Dolphins’ Ndamukong Suh says he can play better
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Ndamukong Suh concedes he can play better, which doesn’t help Joe Philbin or Kevin Coyle.
For the first time in his six-year career, Suh remains without a sack four games into the season. The Miami Dolphins newcomer has only one quarterback hurry, and his unit ranks last in the NFL in both sacks and run defense.
Such dismal production contributed to last week’s firing of head coach Philbin and defensive coordinator Coyle. Management is hoping the shake-up will jump-start Suh and his teammates.
"I don’t think anybody has played up to their level," Suh said Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since the coaching changes. "I’m very hard on myself, and I don’t think I’ve played up to my level of ability."
Suh’s underachieving has been costly, and not just because Philbin and Coyle were fired after Miami’s 1-3 start. The Dolphins signed Suh to a $114 million, six-year contract, the richest deal ever for a defensive player.
Miami’s first game under interim coach Dan Campbell and new defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will be Sunday at Tennessee.
Suh never spoke critically of Philbin, but the All-Pro tackle wore sneakers to practice two weeks ago, which some interpreted as a protest of the coaching staff.
Was it? Suh chuckled before responding.
"A lot of people can’t handle the truth," he said. "I’ll leave it at that."
There’s still time for a turnaround, Suh said, although the last time a team reached the playoffs after a midseason coaching change was in 1961, according to STATS.
Suh said he enjoys a great relationship with Anarumo and will continue to have the same role, which he said is "to create havoc." He endorsed Campbell, the team’s former tight ends coach, who has said he wants a more physical team that walks the line just short of being dirty.
Suh has long had a reputation as one of the NFL’s dirtiest players — but also one of the best.
"I love Dan’s opinion, and I love his motto in toeing the line and being a physical and downhill team, and setting tempo and setting the tone," Suh said.
The energetic Campbell is still revved up after 10 days on the job, and wondering how he’ll sleep the night before his first game as a head coach.
"When I start thinking about Sunday a little too much, I start wanting to throw up a little bit," he said. "That’s in a good way."
Miami’s defense has been bad enough to make any coach queasy. The Dolphins have one of the NFL’s 349 sacks; every other team has at least six.
They’re allowing 160.5 yards rushing per game, a big backpedal for Suh, who helped the Lions lead the league last year at 69.3 yards.
Campbell said Suh has improved over the season’s first four games, and praised his work ethic and eagerness to win. Campbell said his push for more physical play wasn’t directed at Suh.
"He’s a pretty physical guy anyway, right?" Campbell said. "It’s more of an overview. We have to re-establish the line of scrimmage. We need to be playing in their backfield."
Suh has had trouble getting across the line of scrimmage or to the ball. He has the most sacks of any tackle since 2010, but his career total has been stuck all year at 36 sacks. He has nine solo tackles.
"A defensive tackle can have no stats and have an effect on the game," Suh said. "It has been proven. But I personally like to dibble and dabble and help my teammates make plays, and at the same time make plays myself."
Regarding Suh’s lack of production, Philbin and Coyle preached patience and kept saying the sacks would come. Now they’re gone, and the Dolphins are still waiting.