Suggs heard the question, but took a few more steps before he turned around to answer.
“I just want to win,” Suggs said. “That’s all.”
Then he smiled and walked off.
The 11-year veteran is not interested in spending much time talking about himself this season. Everything seems to come back to a discussion about the team – and winning – and his attitude this year has made an impact on his teammates and coaches.
“He’s so determined right now,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “I see him walking around here – he has a look on his face, a single-minded purpose-type of a look on his face.”
That focus has paid dividends for Suggs on the football field.
He has taken over as the leader of the defense and is off to an outstanding start to the season. Suggs leads the Ravens with four sacks and is second with 31 total tackles. He also has six quarterback hits and had a career-high 17 tackles against the Buffalo Bills Sunday.
Suggs is on pace for 124 tackles and 16 sacks, which would both be career highs.
“Sizzle’s playing as well as he’s played ever,” Harbaugh said. “He’s playing at, obviously, a Pro Bowl-type level.”
His teammates have also taken notice.
“This is the best I’ve ever seen him,” defensive end
Suggs, a five-time Pro Bowler, is having the kind of season the Ravens wanted to see from him. General Manager Ozzie Newsome said during the offseason that he expected Suggs to return to the form he showed in 2011 when he was Defensive Player of the Year.
Suggs knew that the spotlight was on him after last year’s injury-riddled season.
He tore his Achilles tendon before the season and made an improbable recovery to get back on the field less than six months later. Six weeks after returning from the Achilles injury, Suggs tore his bicep and ended up missing two games because of that. He finished the season with 22 tackles and two sacks, both career lows.
In his time recovering from the injuries, Suggs developed a renewed appreciation for the game and committed himself to his conditioning. Suggs showed up to training camp noticeably leaner and he stood out from the very first day.
“He came into training camp in tremendous shape with a tremendous attitude,” Canty said. “It’s no surprise that he’s playing at a high level. It’s no surprise. He’s flying around the football.”
The 30-year-old outside linebacker has also grown into the elder voice of the defense. After years of watching Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Suggs now has his turn to take control.
He is holding his own players-only meetings with his defensive teammates, breaking down film each week after the players finish meeting with their coaches.
“His commitment and dedication to the guys in this locker room is unquestioned,” Canty said.
After Sunday’s loss to the Bills, Suggs was in the locker room talking with a group of teammates discussing defensive schemes and their approach on specific plays. Less than 30 minutes after the game, he was already in tutoring mode.
“I think his IQ of the game helps him a lot,” Pro Bowl outside linebacker
Suggs has long been regarded as one of the premier defensive players in the NFL. The Pro Bowls, sacks and propensity for trash talk with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger have brought him plenty of attention.
But Harbaugh has been impressed this season with the work Suggs has done that flies under the radar. He won the team’s Unsung Hero award after the Week 2 victory over Cleveland for the plays he made that never showed up in the stat sheet.
Suggs still has plenty of impressive numbers next to his name this season; he just isn’t interested in talking much about them. He has never been afraid to speak his mind, but Suggs has dodged just about every question this season about his personal success.
At this point, his personal dominance has taken a backseat to his focus on finding a way to keep the Ravens at a championship level.
“When I was younger, the personal accolades were an achievement for me,” Suggs said. “I think the only thing we need to account for is wins and losses.”