Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 May 2012

Terrell Suggs Tears Achilles Tendon

Whoa boy. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles tendon and likely will miss the 2012 season. Reports differ as to whether he injured the tendon during a conditioning test or while playing basketball. This is a huge loss for Baltimore. Suggs was Defensive Player of the Year last year, with 14 sacks (tied for fifth in the NFL) and, by FO's count, 38.5 hurries (second in the NFL).

UPDATE: Suggs told ESPN's Rachel Nichols that it is only a partial tear and he will work hard to rehab and be back at midseason. We'll see.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 May 2012

32 comments, Last at 07 May 2012, 7:27am by dcaslin


by RickD :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 11:58am

Just wondering about who is in charge of these statistics:

"While, the general length of time to full activity following the surgery is four to six months, the average return to playing in an NFL game is 11 months, according to a study presented at the American Academy Orthopedic Surgeons in 2006."

I wonder if the "average return to playing" time is 11 months because usually the injury happens during the season and if a player is out for at least four months, that means he won't be back until the following season.

I expect to see Suggs by December.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:18pm

I don't know about that; Achilles injuries seem to take longer to recover than just about any other injury. When a player injures his Achilles during one season, it often seems like he's just barely ready for the start of the next season. And Suggs plays a position where he is flexing his Achilles and accelerating quickly on every snap.

by RickD :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:45pm

Been looking at some blogs of people who've recovered from this type of injury. I think it's reasonable to think he'll be walking by September-October, but like you say, there's a big difference between being able to walk, being able to run, and being able to push off an ankle the way Suggs has to do every play.

I still think the Ravens should put him on the PUP and hope he can surpass expectations.

Huge blow to the Ravens.

by Noah Arkadia :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 1:33pm

I remember way back when Marino tore his Achilles tendon early one season and at the start of the next you could see a massive difference between his thighs. Even as a QB it clearly affected him.

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 4:43pm

I remember way back when Marino tore his Achilles tendon early one season and at the start of the next you could see a massive difference between his thighs.

Hinkle is Einhorn?

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 11:52am

Maybe it was his gun

We are number one. All others are number two, or lower.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 1:12pm

I believe you mean "Finkle is Einhorn?"

by drobviousso :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:10pm

This is really bad for Baltimore. Suggs was their only reliable pass-rusher for the last couple of years. I know they tried to address the problem in the draft, but rookie pass rushers are hardly reliable. Also, rushing back from a lower body injury is probably going to reduce his effectiveness when he gets back.

Baltimore plays Pittsburgh week 11 and 13*. He usually takes his gummiberry juice before Pittsburgh games and plays his best games of the year. He'll probably miss both this year.

*Seriously, who thought this was a good idea. Someone is going to die.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 3:21pm

Haloti Ngata has been a reliable pass rusher though he goes about the task in a very different way from Suggs.

by dcaslin :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 3:50pm

Kruger and McPhee had a lot of near-sacks and hurries, I suspect that if someone runs their numbers relative to snaps played they'll both rank well in the "on track to get more sacks next season" stats that FO runs at times.

by Sifter :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 4:47pm

What weeks should they play?? Part of me liked the wk 17 inter-division games last year. Seemed to help stretch out the playoff scenarios a little and helps put a some interest into the last week with the rivalries. Can see the downside too of course, wk 17 usually has the least interest, why waste good rivalries there?

by erniecohen :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 8:03am

Actually, wouldn't it be cool if they could arrange for both teams to have their bye week in between?

by Lance :: Sun, 05/06/2012 - 2:35pm

Actually, that's the point of putting division games in week 17-- to create interest where there previously wasn't much there.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Sun, 05/06/2012 - 4:38pm

I think the complaint is that they play only two weeks apart. Fans of both teams seem to prefer a wider gap between games. As a Steelers fan I would prefer that because people get excited about the match up and it's nice to spread some of that around the schedule. It's not enough to complain about for me, but I can see the point.

by Mash Wilson :: Sat, 05/05/2012 - 11:58am

Pretty much all pass rushers have their best games against Pittsburgh, that doesn't require gummiberry juice. That might be soon to change, though.

by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:10pm

S, P & C as my dad would say.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:12pm

Huge blow for the Ravens. It's hard to see them not suffering a major defensive drop-off without Suggs.

by tuluse :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:18pm

Hate to see this. Hope he recovers fast.

by Mort (not verified) :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:20pm

As a Ravens fan, this is a huge blow. I still think they have the talent to make the playoffs (one man does not a team make, unless that man is Manning) but the prospects for a title are certainly bleaker.

