"What we like about both of those guys is that they show up in both the run and pass," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The stats show up as far as sacks, but the way both of those guys impact the way we play against the run, it's unbelievable."
Even if Johnson and Redding return in 2012, the Ravens should target a pass rusher in the draft.
They like young defensive tackle Arthur Jones and defensive end Pernell McPhee, who had six sacks in his rookie year. Third-year outside linebacker Paul Kruger chipped in with 5.5 sacks. But the Ravens could use a more consistent threat opposite Suggs. Two years ago, they appeared to have drafted that talented edge rusher in Sergio Kindle, but he has yet to contribute.
Finding that wingman for Suggs is one way to get the Ravens defense back to No. 1 in the NFL.
3. Make sure the swagger stays in Baltimore
Despite a change at defensive coordinator from Greg Mattison to Pagano in 2011, the Ravens were third in both scoring defense and yards allowed. Their hallmark has been stopping the run, and they did that, finishing second in rush defense. They were also fourth against the pass.
The Ravens nearly doubled their sack total from 2010 to 2011, which might have been the biggest coup in Pagano's year as coordinator. They were loose and confident, and played with an edge.
"They really thought they were able to just let it go and play the way they are comfortable playing," said Ritchie, who believes other teams didn't want to play against the Ravens' defense. "Now the problem lies in that their defensive coordinator is the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts."
Pees acknowledged two weeks ago that his personality differs from his predecessors', but the former New England Patriots defensive coordinator was adamant that the personality of the defense would not change in 2012. And that's a good thing because Lewis, Suggs and Co. are at their best when they play with attitude.
"These teams that have been successful over time in the NFL are the teams that have been able to pass along their philosophies," Eagle said. "We've seen it with the Steelers. We've seen it to some degree now with the Giants. And the Packers. If you want to sustain excellence in this league, you need an ideal that players believe in that the veterans can pass along to the young players."