Ndamukong Suh’s strong play leading Dolphins out of early season fog
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — He’s 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, yet easy to overlook.
Ndamukong Suh plays tackle but seldom makes one because he’s almost always double-teamed, engaged in a scrum in the middle of each play that often determines how well it works.
And while the performance of the Miami Dolphins’ $114 million man can be difficult to assess, he’s disinclined to help.
"I haven’t graded it, and probably won’t until the end of the season," Suh said Tuesday. "It’s not important to make a grade midway through the year. It’s about what you can do each and every week, and finding ways to help this team win."
That he has done the past two games, as the Dolphins (3-4) come off their bye week and prepare to face the New York Jets.
Coaches and teammates cite Suh as a big reason for the team’s improvement.
"Suh has played well all year," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "He’s doubled by a lineman every play, but he is disruptive in there, especially on pass downs. He can push the pocket. He can be special, but it’s tough to be special every play being doubled."
With four-time Pro Bowler Suh leading the way, the defensive front — which was expected to be the strength of the team — has been better of late.
The Dolphins still rank third-worst in the NFL against the run, and they’re tied for 18th in sacks. But in victories over the Steelers and Bills in the past two games, Miami was the more physical team on both defense and offense.
Jay Ajayi topped 200 yards rushing in each game , which helped Miami control the ball. And the front four looked fresh even in the fourth quarter.
"We have the ability to make a lot of plays," Suh said. "That’s what we want to go out there and do."
Ends Cameron Wake and Mario Williams, four-time Pro Bowlers, made more big plays in the past two games, as did end Andre Branch.
Credit Suh, Branch said.
"It makes it way easier, because he’s the main focus of the offense," Branch said. "He has been playing at a high level for a long, long time. He’s going to take up blocks, and as a D-line we just have to do our job, and we’ll make the plays."
Actually, there were doubts about the level of Suh’s play last season, his first with Miami after he signed a six-year contract that was a record for a defensive player.
The Dolphins won only six games and finished sixth-worst in rushing defense. For the first time since 2011, Suh failed to make the Pro Bowl.
This season is trending in a more positive direction, and while Suh clogs things up in the middle, he’s also making more big plays. He leads the team with 3 sacks and nine quarterback hurries, and is tied for the lead with four tackles for a loss.
That’s impressive for any position, and especially at tackle. Since Suh entered the NFL in 2010, he’s second in sacks among tackles with 45, behind only Geno Atkins’ 46.
Suh leads all tackles during that span with 45 stuffs, which are tackles behind the line on rushing plays. And he has been durable, missing only two games in his career.
Coach Adam Gase said Suh’s game-to-game consistency has been "unbelievable," and his productivity "unique."
"It has been pretty consistent with what he has done over his career," Gase said. "When you have a guy who plays the position he plays, and gets double- and triple-teamed as much as he does, and still somehow finds a way to get through, it says a lot about him."
- Andre Branch
- Cameron Wake
- FOX Sports Florida
- FOX Sports Florida - Dolphins
- Jay Ajayi
- Mario Williams
- Ndamukong Suh