When the news broke that Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had torn his Achilles Tendon and would miss most, if not all of the 2012 season, fans everywhere were writing the team off for another run at the Super Bowl. Anytime you lose the defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year, you know there will be a huge drop-off in success, the naysayers chimed in as a chorus of negativity.
Not so quick, the positive-thinkers chanted in retort. The Ravens defense is firmly entrenched as one of the better units in the league and while the loss of such a disruptive player will be sorely missed, this defense's success is just not based on any one single player.
Although not to compare Suggs with his linebacker partner, when Ray Lewis missed four consecutive games last season, the Ravens used a committee of reserves, including Brendon Ayanbadejo, Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan in his spot and went 4-0 in the All-Pro's absence.
Elsewhere in the NFL, the Houston Texans lost All-Pro Mario Williams from their defense early in the 2011 season. Williams was easily thought to be the Texans best defensive player and many thought the same thing when he went down. Furthermore, Houston also lost their starting quarterback for the second half of 2011 and their star WR missed a chunk of games as well.
Yet, other players stepped up in their places and not only did they get back on track, the Texans won the AFC South, beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and gave the Ravens all they could handle before succumbing in the Divisional Round of the post-season.
As good as the Texans were in having the #1 defense in the NFL statistically in 2011, they just were not as good as the Ravens. They didn't have a RayLewis or Ed Reed, much less a Haloti Ngata on defense and while RB Arian Foster is a major star, there is zero comparison between the Ravens' Joe Flacco and Texans 3rd string QB T.J. Yates.
Yet, Houston had players step up and not only did they succeed, they got even better as the year progressed. In addition, they had to shake things up mid-season, while the Ravens situation now gives them all summer to make the necessary adjustments for the 2012 season.
This precedence should give all Ravens fans enough confidence to have faith in the team's leadership and believe that while this is far from a preferred way to enter a new season, it is one that this team is built for and prepared to overcome and not only compensate, but find future stars in the making.