Nonetheless, there's something reassuring about an injury like this after yesterday. Injuries in the offseason happen an whether it was conditioning or basketball, he was doing what he's supposed to be doing, staying active and in shape. I am sad about this but not existentially, is-it-immoral-to-even-watch-football sad.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 12:34pm

With the report that it is only a partial tear, does that make Suggs' claim that he'll be back in the 2012 season any more accurate?

If he's out for the season, then this is a huge loss. The good news for the Ravens at least is that their pass rush in 2011 was great and it wasn't only Suggs. In 2009-2010, Suggs was basically their good pass-rusher from the LB corp, but in 2011, the Ravens rush got a whole lot better.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 1:01pm

I think this was due in no small part to the change in defensive philosophy, with Pagano taking over for Mattison. However, a few new guys in the DL also stepped up; Pernell McPhee, in particular, was a monster in passing situations. Suggs was still the vast majority, but in contrast to the down seasons, others stepped up last year as well.

I do think this will be a huge blow, but it also represents an opportunity for some of the younger guys to prove that they were worth the draft picks (looking at you, Kindle). There's been some debate about how Kruger, Kindle, Upshaw, and some of the later-round guys would find a chance to show themselves this year. Well here we are.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 3:25pm

Aw, come on, don't call out Kindle. The man fell down the stairs are broke his skull.

by 0tarin :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 4:27pm

That probably came out harsher than it was intended. I simply meant to say that I'm hoping this is the year he actually gets some playing time.

by akn :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 8:36pm

The biggest issue controlling when Suggs will return is if he requires surgery. I haven't read anything saying that is the case. If he can be managed conservatively, then a return by December should be possible. If he needs surgery (and that decision should be made as soon as possible), then the recovery time is lengthened significantly, as the healing process for the Achilles is very slow (very poor blood supply).

by dcaslin :: Thu, 05/03/2012 - 2:32pm

Dammit! Ngata played injured the entire second half of 2011. I was just thinking how amazing it would be if him and Suggs were both healthy for an entire season...

I suppose if I want to be an optimist, if Ngata is healthy for all of 2012 then that'll help make up for Suggs being missing. Hopefully between that and the law offices of Kruger and McPhee further maturing, we'll be ok.

by Jerry :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 4:47am

LaMarr Woodley's tweet:

Yall kno i strongly dislike the ravens, but i hate hearing about an injury like the suggs 1.. Wishing him a fast recovery...

by Lebo :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 8:59am

Why does Woodley refer to himself as 'The Pharaoh'? That seems especially vain / lame - even for a professional athlete.

by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 10:39am

now we get to see just how bad ozzie newsome is at drafting pass rushers. The raven pass rush has had major issues the last several years even WITH suggs on the team. Without suggs, they will be the worst pass rush in the league.

by dmstorm22 :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 11:52am

Their pass rush was pretty good last year even outside of Suggs. That was definitely true from 2008-2010, but at least in 2011, the Ravens pass rush was really good.

by Hurt Bones :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 2:21pm

How many draft picks have the Ravens used on DE/OLB types? 4th round or better?

1997 Peter Boulware
2002 Anthony Weaver (not really drafted as a pash rusher)
2003 Terrell Suggs
2003 Jarret Johnson (not really drafted as a pash rusher)
2005 Dan Cody (sigh he looked good but had the worst injury luck/fate)
2007 Antwan Barnes (looks pretty good now playing for the Chargers)
2009 Paul Kruger (looks like he's coming around)
2010 Sergio Kindle (nothing so far and the story isn't over and Ozzie didn't push him down a flight of stairs.)
2012 Courtney Upshaw (to be continued)

That's it. Not every pick a winner but not "bad".

by chemical burn :: Fri, 05/04/2012 - 7:51pm

It mainly looks "unfortunate" mixed with "slightly off a mark they weren't even aiming for." (With a Defensive MVP thrown in.)

by dcaslin :: Mon, 05/07/2012 - 7:27am

Keep an eye on FO stats on the Raven's D. You'll find almost no individual stats outside of the say Suggs/Ngata/Reed. That's b/c they spread around the sacks with their schemes. They ended up tied for 3rd in the NFL in 2011 w/ 48 sacks (2 sacks behind #1). Call it what you will, but I wouldn't think that's a failure. When a bunch of later round picks all get a few sacks it works quite well.