- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo has been impressed with what he's seen in his first few months with the Baltimore Ravens.
"I don’t make predictions like that, but I will say this ... this is as good a looking football team that I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about physically and stout," Spagnuolo said at the end of minicamp last month. "I’m not as familiar with our offensive guys right now, but defensively, wow. I had little visions of the Giants’ front that I happened to be privileged to be working with."
That Giants team was the 2007 one that finished with an NFL-leading 53 sacks that year. With the addition of Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty, could the Ravens go from a defense that had 37 sacks last year to one that has over 50 this year? Possibly. Baltimore improved its sack total by 19 from 2005 to 2006 and increased its sack number by 21 from 2010 to 2011.
So, it wouldn't be a record-breaking achievement if the Ravens raised its total by double digits this year. But this isn't really significant for the Ravens. Just to be clear, getting pressure on the quarterback should be the No. 1 goal for every defense. Sacks, though, have been a relatively useless statistic in terms of measuring Baltimore's success.
Last season, the Ravens became the first team to win the Super Bowl with a negative sack differential (37 sacks, 38 sacks allowed) since the 2001 New England Patriots. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, they had a minus-seven sack differential (35 sacks, 42 sacks allowed). In three of the five playoff seasons under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have recorded negative sack differentials.
Sacks are a reflection of the amount of pressure a defense can get on quarterbacks. But, in the Ravens' case, sacks don't necessarily equate to success.