Lost in the midst of the Baltimore Ravens‘ mediocre start to the season has been the exceptional play of Terrell Suggs. While sports media has focused on Joe Flacco‘s interceptions, Ray Rice and the running game’s poor performance and Jacoby Jones‘ Party Bus, Suggs has “sizzled” his way to seven sacks though five games.
Suggs has done more than step up as merely an emotional leader after the departures of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, he has led by example. If Suggs can keep up his torrid pace, he could lock up his Hall of Fame candidacy as a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner. A quick scan of players who have won the award twice reveals a who’s who list of NFL legends: “Mean” Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Ray Lewis and Lawrence Taylor, the only player to have one the award three times.
While the offense has struggled with an identity crisis, it is Suggs’ defense that has shown up, with the exception of that Week 1 whooping put on them by Peyton Manning (though after two straight weeks of 50-plus points from Manning’s offense, maybe even that game doesn’t look so bad) week in and week out. With three sacks of Ryan Tannehill last week against the Miami Dolphins, Suggs practically willed the Ravens to a victory that could come up huge in the Wild Card standings at the end of the season.
After 10 seasons and 90 sacks, Suggs has long been a respected and dangerous member of the Ravens’ defense, but he was always the third guy thought of behind Lewis and Reed. And from a leadership standpoint, how could anyone who shared a huddle with Lewis ever get a word in?
Now, on a defense full of young guns and imports, it is Suggs left to teach the rest of the Baltimore D the “Ravens’ Way.” As he is first on the team in sacks and second in tackles, it is safe to say Suggs has let his play do the talking — outrageous Roger Goodell-centered conspiracy theories not withstanding.
This Ravens’ team may not have the experience and firepower necessary for a Super Bowl run, but they only need to make the playoffs in order to catch another hot streak. If they are still playing football in January, they will have Suggs and his defense to thank for it.