As somber as Thursday’s news was to the Ravens and their fans, there are still the makings of a very good defense without Suggs. Even if both stand in the final act of their respective careers, the cerebral presence alone of Lewis and Reed maximizes the potential of any defensive teammates willing to listen and put in the work.
Younger players like Kruger, Upshaw, and McPhee were drafted by Newsome with the vision of those individuals eventually becoming bigger forces within the defense. The Ravens just hoped it wouldn’t have to be this soon and under these circumstances.
All is not lost despite the “woe is me” attitude pervading the fan base following the loss of Suggs.
But there’s no sugarcoating how challenging it will be to replace the game-changing plays the All-Pro linebacker has consistently provided for the defense over the years. And as much progress as the offense has made over the last four years under quarterback Joe Flacco and Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, it’s still not a unit you can consistently expect to beat quality opponents without the support of an elite defense.
With nearly three months remaining until the start of training camp, John Harbaugh and his coaching staff have ample time to search for solutions, but those answers will have to come from within the current locker room.
The always-difficult path to the Super Bowl looks that much longer now, making last season’s heartbreaking defeat in the AFC Championship sting all over again after the pain had subsided a bit over the last three months.
Even with all their key pieces in place, the Ravens fell excruciatingly short in Foxborough.
And that’s what makes Thursday’s news even more difficult to swallow.