The Lions Congregation is a roundtable of Lions bloggers who comment upon a topic or topics, nearly every week. Here is my response to the question of whether or not Ndamukong Suh is likely to win NFC Defensive Player of the Year, on top of his near shoo-in selection for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year:
Q: Should Ndamukong Suh also be getting strong consideration for Defensive Player of the Year, not just Defensive Rookie of the year? Will he win one or both? Thoughts?
Should Ndamukong Suh receive consideration for NFC Defensive Player of the Year? Hell, Yes!
Let the results speak for themselves:
Suh has:9 sacks (1st for DT’s)
60 combined tackles (3rd most for interior linemen, 1st DT)
1 interception returned for 20 yards
1 fumble recovery returned for a TD
Individual defensive statistics can be misleading, but let’s look at some of the changes in Lions team defensive statistics from 09′ to ’10:
The Lions Total Team Defense was ranked 32nd in ’09, and is currently 22nd in ’10. They are allowing 39.7 fewer yards per game (392.1 to 352.4) and .5 yards fewer per play (6.1 to 5.6).
The most noticeable improvements have been made in team pass defense:
Opp. Pass Comp Pct: 68.1 to 63.8
Opp. Passing Yards: 4, 249 to 3, 361 (a decrease of 888 yards)
Avg: 8.1 to 7.5 (a decrease of .6 yards per pass)
Opp. Yd/G: 265.6 to 224.1 (a decrease of 41.5 yds/g)
TD/INT: 35/9 to 23/13 (12 fewer TD’s, 4 more INT’s)
Here is where Suh, and I believe the performance of the entire Lions defensive line has made it’s biggest difference.
Completed Passes of 20 yards or more: 54 to 41
Completed Passes of 40 yards or more: 41 to 9
Sacks: 26 to 41 (+15!)
Opp. Qb Rating: 107.0 to 91.1
Opponents are being pressured to deliver shorter, quicker passes. Opposing Qb’s are not being allowed to find a rhythm, nor are they able to exploit the weaknesses still lurking in the Lions secondary.
The Lions defense is still far from dominant, but even after injuries and roster deficiencies are accounted for, this team could not have possibly improved this much defensively solely because of another year of tutelage under Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham.
The Lions defensive line has been the single biggest factor which has made this team competitive and appearing on the verge of better things to come. An argument can be made for Corey Williams being the most dominant DT on the Lions roster, but no Lions defensive lineman has exhibited the playmaking and difference-making ability of Ndamukong Suh.
Suh’s pernicious attitude on the field, which has consistently drawn double teams from opponents, has been infectiously influential upon the entire defense. The Lions defense is playing with a chip upon it’s shoulder and not allowing opposing QB’s to become comfortable.
In all likelihood, Suh will not receive legitimate consideration for the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He has yet to establish the kind of pedigree or track record necessary to receive that kind of notice. That being said, watching one of the league’s all-time worst pass defenses become viable and respectable, albeit still residing in the middle of the pack, largely has to be attributed to the Lions biggest off-season addition, Ndamukong Suh.
Suh is a shoo-in for NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year, and is a top five finalist for NFC Defensive Player of the Year. If nothing else, no one off-season addition can be considered to be remotely as propitious as the Lions draft selection of Suh, who has changed the face of the entire franchise.
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