New York Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan isn’t one to shy away from a controversy, which is why his Wednesday afternoon comments regarding Ndamukong Suh were so darn interesting.
Ryan heaped praise on the Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle, calling him the best player at the position since the days of Warren Sapp, the Hall of Fame defensive tackle-turned NFL Network broadcaster.
“Suh is probably the version now of Warren Sapp,” Ryan said in a piece penned by ESPN’s Michael Rothstein after a conference call Wednesday. “He’s probably as close to Warren Sapp as I’ve seen.”
The superlatives continued:
"“(Sapp’s) a Hall of Famer. Again, it doesn’t get much higher than that,” Ryan said. “This kid (Suh) is fun to watch. He’s got an excellent motor, and he’s got skills. He has unusual balance. He’s not off his feet, he’s able to play with power, he’s able to play with finesse, and it’s just a rare combination.“He’s a guy that’s obviously a difference-maker.”"
Uh oh, that Warren Sapp? The same Sapp who has been critical of Suh for not playing the position properly? The same Sapp who once offered to council Suh, then never made it happen on his end?
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Ryan apparently never addressed, nor was asked to address the fact that Suh and Sapp had their public issues in the past, all of which made his comments particularly interesting. Did Ryan secretly know about the one-time Sapp flap in the Motor City? Was he subtly trying to rekindle that fire?
Likely not. He was just being honest.
Did Ryan secretly know about the one-time Sapp flap in the Motor City? Was he subtly trying to rekindle that fire? Likely not. He was just being honest.
The coach’s opinion about Suh will be interesting for Sapp to address, and could produce more delicious quotes. Chances are, if a defensive coach like Ryan has seen a comparison, others around the league have as well. Even if there is no comparison between the two, it might be time for Sapp to publicly bury the hatchet, admit Suh is a great player in his own right and move on.
For Suh’s part, even though he never said much about Sapp the player in the past amidst being called out, he seems to have embraced that notion now.
“Dominant player,” Suh said of Sapp in Rothstein’s piece. “Obviously did a great job. Kind of revolutionized the 3-technique, as you kind of say. But just a solid player.”
How Sapp, an analyst who’s rarely at a loss for words, responds this time if he chooses, will provide another interesting wrinkle to one of football’s most complicated relationships.