Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh are two of the most physically dominating defensive linemen in the league, yet they don’t bring the quarterback down. Suh is tied for 45th in the league with four and a half sacks, and Fairley is tied for 67th in the league with three and half. Combined they would still only be tied for 12th in the league with Muhammad Wilkerson of the New York Jets. To be fair, they are leading the Detroit Lions in that category. However, for the hype, the money and the need for a good pass rush to protect a mediocre secondary, those numbers are not big enough.
So why are the Lions so subpar at sacking the quarterback? It’s a product of a certain mentality from both the Lions’ sideline and the opponents. Fairley is young but not young enough to act the way he does. He still seems like a rookie when he is jumping offside and committing penalties on unnecessary hits. Lions coach Jim Schwartz carries no power on the sideline and doesn’t seem to offer any real advice or discipline for Fairley’s actions. It’s on Fairley to be a better player and live up to his potential, but at this point in Fairley’s career much of the responsibility lies on the coaching staff to be molding a good base of fundamentals and game IQ. That has been lacking in a major way.
Suh has made some great plays this season but still is not even close to what he should be producing. You’re not going to find him up there in the stat categories this season, but he provides intimidation on the line at least, right? I disagree. I think his past dirty plays have actually made him more of a target than an intimidating presence. When offensive lines know they are playing the Lions, they know that Suh is dirty and they want to shut him down. There’s an added motivation that has developed from Suh’s mentality on the field, and he’s not producing the sacks, the tackles, the hurries, or anything else in the stat column to back up those actions.
Again, Suh needs to be accountable for his actions, but “The Schwartz” needs to take a lot of the blame. If the Lions’ coaching staff changes, in theory so does the mentality, which seems to be the key factor in almost every aspect of the Lions’ failures as a team this season.