In his year and a half in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh has earned a reputation as one of the most talented defensive linemen in the league and one of the dirtiest players in the league. According to Tony Dungy, the Lions’ staff deserves some blame for ignoring the latter because they were so enamored with the former.
“I really have to fault the Detroit organization,” Dungy said on the Dan Patrick Show. “I think they really could have stopped this.”
Dungy makes a fair point: We’ve been talking about the potential for Suh to get suspended since preseason of his rookie year, when he nearly took Jake Delhomme’s head off with a dirty play. The Lions could have nipped it in the bud by putting the hammer down on Suh and telling him that he’d get benched if he hurt his team by incurring 15-yard penalties. But the Lions have largely looked the other way.
And that’s understandable: Lions coach Jim Schwartz has tried to cultivate a tough team in Detroit, and he liked the attitude that Suh instilled. Suh is great when he gets close to the line between “tough” and “dirty,” and Schwartz wasn’t going to bench Suh on the occasions when he crosses that line.
But Schwartz’s decision to let Suh play the way he wants to play has consequences. And the consequence this week will likely be that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will take the decision to bench Suh out of Schwartz’s hands.