You would hope to nail opposing quarterbacks more than opponents get to yours. In fact, logic would seem to dictate that a team’s sack differential would be an indication of success.
But who needs logic?
As Jamison Hensley points out at ESPN.com, last season the Ravens finished -1 in sacks — 37 for, 38 against. The previous team to win a Super Bowl with a negative sack differential was the Patriots in 2001. And oddly enough, as dominant defensively as the Ravens’ first Super Bowl championship team was in 2000, that season they had an even bigger negative number, -7 (35-42). Of course, the 2000 club was often extremely offensively challenged, too.
There is more to pressuring the quarterback than just sacks, so the Ravens could still be in positive terrority. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2012, Joe Flacco was pressured on 31.4 percent of his dropbacks, 14th-highest in the NFL, with a raw number of pressures at 115, also 14th-highest.
It would be surprising if the Ravens ended up in sack deficit territory this coming season. They have added a monster pass rusher in Elvis Dumervil. They will have a full season of a healthy Terrell Suggs. And when it comes to protecting Flacco, there is every reason to expect the offensive line will be improved , especially from where it was in the regular season, with Bryant McKinnie installed at left tackle from the start of the schedule.
Then again, as the Ravens have proven in two trips to the Super Bowl, the sack difference just may not make a difference.