Brian Baldinger's Effusive Praise of Ndamukong Suh Actually Falls Short

Brian Baldinger recently put together some thoughts on Ndamukong Suh for a blog entry on

I haven’t seen anyone so dominant entering the league since Haloti Ngata five years ago.

I’ve never seen anyone play the position quite like Suh. Although I consider Ngata the best at what he does, Suh is a different type of player because he’s not quite as big. If Suh improves like I expect him to, it will be just he and Ngata in this conversation.

While effusive in his praise, I don’t think he’s got it quite right. Let me explain…

Before we get too far along here, you may want to read the full article. Click the thumbnail if you so desire:


A comparison to Haloti Ngata is high praise as I see no problem with anyone arguing that Ngata is the top defensive tackle in the game right now. That being said, I have a problem with the first quote from Baldinger up above. Suh was the most dominant defensive tackle entering the league since Ngata? Sorry, you’ll have to go back farther than that. Let’s take a look at the rookie seasons of our two players in question to determine if Ngata’s rookie year is an appropriate benchmark for our beloved Mr. Suh.

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Tm GS Sk Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds TD Tkl Ast AV
2010*+ DET 16 10.0 1 20 20 3 1 1 17 1 48 17 15
Career 16 10.0 1 20 20 3 1 1 17 1 48 17 15
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2011.
Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Tm GS Sk Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds TD Tkl Ast AV
2006 BAL 16 1.0 1 60 60 2 13 18 8
Career 76 12.0 3 68 60 14 2 2 0 0 172 76 60
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2011.

The thing about defensive tackles is that they can have a tremendous affect on the game without it showing up on the stat sheet. That better have been the case for Haloti Ngata because it certainly doesn’t show in his rookie stat line. The other problem here is that we know Ndamukong Suh‘s presence was felt beyond the box score as well. He saw some double teams from the first preseason game in Pittsburgh.

Haloti Ngata is coming off his best season as a pro. Incidentally, his stat line for the 2010 season doesn’t look much different than the one Ndamukong Suh just put up as a rookie. Take a look:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Tm G Sk Int Yds Lng PD FF FR Yds TD Tkl Ast AV
2010*+ BAL 16 5.5 0 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 47 16 17
Career 78 12.0 3 68 60 14 2 2 0 0 172 76 60
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2011.

You may notice the column marked “AV”. This is an attempt at assigning a single numerical value to the season’s performance. While not an exact science, it does provide a ball park comparison.

In general, Brian Baldinger was right to compare Ndamukong Suh with Haloti Ngata but his praise falls short when he likens Suh’s rookie campaign to Ngata’s. The truth is that Suh is a lot more like Ngata now as opposed to then. And so, the best way to close is to quote the last line of Baldinger’s piece:

It’s the ultimate compliment, really, that Suh doesn’t compare to anyone else in the league.

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Brian Baldinger Detroit Lions Haloti Ngata Ndamukong Suh

  • Andrew Hof

    A nice article, but they play different positions. Suh is an under-tackle or “3 technique” in a 4-3 defense, where his role is to shoot the gap, penetrate, and make plays behind the line. Ngata is a 3-4 DE and plays “two gap” technique, meaning he is supposed to hold the point against his man or (in most cases with him) a double team to free the linebackers up to make plays. It’s hard to evaluate one against the other because they are very different positions. But I do agree that they are easily the two most dominant D-lineman in the game today.

    • Zac Snyder

      Understood, however the argument that a lot of what Ngata does doesn’t show up in the stats doesn’t give him a boost over Suh since the same holds true for him.

      My main point was just to compare rookie years to rookies years and it is interesting that Suh compares a lot more favorably to Ngata now than when Ngata was a rookie. In the end the “who’s better?” argument is superfluous. The notion that we can have a Kobe/LeBron debate where one of the players in question is a Lion is all I need!