There are some players that just set the tone for an entire defense and Terrell Suggs is one of those guys, and he does so on one of the league’s best units. Announcing himself as being from “Ball-So-Hard University” on the TV broadcasts, that’s a perfect description of the kind of game Suggs brings each and every snap.
In addition to being a monster pass rusher, Suggs is equally adept with his hand on the ground or standing up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 front. This versatility allows the Ravens to switch between 4-3 and 3-4 alignments both in-game, and from game-to-game as they adjust to what will be most effective against that week’s opponents. Suggs graded positively as a pass rusher, a run defender, and also in coverage, making an inordinate number of plays in the pass game for the small number of snaps (69) he dropped to defend the pass.
There aren’t many players that can claim to be the complete package at their position, but Suggs is certainly that, and he is the real deal at more than one position. Perhaps the most impressive attribute that Suggs had last season, though, was consistency. He never graded below a -0.9 last season, and was below zero just twice including the playoffs. On the other hand, he graded above a +2.0 nine times, above a +3.0 seven times and above +4.0 five times over the course of the year. If you were playing the Baltimore Ravens last season you knew before the pads went on that you needed to account for Terrell Suggs, because it was nailed on that he’d be bringing impressive play to the table.
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Haloti Ngata get the majority of the press on that Baltimore defense, but there isn’t a more important cog than Terrell Suggs. His excellent play in all areas forces teams to react and makes him a consistent threat to have an impact on the game at any time.
Best Performance: Week 14 vs. Indianapolis Colts (+8.6)
There were several games this season in which Suggs made a major impact, but with the possible exception of the “Harbaugh Bowl” against the 49ers, in none did he take over a game so completely. In both of those games he notched three sacks, a knockdown, and two more pressures, but against the Colts he did it on fewer rushes, and chipped in with a more complete performance in other areas of the game.
Against the hapless Colts, Suggs also forced a fumble on each of his sacks, drew a holding penalty in addition to his pressure, and made several plays in coverage, showing an excellent awareness of screens and short passes which he snuffed out on more than one occasion. He wasn’t just applying pressure and being a nuisance, but he was making definitive drive-ending plays for the Ravens.
Suggs may have been going against a rookie offensive tackle in the shape of Anthony Castonzo, but he was a first-round rookie and it’s hard to imagine a pass rusher dominating a game more thoroughly than Suggs was able to do in this one.
Key Stat: Recorded 44 defensive stops, second only to Jared Allen among edge rushers.
Getting to the passer is just one part of a defender’s job in the NFL. Though there are specialist rushers, most elite players are still tasked with responsibilities against the run in addition to their pass rush duties. Terrell Suggs has always been an excellent run defender and this season was no different–he topped our 4-3 DE rankings against the run, and only Jared Allen was able to notch more total defensive stops than Suggs’ 44. Allen, of course, played nearly 100 more snaps than Suggs, but finished with just another two defensive stops.
Suggs has the strength and vision to read plays as they happen and beat blockers at the line of scrimmage to be a factor in the backfield. He is also extremely tough to block by anybody other than an offensive lineman, because he has the kind of power to just toss smaller players aside and make the play. Part of what makes Suggs such an excellent player is that he is able to consistently generate pressure while also excelling as a run defender, and not giving the offense a break in any facet of the game. Suggs’ abilities as an all-around player explain why he is consistently near the top of our rankings, and forces his way to No. 7 on this list.
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