Ndamukong Suh $20K Slam: 5 QBs on Lions' Schedule Who Should Start Sweating
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was fined $20,000 for his hit on Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton during last Friday's preseason game.
The hit saw Suh grab Dalton by his upper torso and wrench him to the ground violently after the Bengals QB had released the ball; a colossal no-no in Roger Goodell's "safety-first" NFL.
Suh, who has now accrued more fines for illegal hits than full seasons in the league, is quickly developing a reputation as a dirty player, albeit one who excels in reaching the backfield and creating havoc.
Even if Suh dials back the intensity in the hope of avoiding another fine, his mere presence is enough to make any opposing quarterback feel nauseous under center.
Here are five QBs on the Lions' schedule who should be the most worried.
Donovan McNabb, Minnesota Vikings (37 Sacks in 13 Games in 2010)
I'll admit it. I am afraid for Donovan McNabb's life this season.
McNabb capped off a disastrous stint with the Washington Redskins by being sacked 37 times in just 13 games during the 2010 season.
Those horrific numbers, combined with a precipitous decline in mobility and field vision, do not bode well for the newly-minted Vikings quarterback, who will have to suffer through two meetings with Suh and his Lions in the 2011 season.
For a player who is now arguably more famous for his soup commercials than for his level of play, the question remains whether or not the former Eagles standout can make it to his December 11th meeting with the Lions at Ford Field, let alone finish out an entire season.
A year in Minnesota may do for McNabb what it did for Brett Favre in 2009, especially if he can stay upright. But if last season is any kind of barometer, McNabb will need a deep supply of Campbell's Chunky Soup and cortisone to stay healthy in 2011.
Matt Cassell, Kansas City Chiefs (115 Sacks in 46 Games, 2008-10)
File this under things you already knew: Matt Cassel is not a mobile quarterback.
After being sacked 89 times between 2008 and 2009, Cassel received somewhat of a reprieve from eating turf thanks to the emergence of running back Jamaal Charles, who posted 1,467 yards and 6.4 yards per carry in a breakout 2010 season.
Cassel only bit the dust 26 times in 2010, but will need his skill players to continue their high standard of play if he hopes to avoid a return to the days of being sacked 40-plus times per season.
Despite the questions the Lions must answer on other parts of the field, Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the defensive front will prove to be a stern test for the sometimes shaky line of the Kansas City Chiefs when the two teams meet in Week 2.
Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers (33 Sacks in 13 Games in 2010)
With the addition of Cam Newton, the odds are pretty good that Jimmy Clausen will not see the field during the Panthers November 20 meeting with the Lions at Ford Field. However, the young Panthers QB still has cause to sweat this season.
Very few quarterbacks in recent memory have looked as hapless as Clausen during his rookie season in 2010, where he posted horrific numbers.
In a year in which he tossed just three touchdowns to nine interceptions on his way to a 58.4 passer rating, Clausen was sacked 33 times, and very well may have played himself out of the NFL.
Of course, with just one season under his belt, albeit a terrible one, things could soon start to turn in Clausen's favor. However, given the luck the Panthers have had at the quarterback position recently, it is not hard to envision the nightmare scenario of a rusty Jimmy Clausen being thrust into a spot start at Detroit and being utterly devoured by Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Lions' defensive front.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (38 Sacks in 16 Games in 2010)
In five full seasons as a starter with the Chargers, Rivers has thrown for over 4,000 yards three times. Though not particularly mobile, he has always been able to avoid a multitude of sacks due to strong play from the Chargers' running backs and wide receivers.
That strong play from his supporting cast was largely absent in 2010—a year that saw the end of the LaDainian Tomlinson era, as well as a distracting contract saga involving former Pro Bowl wideout Vincent Jackson, who was largely ineffective when he returned from his holdout.
Without a stalwart running back or elite wide receiver to stretch the field, defenses keyed in on Rivers, who found himself planted into the turf 38 times—good for second in the AFC and third in the NFL overall.
The Chargers will need second year running back Ryan Mathews to step up big time to take some of the heat off of Rivers, while the resurgence of Vincent Jackson and a healthy Malcom Floyd could go a long way towards reestablishing the Chargers as a potent downfield scoring threat.
However, if Rivers is forced to hold onto the ball and search for targets downfield, he will be a ripe target for Ndamukong Suh when the Lions meet the Chargers at Ford Field on Christmas Eve.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (52 Sacks in 16 Games in 2010)
52 sacks. Ouch.
Of course, those numbers are a bit skewed, considering the New York Giants absolutely decimated the Chicago Bears line in an October 3rd game last season. Cutler was knocked out with a concussion after being sacked nine times in the first half, which, as you can imagine, is an NFL record.
A lack of legitmate weapons at wide receiver and running back, coupled with highly inconsistent play from a line anchored by center Olin Kreutz, made for a hellish season for Cutler. He was constantly hurried and forced to settle for numerous dump-offs and throw-away passes in what seemed like a perpetually collapsing pocket.
If Cutler is to make it through the year unscathed, he will need significantly improved play from his offensive line and skill players. Otherwise, two meetings with Ndamukong Suh and the Lions on October 10th and November 13th could prove to be as painful as last year's record-setting contest against the Giants.