Blaming Ndamukong Suh for Colts’ winning TD doesn’t make sense

AP

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh made some great plays on Sunday against the Colts, sacking Andrew Luck once, hitting Luck as he was passing five times, and tackling Colts running backs behind the line of scrimmage twice. But he’s taking some criticism for not stepping up when the Colts scored the winning touchdown on the game’s final play.

An unnamed member of the Lions’ coaching staff told Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports that Suh left his rush lane on the Colts’ winning touchdown, giving Luck space to step up out of the pocket and find receiver Donnie Avery open for the score.

It’s Football 101. Don’t let the quarterback get out of the pocket,” the anonymous coach said. “[Zone] coverage, only a touchdown can beat you, make the [quarterback] throw from the pocket, get in his face. But don’t, under any circumstances, give the quarterback a chance to escape and create. That’s where the defense breaks down.”

Without knowing the Lions’ defensive call on the play, it’s impossible to know whether Suh did his assignment correctly or not. But looking at the play (as I just did several times, using both the TV angles and the all-22 coaches’ tape), it’s hard to see how anyone could blame Suh for the Colts’ touchdown. The Lions rushed with four defensive linemen and dropped seven into coverage, while the Colts had five offensive linemen blocking for Luck and five receivers running routes. Of the Lions’ four defensive linemen, Suh was the only one who got double teamed, and yet Suh was the one who got the closest to Luck of any of them. In coverage, the Lions had seven to cover five, and yet Avery was able to get wide open.

In other words, the numbers for blaming Suh don’t add up: When a defensive tackle is getting doubled, someone else on the line needs to step up and beat his one-on-one block, and it’s not Suh’s fault that the Lions’ other three defensive linemen failed to do that. And when the defense has more players dropping into coverage than the offense has running pass patterns, it’s a breakdown in coverage if one of the receivers gets wide open. That breakdown is certainly not Suh’s fault.

Suh gets a lot of criticism, and a lot of it is deserved. But blaming Suh for the Lions’ loss on Sunday feels like piling on.

49 responses to “Blaming Ndamukong Suh for Colts’ winning TD doesn’t make sense

  1. As in every Suh story, never let facts get in the way. This unnamed assistant must not realize the NFL offers the all 22 package so we can see it for ourselves. What an idiot.

  2. Coach bashing one of his own players anonymously? I dont care if hes dead on, the guys a coward. When this sort of thing is happening in your clubhouse its time to evaluate the staff.

  3. You can’t blame a loss on any one single player. Football is a team sport.
    It takes all the players on the field to win or lose.

  4. Nobody did their assignment correctly on that last play. The defensive call was pathetic. All their defenders were in the endzone with 3 linemen trying to get to Luck. In the new NFL, you now always have to watch who’s coming under on a seam route.

  5. MDS is right. Suh being out of his rush lane and being double teams and STILL got the most penetration means either they should have rushed more (I am all for blitzing rookie QBs in moments like this) or somebody else should have beaten their man.

    Whomever this asst. coach is is a coward as well as an idiot.

  6. That coach needs to go. He is blaming (incorrectly) a single player for a loss. He is doing it anonymously and will create more issues. That is another example of a lack of discipline throughout the Lions organization. That starts at the HC and might even include the GM. Until the discipline and accountability issues are fixed, the team can’t win consistently–no matter how much talent they have.

  7. I wouldn’t want Suh anywhere near my team or city, regardless of what they’re paying him. He’s an average defensive tackle who’s a major headache and complete embarrassment to whatever franchise he plays for.

  8. I agree, not Suh’s fault. This loss(as well as the Lions earlier losses to Houston and GB) can be blamed on Scott Linehan’s conservative play calling and Jim Schwartz’s poor game/clock management. The Colts never should have gotten the ball back. Why did the Lions run on a 3rd and 6 and fail to pick up a 1st down and then have to punt, giving the Colts the ball back with less than 2 minutes to play?The Colts had no time outs left. Linehan seems to have no confidence in Matthew Stafford to pass the ball and pick up a 1st down. If I was Stafford I would not be happy.

    If you watched and analyzed these last 3 games, the Lions were in position to win all 3 and blew all of them. They could be 7-5 instead of 4-8. Linehan needs to go. And the Lions need a few new defensive playmakers if this team is going to rebound next year.

