I’m an Ndamukong Suh defender, although I took a little break when he stomped on a dude, and then blamed it on his shoelaces. But put his infamous Thanksgiving Day stomp aside, and last year Suh mostly went through the natural progression of a player who plays with intense aggression, and needs to learn how to harness that aggression to ensure that it’s only used for positive football plays.
In fact, in that sense I think his stomp and the resulting two-game suspension was beneficial. It was a momentary lapse in judgement that finally–well, hopefully–brought Suh to the peak of his stupidity, and forced him to realize that his actions can hurt his team’s ability to win games. So there was progression and maturation there, which are essential for a key player on a young team.
Now Suh knows that for the Lions to advance beyond just making the playoffs, his teammates need to go through that same growth. Fast.
That’s what he told Yahoo’s Michael Silver in a comment that will only be believed once it’s put into action, and tangible results can be seen.
“Everybody has to be accountable for themselves, and obviously we as teammates need to hold each other to a higher standard. And that’s being addressed, and some of our teammates will have to deal with repercussions from the league, and I think they’ll handle that the right way and move forward and not let it truly affect us during the season.”
That’s refreshing to hear from a 25-year-old who’s only been in the league for two seasons, and is now evidently embracing his role as a defensive leader. The problem, of course, is that Suh’s apparent maturation and improved leadership skills can’t help his teammates away from the field, and off-field idiocy is a category that the Lions have excelled in this offseason.
It’s a lack of discipline and an inability to resist the urge to eat drugs that led to Mikel Leshoure’s two-game suspension, along with drug and DUI charges for Nick Fairley. Johnny Culbreath was also arrested for marijuana possession.
Detroit’s list of indiscretions is well known, and so is their ability to thrive due to a flirtation with the edge. But it’s the continued game of chicken with that edge away from the field that could eventually subtract from the team’s overall performance and take away key players for stretches of the season, as it has with Leshoure.
That’s where Suh and the Lions’ other leaders need to ensure that their messages of accountability stick beyond the locker room, when there are no babysitters present.