Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees told the team's official video show earlier this week that the Ravens reeling defense is "painful," and that could mean literally and figuratively.
The Ravens are the walking wounded, and their psyche has taken a pounding, too, as the Ravens have made a precipitous drop toward the bottom of most NFL defensive rankings.
Pees has tried to stay positive about it all, and really, what else can he do? Even before his defense had taken a snap in training camp, it had lost the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year to an Achilles injury. Now he's lost the emotional leader of the team in Ray Lewis (triceps), and its top cornerback, Lardarius Webb (knee), likely for the season.
His best down lineman, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, has been bothered by a knee injury. His Pro Bowl safety, Ed Reed has been bothered by a shoulder injury (which cost him no time, but did cost the Ravens 20 grand for not reporting it.)
And all of this comes after the Ravens suffered free agent departures of two defensive starters, Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, who last season had helped the Ravens defense rank No. 3 overall and No. 2 against the run.
The dropoff has been alarming. The Ravens this year have yielded back-to-back 200-yard rushing games for the first time in their history, and as they lick their wounds during the bye week, they rank 26th overall and 27th against the run.
"It's a very proudful group," Pees said. "To be where we are right now is painful to all of us, and that means all of us, coaches, players, everybody, We're not anywhere where we want to be. But at the same time, we just got to keep improving.
"We haven't changed a whole lot of things from years past. It's not like it's a bunch of new things. .. . You gotta keep yourself up, and that's a job for us as coaches, for all of us to do."
Certainly the return of Suggs should give a lift. He's got plenty of Ravens swagger in him, but it will take more than just his return to bring the Ravens defense back form. With all the injuries, can it return to form?
Pees thinks so.
"As sometimes upset as we are about ... the stats and things are on defense, we just gotta play the next game and try to improve and get it back," said Pees, in his 33rd season in coaching and ninth in the NFL. "And once it gets back, and gets going the momentum going the other way, it'll go. But we gotta get that back."