Tom Brady heaps praise on Ravens’ Terrell Suggs
FOXBORO — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has faced some formidable defensive players over 17 NFL seasons.
Brady’s laundry list features fearsome pass rushers like Dwight Freeney of the Colts and the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor in his early years as well as, more recently, the Texans’ J.J. Watt and the Broncos’ Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
The one defender who has been on Brady’s “Players to Avoid” register throughout most of his career is Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Brady anticipates that Suggs will create his usual disturbance when the Patriots host the Ravens on Monday night at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s his 14th year and he’s been a great player as long as he has been in the league, and I think he does a lot of things really well,” said Brady prior to the team’s practice yesterday.
“He’s got all the rush moves, and he actually drops back into coverage, he bats down balls and he butchers the tight ends coming off the line of scrimmage. He’s really a playmaker for their team.”
Suggs is the Ravens’ career sacks leader with 114.5, fifth among active players and that includes a team-high eight this season. Suggs has 4.5 sacks of Brady and a number of hard hits that resulted in facemask-to-facemask confrontations.
Suggs is also a turnover machine. He has collected a team-record 32 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries. Brady believes Suggs, who has played the last five games with a torn biceps, is one of the most instinctual defensive players he’s ever encountered.
“Every year he seems to have major injuries and he comes back like he hasn’t missed a beat,” said Brady. “It’s not just sacking the quarterback like most defensive ends. I think he makes plays in a lot of ways. He definitely plays with his instincts, and if he feels like the ball is going inside, he rips inside and tries to take it away even if it’s not really his assignment.
“I think 99 percent of the time the ball goes inside so I think he just has great instincts for what he’s doing. You just can’t ever really count on the same thing from him. You have to try to play him straight up and see what he’s going to do because he makes a lot of good decisions out there.”
The Ravens have regained some swagger of late, winning four of their last five games to pull into a tie for first place in the AFC North. A lot of the credit goes to their overall defense, which allowed just over 10 points per game in those victories. The Ravens currently own the NFL’s top-ranked total defense, as well as the best rushing defense.
“No one has done a better job over the course of the season than them,” said Brady. “I think they do things really well in a lot of areas, so they’re good in first-down defense, good in third-down defense, third-and-short, good on the goal line, good in the red area. They contest every yard, so I think that’s the mark of a good defense. They don’t give you anything easy. You have to earn it.”
For his part, Suggs has been complimentary of Brady this week, which hasn’t always been the case. The Ravens and Patriots have had their fair share of clashes and haven’t been shy about trading barbs.
But Brady said bad blood never plays a part in his preparation, even when it’s against a longtime adversary like Suggs and the Ravens.
“For me personally? I think all these games are kind of the same,” he said. “I just look at the opponent, look at what they do, and the only thing that matters is what they do this week in practice and in the game. I think you just try to put everything aside and whether it was that or whether it was a playoff game a couple of years ago or whether it was a regular-season game a couple of years ago or championship games, I mean, none of those really matter.
“It’s really going to be about what this team does this week and like I said, coach (Bill Belichick) has tried to put a lot of urgency on that. We understand that, we know we’re facing a team that’s 7-5; they’re at the top of their division. They have a lot of confidence in what they do and so do we, so it’s going to be a good, tough matchup.”