When the Ravens announced that they had added Ted Monachino as their new outside linebackers coach last week, it was only natural to wonder if the hire was correlated to Terrell Suggs' sub-par 2009 season.
A few days ago, while in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, head coach John Harbaugh all but confirmed that theory.
"We hired Ted Monachino to work with [Suggs] directly," Harbaugh told reporters. "He worked with him at Arizona State when he was so successful. I think those two have a trust and a confidence level together that will help us."
Monachino spent the last four years with the Jaguars, but prior to that, he was the defensive ends coach at Arizona State, where Suggs played from 2000-2002.
Under Monachino's direction, Suggs set the NCAA single-season record for sacks (24) and tackles for loss (31.5), and received national recognition in the form of the Bronco Nagurski and Lombardi awards.
As I mentioned earlier today, Ravens officials have admitted that Suggs came into last year's training camp out of shape, and he posted a career-low 4.5 sacks on the year.
Monachino's first task with the Ravens will be trying to get Suggs back to his peak level.
Monachino will obviously monitor Jarret Johnson, Paul Kruger, Antwan Barnes, and the rest of the Ravens' outside backers as well, and he'll likely spend time with the team's defensive ends trying to improve the overall amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Ravens had just 32 sacks during the 2009 season, tied for 18th in the NFL. Those are numbers that Harbaugh would like to improve on next season.
"We're dedicated a lot of our offseason program to pass rush," Harbaugh said. "It's not just [Suggs]. It's going to be all our guys. We want our linebackers to be able to rush the passer. We want to train our defensive backs to rush the passer. In our blitz system, they need to be able to do it.
"A big emphasis to what we do in the offseason is on pass rush."