By RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Columnist
“With the second pick of the 2010 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions have selected defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of the University of Nebraska.”
When those words were announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the hopes of Lions fans seeing their team become competitive again were finally rejuvenated.
Suh started his NFL career with a marvelous rookie season, in which he played all 16 games, accounting for 66 tackles, 49 solo tackles, ten sacks, and an interception return for a touchdown. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.
Fast forward two years later, and Suh is in the midst of his third NFL season. His production has plummeted with the emergence of his on-field antics, most notably the past two Thanksgiving games on national television.
Everyone recalls the “Suh Stomp” that took place during the Thanksgiving Day game against the rival Green Bay Packers in 2011. Suh received a two game suspension and was fined for “stomping” on Packers offensive lineman, Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The 2012 Thanksgiving Day Game against the Houston Texans featured similar antics, where Suh appeared to “kick” quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin. Suh wasn’t suspended this time around, but a was fined $30,000 for the incident.
Suh has struggled tremendously since the first Thanksgiving Day incident, only producing 25 tackles and 5.5 sacks in a year. It’s simple math, folks; as Suh’s aggression grows, his on-field production decreases.
Suh has not only been a liability on the field, he’s also run into trouble off the field. He’s been involved in five traffic incidents since joining the Lions in 2010, with his most recent occurring two weeks ago.
If you haven’t realized it yet, the Lions have a growing problem on their hands, and I’m not talking about the groin problem Schaub had last week.
The Lions need to resolve this problem before it turns into a clubhouse cancer. Yes, Suh is a great defensive lineman when focused, but as of late, he’s become a diva, seeking attention from wherever he can get it.
Suh recently told ESPN The Magazine that he sees multiple Super Bowls in the Lions future.
“I do see multiple Super Bowl rings in my future, especially with the team we have now. We’re a team where if we don’t make mistakes, we are insanely dangerous.”
Just ask Carolina Panthers’ center Ryan Kalil about Super Bowl guarantees. Kalil received both criticism and praise after taking out a full page ad to predict that his Panthers will win Super Bowl XLVII. That kind of attention is unnecessary, and the Panthers’ 3-8 record shows it.
The Lions don’t need the negative limelight on them, nor the city of Detroit, especially with their strings of offseason arrests this past summer.
There are several routes the Lions can take regarding the future of Suh, but none of them appear easy at the moment.
The team can try to release him, which could be a problem, as Suh is owed $22.7 million over the next two years. The Lions could opt to trade him during the 2013 offseason, although finding a suitor to take on his large contract will be difficult, especially with strict salary cap penalties in place for NFL teams.
Even will all these options, there is no clear cut solution to the problems that Suh has created during his tenure in the NFL.
The only thing Lions’ fans can hope for now is that Suh stops his antics and starts focusing on the team, before both are left disappointed after their sour marriage thus far.