Entering his fourth season out of Nebraska, can Detroit Lions 2010 first round draft pick Ndamukong Suh finally emerge as a leader of the defense? The Detroit Lions are all in that he can do just that this year, as they have parted ways with veteran leaders Kyle Vanden Bosch and Correy Williams in the off season. Coach Jim Schwartz is confident that Suh will be able to successfully step into a leadership position for the defense this year, but his track record doesn’t necessarily support that assertion.
So far during his NFL career Suh has become more known for his dirty play than for his leadership abilities. On numerous occasions Suh has had the spotlight shift in his direction for the wrong reasons. His infamous stomp on the arm of Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith was both unnecessary and bad for the Lions reputation as a team. He followed that up with an alleged kick to the groin in last year’s Thanksgiving game against the Houston Texans. You can watch and judge for yourself whether or not that was intentional below.
If plays like the one’s Suh has become famous for continue to happen, Suh will not only find himself suspended continually by the league, but perhaps out of football altogether. However if Suh can prove that he is ready to change his ways, he has a golden opportunity to emerge as a leader for the Detroit Lions defense this year.
The Lions still have a lot invested in Suh and are prepared to give him at least one more chance to change his ways. He is at a point in his career where he should be entering his prime, and if he can develop into the dominant force that the Lions drafted him to be, this defense has a shot to be dominant.
To this point in his career, Suh hasn’t provided the positive impact that a first round pick is expected to bring to the table. He has just 22 sacks in three seasons to go along with one forced fumble. His tackling numbers have also declined so far with every year he has played in the league. He finished last season with a meager stat line consisting of just 25 tackles, 8 of which were sacks despite playing in all sixteen games for his team.
The Lions have a lot of talent, especially up front thanks to the tackle combination of Suh and Nick Fairley, as well as the addition of Ezekial Ansah with the fifth overall selection in this year’s draft. If these three can work together under Suh’s leadership, they could be a force to be reckoned with for opposing quarterbacks.
The question of whether or not Suh can emerge as a leader for the Lions still remains unanswered, and there is already some doubt among fans and players of the team. Teammate Stephen Tulloch doesn’t seem to agree with his coach, citing Suh’s personality as the main reason why. When asked about whether or not his teammate can transition to a leadership role, he mixed skepticism with praise of Suh’s talent “No, he’s a quiet guy, you know how Suh is. But I will say this, he’s very dominant. I can’t get mad at him. He can be as quiet as he wants. He’s probably the most dominant defensive tackle I’ve ever been around.”
Whether Tulloch or Schwartz is right about Suh’s leadership capabilities remains to be seen, only time will tell us for sure. The Lions have a lot invested this year in Suh, believing that he finally can emerge as a leader for the Lions defense. If he proves adequate in this role and can make the defense play at an above average level, the Lions will be a feared team given the well-known talents of Calvin Johnson and the rest of the offense.
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The Guardian Express