Why Ndamukong Suh Will Always Be More Trouble Than He's Worth for Detroit Lions

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystNovember 28, 2012

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 22:  Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions adjusts his face mask while playing the Houston Texans at Ford Field on November 22, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Houston won the game 34-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's still one of the most dominant performances I've ever seen on a football field at any level.

In the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was an absolute monster for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, racking up 4.5 sacks and being named the game's MVP while single-handedly giving Texas quarterback Colt McCoy post-traumatic stress disorder.

Suh carried that collegiate success over to his rookie season, tallying 10 sacks after being selected second overall by the Detroit Lions, and at the time it appeared that the Lions had procured the services of a player who would be a dominant force on the defensive front for years to come.

Instead, all Suh has dominated is the headlines, and for all the wrong reasons.


The latest dust-up involving the third-year pro occurred on Thanksgiving Day, when Suh may or may not have intentionally kicked Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in an area where gentlemen don't liked to be kicked.

The incident drew Suh a $30,000 fine from the NFL but no suspension, although Suh told John Kreger of CBS Sports that his one-man rendition of the holiday classic "The Nutcracker" wasn't intentional.

“It's a crazy play,” he said. “It's one that unfortunately happened. I didn't realize [that he had kicked Schaub] until the end of the game when I see my Twitter feed and friends telling me about it.”

Frankly, after seeing the play in question about 37 million times I'm inclined to agree, but the problem with Suh is he's guilty by reputation.

Suh has been fined by the league on numerous occasions over his brief NFL career. That includes a two-game suspension a year ago after Suh was ejected from the Thanksgiving game against the Green Bay Packers for stomping on Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith, and his antics have earned him the moniker of "The NFL's Dirtiest Player".

Were Suh still racking up double-digit sacks every year, then I'd wager that Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz would have a lot easier time putting up with his nonsense, but even more disturbing than Suh's propensity for getting in trouble is his steadily declining production.

Suh only recorded four sacks last year, and while he has already eclipsed that number this season, his tackle numbers continue to fall with the big man tallying only 16 stops so far this season.

The NFL has caught up with Suh. The brute force, bull-rush moves that were effective for him in 2010 aren't working nearly as well, and from what I've seen, Suh doesn't appear to be making any real effort to adjust to opposing offenses. 

This isn't to say that Ndamukong Suh isn't a very good defensive tackle. However, the Lions didn't draft Suh second overall and pay him $60 million to be very good.

They drafted him because they thought they were getting a player they thought would become the best at his position in the NFL.

The irony here is that the Cincinnati Bengals got the best defensive tackle in the NFL in that same draft for a fraction of the price, as Geno Atkins has blossomed while Suh has stagnated.

Ndamukong Suh is still a very young player with considerable talent, and it's very possible that he could turn it around where both his performance and reputation on the field are concerned.

However, Suh also has a reputation for being surly and something of a headcase, and unless he takes it upon himself to improve his repertoire and keep his nose clean, the disruptive force that the Detroit Lions  thought they were getting won't be the kind they wanted.

And ain't that a kick in the Schaub.