Detroit Lions: Focusing on the Stats for DT Ndamukong Suh

Michael SuddsCorrespondent IMay 28, 2011

When I pore over the statistics at Pro Football Focus, I’m amazed at what I sometimes find there. Hidden in plain sight are those little nuggets that make you go “WOW!”

With TE Brandon Pettigrew, we could see from receiving stats, dropped passes and penalties that he can rise to the top of his profession with increased focus.

We’re going to go defense in this article and do some analysis of DT Ndamukong Suh’s stats in 2010.

Suh was the All-Pro Defensive Rookie of the Year. Draft analysts called Suh the best defensive tackle drafted in two decades. Suh surpassed everyone’s expectations by light years to become one of the most dominant forces in the NFL.

Let’s get digging!

I have to preface the following discussion by advising you that the DTs and NTs (nose tackles in a 3-4 defense) are in the same statistical group at PFF.

Suh played a whopping 997 snaps out of 1,105 total defensive snaps in 2010. The next closest Lions defensive player, CB Chris Houston played 906 snaps.


No DT came close to seeing that much action. The next closest DT (Kyle Williams, Buffalo) had 927 snaps.


Now, PFF grades the players on every play. For the DTs, PFF ranks run defense, coverage, pass rushing and penalties. Then PFF issues their rankings based on the overall grade.

Ndamukong Suh was PFF’s 26th out 77 ranked DTs.

Are you kidding me? WTF?

This ranking was rather stunning, so I decided to limit the sample to those players who played at least 75 percent of their team’s defensive snaps.

Another surprise! Only 13 DTs in the NFL played 75 percent of their team’s snaps! Suh placed sixth overall in this elite group of ultimate sled dogs.


Coaching Point No 1

Suh’s 997 snaps is inordinately high, and even with his outstanding conditioning, Suh will break down with such a heavy workload.

The drafting of Nick Fairley should be a mitigating factor in the overuse of Suh. Head coach Jim Schwartz alluded to this in post-2011 draft interviews.

Now, I’m sure that we would blindly believe that Suh would be at the top of the heap in virtually every statistical category. Let’s explore the stats and see if there any areas where Suh can improve.



When it comes to rushing the QB, Suh placed fifth amongst the elite group.

Very curious, indeed.

Now, we have to look at the QB sacks, hits, pressures and batted passes for some clues as to where Suh can improve his standing, if possible.

Suh was awarded 11 sacks by PFF, who does not give half sacks. This blows the field away by four sacks.

So, what’s the problem?

Suh recorded six QB hits. This dropped him to sixth behind Giant Barry Cofield’s league-leading 10. OK, Suh drops some here.

Suh was credited with 24 QB pressures which was good enough for fourth behind Oakland’s Tommy Kelly‘s 30. Not bad, but Suh slips some.

In the batted passes department, Suh had only two. Oddly enough, Suh finished in a four-way tie for third place, behind Minnesota’s Kevin Williams’ astounding nine batted passes.

Nine batted passes by Williams? C’mon, man, that’s insane!

While Suh scored very well in the QB rushing statistical categories, he’s in some very elite company. No, he didn’t finish as high as I thought he would, but that’s a function of my expectations. I think.



Now, we have to look at Suh’s dark side.

Suh was the third-most penalized DT in the league with 10. The leading flag magnet in this elite group was Detroit’s own Corey Williams who had 15 penalties.

The difference between Suh’s and Williams’ penalties was that Suh’s penalties were mostly aggressive ones against the QB. Williams apparently calls upon some divinity for his jump off time during the snap count, or is a complete Bozo.

Suh received two erroneous 15-yard penalties in 2010. He tackled the dreadlocks of Cowboys RB Marion Barber and was flagged for a horse collar.  Bogus.

Suh tackled Jay Cutler with more malice than the Refs were willing to allow to a QB turned RB.

Note to Cutler:  If you value your health and career, learn how to slide.

I don’t know about you, but I like Suh’s necessary roughness. I’ll take those penalties any day, except I want Suh to collect a scalp and destroy a QB who has the temerity to run the rock. Period.

Any questions? I thought not.

If anyone needs a coaching point, it’s Corey Williams. I’m saving Williams for the “Jarhead” treatment.



We now turn our attention to run defense, where Suh played well beyond his years.

Suh recorded 48 solo tackles plus eight assists. He was second in tackling in the league, behind Bills standout Kyle Williams, who had 58 solos and 10 assists.


Coaching Point No. 2

C’mon, Suh? Get off your ass and get after it! You should be blowing the field away in tackling. Those double teams go with the territory, son. Deal with it!

Now, let's work on that new “swim” move. The one with the hammer.


The Suh "Nugget Stat"

I hope you are sitting down for this stat. Out of Suh’s 997 snaps, he recorded only one missed tackle.

Now, that’s amazing!

No, that’s Suh.




Ndamukong Suh will be a perennial All-Pro for the foreseeable future. The 2010 stats indicate that he needs to have his snap count reduced by about 20 percent. This will keep him operating at peak effectiveness in the fourth quarter of Week 17.


Suh should lead the PFF DT stats in tackles in 2011 now that Nick Fairley is there to play “rodeo clown“ in his rookie season.

Next up: CB Alphonso Smith.


Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for


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