By Ashley Scoby
Ndamukong Suh was part of one of the best defenses in the NFL last year with the Lions. And after his monster cap hit was taken over by the Dolphins, Suh believes Miami actually has more talent than Detroit had when it finished second in the league last year in total defense, according to the Miami Herald.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: The Political Road Ahead
“I don’t have a problem saying this, but I think personally we have more talent than we had in the No. 1 defense last year in Detroit,” Suh told the paper. “One of the reasons I came here is this team, and especially this defense, has great, great talent.”
Miami was average defensively in 2014. The Dolphins finished 11th in total defense, sixth in passing defense, 20th in scoring and 24th in rushing defense, better than only eight teams in the NFL.
Surely the Dolphins had that number-24 ranking (they allowed 1,937 rushing yards last year) in mind when they signed Suh in the offseason to plug the holes in their defensive line. Suh will play alongside Earl Mitchell at tackle and Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon at the first-string end positions, according to Miami’s depth chart.
Wake has played his entire six-year career with the Dolphins, starting in 78 games and compiling 63 sacks and 202 tackles. Mitchell has five and a half sacks and 103 tackles in five seasons (four with Houston). And Vernon has 96 tackles to go with his 21.5 sacks in three years.
To compare, Suh played with Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah in Detroit. Fairley had comparable numbers in his four seasons, with 66 tackles and 13.5 sacks. Ansah had 15.5 sacks and 56 tackles in the first two years of his career.READ MORE: 'My Name Is Sara' Film On Holocaust Survivor Premieres In Metro Detroit
Behind the defensive line in Detroit was linebacker DeAndre Levy, who was considered one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs last year. If things crumbled in the trenches, Levy was often there to fix the situation.
In Miami, Chris McCain, Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins are all listed as first-string linebackers. Misi has been a five-year starter in the league, but McCain only played in 10 games and made four tackles last year. Jenkins earned a starting spot last season and had 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The Dolphins already lost one of its defensive backs – Louis Delmas – to injury, but still have Brent Grimes at corner and Reshad Jones at safety. Detroit’s top-five defense included a great safety tandem in Glover Quin (who led the league in interceptions with seven in 2014) and James Ihedigbo.
Without a doubt, Suh’s presence on the line affects much more than just the overall talent of that line. When Suh can plug the holes that teams’ running backs would otherwise hit, more pressure is on quarterbacks to go up against a defensive backfield that, whether talking about last year’s Lions or this year’s Dolphins, is solid. Miami actually ranked better last year in passing yards allowed (sixth in the league, compared to Detroit’s 13th). And that’s not even counting the times that Suh himself tears through the line; he had 8.5 sacks last year in Detroit.
Although Suh admitted that his comments were only based off how things looked on paper, he still believed in the talent that had been assembled in Miami.MORE NEWS: Dearborn Homecoming Festival Kicks Off This Weekend
“You don’t know what’s going to happen until guys come together, understand what they’re going to do, and we create a camaraderie, create an understanding of how everybody works together as a unit and go from there,” Suh said, according to the Miami Herald article. “Every year is different. The year before, look at Detroit, we were 7-9 (and then) 11-6. Things change.”