FOXBOROUGH -New England Patriots veteran Matthew Judon got a taste of what it was like to face Lamar Jackson in the NFL before the MVP quarterback even took an official game snap.
The Patriots linebacker began his career in Baltimore, playing there from 2016-20. Jackson was drafted by the Ravens in 2018, so the two players went up against each other every day in practice for three seasons. Judon got an early feel as to how Jackson would play at the NFL level.
“We had to defend him at practice, so we knew what he was and what he had and what it’d look like if he had the starting job because he was the scouting team quarterback,” Judon said Thursday. “So that was really media and people that really didn’t know too much.”
Jackson had a tough test going up against those Ravens defenses. Baltimore had a top-six defense in each of Jackson’s first three seasons there, which led to some high-quality football practice, according to Judon.
“It was fun, our defense was fun back then, we made a lot of different looks, made a lot of different things happen,” Judon said. “It was just him being a playmaker and how elusive he is – scrambling, throwing, and how he can throw the ball. It was just fun, it was challenging.”
After Judon signed with the Patriots in 2021, Sunday will mark the first time he’s gone against Jackson in a game. Judon’s current team’s had their fair share of struggles in trying to stop Jackson in their two meetings against him. He’s thrown for a total of 412 yards, rushed for a total of 116 yards, and has scored five total touchdowns over the two matchups, which the two teams split.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty emphasized discipline on Wednesday when asked about how to play Jackson. Judon agreed with the sentiment.
“You’ve got to be disciplined with whoever you face now, it seems like everybody has a scrambling quarterback,” Judon said. “If I recall last year, one of the oldest, slowest quarterbacks got a first down and picked up 12 yards on us. It’s just all about rush lanes, discipline and how you attack guys. Some guys, like Lamar, you’ve just got to take a shot and force them back to the defense. Then, there’s other guys who aren’t so mobile in the pocket, but it’s all about discipline.”
New England’s defense looks to challenge Lamar Jackson and the speedy Baltimore offense.
BB talks #BALvsNE on the Belestrator. pic.twitter.com/VoyvlHGA8N
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 22, 2022
“We know what we know about him, he’s a good quarterback, one of the best in the league, we just got to go out there and try to stop him on a down after down basis,” Judon added.
Judon performed well over his five seasons in Baltimore. He helped the Ravens reach the playoffs three times after he got selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. He recorded 34.5 sacks over that span and led the league in forced fumbles in 2019 (four), earning two Pro Bowl nods over his final two seasons with the Ravens.
Yet, Baltimore opted not to re-sign him. Instead, Judon signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the Patriots.
Judon has no ill will toward his former team though, but is hoping that the Patriots can beat them.
“It’s just another game, honestly,” Judon said. “If we win or we lose, we get one win or one loss. I want to win. I want to win every game. But there’s no bad blood. It was all business. I still talk to a lot of the guys on that team. After the game, I’m going to shake their hand and love on them and all that. I wish nothing but the best for anybody over there. But it’s just one game.”