Sacks are an important contribution to defensive effectiveness. They are perhaps a bit overrated and overshadow other stats like tackles for loss or batted passes, but this is because they are fun to watch. Everybody loves a good sack, and they typically provide a motivational spark for a defense.
The Ravens have their fair share of sack masters, and a couple players have already come out and made some self predictions for the 2014 season. Pernell McPhee wants to lead the team in sacks, or at least get 7 or 8. Haloti Ngata is aiming for double digits. Terrell Suggs has lost weight to improve his effectiveness, while Elvis Dumervil has gained some weight.
Adding pieces to an already stout defense this offseason, the Ravens appear poised to rack up some stats in 2014. An improved secondary, especially in regards to safety play, should give the front seven more time to get to the quarterback. So who will rack up the biggest numbers this coming season? Here is our best guess.
1. Terrell Suggs – 13 sacks
Suggs is on the wrong side of 30, but he is also only two seasons removed from winning the NFL’s Defensive MVP award. He may not rise to that type of level again, but he was on a tear the first half of last season before he mysteriously fell off the proverbial cliff.
Suggs has trimmed up this season after realizing that his conditioning wasn’t up to par last year down the stretch. These type of things become more important as players age, but Suggs is no senior citizen by any means. We feel that an improved defense as a whole, combined with more preparation, will lead to a rejuvenated Suggs.
2. Elvis Dumervil – 12 sacks
Dumervil became a Raven thanks to a huge mistake on his former agent’s part. The infamous “late fax” incident is one that Raven’s fans are quite thankful for, as it allowed them to acquire a talented pass rusher who racked up an incredible 17 sacks in 2009. Dumervil, like Suggs, is now on the wrong side of 30 and fell off down the stretch last season, however.
Dumervil blamed his drop in production on being too light for the rugged AFC North, and has put on a few pounds. Whether or not this move leads to an increase in durability remains to be seen, but we feel like a marketed improvement on 2013′s 9.5 sacks is not out of the question. A full season with what is only his second team will undoubtedly help.
3. Daryl Smith – 5 sacks
Smith was a gift to the defense last season, posting the best statistics the Ravens have seen at the middle linebacker position since Ray Lewis was in his prime. These stats included 5 sacks, which was a career best for the 11 year veteran. Smith is older than both Suggs and Dumervil, but he seemed like a perfect fit for this defense last year. The wily veteran may not have elite speed, but he has the smarts to take advantage of the opportunities he receives.
4. Haloti Ngata – 4 sacks
We love that Ngata is rejuvenated and physically ready for 2014, but his goal of double digit sacks is a bit optimistic. The 30 year old is still a dominant force at the nose, but it is a position that doesn’t often bring the glitz and glamour of big sack numbers. And 5.5 is his career best, so that we can consider that to be the ceiling, realistically.
5. C.J. Mosley – 3.5 sacks
The rookie is well on his way to winning a starting job and should play plenty of snaps in 2014. He has shown that he possesses good pass rush skills, though he never racked up huge numbers at Alabama. His career best sack number came last season when he posted 4, but he has improved each season. We think 3.5 will be his floor, and he could easily surprise us with more.
What are your predictions for the top sack artists in 2014?