Visions Of Sack-Happy Giants In Baltimore


The 2007 New York Giants defense was swarming, attacking.

It tied an NFL record with 12 sacks in one game and finished the year with a league-leading 53 sacks. It won Super Bowl XLII.

That unit was coached by Steve Spagnuolo, now a senior defensive assistant for the Ravens. Just months into the job, Spagnuolo sees flashes of his former Giants in the unit he now coaches.

"Defensively, wow," Spagnuolo said at the end of minicamp. "I had little visions of the Giants' front that I happened to be privileged to be working with.

"This is as good a* *looking football team that I've ever seen. I'm talking about physically and stout."

The 2007 Giants had two players with double-digit sack totals. Defensive end/outside linebacker Osi Umenyiora (13 sacks) and defensive end Justin Tuck (10) were a terrorizing duo off the edges.

Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan added nine sacks while defensive tackle Fred Robbins had 5.5 and outside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka had 4.5. It was a litany of talent and depth, something the Ravens now have on the roster.

Terrell Suggs returned in excellent shape after an injury-riddled 2012 campaign. He's looking to return to his 2011 Defensive Player of the Year form when he logged 14 sacks.

On the other side is free-agent addition Elvis Dumervil, who notched 11 sacks last season and once posted a 17-sack campaign.  Suggs says he is "ecstatic" to have him, as the duo could turn into one of the most dangerous in the league.

"To get a guy that his No. 1 thing is to get after the quarterback is really exciting," Suggs said.

Besides two top-tier edge rushers, the Ravens also have interior pass rushers. Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata has notched at least five sacks in* *each of the past three years, defensive end Arthur Jones had 4.5 last season and free-agent addition Chris Canty has seven over the past two years.

Defensive end Pernell McPhee, who had six sacks as a rookie before dropping to 1.5 in an injury-filled sophomore season, is converting to outside linebacker, which should help him get into more pass-rush situations.

While the 2007 Giants and 2013 Ravens both have adept pass-rushing players, they use different defensive schemes. New York was more of a traditional 4-3, emphasizing pass rush. The Ravens are more multiple, and pride themselves on stopping the run first.

Still, the Ravens may similarly be able to turn up the heat when desired.

When Spagunolo's Giants led the NFL in sacks in 2007, the New England Patriots were second with 47 sacks. That unit was led by now Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees. So the Ravens have plenty of coaching pass-rush prowess as well.

"A lot of times you look on another team's roster and you say, 'They have great players. That's why they are good,'" Spagnuolo said. "It's not just great players here. It's great players and great coaches.

"This defensive coaching staff is as fine as I've ever been around."

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