Ravens Player Profile: NT Haloti NgataPosted on July 24, 2014 by Jeremy Herskovic
2013 season review: The last 3 or 4 offseasons have pretty much been the same story for Haloti. How would he come back from all of the injuries he had sustained in the previous season? Unfortunately, the Ravens have yet to find that second force to line up with Haloti in the middle to create Suh-Fairley style penetration. This being the case, Haloti has long been the recipient of double teams, chop blocks, and probably more than a dozen wrongly-placed punches. Last season was no different. While Haloti came in at his healthiest in a while, and was able to move back into the middle to Nose Tackle, his preferred position, playing so many snaps at a professional level still manages to mangle you up a bit. However, Haloti only missed one game in the 2013 season, and the depth along the D-line in Art Jones, Chris Canty, Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, and newcomer Brandon Williams allowed Ngata to move around the line, and most importantly, take some well-deserved plays off.
I included Games Played to emphasize the fact that Haloti gets banged up during the season, but never misses significant time. He never missed a start in his first three seasons, and the most he’s ever missed in a season was 2 games. Not bad for a player in the trenches. Sacks and Tackles tell their own story. Passes Defended look pretty good for a league quickly turning to the air game. If every linemen recorded 5.5 passes defended a year, that’s a whole game’s worth of passes that never get farther than the line of scrimmage. Stuffs are the stat you want to see. Even though this number is not officially recorded by the league, or recognized for award consideration, a “stuff” is a tackle made at the line of scrimmage in a gap by a lineman. If a quarter of Haloti’s total tackles next year are stuffs, our run defense will be the best in the league.
What the critics are saying: Haloti has been a fan and media favorite since entering the league in 2006. Once declared the best DT in the league, Ngata looks to get back to dominance. A quiet hard worker, Ngata lets Suggs do most of the talking, and foils the loud outside linebacker with hushed consistency in the middle; you’re prototypical walk-the-walk style athlete. As with Suggs and Rice, much of the critical media points to Haloti’s age as the essential reason why his production has slowed over the last few years, and many forget the Golden Rule of playing D-line. A NOSE TACKLES STATS DON’T TELL THE WHOLE STORY. A big reason for Suggs’ and Dumervil’s sack count, or Darryl Smith’s tackle total is Ngata taking up space in the middle. Haloti will never register 100 tackles or 15 sacks, but consistent pressure in the middle allows every other position on the defense to shine brighter. Selfless ambition; Ngata was born to play Nose.
2014 season look ahead: At this point, things look a lot like they did at this time last offseason. Ngata shows up to camp in great shape, and expresses his strong desire to go all the way. So why should we believe that Ngata is trending up, not down? The players around him have all gotten better. While Art Jones was a key loss on D-line, consider the 2014 D-line rotation: Chris Canty and Brent Urban are essentially the same player, so the “knifing Defensive End” position is filled. Brandon Williams flashed promise in the limited action last year, even pulling a Terrell Suggs (sacking Ben Roethlesberger). DeAngelo Tyson has proven in recent years to be a steal in the 7th round and carries Ngata’s same walk-don’t-talk mentality. Kapron-Lewis Moore has been taking most of the first team reps in offseason activities so far and looks to be completely recovered from the torn ACL that allowed the first round talent to fall to the Ravens in the 6th round. Not a lot can be said about Timmy Jernigan other than the fact that he was a first round talent that (for whatever reason) dropped to the Ravens in the second round, and so far in offseason activities has looked exactly the part. On a younger, faster defensive front, Ngata will be able to shift in and out and all around the line without having to shoulder the entire load he has in the past.
What it adds up to: Ngata and Suggs are the last remnants of a defense that was consistently dominant. While the success of this season’s defense does not depend solely on Ngata’s production, his success will allow those all around him to succeed. In a defense that features so much young depth at all levels, it’s essential that veterans can play the game at a dominant level. With Suggs quickly approaching 100 sacks, and Ngata looking to get to his 6th Pro Bowl in 6 years, it would seem that Ravens’ leadership is not as much a consideration as it was in 2013.
Prediction: 60 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 ff, 1 fr, 1 safety