John Harbaugh defends Terrell Suggs, takes offense to Eagles comments


The hit that Terrell Suggs placed on Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford drew a lot of criticism from the Philadelphia media and a few of the Eagles players. Some believed that it was a dirty hit and accused Suggs of aiming for Bradford’s knees. It was the first time that Bradford had been hit since suffering a season ending knee injury in the preseason last year with the St. Louis Rams.

Eagles left tackle Jason Peters had the strongest comments about Suggs after the game last Saturday. Peters said he took a cheap shot at Bradford and that Suggs planned it all week when the team was participating in joint practices. He also had some interesting comments when asked about whether or not Suggs should receive disciplinary action for the hit. “I hope so, he hit him low and around the knees,” Peters said. “He talks a lot and I think he’s that type of player, who is dirty and will take shots on the quarterback.”

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh took offense to Peters’ comments which questioned Suggs’ character. Harbaugh questioned whether or not some of the Eagles players that commented about the hit understood the play. The fiery coach made it clear he was agitated. “When you start popping off about somebody’s character, you’ve crossed the line. That’s not really something that we would respect,” Harbaugh said. “Most of those guys over there understood the play and understood that No. 55 [Terrell Suggs] was playing hard and trying to get it stopped.”

Whether or not the hit was illegal is up for discussion. NFL Vice President of Officiating, Dean Blandino said the Suggs hit was legal because “quarterbacks are to be treated as runners unless they are clearly in a passing posture or clearly don’t have the ball.” Blandino said that the defensive end doesn’t know if the quarterback is going to keep the ball, take off or drop back to throw the ball. For that reason, the quarterback is said to be treated like a runner until he clearly resets himself as a passer.

Chip Kelly said that the play was not a read option play during a press conference a couple of days after the game. Suggs clearly thought that the play was a read option run and he carried out his assignment which is the quarterback. “When you run the read option, you have to know the rules. If you want to run it with your starting quarterback with two knee surgeries, that’s on you,” Suggs said. “That’s not my responsibility to update you on the rules. On the read option there, I have the quarterback. It’s not my job to be reading. It’s his job to read me.”

Harbaugh demonstrated to the official on the sideline that the play was a read option run which would have made the roughing the passer call obsolete. It turns out he was correct as shown by Blandino stating specifically that the referee was mistaken when he made the call. The play may have been a dirty one but according to John Harbaugh and the lead NFL official, the play was perfectly legal.