NFL Nation: Steve Spagnulo

Senior defensive assistant Steve Spagnuolo has been impressed with what he's seen in his first few months with the Baltimore Ravens.

"I don’t make predictions like that, but I will say this ... this is as good a looking football team that I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about physically and stout," Spagnuolo said at the end of minicamp last month. "I’m not as familiar with our offensive guys right now, but defensively, wow. I had little visions of the Giants’ front that I happened to be privileged to be working with."

That Giants team was the 2007 one that finished with an NFL-leading 53 sacks that year. With the addition of Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty, could the Ravens go from a defense that had 37 sacks last year to one that has over 50 this year? Possibly. Baltimore improved its sack total by 19 from 2005 to 2006 and increased its sack number by 21 from 2010 to 2011.

So, it wouldn't be a record-breaking achievement if the Ravens raised its total by double digits this year. But this isn't really significant for the Ravens. Just to be clear, getting pressure on the quarterback should be the No. 1 goal for every defense. Sacks, though, have been a relatively useless statistic in terms of measuring Baltimore's success.

Last season, the Ravens became the first team to win the Super Bowl with a negative sack differential (37 sacks, 38 sacks allowed) since the 2001 New England Patriots. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000, they had a minus-seven sack differential (35 sacks, 42 sacks allowed). In three of the five playoff seasons under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have recorded negative sack differentials.

Sacks are a reflection of the amount of pressure a defense can get on quarterbacks. But, in the Ravens' case, sacks don't necessarily equate to success.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Green Bay apparently has missed out on its top candidate to replace defensive coordinator Bob Sanders.

Mike Nolan, the first known candidate to interview for the job last week, will be hired as Denver's defensive coordinator under new coach Josh McDaniels, according to Adam Schefter of NFL.com. That means that Packers will shift their attention to former Jacksonville defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who also interviewed with Packers coach Mike McCarthy and likely is weighing offers from other teams as well.

According to Greg A. Bedard and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers are also considering Philadelphia defensive backs coach Sean McDermott, who cannot be hired until after the Eagles' season ends.

No one is commenting yet on the Nolan situation. Did he turn down an offer from the Packers? Did McCarthy's interest cool after the interview? The answers to those questions are unknown. All we know for sure is that Nolan won't be the Packers' next defensive coordinator.

Continuing around the NFC North on a manic Monday:

  • Interesting bit of speculation from Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: The Vikings are not only at risk of losing defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who is a finalist for the head coaching job in St. Louis and also a candidate in Detroit. Special teams coordinator Paul Ferraro is close friends with New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and Zulgad reports there are many people associated with the Vikings who believe Spagnuolo will try to hire Ferraro if he gets a head coaching job.
  • Frazier was the runner-up to McDaniels for the Broncos' job, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
  • Detroit linebacker Jordon Dizon will not have a bench warrant issued against him stemming from a drunken driving case in Colorado, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
  • Pittsburgh backup quarterback Byron Leftwich has interest in signing with Chicago this offseason, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.

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