Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has talked several times this offseason about getting back to the aggressive style of defense for which the organization used to be known. The longest tenured member of the group welcomes that idea.
On the eve of the Ravens’ first full-squad practice and the official start of his 12th NFL training camp, rush linebacker Terrell Suggs spoke excitedly about the upcoming season and the hurt of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. He also acknowledged that the defense he leads needs to return to the aggressive, formidable unit that it has been for much of his career.
“We forget sometimes, people have to stop us,” Suggs said. “We’ve always been a very fast and violent defense and we need to get back to that.”
The Ravens finished 12th last year in total yards (335.5) and points (22.0) allowed per game. The defense played solid football at times, but members of the coaching staff were disappointed that the group gave up too many big plays and struggled to consistently get to the quarterback. They finished tied for 16th in the league with 40 sacks, a surprisingly low number for a team that had Suggs and Elvis Dumervil rushing from the outside and Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones on the inside.
“We’ve been playing a certain defense, a certain style, for so long, then maybe we may start to do some of those things – reacting too much to personnel groups or personnel, “ said Suggs who had a team-high 10 sacks last season but just one of them coming in the Ravens’ final eight games. “Let’s just get back to the basics.”
Motivation certainly won’t be a problem. Suggs called last season a “rude awakening,” and said that he and his teammates have a “bad taste in our mouth.” He added that the players felt that they let each other down during the 8-8 campaign.He expects that feeling to persist through training camp.
Now 31 years old, Suggs has never hid the fact that he’s not a huge fan of the grueling and repetitive nature of training camp practices. However, in recent days, Suggs said that he’s found himself in the unusual position of looking forward to putting the pads on and competing with his teammates.
“It’s just really exciting and it’s good to have football back,” Suggs said. “We know what our mission is, we know our goals, and we’re here to achieve some great things, so we just have to all buy in. … Just talking to guys this offseason and [with the] things that happened, it was like, ‘You know what? We need to rededicate ourselves to our purpose and to the standard and the things that we’re used to achieving around here.’”