When Ndamukong Suh hit the scene in his 2010 rookie season, he posted ten sacks and looked very much like the player he was drafted to be. He was the savior of the Detroit Lions defensive line, and ushered in a winning attitude in the Motor City.
Fast forward to last season. Suh only had four sacks, and was talked about more for his questionable behavior on and off the field rather than his production. Some have called him dirty. Some have called him overrated. This season, Suh is looking to get back to form and prove all the nay-sayers wrong.
Former Lions All-Pro Al Baker recently touched on Suh’s situation. According to NFL.com:
“Watch this year, ’cause now he’s going to have a combination of nobody knowing who he is and everybody knowing who he is. You’ll see a different guy ’cause he’s not going to come out feeling all that pressure and have the sophomore jinx and that self-imposed pressure, ‘I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that.'”
For the Lions to continue to build on their success of last season, this will have to happen. In my humble opinion, it will rest mostly on the coaching staff to implement complex packages that involve shifting on the defensive line to create mismatches for Suh. He is routinely double-teamed, and Cliff Avril has been reaping the benefits of that, racking up 19.5 sacks the last two seasons.
The bigger issue will be Suh adjusting his playing style, as fans and analysts alike have come down on him for his somewhat dirty play and idiotic decision making. If all these elements come together, look for a big season from Suh and his Lions team on the rise.