Detroit Lions Film Review: The Lions Need to Keep Ndamukong Suh


Suh vs. Patriots

Against the Patriots last week, Ndamukong Suh was one of the sole bright spots on defense for the Lions other than James Ihedigbo. Suh was credited with five of Detroit’s 14 total pressures, and managed to get in Brady’s grill several times despite the overall poor performance of the defense.

Brady was in shotgun nearly every play last Sunday, and the GIF above shows why. One of the only passing plays that featured Brady directly under center came on a third-and-long where Brady snapped the ball and immediately threw a screen pass to running back Shane Vereen.

Suh timed the snap as perfect as you can possibly get and knocks Brady flat on his back while nearly disrupting the throw for a possible incompletion. There aren’t many tackles that could even get a hand on Brady there, let alone knock him to the ground on this play.

Suh has earned the respect from every NFL offense as both a pass rusher and a run defender. With Nick Fairley out, teams are doing everything they can to avoid Suh when running the ball, and the Patriots did a solid job of this.

LeGarrette Blount rushed for two touchdowns against the Lions to start his second stint with the Patriots, and both were a designed run to the opposite side of Suh.

The first touchdown came early in the second quarter. Suh had an explosive initial burst, but the Patriots did a brilliant job of pulling the right guard around the center and having the center stymie Suh’s movements by blocking back against his inside shoulder.

The Lions need to pray that Nick Fairley returns as soon as possible, because they could really use him right now.

Where Does Suh Rank?

Ndamukong Suh has been arguably the most dominant defensive tackle in the NFL ever since he entered the league. Using Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Suh has earned a top five grade among all DTs the past three years. So far, he’s having an incredible 2014 season, and holds the highest overall grade via PFF.

Using PFF’s signature stats, Suh currently leads the all DTs in QB hurries and total pressures.

So where does Suh rank among his peers? To determine this, I took players who were consistently ranked near the top* of PFF’s “Pressure Percentage” stat (explained later) and added the totals of their signature stats over the past five years relative to Suh’s.

*I excluded Bills DT Kyle Williams due to the fact that he played both defensive end and defensive tackle over the span of five years.

2010-2014Pass Rush SnapsSacksHitsHurriesTotal PressuresPRP
G. Atkins183936461392219.50
G. McCoy198328421382088.22
N. Suh240233501632468.02
H. Melton13172320771207.27
M. Dareus15743118911407.16

PRP (Pressure Percentage) = The percentage of pressure a defensive tackle gets a sack, hit or hurry relative to how many times they rush the passer.

PRP Formula = ((sacks + .75 * (hits + hurries)) / pass rushing snaps) * 100

If you look at the table above, you’ll see that Suh actually hasn’t been the most dominant defensive tackle since he’s entered the league in terms of pressures per pass rushing snap.

However, that doesn’t mean that he still hasn’t been dominant. Geno Atkins’ stats are extremely impressive considering he’s one of the most undersized players at his position.

The fact that Suh has been on the field for over 400 more pass rushing snaps than the next guy on this table is a real testament to how durable he is as a player. It proves that despite not showing up for voluntary workouts during the offseason, Suh is extremely committed to staying in great shape and keeping himself healthy 365 days a year.

Suh Should be the Lions’ Number One Priority This Offseason

With both Suh and Fairley’s contracts ending this offseason, the Lions are facing quite the predicament. Obviously keeping both Suh and Fairley would be the ideal outcome, but it’s nowhere near as simple as that. Suh is asking for big money, and Fairley may have some leverage knowing how desperate the Lions are to retain some talent on their interior line.

If I’m Martin Mayhew, I’d be blowing up Suh’s phone this offseason and offering to do his laundry every week.

I’m not saying that the Lions should give into Suh’s initial demands and throw $18 million a year at his feet. But something similar to Gerald McCoy’s six-year, $95 million contract would be more than reasonable considering the fact that their stats are eerily similar over the course of their careers.