Losing the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Year for no less than half of the regular season can’t be good. That said there is a silver lining.
When players of Suggs’ stature and skill are lost it is incumbent upon everyone else on the team to pick up the slack. Not just Paul Kruger or Courtney Upshaw, but also Suggs’ defensive mates, the offense, special teams and even the coaches.
Naturally the focus will be upon Kruger and Upshaw. Their productivity is easily measured and compared to that of Suggs and the recently departed Jarret Johnson. But the other defenders can pick up their respective games to lessen the blow.
If Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, Art Jones and newcomer Ryan McBean can create havoc on the interior line, choke off the run and create favorable down and distance situations, it could alter opposing offensive game plans and make it easier for Kruger and Upshaw.
What if Pernell McPhee continues his promising development? Might he benefit from the additional snaps he’ll receive in Suggs’ absence?
Could the “Next Man Up” approach also help Sergio Kindle? What if he develops as a productive situational pass rusher in the mold of Suggs during the AFC DPOY’s rookie season?
Offensively the Ravens need to pick it up. What if they produce more points; improve the rushing attack; gain better control of the clock and play with a lead – sometimes even a commanding one. Might that force the hand of opposing offensive coordinators, thus aiding the defensive cause?
The Ravens invested this offseason in special teams. Players like Corey Graham, Sean Considine and Jacoby Jones are being counted on to help tilt the field in the Ravens’ favor to create longer fields for opponents and shorter ones for Joe Flacco & Company. Longer fields could be defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ best friend.
And speaking of the coaches, with the versatile Suggs sidelined, might they be forced to dig down a little more; to not depend so much upon Suggs’ multi-faceted game and instead study, refine and develop the skill sets of the younger players and put them in positions to succeed?
THEN, if everyone does their individual part to pick up the slack, how much better will the Ravens be when Suggs does return? The younger players will have gained valuable experience and in the perfect world, they hold serve until Suggs again buckles up the chin strap.
And if that happens and they do hold serve, Suggs hits the field to compete with fresh legs against opponents who will have then weathered the grind of 10-12 games. Their movements aren’t as swift and their endurance weakened by the game’s wear and tear. He could dominate and if that happens, opponents will have to account for Suggs, perhaps like never before given his conditioning advantage.
There could be a silver lining in that slightly torn Achilles.
It’s up to Suggs’ teammates and coaches to find it.
The search begins in just 30 days.