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Ravens News 12/27: Suggs’ milestone, RB worth and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line of the Week: Ravens shut down Chargers’ defense - Shaun O’Hara

Baltimore Ravens

The most impressive aspect of the Ravens’ performance was the offensive line wasn’t credited with a single sack against a very good Chargers front, according to Pro Football Focus. (All three sacks in the game were attributed to Jackson.) Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram didn’t have a sack or quarterback hit, while Joey Bosa was limited to one quarterback hit and one tackle for loss. Ravens studs Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda continued their stellar play by not allowing a pressure. Stanley, a third-year tackle, hasn’t allowed a sack or QB hit in nine straight games, and Yanda hasn’t given up a sack this entire season. Rookie right tackle Orlando Brown has followed their lead as he kept Jackson clean against Los Angeles and hasn’t allowed a sack in his nine starts. This offensive line was rightfully ranked the second-best pass-blocking unit of Week 16, per PFF.

Most impressive, the Ravens’ O-line has only been credited with three(!) sacks this season, per PFF. That’s incredible considering the offense morphed halfway through the season with Jackson taking over for Joe Flacco.

The run-first approach has certainly benefited the Ravens offensive line. Tight ends Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams should also be praised for their blocking.

Terrell Suggs Set to Surpass Ray Lewis in Games Played and Determined to Play More - Clifton Brown

Terrell Suggs is about to become the Ravens’ all-time leader in games played, surpassing Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, who suited up in purple and black for 228 games with the franchise.

Suggs will also be a free agent this offseason, which means Sunday could be his 229th and last game with the Ravens after 16 seasons if they don’t make the playoffs. He would rather not think about that, either.

“You can’t really harp on the negative,” Suggs said. “It possibly could, but that hasn’t crossed my mind like, ‘Oh my God!’ We got business to handle.”

“If you had told me as a 20-year-old kid coming into the league, you’ve at least got 16 (years)? That would’ve blew me away,” Suggs said. “I would have never known. I’m just glad the great Lord has blessed me to play this long.”

Then Suggs was asked the question great players often wrestle with. When will he know his career is over?

“You’ll just know,” Suggs said. “But I don’t feel that itch. Ain’t no hairs standing up on the back of my neck.”

After 16 seasons, Terrell Suggs is still playing at a remarkably high level. His 2018 stat line includes seven sacks, 15 quarterback hits, six pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. According to Pro Football Reference’s approximate value, Sizzle has been the second most valuable Raven in team history, behind only Ray Lewis.

Ravens’ defense is returning to form with its youth playing well above expectation - Austin Gayle

No NFL defense has allowed fewer yards or points per game than Baltimore’s in 2018, and the unit’s successes are rooted in the team’s younger players playing well beyond expectations.

Michael Pierce, a former undrafted free agent out of Samford, is currently the team’s highest-graded defender (90.9) amidst a career year.

Grand Valley State alumnus Matthew Judon has earned a career-high 70.7 pass-rush grade and ranks second on the team in pass-rush win percentage (13.3).

[Za’Darius Smith] now leads the team in total pressures (59) and ranks fifth and 13th in pressure percentage (15.0) and pass-rush win rate (16.8) among all NFL edge defenders with 250-plus pass-rush snaps on the year.

Second-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey has taken a considerable step forward in 2018, as he currently ranks fifth in overall grade (86.3) among all cornerbacks with at least 300 defensive snaps on the year.

Numerous young Ravens defenders have elevated their play this season. A key for Eric DeCosta will be keeping this nucleus of ascending difference-makers together long-term.

Running Backs Are Worth Money For Ravens - Jeff Seidel

But the running skills of Edwards and Dixon have been a huge plus for the Ravens since Jackson took over for Joe Flacco at quarterback after the veteran signal-caller injured his hip.

The bottom line is Edwards -- now nicknamed “Gus the Bus” -- is one the team’s lowest-paid players, according to spotrac.com. His base salary is $350,820 per season while Dixon is a bit higher. He’s making a base salary of $630,000 in 2018.

The Ravens certainly are getting their money’s worth out of these two running backs, who have taken over as the team’s top two runners in the second half of the season, and combined with Jackson, Baltimore now has a running game that’s tough to stop, especially in the fourth quarter of a game where it has the lead.

Baltimore’s backfield is yet another example that proves allocating significant resources to the running back position is ill-advised in the modern NFL.

Surely dynamic backs are useful, fortunately they can be found without spending first round draft picks or doling out large contracts. Building a running back committee with several cost effective players is a smart way to build a complete roster.