Suggs Isn’t Getting Due Credit

Terrell Suggs didn’t fit into ESPN’s top 10 linebacker and pass rusher rankings.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Terrell Suggs is a rare talent – so rare that he’s falling through the cracks of recognition.

Suggs is a hybrid-defensive-end-linebacker-pass-rushing-run-stopping machine.

So how is it that Suggs wasn’t included in ESPN’s top 10 linebacker rankings (11th), nor their top 10 pass rusher rankings either (12th)?

Because he doesn’t fit into one specific category. He excels in both.

And for that reason, oddly, Suggs doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Suggs gets snubbed.

Most of the other pass rushers on ESPN’s list had more sacks than Suggs’ 11 in 2010. The other true linebackers generally had more tackles than Suggs.

But name another player who can equally play defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3 system. That’s four positions. Name another player who records double-digit sacks and still plays the run as well as Suggs.

There seems to be a misperception of Suggs that he’s just a pass rusher. Perhaps it’s because he was drafted out of Arizona State as the NCAA single-season sacks record holder in 2002.

He also made a name for himself in the NFL primarily as a third-down pass rusher, notching 12 sacks and six forced fumbles as a rookie to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

But since then, Suggs has worked to become the complete linebacker demanded by Baltimore’s scheme. He surely sacrificed sacks – the holy grail of defensive front stats – to be a better overall player for the Ravens.

He’s put on more bulk and learned to play the run better. According to 2010 NFL stats, teams averaged four yards per carry against the Ravens when they ran in the direction of left end, where Suggs typically awaits. That’s the second-fewest yards allowed in that direction by any team.

Simply put, Suggs shuts down running to the left for opposing offenses. They often don’t even try.

Those in the NFL recognize his impact. In eight seasons, Suggs has been named to four Pro Bowls, an award in which coaches and players account for two-thirds of the vote.

The Ravens made Suggs the richest linebacker in NFL history with a reported six-year deal a couple years ago. They did so because he doesn’t fit either ESPN label.

He does everything.

“Terrell Suggs is one of the premier defensive players in the National Football League,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at his season-ending press conference. “He’s a tremendous pass rusher, he’s great against the run, he’s a complete player on defense, and the thing that I’m really grateful for is the fact that he’s really becoming a leader on our defense.”

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