It took some time to learn how to correctly spell “Ndamukong Suh” without double-checking a draft preview; there isn’t a default spell check anywhere that will catch a mistake with his name. The pronunciation is somewhat easier, but only after hearing someone else say it first.
The Detroit Lions are betting that Suh, selected second overall in the 2010 draft, will become an impact player sooner than later. If they’re right, pronouncing “Suh” and spelling “Ndamukong” will become easier than ever.
Suh may be a force in the trenches, but he illegally demonstrated his dominating power in an exhibition game against the Cleveland Browns last weekend.
While applying pressure on third-and-long, Suh violently reached forward and latched onto the facemask of Jake Delhomme. Suh then wrapped his arms around Delhomme’s helmet and threw him onto his back after his knee had already touched the ground.
Suh’s mistake drew a 15-yard penalty and gave the Browns a new set of downs. In addition to the in-game penalty, Suh will probably be fined for his aggressive tackle and obvious facemask.
Seneca Wallace, the former Seahawks quarterback, thinks there should be more punishment than just a fine.
“He already face-masked him, then he grabs him by the neck, twists it and throws him down. To me, that’s something you can get suspended for, I think,” Wallace said following last weekend’s exhibition game. “I understand the face-mask part. But he horse-collared him and threw him down. We laughed about it, but that stuff can get people really hurt.”
Wallace didn’t say it, but he would have scrambled away from Suh and ran out of bounds for a 5-yard loss on third-and-8.
If you watch the replay, the play looks a lot worse than what Suh intended to do. When you’re a professional defensive lineman with something to prove, you aren’t worrying too much about what you’re grabbing and how you’re tackling – as long as you put the opposing quarterback on the ground.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz seems to agree: “Yeah, I saw it. He’s out there trying to make a sack. He’s got 350-pound guys trying to keep you from getting a sack and the quarterback’s running away. He didn’t try to grab the guy’s facemask, he just grabbed it. He just didn’t do a good job of pulling off after that. It’s hard.”
Obviously, a young lineman like Suh needs to stay aggressive. Personal fouls and unnecessary fines should be avoided, but don’t tell a player to ease up in a game that is violent by nature. If Suh had committed the same foul in college, he would have drawn a 15-yard penalty and nothing else. The professional league, however, will quickly fine or suspend players for over-aggressive and malicious play.
Suh should not be suspended. He is young and inexperienced; with time and further development, he’ll learn how to effectively and legally play a violent game in the trenches. The league should definitely send a message with an appropriate fine – in a quarterback’s league, the premier players must be protected – but in my opinion, a suspension is not necessary.