Well, the 2017-2018 season is already over halfway over and that great, resilient feeling that should be with us as fans has utterly disappeared for the Detroit Lions. A 6-6 record while Aaron Rodgers isn’t even playing in the division is not a great sign and after Sunday’s evisceration at the hand of the Ravens, all hopes seem distant.
What caused all of these problems? It is hard, as always, to pinpoint the center of frustration for a team with so many different issues, but if you were to be a traditionalist or a statistically driven individual, you would argue that it is the Detroit Lions’ run defense that has failed them.
Not too long ago, Detroit had one of the fiercest run defenses in the league while now, they have allowed 100 rushing yards four straight games, with six such games on the season. Opposing running backs are slicing and dicing their way right past the likes of Tahir Whitehead and Jarrad Davis. The linebacking core is the worst we have seen it in some time, but the defensive line is even worse. There isn’t one player on the D-line that has consistently been able to do his job all season. Quarterback pressure is at zero percent while they get pushed right off the line of scrimmage on almost every run play.
Ziggy Ansah has lost his luster after a productive first two seasons and trade rumors are swirling around every day. The interior combo of A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence, and Jeremiah Ledbetter has not been working. None of them seem to be really making a big impact up front, and the loss of Haloti Ngata is evident every game.
Without a strong inside presence, opponents are able to set whatever tone they want. Teams that run a good inside zone manipulate Detroit’s front seven causing jumps, misreads, and general confusion among the young and inexperienced group. That’s how the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings were able to down the Lions. The inside run was such a threat, the linebackers would bite and the play action pass would be wide open every time.
If something doesn’t change, the Lions will get the same defeating result every week. Fortunately, there is a great option out on the market; Ndamukong Suh.
As you probably know, Suh was drafted by the Lions in 2010 and went on to be one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL, logging over 180 tackles, 36 sacks, and 15 defended passes as a Lion. He embodied the motor city and, even with his questionable on-the-field actions, he was a fan favorite among Lions fans.
Suh decided to leave the Lions and head to Miami when he was offered a six-year, $114 million contract, which was the highest ever at the time. His decision to leave has seen his overall performance slip and his dominance suffer. While he is still a top five interior linemen in the league, his effectiveness has decreased in his years near the beach. This is a combination of age, training, and the Dolphins’ scheme.
Rumors appeared in late October this season about the organization’s desire to move on from Suh, not only for his behavior but his cap hit. He is only in the middle of year three of his massive six-year deal, meaning the Dolphins have a long way to go. In addition, many decisions have already been made by head coach Adam Gase this season, notably trading star running back Jay Ajayi for a measly draft pick. Many players on the roster pre-date the arrival of the head coach, and it is clear he wants this team to be his own.
Gase could be close to pushing the button on Suh and taking charge of the organization’s cash, creating the perfect opportunity for the Lions. Forget the fact that he abandoned the team in his prime, life is life. The Lions would welcome his excellent presence and his bad ass attitude. Personality and aggressive play is what gets teams going, and Detroit is the perfect place for it all.
Put aside the differences and pursue a trade with the Dolphins. Give them Ziggy, give them Tahir, it doesn’t matter. We need him back and we need to recycle what we currently have.
There are quite a few needs for this Detroit Lions teams, but Ndamukong Suh could possibly be what they need the most.
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