Suh performed beyond even high expectations

Posted Jan. 19, 2011 @ 3:09 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Two really is better than one. Or more aptly to this debate, Suh is better than one.

Heads and shoulders above the rest of a good rookie class, Rams QB Sam Bradford and Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, the first and second picks in last year's draft, met in a Week Five showdown.

Offense vs. defense. Quarterback vs. QB killer. Oklahoma vs. Nebraska.

If you're looking for a reason why Suh won the Pro Football Weekly/PFWA Rookie of the Year award over Bradford, start with that game in Detroit.

Fast-forward to the fourth quarter when the Lions led 34-6. Suh had yet to put his stamp on the game, frustrated he hadn't sacked his fellow rookie. Bradford dropped back, and Suh was double-teamed but worked inside and got his hand up right when Bradford attempted to pass.

Suh takes over from here. "I was trying to get after Sam the whole game, trying to sack him," Suh told PFW. "But I had a hunch to drop back a little on that play.

"He threw it right above me, got the hand on it, tipped it up into the air and was able to track it down. I was trying to take it to the house, but a good friend of mine in Steven Jackson tackled me."

At that point of what would end up turning into a 10-sack season — unheard of for a rookie defensive tackle — Suh only continued to get better in a Pro Bowl campaign.

"Just the athletic ability he has for a big man is unparalleled from anything we had seen," Lions DL coach Kris Kocurek said. "He came in with the determined attitude that he was going to prove he was worth being the second pick.

"When you look back, you saw him get better every single game."

The Lions expanded Suh's responsibilities with each contest, too, moving him from his three-technique position on the left side to left end, right defensive tackle and even standing up in a linebacker-like role.

"I think he had two of those 10 sacks while standing up," Kocurek added.

Suh performed at every one of these spots in perhaps his most dominant game of the season against the Redskins in Week Eight when he had five tackles, two sacks and the cherry on top: a fourth-quarter fumble return for a TD, brushing off a feeble tackle attempt by 185-pound Redskins WR Santana Moss.

"It look a lovely little hop right into my arms," Suh said. "I was just there to pick it up and run into the endzone."

Suh took some heat for a little showboating on the return, but Kocurek says the flashy side of Suh is not the one he sees on a daily basis.

"He has a real low blood pressure out there," Kocurek said. "Cool, calm and collected. And yet he still can crank it up and dominate games. That's his style."

 

Pro Football Weekly's annual awards issue (dated Jan. 23) is on sale now, featuring All-NFL, All-Conference and All-Rookie teams, MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Executive of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year — all selected by PFW editors and contributors along with members of the Professional Football Writers of America — as well as a Golden Toe Award selected by PFW editors only. The print edition also contains a preview of the draft outlook for the first four teams to make selections in April, as well as previews of the two conference championship games. The print edition is available at retail outlets around the country and also online at PFWstore.com , where you can purchase a print copy or an electronic (PDF) version.