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MythBusters; Ndamukong Suh Edition

Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.
Posted 11-24-2012 at 11:59 AM by SloMotion

"and with the second pick, the Detroit Lions select Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska" ... I'll admit, I was downright giddy with excitement when the Lions chose Suh with their first pick of the 2010 draft, who wouldn't be? First Team All Big-12, Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Heisman Trophy finalist, Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy, a unanimous All-American. Suh was the total package. After years of futility in the draft, it appeared as if Detroit was serious about start turning things around.

And Suh delivered his rookie season ... 48 tackles/17 assists, 10 sacks, 1 interception, a fumble recovery for his first NFL touchdown and the Lions even had him attempt to kick an an extra point ... Ndamukong had arrived. It wasn't all a bed of roses ... he did throw Jake Delhomme to the ground like a ragdoll in Detroit's third preseason game ($7500 fine, flagged for a facemask, not ripping the QB's head off I point out, well worth it) and later moose-clubbed Jay Cutler ($15,000 fine) which was really more of a two-hand shiver. Since then, there's been the Andy Dalton body-slam (another flag well-worth it), the ripping off of Jay Cutler's helmet, the infamous 'Thanksgiving Day Stomp' and now the (at the time of this printing) alleged 'Thanksgiving Day Kick' ... and I say alleged because while I do not doubt that Suh was leg-whipping with the intent of making contact with someone somewhere, I find it hard to believe that he intentionally targeted Schaub's crotch under those circumstances. Oh well, it's in the hands of the NFL now.

The flags began appearing during his sophomore season, most notably, Suh's production dropped off significantly. Four games into Detroit's surprising 5-0 start, I pointed out that Suh was on pace to record 1/2 of his production from his rookie season and got nothing but grief from the Suh-Squad. I heard it all, 'sophomore slump', 'he's double-teamed on every play, 'you don't judge a DT by his sacks' ... to which I replied, "Then what do you judge him by?". Suh's production in every measurable category was down. The team pass-defense rating had dropped from the previous year, so he wasn't necessarily helping the coverage out & it was becoming increasingly obvious that you could run the ball on the Lions defense with alarming effectiveness ... never did get an answer to that question, . Don't get me wrong, I was still on the Suh-bandwagon at this point and I didn't like how the Lions' coaching staff predictably lined up #90 in the same spot on every play, every game, pretty much. But I don't claim to be a coach, maybe there was a method to this madness ... all I know is that it seemed like they were hamstringing our star defensive player by not rotating him around the line, or even having him play linebacker, as they did his rookie season. There were other things I was noticing, the body language, the interviews filled with generic catch-phrases and talking-points, the lack of enthusiasm or motivation ... "he's a serious, intense & focused player" ... Ok, I bought it. Then came "The Stomp" on a Thanksgiving Day when it looked like the Lions were actually gonna' win one against the Pack. Of all the things Suh has done, is accused of having done, or is accused of being, this is the only incident or accusation I find egregious ... there was a definent, intentional, downward kick by Ndamukong, and as he spent the days after the incident denying and refusing to address it, I quietly slipped off the Suh-bandwagon and began viewing the big guy with a bit more critical eye.

Ndamukong rarely does local interviews these days and even flat-out refused to talk to the media recently by declaring something to the effect of, "I'd rather wipe my backside than talk with you guys", real mature. There's been the off-field auto accident in his hometown, an alleged road-rage incident on the way to practice this year, a lawsuit alleging him & his sister (who works as his business mgr) violated MI law by overcharging 1 1/2x a month's rent for a security deposit, refusing to refund that security deposit and withholding tenant property, the tweet from his sister, Ngum (“Thank u Jesus! Only 2.5 more years! #Freedom”) obviously referring to the 2.5yrs left on Suh's contract with Detroit. He doesn't seem to enjoy being on the sidelines during games, seldom smiles and doesn't engage or congratulate his teammates very often. Suh has played the last year since he was disciplined for 'The Stomp' like a sulking adolescent. I doubt very much Suh is the leader in the lockerroom that we all hoped he'd be. He isn't 'double-teamed' every play, in fact, he's 'double-teamed' less than 25% of the time, or 1-in-4 plays ... I've watched since midway through last season & kept numbers this season that bear this out ... and before anyone wants to refute my observations, it's best to know the definition of 'double-team' and have an understanding of offensive line blocking schemes, just sayin', otherwise it's gonna' be a long day.

It is now Wk#12 of the 2012 season and Suh, with 16 tackles/4 assists in 11 games is on pace for a blazing 21 tackles/5 assists ... hardly the type of performance you draft a guy #2 overall and very average. He has equalled his sack total from last season, but will still finish nowhere near his rookie season. I did see some fire in his belly this Thanksgiving Day, a glimpse that maybe the brooding/sulking of the past year had lifted ... he was pursuing the play, not letting up as it seemed he'd been doing when the ball went away from him ... he was in the backfield, disrupting the play, pressuring Schaub and causing the kind of disruption to the offense you'd expect from a first-round draft pick ... the Lions were running on all cylinders, the team looked motivated, Suh looked motivated, we were ahead at halftime ... I was beginning to think this Thanksgiving Day would be just a little more special, ... and then came 'the Kick' ... OMG, really? WTF? Suh? Again? In THIS game? ... it all became a blur after that, the Lions began to unravel ... I was kicked in the nuts, we were all kicked in the nuts ... every man, woman or motherless child that has ever cheered on the honolulu blue & silver took one to the groin, just as sure as Matt Schaub laid bent over in pain on the turf at Ford Field.

Whether it was intentional or not, that's up to the NFL to decide. Football is a violent sport, men hit each other and you do tend to try and inflict the maximum amount of damage on your opponent with every play. A player whipping their legs around during a scrum in hopes of catching an opponent in the calf or bruise a leg/arm isn't that surprising when you look at it from the perspective of being in that type situation before. That's what I think happened here. Doesn't make it right, just sayin' there's players that do that at all levels of the game ... Suh just happened to make it to the NFL.

It's unfortunate, now Suh will continue with the unenthused style of play he's displayed since the last incident and I'm afraid any chance of having him play out his career in Detroit may be slipping away. He doesn't seem happy in Detroit, like he's counting the days and just marking time ... no reason to exert oneself, get along, risk injury or devalue the Suh-brand. I often think back to that draft day in 2010, of what could have been, what SHOULD have been, and wonder where, how, it all went wrong, and if there's a chance of the Lions' coaching staff getting Suh back on track before it's too late, before he takes his talent somewhere else, aka Lebron James, and realizes the NFL superstar potential that has somewhat eluded him up til now.

It's all just so 'disSUHpointing' and it would appear the anonymous GM & NFL Scout who label him as 'overrated', 'coddled', et ... are for the most part, correct. Ndamukong Suh, the man, the myth (debunked), not quite the legend yet.
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  1. Old Comment
    Since this posting & to his credit, Suh has put together several game performances in keeping with his rookie season. Unfortunately, the Lions still lost and I think this may reflect the crux of the matter. Suh is an individual and might have a hard time performing at a high-level as the member of a team ... just an observation.
    Posted 12-14-2012 at 07:04 AM by SloMotion SloMotion is offline

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