Russell Street Report’s own Derek Arnold has been kind enough to point out that I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the Elvis Dumervil signing. So, before I tell you all exactly why I’m not a big fan, I’ll give you my positive spin on the move. Dumervil has put up impressive numbers throughout his career in Denver. Over at Pro Football Focus we have credited the Ravens’ newest pass rushing option with 48 sacks since 2008 – impressive considering he missed all of 2010, giving him an average of 12 sacks per year since we began grading and recording stats.
It’s not even that those pass rushing numbers are misleading either, with him putting up impressive stats in terms of quarterback hits and hurries too. And yet, despite all that, I wasn’t, and am still not, ready to crown this as a great “Ozzie being Ozzie” signing. No sooner had news broke of the move to bring in Dumervil than my Twitter feed was filled with #InOzzieWeTrust. Now, anyone who follows me knows just how much I hate that hash tag. Despite believing that Newsome is at least one of, if not THE, best General Managers in football, it continues to grind my gears that he is granted the sort of near infallibility in Baltimore normally reserved only for the Pope. Yes everyone, Ozzie is awesome, but he makes mistakes and, in my opinion, this is one of them.
Those pass rushing numbers by Dumervil are what define him as an “elite” pass rusher in the NFL. But dig a little deeper into those numbers and a pattern emerges. In the four seasons he has played in since 2008, he has recorded two total pressures (sacks, hits or hurries) or fewer in 25 games – an average of over six games per season. Think about that for a second and consider this: The guy the Ravens just signed is likely to give the team a genuine pass rush threat in just 10 regular season games this season.
So why is he so up and down? Does he struggle against better competition, does he just have too many games where he isn’t at the level he needs to be? I don’t have the answer to that, all I know is that when you dig into those raw season total stats (which are mighty impressive as numbers on their own) there are just far too many occasions where Dumervil is anonymous as a pass rusher. Take 2012 into consideration for example, and look at his games against the Oakland Raiders and you’ll see exactly what I find so frustrating about him. In the first meeting between the two teams, in Denver, Dumervil put up nine total pressures, including two sacks. When the teams met again in Week 14? Nothing.
One argument I saw for why this is a great move is that pairing him with a pass rusher like Terrell Suggs will make Dumervil better. I could see the point there, were it not for the fact that the Broncos had one of the best pass rushing performances of all time opposite him in 2012. Von Miller registered 20 sacks, 16 hits and 57 hurries through the regular season and playoffs last season. Miller had 93 total pressures, a full 31 pressures more than Dumervil. He had an elite pass rusher opposite him, a bigger threat than Suggs if we’re being honest, and yet the same inconsistent performances were found.
Add to that the fact that Dumervil has never been known for his prowess against the run, and certainly not when it comes to setting the edge on the outside, and I just can’t buy this move as anything more than solid. I fully expect to hear from plenty of people every time he puts up the type of amazing pass rushing performance he’s capable of. But just remember, on the six or so occasions where you find yourself wondering just where exactly Elvis Dumervil has been all day, this is the player the Ravens signed – frustratingly inconsistent and, at times, borderline anonymous.