|This is last week's box score. Suh's name does not appear in the defensive stats. (NFL GSIS)|
Remember when Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was perhaps the scariest defender in the league, accumulating 10 sacks and 66 tackles in his 2010 rookie season? He was going to be the anchor of Detroit's defense for years to come, and nothing was going to stop him.
Then last year happened, when he slumped to four sacks and 36 tackles in 14 games, and CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco was decidedly unimpressed. Here's the thing: Suh hasn't been much more effective in 2012, totaling 3.5 sacks and 13 tackles through his team's first eight games.
And get this: last week in Detroit's 31-14 win vs. the Jaguars, Suh recorded zero tackles for the first time in his career. Zero.
So, that can't be easy for Suh to hear, right? I mean, it's gotta be … Oh, what's that? Suh doesn't buy it?
"If it was true, it would bug me," Suh said, via Mlive.com. "But the key point in your question is recorded because the film never lies, and there's been a lot of games I've experienced that throughout this year. For whatever reason, I can't tell you that. You'll have to ask somebody else, but that's just the way the chips fell.
"In the stat book, I got no tackles. What I did on the field was a different story."
Sounds like a man trying to find a positive in what turned out to be a game in which he was mostly irrelevant. Still, Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has seen Suh's good qualities this year.
He cites a more winning personality from Suh -- apparently, Suh is laughing more often -- and Cunningham intimates that Suh has a better understanding of his role on defense where he doesn't always have to be the superstar.
"It's about making the play at the right time," Cunningham said. "It's not about numbers. It's about being a football player and causing havoc on the offense and letting your teammates play around you. Well, he's kind of doing that.
"He did a lot of that last year and people make me laugh sometimes. I sit in my office, and I coached the defensive line 11 years and I look at all these guys up on that wall. Some of my guys are in Canton, too, and I've seen a lot of great players in my day. He's got that in him, and I just want him to be successful. I don't care what I have to do, he's going to be successful. I enjoy talking to him, and I love him as a man and as a football player. I'm never, ever, ever going to walk away from saying that because I know the guy, and I know him well."
Still, that zero-tackle stat line has to sting, if Suh wants to believe it or not.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.