A Healthy Suggs Needs Dumervil, Canty To Fly Again
The Baltimore Ravens lost Paul Kruger this offseason to a huge free-agent contract, but once they went out to replace him, they arguably came away with a much more valuable commodity. Not only is Elvis Dumervil a more proven commodity, but some would argue that he is a better pass rusher and all-around player. Dumervil should be a more-than-worthy replacement for Kruger, however, he won't be alone in trying to replace his lost production.
Kruger only got so many opportunities to shine last season because reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs missed the start of the season through injury. Suggs tore his Achilles’ during the offseason and returned just in time for the playoffs and Super Bowl run.
Although he returned ahead of Week 7, Suggs only managed to notch four sacks – two in the regular season and two against the Denver Broncos in the playoffs. Suggs was active on the field, but his overall explosion and impact on the field was still significantly hampered by the injury that had sapped him of his short-area explosion and agility. For a player who had 25 total sacks over the previous two seasons – not to mention nine forced fumbles and two interceptions to go along with them – it was easy to continue fighting through his limited physical abilities.
With a full offseason of health under his belt and another seven months or so away from surgery, Suggs should have the ability to return to his full effectiveness this year. A healthy Suggs would be a massive boost to the team’s hopes of defending their crown.
In replacing Ray Lewis and Ed Reed's leadership, he will be the frontrunner for the biggest piece of the pie. But with Dumervil playing across from him, NT/DE Haloti Ngata commanding double teams up front and DE Chris Canty also joining the party, it's going to be impossible for opposing team's offensive lines to focus on him. Even the best left tackles in the NFL couldn't handle Suggs during his prime, so while we may have already seen the best he has to offer, there is no reason that he can't return to 90 percent of his former self at age 30.
Ninety percent from most players is a problem, but even at that level, Suggs is still likely a perrenial Pro Bowl player; Suggs is that talented. That the Ravens even made the playoffs without his full impact last year was an incredible achievement, never mind the fact they ended up winning the whole thing.
Dumervil and Canty's arrivals could get the best out of Suggs, but both newcomers are used to playing with top pass rushers as well. Dumervil enjoyed being Von Miller's sidekick in Denver the past two seasons while Canty was the interior piece of a line that often featured Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora on passing downs. They will need a fully healthy Suggs and Ngata in order to prosper, while the two longtime Ravens will only prosper if their complements do enough to keep the offense honest.
It's an offensive league today, but that doesn't mean defensive superstars can't make dramatic differences.