ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The NFL this year promised to get tough on unnecessary hits, and they followed through last week by fining Detroit's Ndamukong Suh $20,000 for belting Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.
Fair enough. He should have been fined. But don't expect the NFL to change Suh's game. Because it won't.
|Ndamukong Suh is coming off an award-winning rookie season. (US Presswire)|
In fact, none think it should.
"I laugh a little bit [when I hear that]," Suh said. "The thing I always think back to is what got me to this game, and what got me to this level was the way I play -- my hard, aggressive, tough style of play. So why would I change something that got me to where I wanted to be and that is helping me to succeed?"
Uh, good question. Which means don't expect anything less than what you've already seen from Suh. He doesn't just sack quarterbacks. He tears them down, first engulfing them before swinging them to the ground -- and the NFL took exception last weekend when he swung too hard with Dalton.
So it fined him, his second substantial penalty in a preseason game. Suh last summer hammered Cleveland's Jake Delhomme, first grabbing him by the facemask before slamming him to the ground -- actions that cost him $7,500. Then, he was fined $15,000 during the season for a hit on Chicago's Jay Cutler. Now this.
The NFL wants to eliminate hits like the one Suh made on Dalton by penalizing him, but there's the argument that says that its fines are the best investment Suh and the Lions can make in the game. Reason: They draw attention to what a disruptive, dangerous and, frankly, frightening opponent he can be.
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Basically, they make you aware of what he can do to your quarterback. Rewind the videotape of the hits to Dalton and Delhomme, and tell me you want that happening to your quarterback. You don't, and you take every precaution to make sure it doesn't.
"This isn't a matter of where I want to put something on film for guys to necessarily fear," Suh said. "It's that I want them to acknowledge me as a player who's going to be in their face at any point and time -- whether it's during the run or it's during the pass.
"I'm a guy you're going to have to account for, just like you have to account for Julius Peppers and Vince Wilfork and Haloti [Ngata]. I want to be a dominant force like that because it's tougher and harder to deal with a guy who's right in your face.
"Most of the time it's a linebacker or a safety or, sometimes, a defensive end, [that quarterbacks have to watch], but when you have an interior defensive guy that you have to have your eyes on as well ... that puts something extra in a quarterback's head that he has to deal with."
So the NFL noticed. What I want to know is if there's the danger that, at some point, the league cramps Suh's style and changes his game -- especially with warnings this year that teams could be disciplined for excessive flagrant fouls.
So I asked Cunningham.
"I hope they're going to try," he said, "because I'm going to stand right behind him. You're going to have to kill both of us to make him change his style."
I guess that settles it. Quarterbacks, consider this a warning. There's danger up ahead, it's right there in front of you and it's not going to go away. Not now. Maybe not ever.
"If I didn't play that way," Suh said, "I wouldn't have been able to get to what I accomplished last year individually, let alone have an effect on this defense. So there's no way I'm going to change to what got me to where I am right now."