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Ndamukong Suh Rallies Run Defense After Sluggish Start

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh called out the run defense before the Broncos game declaring that they were “terrible, without question”. The Rams entered last Sunday’s game ranked 26th in rushing DVOA. They were gashed the previous week by the Seahawks, who managed 190 yards on the ground. Suh continued, “I can’t think back to many times to defenses that I’ve been a part of that have been [at] 191 yards, let alone many times over 100…I’ve been a part of some great defenses where we’ve, in a year, not allowed but maybe one team to get close to 100 or over 100.” Fortunately, Suh’s tough love paid off as the Rams dominated Denver and their young running game.

Suh accounted for just two tackles, but his impact was felt. The Broncos were held to a combined 60 yards on the ground. He and Aaron Donald (who got another sack) took the double teams, which allowed fellow defensive tackle Michael Brockers feast on a shaky Denver line. Brockers recorded five total tackles. This looks to finally be the run unit that was promised. The Rams came in with huge expectations after making Donald the highest paid defensive tackle in the league (second overall after the Bears paid Khalil Mack). The problem was the rest of the front seven was still in flux.

Fortunately, they came to play as linebacker Cory Littleton had another strong showing posting five tackles of his own. He also wreaked havoc in the backfield on several other plays. The secondary is still trying to find its way after losing star Aqib Talib for the year and Marcus Peters is still not over his calf injury. That being said, LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson III made an impact defending the run. Joyner led the team with seven tackles and a sack. Suh set the tone and proved that his acquisition wasn’t the dangerous prospect it appeared to be in August.

When the Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $14 million dollar deal heads turned. Donald was still holding out and Suh was looked at as one volatile character too many after Talib and Peters were added to the mix. Instead, Suh has proven to be a leader and a positive influence on the locker room. His days in Detroit and Miami will always precede him though. In Detroit, he earned a reputation as a dirty player. In Miami, he signed a six-year $114 million deal which immediately became an anchor for him.

He did total 107 tackles and 15.5 sacks in his three years as a Dolphin but none of it mattered. Yes, they made a playoff appearance, but, given the rest of the team’s issues and the “culture” in that locker room, Suh became a scapegoat. His contract was too onerous for a team that seemed to be on the treadmill of mediocrity, so the Dolphins cut him loose. Suh was even accused of being a mercenary and didn’t care once he got paid.

Fortunately, Suh seems to have found a home in LA, at least for this season. It stands to reason that he’s auditioning for what would be his big-time time contract and the Rams have bigger fish to fry. The hope would be he doesn’t like any of the situations he’s offered and agrees to come back to the Rams at a bit of a discount. It’s unlikely even after earning about $124 million over his eight-year career, that he’d take a pay cut to contend for a ring but fans can hope.

“I can’t think back to many times to defenses that I’ve been a part of that have been [at] 191 yards, let alone many times over 100…I’ve been a part of some great defenses where we’ve, in a year, not allowed but maybe one team to get close to 100 or over 100.”

Rental or not, Suh has acquitted himself quite nicely and proven that at 31 he’s finally the kind of vet you’d want in a locker room. He called out the run defense in the most productive way possible and it yielded results on and off the field. Donald even said so when he praised him, stating, “Suh did a great job putting pressure on his face and I just saw him running and I ran with him.” Now, they prepare to travel to San Francisco to take on a team that despite being without star quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerrick McKinnon can still move the ball.

It’s great to watch Suh change his narrative this late into his career. He’s still as explosive as the Hulk, but he’s finally figured out to control it. The pass defense still needs to get it together, but with Suh leading the way, the Niners are in for a long day.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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