  9. Luck created by running to his right on that play. His containment was supposed to be held by the Lions’ Defensive end on that side of the ball.

    It would be the single-covered Cliff Avril on that play. I can’t look at tape right now to see for sure, but my guess is that he probably ran way up and wide and took himself out of the play by running too far and the QB got in front of him. He does that a LOT. So does KVB.

    I hate the wide 9 system that the Lions use. If anything, that system is to blame for that play happening the way it did.

  10. Ironic that it’s a Lions coach saying this… the Lions coaches blew the game.

    Lions had 2nd and 10 in Colts territory with 4 minutes left, up 12. Running the ball would have ended the game. Instead they threw 2 incompletions. Colts got the ball back and their terrible defense gave up 2 scores in the nick of time. That’s why they’re 4-8.

  11. How do you spell dysfunctional?

    “unnamed member of the Lions’ coaching staff”

    should read “newly unemployed former member of the Lions coaching staff.”

  12. The NFPost and MLive already broke the play down.

    Jacob Lacey basically blew his coverage. On the previous series, Drayton Florence blew his coverage. The d-line did its part.

    Suh had a monster game. Fairley and Williams did too. The entire issue with th last three defeats is the pathetic state of the Defensive Backs and Defensive Ends. That is on GM Mayhew. Other than Chris Houston, the CBs are not NFL material. As for the DE’s they have been huge busts, starting with Avril who likely has lost a lot of money this year with his half hearted play.

  13. Just because a player says something about a teammate being unprofessional or not knowing what it takes does not mean that is a credible statement.
    Like the guys who had a problem with Cam Newton at the pro bowl. You know, what maybe Cam does suck as person, I don’t know. But am pretty sure that many of these other players have rotten attitudes themselves. So, if one guy with a rotten attitude who is easily offended throws a fit, that doesn’t mean much to me.

  14. Schwartz said in an interview that the main problem with the play was letting Luck get out of the pocket, so…..he really didn’t say anything that the coach didn’t already say. So, why is this a story now? Just media trying to create additional drama.

  15. Coming from a Colts fan, Suh was disruptive all day long. I was tired of seeing him in our backfield 2 seconds after the snap on almost every play. That play, and that loss was not his fault.

    That being said, I still dont like the guy

  16. I’m not saying the Lions’ coaching staff needs to be flushed, which they do, but I’m almost wondering if that quote was taken out of context for the purposes of that article. That anonymous coach never mentions Suh or that final play in that quote.

  17. Except for a couple of lucky breaks in the 1st half of the season the lions could also be 2-10. Seems like I recall a couple of last moment come from behind wins.

  18. I have no idea whether it’s fair or not to blame Suh, but your post does nothing to address the specific criticism of Suh, which was that he freelanced and left his rush lane on the final play instead of sticking to the planned structure of the D. If you’re going to defend the guy and say that criticism is unwarranted you need to actually address the specific criticism that was put forward. Yes, there was a breakdown in coverage, but the whole point of the person criticizing Suh was that breakdowns in coverage are more likely when the QB is allowed to escape the pocket and plan A goes out the window for both offense and defense.

  19. I don’t value anonymous sources , if you’re Gona say something make sure you out ur name behind it , and not no cowardly thing blast someone and not stand up to what u say

  20. …and, following on my post above, now that I’ve looked at a few replays myself, Suh does take a sharp inside move and seem to leave a hole in the D-line. Luck steps forward right where Suh would have otherwise been. If this was not how he was supposed to rush on the play and the space created made it easier for Luck to see the receiver and make the throw, then it is fair to criticize Suh.

    Michael David Smith: Neither one of us knows what Detroit’s defensive call was on that play, so neither one of us knows what Suh’s assignment was. I make that perfectly clear in what I wrote. The larger point is, it’s absurd to single out one player when (a) the other three defensive linemen all lost their one-on-one battles and (b) there were seven guys in coverage and none of them noticed that Avery was wide open in the middle of the field.

  21. Cereal says:
    Dec 7, 2012 10:49 AM

    Suh is like Frankenstein, always on the run from the lynch mob
    ————————————————–
    Except Frankenstein didn’t stomp opposing players while they were on the ground after the play was over or kick opposing QBs in the groin.

    Suh will be in prison shortly after his NFL career ends, or perhaps before.

  22. I hadn’t bought into the “Schwartz has lost control” buzz… at least before this.

    When your coaches are speaking out of turn, anonymously, to the media… you’ve lost control.

    The trust in that locker room is about to plummet.

  23. Time to dump Gunther, and get someone on the defensive side of the ball that knows how to utilize the d-line talent they have.

  24. There were several mistakes by several players on that play, but in their defense they aren’t coached to read and react properly to mitigate those mistakes, it’s a flaw of the scheme and our HC and GM aren’t overseeing the defensive design and training system, and thus we have lots of holes and flaws and do not get the most out of our player talent on that side of the ball.

    We have similar problems on offense, but on defense it’s a real mess and there’s a lot of cleanup work that needs to be done to get this team playing at a high level. They could do it if they had the right scheme and coaches. It just takes a more logical approach.

  25. EJ says:
    Dec 7, 2012 9:11 AM
    You can’t blame a loss on any one single player. Football is a team sport.
    It takes all the players on the field to win or lose.

    109 5
    I’m sorry, but I blame Ponder for the Green Bay loss!

  26. What’s so hard to do if you got safeties and cornerbacks playing there position. All three linemen drop back and receiver still at the line of scrimmage. The back 7 messed up not the linemen. Whoever said Suh is at fault just don’t like him to throw him under the bus. Maybe it was linebackers coach or secondary. One of these guys needs a new career anyways.

  27. Michael David Smith: (b) there were seven guys in coverage and none of them noticed that Avery was wide open in the middle of the field.

    ————

    Not True. Louis Delmas and Justin Durant noticed. You can see both of them get a late break on it and start running towards Avery. It was Jacob Lacy, who was in position to stop Avery but for some reason, when he saw Luck rolling out to the right, he ran back inside to the middle of the field leaving that wide open gap.

    Justin Rogers explained it all with pictures on Mlive a couple days ago.

  28. Excellent point, Michael. I’ll take it a step further and, hopefully, redirect blame from Lacey. As has been noted, coverage was lined up damn near in the endzone and the linebackers dropped that far back after the snap. This was a bad defensive play call. Lacey isn’t to blame. Suh isn’t to blame. It’s either Cunningham or Schwartz. I know hindsight is 20/20, but don’t you bring the house in that situation?

  29. FinFan68 says:
    Dec 7, 2012 9:33 AM
    That coach needs to go. He is blaming (incorrectly) a single player for a loss. He is doing it anonymously and will create more issues. That is another example of a lack of discipline throughout the Lions organization. That starts at the HC and might even include the GM. Until the discipline and accountability issues are fixed, the team can’t win consistently–no matter how much talent they have.
    +=+=+

    Very well said.

    After all, it is the Lions.

  30. Cereal says:
    Dec 7, 2012 10:49 AM

    Suh is like Frankenstein, always on the run from the lynch mob

    _________________________________

    Nice comparison, but Suh doesn’t have NEARLY the level of charm, dignity, or character that Frankenstein has.

  31. The Detroit Free Press says anonymous Lions player, not coach. Titus Young maybe? Then again, this could be any idiot from any team or no team at all.

  32. You know who is to “blame” for the Colts win… Andrew Luck and Donnie Avery.

    Luck engineered another epic late 4th quarter TD drive (his 3rd this year Final Minute scoring drive). Avery ran a perfect underneath route and the Lions left nobody in space. Nearly every Lions DB was in the endzone or on the goal line.

    The point with Suh is he asked for a 2nd chance (actually 4th or 5th chance) just days before and he was again involved in another confrontation for a questionable hit and an even more questionable reaction. Suh is running out of chances with non-Lions fans.

    Inside The NFL chose a perfect game to mic up Stafford and Johnson… because it captured the ideal moment when the Lions imploded while the Colts storybook season earned another chapter.

  33. Suh may be an awful person but he’s a good player with some really awful coaches. That coach doesnt even know how to view film and Schwartz is probably one of the 5 worst coaches in the NFL. That team is loaded with talent.

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