Ravens ‘Breakout Candidate’ Facing ‘Jarring’ Problem

Odafe Oweh

Getty The Ravens are taking this first-round pick off the field more often.

The Baltimore Ravens were supposed to get a banner season from a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft. They tried keeping this “major breakout candidate” on the field as often as possible, but he didn’t translate the increased playing time into improved statistics.

Now this highly touted but struggling second-year pro has gone from core starter to part-time player. He’s been dealing with “reduced” playing time, a “jarring” problem for somebody of his draft status.

Ravens Taking Snaps Away From Unproductive Edge

Odafe Oweh has seen his snap counts cut by more than half in recent weeks, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. He detailed how Oweh “averaged just over 50 defensive snaps a game” during the first eight weeks of the campaign.

Zrebiec then outlined how far the numbers have been reduced: “Over the last five games, he’s playing just over 22 snaps a contest.”

Although Zrebiec believes there are mitigating factors, like signing Jason Pierre-Paul and Tyus Bowser getting healthy again, “it’s pretty jarring to see Oweh, a first-round pick last year and a guy who was viewed as a major breakout candidate this offseason, playing just 17 snaps against the Denver Broncos and 19 against the Steelers.”

The numbers may not increase any time soon. Not when, as Zrebiec pointed out, Bowser, Pierre-Paul and Justin Houston are proving more disruptive.

Bowser played almost twice the number of snaps as Oweh against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, while JPP was on the field for 15 more plays, per Zrebiec:

Oweh isn’t just being outperformed as a pass-rusher. As Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun pointed out by citing numbers and graphical data from TruMedia, Bowser has also made a positive impact on how the Ravens defend the run:

The emergence of Bowser and Pierre-Paul has made it easier to keep Oweh off the field. He could stay on the sidelines for longer once this year’s second-round pick, David Ojabo is ready to contribute for the first time since tearing his ACL at Michigan’s pro day back in March.

Oweh’s best chance to fight through the crowd and get back into the action will be to prove he can do more with less.

More With Less Key for Stat-Shy Defender

Oweh has just two sacks to his credit this season, but No. 99 notched the second of those against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos in Week 13:

The game against the Broncos was actually one of Oweh’s best pass-rushing efforts of the season. In addition to sacking Wilson, he also pressure him twice and hurried the Super Bowl-winning passer once, according to Pro Football Reference.

Oweh couldn’t get home against Steelers’ QBs, but he did register a tackle for loss at Acrisure Stadium. These contributions are proof a fresher Oweh can do more with less.

Ultimately, the 24-year-old will only prove his doubters wrong if he can produce more in the pass-rush department. Oweh described his sack of Wilson, his first since Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills, as a “rush of emotions.” He also expressed a “hope to carry that on” when he gets “more opportunities to rush the passer.”

For now, it sounds as though Oweh will have to be content with fewer opportunities, but a greater incentive to make every opportunity count.

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