Things have reached a crisis point for the Baltimore Ravens. They can't stop the pass or the run and look on the verge of a free fall. Has the time come to get aggressive at the trade deadline? Are Cliff Avril and Matt Toeina good targets?
Return of Terrell Suggs could not cover up loss of Ray Lewis
Kudos to Ravens sack master Terrell Suggs for doing everything possible to give his team a spark after a dark week in which they lost two of their best players to possible season-ending injuries. Lardarius Webb is out for the year with a torn ACL and team leader Ray Lewis tore his triceps. He might return but not for months. By then, Baltimore could have fumbled away their 5-2 start. Suggs returned early from his own bad injury, a torn Achilles, to give the team some pass rush. On his seventh play against the Houston Texans he sacked Matt Schaub. It wasn't enough. The ornery Texans rampaged over the punch-drunk Ravens offensively and defensively, gaining some revenge for their playoff lost back in January. It also showed Joe Flacco doesn't have enough on offense to carry the team alone. Through seven weeks the Ravens once vaunted defense ranks near the bottom in yards allowed and points allowed. They are 21st in quarterback sacks and are one of just three teams to give up 1,000 yards rushing. Fans in Maryland feared the time would come when age caught up to the defense. Unless the team can find help these trends likely will continue. After years of conservative moves in free agency, perhaps the time is right for an aggressive approach with the trade deadline imminent.
Avril and Toeaina face issues with Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears
Ravens fans probably watched Monday night with a tinge of jealousy in their heart. Two defenses set the tone for the night and made life miserable for the quarterbacks. The Chicago Bears got the last laugh, showcasing their mix of veteran stars and young workhorses in a statement win. The Detroit Lions got little to nothing out of Matthew Stafford, but their defensive line lived up to their billing with five sacks. Two players that may not see that for much longer are Lions defensive end Cliff Avril and Bears defensive tackle Matt Toeaina. Both face uncertainty on their rosters for varied reasons. Avril becomes a free agent in 2013. He is the team sack leader since he got drafted in 2008. At age 26 he enters the prime of his career and will likely fetch a price Detroit can't afford. Toeaina meanwhile has lost playing time in Chicago because of the deep rotation on the Bears defensive front. The 27-year old is a physical nose tackle who plays his best against the run. However he has not played much because other players on the team can rush the passer better. That means his time in navy blue is short. Baltimore is not a gambling team but they have the draft picks to interest Detroit and Chicago at the deadline.
Cliff Avril and Matt Toeaina are not household names but they are good at what they do. The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears can vouch for that. Terrell Suggs took a risk coming back but he doesn't have much help. If the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl-or-bust, it's time to prove it.
Photo Credit - Gridiron Fans