Last season — yes, the entire 2022 17-game regular season — there was a four-way tie for the league lead in interceptions (C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tariq Woolen, and Justin Simmons) with six.
That’s a very good number for any defender. Well, we’re barely into Week 9, and Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone already has six quarterback thefts on the season. His most recent one came with 12:11 left in the second quarter of Baltimore’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Geno picks off Geno!
Geno Stone adds to his league-leading INT total.
— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
Stone had this pick against the Arizona Cardinals last week, in which he matched tight Tre McBride across the field…
On this interception of Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Week 6, Stone exploited Tannehill’s iffy deep-throw acumen by baiting him on the vertical route. Another great play as the deep defender in Cover-3.
Stone’s Cover-1 interception of Browns quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in Week 4 looked to be the veteran making the most of opponent miscommunication with receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones…
…and Stone’s interception of Joe Burrow in Week 2 once again showed how well he can bait quarterbacks into bad ideas.
Stone was selected by the Ravens in the seventh round of the 2020 draft out of Iowa, and was waived twice in his rookie season. He signed with the Houston Texans in December, 2020, but was re-signed by Baltimore in March, 2021. In mid-October, Stone talked about how that early uncertainty defined his approach to doing the work.
“At that time, I had to learn to control what I could control at the moment, and I had a lot of … I had Anthony Levine here – a vet that was guiding [me]. [I was in a] similar situation to him, what he told me, his rookie year, his first few years in the league, being the guy that had to make the roster, fighting for a spot, being a special teams’ guy, and then whenever he had his opportunities on defense, he made the most of it. And I feel like I’ve been trying to do the same things every time I get in my situations. It’s not a good situation, because guys go down, but at the end of the day, it’s a ‘next man up’ mentality, and I always try to take that with me. I’ve been like that since college, since high school, whatever it was, whatever obstacle I had in front of me, I wanted to make sure I get the best of my opportunity.”
At the same time, Stone’s remarkable 2023 season isn’t a surprise to him — it’s something he visualized in the off-season.
“It means a lot,” Stone recently said. “I actually wrote goals down back … I looked at my notes and wrote goals on April 25th at 10:48 AM. I had like five goals on there and three-plus interceptions were one of them. I feel like I have a lot more goals I want to hit this year, and most of them are team goals at this point. So, I just have to take it one step at a time; one week at time. It’s really early in the season, so I don’t want to get complacent. The success is good, but at the same time, you’re only good as your next opportunity I get. I never want to get complacent; I want to be able capitalize on my next opportunity I get.”
Well, he’s already done that more than once.