Ndamukong Suh is heading to Miami, which is a huge loss for the Lions and a big pick-up for the Dolphins. It’s not always easy to see the impact a defensive tackle makes on every play. Suh affects the defense and the opposing offense in many ways, though. And this is what makes him so valuable.
Suh isn’t a quick-twitch player. He doesn’t overwhelm with speed and quickness or sneak through the line of scrimmage often. He is a more of a power player. As a pass rusher, he is relentless. He doesn’t necessarily win right away off the ball. Instead, he keeps pushing his blocker back until he’s in the quarterback’s lap. This type of inside pressure makes life completely miserable for quarterbacks.
But what makes Suh great is his impact on the running game. He plays mostly on the left side of the defensive line. This means he is over the right side of the O-line, which is generally where the better run blockers are. Suh is great at using his strength and his hands to win 1-on-1 matchups against those run blockers. His ability to handle double-teams in the running game stands out the most, though.
If a defensive tackle can work his double-team to a stalemate, then he has succeeded. This is because the stalemate prevents offensive linemen from getting up to the second level and blocking linebackers. Linebackers can then run freely, as a result. This often allows them to attack the line of scrimmage and either fill gaps, or make the tackle for minimal or negative gain. You can see that below. Here, Suh was aligned in the B-gap between the right guard and right tackle.
His stalemate occupied the guard and tackle, which allowed the linebacker behind him to attack the line of scrimmage unimpeded.
But here is why Suh is so good. Not only did he generate the stalemate, he also beat the double-team and got into the backfield.
The running back had nowhere to go with Suh in the backfield and the linebacker filing the gap next to him.
Suh’s impact is clear, and he’ll definitely help a Dolphins defense that ranked 24th against the run in 2014. He’ll make plays on his own, and he’ll command attention from opposing offenses, which will put his teammates in advantageous positions to make plays.
As good as Suh is, though, he isn’t a gameplan-wrecker like J.J. Watt. His presence alone will likely not transform the entire defense. This makes his contract a concern, especially because of the likelihood that it will prevent the Dolphins from adding enough talent and depth in places where they badly need it this offseason.