Ravens: Who will lead the team in sacks in 2015?


Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (91) and Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (58) in the fourth quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens know a thing or two about getting to the quarterback on defense.  In 2014 alone, the team racked up a total of 49 sacks for 362 yards lost.  That was good enough for the second most sacks in the NFL, trailing only the Buffalo Bills (54).

The Ravens return their dynamic pass rushing duo consisting of outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, who last season set a franchise record for the most sacks by two players in team history.  The two wrecked havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2014 behind a dominant defensive line.

Sacks are a sometimes over hyped number, but taken into context with some other statistics, can provide valuable indications of a team’s performance.  The Ravens also racked up a tremendous 83 QB hits and 186 hurries in 2014, consistently keeping the heat on opposing quarterbacks.

This offseason has seen some major changes in the Ravens’ defensive front seven, however, that might threaten their continued dominance.  The departures of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee are a major blow to this team’s potential pass rushing prowess.

The Ravens have proven that they can withstand such losses in the past, however.  Rising sophomore Timmy Jernigan flashed in Ngata’s absence last season, and the Ravens have a number of players they can plug in to fill McPhee’s specialist role.

Elvis Dumervil led the Ravens in sacks last season with a stout 17.0, followed by Suggs (12.0), McPhee (7.5), and Jernigan (4.0).  Will that trend continue in 2015, with Dumervil already stating his goal as (a new NFL record) 23 sacks?

Chances are, yes.  Dumervil is a little bit younger than Suggs (31 vs. 32) and plays more of a specialist role while Suggs is more of an every down linebacker.  Suggs has the edge in career sacks (106.5 across 12 seasons vs. 90 across 9 seasons), but has a lower per-season career average (8.88 vs. 10.0).

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Dumervil also finished the season with a cumulative pass rusher productivity score of 11.9 from Pro Football Focus, which was the 5th best among 3-4 outside linebackers in the NFL.  Suggs was 17th with a score of 9.3.  Dumervil also finished 3rd overall in PFF’s pass rush rankings, with Suggs coming in at 11.

So the tea leaves would suggest that Elvis Dumervil will once again lead the Ravens in sacks, for the second consecutive season.  While have yet to learn who will step in and fill Pernell McPhee’s role, we do know that they are unlikely to make the same impact, or come anywhere near double digit sacks.

The real question is, will Elvis Dumervil hit his personal goal of 23 sacks in 2015?  And, will the Ravens be able to match or exceed 2014’s performance?

Next: Terrell Suggs calls out Matt Schaub

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