Anthony Levine’s First Start in Review


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine (41) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not many players can be described as steady in their first start, but that’s exactly the word to describe Anthony Levine‘s first start. After playing next to no snaps on defense through the first three years of his career (not counting his stint on the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad), Levine started his first game against the Tennessee Titans and excelled.

Taking a look at his performance, a few words come to mind.

Energetic: The most impressive part of Levine’s first start was his energy level. One of Lardarius Webb‘s best attributes over the years has been his run defense, and Levine pairs Webb’s intensity with a bigger body to create an excellent run defender.

On one of the first plays of the game, Titans running back Bishop Sankey received a pitch, quickly getting to the edge. Anthony Levine, reading the run perfectly, aggressively attacked the line of scrimmage, eventually pushing Sankey out of bounds.

That energy translated to the passing game as well. Levine was quick to react on short spaces, flying to the football every chance he got. Though Levine gave up just one reception, he ended up with four tackles in the game, showing his willingness to pursue ball carriers aggressively.

Instinctive: Levine consistently lined up far off the ball, which is not uncommon in Dean Pees’ relatively conservative coverage schemes. Where guys like Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown failed, Levine succeeded. The main reason was his ability to quickly react to opposing receivers’ routes and when the ball is in the air.

Franks and Brown were often slow to react. Their slow reactions resulted in receivers both running by them on deep routes and abusing them on shorter routes. Levine didn’t have those problems, as he was quick to react to receivers running deep routes and even quicker to react when the ball left Zach Mettenberger‘s hand. That was a big reason for his success.

Those two traits helped Levine turn in a steady and effective performance in his first start. There are still significant question marks about how Levine will function against a top-tier passing game, but initial returns are overwhelmingly positive.