Let's face it, Detroit fans are unlike any in the world. We love defense. We prefer gritty, tough players to high-flying finesse guys. We want our stars to have an edge to them. That's why this whole flap about Ndamakong Suh being a dirty player is so laughable to me. At the same time, I think it is perfectly suited to the fans of this franchise.
The Lions need someone that quarterbacks and coaches fear on their side of things. Just like most of the great players of the past in football, Suh is the player that everyone on the offensive side of things looks for before every snap. You must account for the most dominant player on the Lions roster.
The way that teams are approaching Suh is unlike anything we have seen in a while. Sure, there have been some dominant defensive players over the course of the past couple decades, but I would argue that you would have to go back to the 1980s to find someone that terrifies quarterbacks like Suh. That's why I would argue that Suh is the most terrifying thing to happen to quarterbacks since Lawrence Taylor.
It's true that Reggie White, Derrick Thomas and even Michael Strahan have been worthy of fear in quarterback's eyes. Heck, Bruce Smith had a certain terrifying mystique attached to him as well. But Suh has crafted a reputation that should scare the holy heck out of signal-callers. He has a fire in his eyes that is only matched by his true disdain for the position of quarterback. Add to that his intelligent and soft-spoken mannerisms off the field, and it adds up to an enigma of a person.
No matter how you slice it, this is a good thing. Having the most terrifying defensive player in the game forces offensive coaches to scheme around him or else they run the risk of losing their quarterback. This opens the door for other players to step up and contribute. So far this preseason, we have seen exactly that: Double and triple-teaming Suh has allowed Cliff Avril, Lawrence Jackson and Corey Williams to make plays.
Things are only going to get better. Rookie Nick Fairley and recently-injured Kyle VandenBosch will be returning soon, allowing defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham to rotate more bodies, meaning the defensive line will surely be much fresher than their offensive counterparts. Add to that the competitive nature amongst the defensive linemen themselves, and you have a defensive line that likely will be harassing quarterbacks all season long.
Really, the only downside to Suh's reputation could come in the form of retribution. We have seen in the past players with nasty reputations getting illegally chop-blocked by running backs or offensive linemen. The key to controlling this for Detroit lies in making sure that they remain scary and unified. If you know for a fact that KVB will likely beat the tar out of you for chop-blocking Suh, you probably won't do it no matter how much you love your quarterback.
What we have been seeing so far this preseason is a defensive unit that is psychologically taking teams out of their element. The Lions are the toughest guys on the field—something we have never seen from this team. More than anything, this reminds me of the Pistons. The fans embraced the bad-guy image, while other teams feared and/or despised them.
The Lions are heading in this direction, and fans should relish the fact that their team is the meanest kid on the block.