The talk started not long after Elvis Dumervil passed his physical and put his name on a Ravens contract in late March. The Ravens had finally found another proven pass rusher to pair with Terrell Suggs.
Suggs and Dumervil were months away from even practicing together for the first time, but the possibilities seemed endless. After all, Suggs is a five-time Pro-Bowl selection, a one-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the Ravens’ all-time leader with 84 ½ sacks and 11 forced fumbles. Dumervil, meanwhile, is a three-time Pro Bowl pick and is just two seasons removed from leading the NFL with 17 sacks.
“I’m ecstatic,” Suggs said when asked about the addition of Dumervil at the team’s mandatory minicamp earlier this month. “I’ve had good guys on the other side of me before. I had a great guy in Jarret Johnson. He wasn’t really known for his pass-rushing. Paul [Kruger], he had a really good, explosive year last year. To get a guy that his No. 1 thing is to get after the quarterback is really exciting, especially [because] we added [Chris] Canty. We get 92 [Haloti Ngata] healthy. We are going to be a nice little solid front.”
Asked later about what he thinks he and Dumervil are capable of, Suggs preferred to talk about the Ravens’ defense as a whole and acknowledged that he’s excited to see what the revamped unit can accomplish as a group. It was a smart answer; however, it did little to lower the outside expectations for the duo which will be counted on to increase a pass rush that was nonexistent for parts of last season.
With Suggs missing a good part of the season, first because of a torn Achilles and then a torn biceps, Kruger led the team with nine sacks and Ngata was second with five. Kruger is now on the Cleveland Browns, but the Ravens believe that they have upgraded in his spot after luring Dumervil after his time with the Denver Broncos ended because of a fax machine snafu.
Dumervil, 29, has averaged just under 11 sacks over his six-year NFL career. Over his past three seasons, he’s averaged 12.5 sacks, including his 17-sack season in 2009 when Dumervil played outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. That’s how he’ll be used in Baltimore.
Suggs, 30, had just two sacks last year but he played in just eight regular-season games and he wasn’t really healthy for any of them following offseason Achilles’ surgery. Over his 10 seasons in the NFL, Suggs has averaged 8 ½ sacks, but he totaled 25 quarterback takedowns the previous two years before his injury marred 2012 season.
Dumervil was a fixture at the Ravens’ offseason activities and he appears motivated to show the Broncos what they are missing and to get a Super Bowl ring of his own. Suggs worked out on his own, but he reported to the mandatory minicamp in better shape than he’s been in for several years and then said all the right things.
With more talent and depth along the defensive line to occupy blockers and shut down the run game, Suggs and Dumervil are in position to become one of the most productive pass-rushing duos that the Ravens have ever had. But contrary to the perception that suggests otherwise, the Ravens have had some good ones.
Michael McCrary and Peter Boulware, who are both in the team’s Ring of Honor, combined for 20.5 sacks in 1997, 23 in 1998, 21.5 in 1999 and 22.5 in 2001.
In his rookie season in 2003, Suggs and Boulware totaled 20.5 sacks but neither were part of the duo that combined for the most sacks in a single season in Ravens’ history. That feat was accomplished by Trevor Pryce and Adalius Thomas, who combined for 24 sacks during the 2006 season. That was the year the Ravens set a team record for 60 sacks, 13 coming from Pryce and 11 from Thomas.
Over the past six seasons, only one Ravens pass-rushing duo has hit the 20-sack plateau. That was Suggs (14) and Pernell McPhee (6) in 2011.
If Suggs and Dumervil stay healthy, they should be able to eclipse that number, but Pryce and Thomas’ 24 total sacks in 2006 probably should be the measuring stick for this talented duo.