Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ravens & Suggs: Stare Down at the Poker Table

Terrell Suggs and the Ravens are competing in a high stakes game of poker. It’s always interesting to see who blinks first when a player is playing in the final year of his contract, particularly a player of Suggs’ caliber.

After Sunday the Ravens will have completed 19% of their regular season. Terrell Suggs will be 19% closer to testing the free agent market – one that was very generous in the ’07 offseason.

I’ve never played professional sports so I can’t exactly relate to what goes on in the mind of a professional player. Knowing that the big payday is no less than six months away, does it affect the way a player prepares, the way he plays or the way he carries out his assignments within the confines of the game plan?

The Ravens have seen some big names fall to injury already in this very young season. Might that factor into the way Suggs plays?

While Suggs has developed into a well-rounded Pro Bowler, his reputation is that of a pass rushing specialist. What if after four or five games Suggs still doesn’t have a sack? Might he begin pressing knowing that those sacks will pay dividends if he remains a free agent in March? Could he abandon his coverage assignment and simply go after the quarterback with the hope of tallying a sack?

During The Hot Sauce with Bart Scott this week, I asked Bart about that. Bart said in so many words that there are athletes that might do such things and sacrifice the good of the team for personal gain. But he added that Terrell Suggs is hardly such a selfish player.

Bart has often discussed with me the team first philosophy that the Ravens defenders willingly embrace. He credits his tackles to Kelly Gregg. He’s credited his sacks to Trevor Pryce. And he’s described Suggs as a player that is taking on double teams which has enabled blitzing defensive backs to come in untouched to pick up sacks.

Earlier in Tuesday’s Hot Sauce, Bart semi-jokingly said, “Women lie, men lie, but the numbers don’t lie.”

So I asked if after a few games Suggs doesn’t have the numbers in the sack department that will pay dividends how might that be perceived?

Bart’s answer was simple and direct.

“We know.”

No one has to sell the Ravens on his value to their team.

So it’s about team with the Ravens – the greatest good for the greatest number. But that might not help T-Sizzle in March.

It’s certainly an interesting dilemma for Suggs and the Ravens, one that will become increasingly more interesting if Suggs fails to register the sack numbers that he’s accustomed to – the sack numbers that are cashed in like chips won at the poker table.


MB Genius said...

If the Ravens don't re-sign Suggs they will live to regret it in '08. If Suggs signs elsewhere for more than Freeney, all of his talk about wanting to remain a Raven and loving it here and his teammates is nothing but drivel. I'm sure at the end of the day we'll hear something about it being all about business.

How much money do you need?