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Detroit's Defensive Line
There was great anticipation about the Detroit Lions front four on defense this year. Even with rookie DT, Nick Fairley, out with a broken foot, the starters were already considered formidable. Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Corey Williams all returned from last year.
Though Suh gets most of the attention as the powerful DT who won Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2010, Williams deserves his own due. He is the only one who recorded a sack during the game on a defensive line known for their ability to get to the QB.
Suh's presence was felt too, of course, and though he wasn't out on the field for very long, he put so much pressure on QB Andy Dalton it caused him to throw a bad pass to WR A.J. Green—and it fell right into the hands of Chris Houston.
Here's how writer Josh Kirkendall (Cincy Jungle on SB Nation) summed it up:
"Pressure on Dalton came from Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who took a false step outside, turning inside once Williams committed. Now with the team's right guard stationary, unable to match Suh's inside move, the defensive tackle had a free shot on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
With that pass rush baring down on Dalton, his progressions were interrupted that forced him to either take a sack or throw a prayer to his favorite receiver A.J. Green down the right sidelines. By the time he choose, it was too late. Suh was close enough, preventing Dalton from stepping into the throw which generated virtually no strength behind it. Cornerback Chris Houston, covering Green, easily picked off the pass with no resistant from the wide receiver."
Later, Suh put a hit on Dalton that earned him a hefty penalty for roughing the passer. This is an area that he needs to be careful of not duplicating this year. It did showcase the intensity that he is known for and made the point about what he is capable of. But this kind of "rip the head off the QB" is a habit that Suh needs to curb in order to reduce the amount of penalties the defense gets this season.
As Rob Rubick (former Lions TE turned Channel Seven game announcer) stated right after the play, "Ndamukong's got to watch it...it's not the 15 yard penalty he's going to get in this preseason game, it's the reputation that'll go with him the rest of the season. Officials will be looking for that and all of a sudden he won't even be doing anything that's very bad and the officials will flag him."
Suh earned the respect of Lions newly acquired LB, Justin Durant, however. “It’s unbelievable the ability and the power that he has,” Durant said. “To overpower grown men like that—I can’t even describe it. It’s crazy.”
The rest of the defensive line also did a great job of keeping the Bengals from scoring. They held them to only three points, with 70 yards rushing and 135 yards passing.
Schwartz wants to see more discipline from his defensive line after they piled on three personal fouls in the first half and MLB Stephen Tulloch (also acquired this off season) agrees. He also believes that the fouls can be chalked up to pent-up energy.
According to Yardbarker.com, Tulloch stated:
"Obviously you don’t want personal fouls. But when you play the game of football, it’s all emotion. You’ve got to try to control your emotion, but sometimes it gets the best of you. But all in all, I think that’s just what this young defense is about: just getting after players.”
There is no doubt about the Lions defensive line playing with passion in what many might suggest is an irrelevant game, but nothing is irrelevant about the Lions starting where they left off last season.