For Ravens rookie outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson, recording his first career sack against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was the culmination of all the hard work he had put in since being drafted.
After breaking the FBS single-season sack record previously held by Terrell Suggs, Ferguson looks to continue the legacy of the great Ravens linebackers who came before him.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 18, 2019
“It felt great, especially with the work ethic,” Ferguson said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 18. “Because here with the Ravens, you’ve got to work for everything. I feel like I’ve been playing better and better every week, getting more confident with each start.”
Though Ferguson feels great now about where he is in the season, he did not always feel that way. A third-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, Ferguson came into the league expecting to have a breakout rookie season from Day One.
Ferguson posted 45 sacks, 187 tackles and eight forced fumbles during his four years with the Bulldogs. Ferguson set the school record for sacks in a season (14.5) as a sophomore in 2016, only to break that record two years later with 17.5.
Despite his success at the collegiate level, Ferguson was inactive for the first two games of the season. He then embraced the challenge of working to get on the field.
“At first it was frustrating,” Ferguson said, “because I believe that coming out of college I had all these sacks, I did all these amazing things in college and then I get to the league and it’s taken plenty of time for me to catch up.”
The Ravens (8-2) have held opposing offenses to 20 points or fewer in seven of the team’s games. Players like outside linebacker Matthew Judon, defensive tackle Brandon Williams, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Earl Thomas III have played a big part in that, but Ferguson credits Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, too.
After spending six seasons as the Ravens’ linebacker coach, Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator after the 2017 season. Ferguson believes that Martindale’s growth as a coordinator has helped their defense continue to improve on a week-to-week basis.
“I feel like over the last couple of week we’ve just been striving to be great,” Ferguson said. “Every week, Coach [Martindale] is putting us in the position, he gives us great play calls and just lets each one of our individual greatness show. I feel like these last couple weeks the calls he’s making, the plays we’re making especially on defense, we’ve all been put in the best position to do what we do best.”
Not only does Ferguson believe that Martindale’s system has helped him improve, but he also sees it helping the players they have picked up throughout the season, like newly acquired defensive linemen Domata Peko and Justin Ellis, both of whom were productive against the Texans.
If players put forth the necessary effort, they can thrive in Martindale’s system, according to Ferguson.
“The scheme works,” Ferguson said. “You come in, put in the work and trust in the scheme, you’ll make plays. Peko and Justin were making plays yesterday because they came in, they put in work, don’t do too much talking. Just put in work and then on game day let it all show.”
Ferguson also touched on the following topics …
In his latest postgame news conference, veteran running back Mark Ingram campaigned for quarterback Lamar Jackson to win league MVP honors. Ferguson also believes Jackson has risen to the top of the list in the MVP discussion.
Everybody needs a hype man like @markingram21 ��
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 17, 2019
“We respect everybody and everything that they do, but he’s leading the MVP race right now for a reason,” Ferguson said. “Lamar for MVP, and if anybody’s got a problem, go talk to Mark Ingram.”
– Despite sitting in the No. 2 spot in the AFC, behind only the New England Patriots, Ferguson and the Ravens continue stay focused on the task at hand. Ferguson wants to embrace the mentality of taking the season one game at a time and just focusing on winning the next game.
“All I can do is keep my head down and focus on next week because that’s the only reason we’ve gotten this successful,” Ferguson said. “We never really sat back and enjoyed all the success that we’ve had. We just shifted our focus onto the next week trying to be great. So that’s how I’m going. I’m enjoying this victory for these 24 hours and then onto the next game.”
– Ferguson thanked the fans for their support and looks forward to continuing to give them something to cheer about each and every Sunday.
“The people of Baltimore, they embraced us,” Ferguson said. “I feel like win or lose, we’re just doing something good for the city right now. It’s cold outside, but I don’t think anybody is that cold when the Ravens are winning.”
For more from Ferguson, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox