Baltimore Ravens Player to Watch: Haloti Ngata

Before Terrell Suggs was injured (possibly for the whole season), I believed that the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals would be in a 17-week long battle to see who ended up with the division title. The Pittsburgh Steelers are dangerously close to losing their best wide receiver, and the Cleveland Browns…well they still have a lot to prove. However, after the Suggs injury I have to give the Bengals the slight edge.

 

The Bengals have better receivers, a comparable quarterback, and much more youth and depth than the Ravens currently have on their roster. However, the Ravens have the better group of leaders, and while I expect Ed Reed and Ray Lewis will put forth valiant efforts, I think that the fate of this year’s season falls squarely on the shoulders of Haloti Ngata. When the fate of your franchise hinges on your play you are clearly the Baltimore Ravens player to watch Mr. Ngata.

 

Like many of his nose tackle brethren, Haloti Ngata’s hard work in the trenches play after play often goes unnoticed if he isn’t making a tackle for loss or forcing the quarterback into the waiting arms of an outside rusher. What most fans don’t see is the fact that he makes that line better just by walking on the field. Offensive lines fear big number 92 because he is a player that defies his position’s limitations. At the end of games if you look closely you can see opposing offensive lineman preparing to “catch” him instead of trying to drive him backwards, because they know that he won’t budge. If they do try to dig him out, every offensive coach and player knows that they better double-team him off the line and even then they can only hope for a stalemate. When that admission of defeat creeps into the mind of opposing offensive coordinators, they might as well just punt the ball. In that moment one of two things can happen, either they try their luck with their running back one-on-one with Ray Lewis or they take their chances against the plethora of pass-rusher on the Ravens roster.

 

Ngata has always been a top-5 player at his position, but this year may have to be his most dominant performance yet. The Ravens are losing an on the field leader as well as a sack artist with the injury to Suggs. Ngata will have to not only demand double-teams, but he will have to beat them and get pressure against quarterbacks until young bucks like Courtney Upshaw and Sergio Kindle can get into a rhythm.

 

Against the likes of “Big Ben” and “The Red Rifle” next year the Ravens will need the  “Tongan Torpedo” to come up big and continue his elite level of play. If he can do that I think the skilled coaching staff and the rest of that defense have a chance to push the Ravens to a third or fourth seed playoff birth. However, that isn’t a bad thing, the Giants in 2011 and Packers in 2010 have recently shown us that it isn’t about how you get in, it is what you do once you are there.

About Will Lomas

Grew up in a town in Tennessee named Dyersburg, and played ball there. When I realized I was too small to play college ball, I found my passion in breaking down game film, analyzing athletes, and finding the little things that decides whether a player is good, bad, or great.

Post Your Comments Below

* Copy this password:

* Type or paste password here:

3,446 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress