exciting for another reason, too.
Weaver was a defensive end for the Ravens from 2002-2005, not long after the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. Weaver got to play alongside some of the players who were part of that record-breaking 2000 defense, like Ray Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Peter Boulware and Chris McAlister. Weaver also got to play with Terrell Suggs, Kelly Gregg, Ed Hartwell, Gary Baxter and Ed Reed during his time in Baltimore.
“I think at one point in my career there I turned around and there may have been nine Pro Bowlers playing behind me at one point. It was incredible,” Weaver said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 13.
Weaver, who also played with the Texans (2006-2008), racked up 15.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries and three interceptions during his seven-year career. The former Raven knows what it takes to be successful on defense, and now he has an opportunity to be a teacher with the Texans.
“The thing you learn, either by playing there [with the Ravens] or just being in the building, is it just comes with a certain attitude,” Weaver said. “Defensive football needs to be played with a certain mentality and that’s something from a coaching standpoint that was entrenched from the second I walked into that building. Before we step on the field, we need to think that we are the baddest MFers on the planet, and that thought process will give us a chance out there to be successful.”
This might be a homecoming for Weaver, but he is set to take on one of the league’s most electrifying offenses led by quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens rank second in the league in total offensive yards per game (421.7) and first in the league in rushing yards per game (197.2).
“Lamar, he’s a dynamic player. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands and quite frankly, it’s going to be all 11 guys at the point of attack at all times,” Weaver said. “You can’t rely on one guy to account for him or two guys, because you guys have seen it all year, he’ll make you look foolish, so it’s going to be true team defense.”
The Texans sit atop of the AFC South at 6-3. Behind quarterback Deshaun Watson, they are 12th in the league in passing yards per game (253.9) and fourth in the league in rushing yards per game (142.8). The Texans are 19th in yards allowed per game (361.4), tied for 21st in sacks (21) and tied for 12th in the league in takeaways (14).
However, when the team lost J.J. Watt for the season with a torn pectoral, it left a big absence along the defensive line. Weaver still believes in his guys to step up in Watt’s absence.
“Needless to say, I am a much better defensive-line coach when [Watt] is on the field, but I do have some talented players behind him, guys that are willing to step up and do their roles,” Weaver said. “Are you going to miss him? Absolutely. Are you going to lose some splash plays and some dynamic plays? Of course. But we still have guys that can go in there and execute the plan and do their job and make plays when they present themselves.”
Even though it’s only Week 11, Ravens-Texans certainly has the look of a big game. For Weaver, he tries to keep level-headed but still is still very much aware of the magnitude of this game.
“You try to be even-keel, and this game counts no more than the next one, but we all know deep in the pit of our stomach that some mean a little bit more,” Weaver said. “When you have two teams that are this talented that have lofty expectations and lofty goals, you know this could potentially have some ripple effects down the line here, so it absolutely does mean a little bit more regardless of what we preach and what we tell our guys.”
To hear more from Weaver, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens