We all knew about Suh’s “agressive” nature well before this season started. He was often accused of being a “dirty” player by his peers, but it was all necessary in order to forge a new identity for a franchise that has been a laughing stock for over a decade.
To me, I have no problem with Suh being a bit more physcial than everyone else in the name of creating a brand. So what if Suh does some extra shoving at the end of a play, or puts a little more mustard into his hits? This is the National Football Leauge, these kinds of things happen. However, as soon as Suh starts to intnetionally injure another player or draws a penalty to get kicked out of a game that costs his team a win, the line has to be drawn.
First of all, the first red flag should have been against Atlanta, when he showed absolutely no respect for an injured Matt Ryan on the field. If you talk to any current or former player, there is always a looming threat that anyone’s career and life could change with a single play. When a guy goes down, in that moment, the game is no longer significant. Even if he has been chopping you all day long, you never want to see a guy get carted off.
Fast-foreward several weeks, and despite having a meeting with the commissioner himself, and Suh is kicking offensive lineman as they lie on the ground. Now, the offensive lineman was not hurt, but the fact that even though he has gone through so much public critisim and met the comissioner personally to avoid this situation and still was unable to control himself is alarming to say the least.
Now, it isn’t even like Suh was doing all of this in the name of making a statement for his team. His inability to control himself in football pads goes back to his college days. Jets guard Matt Slauson, a former teammate of Suh at Nebraska, revealed a lot about how Suh was viewed by his collegiate teammates. From Bart Hubbuch of the the NY Post:
“He was well-respected for his ability, but everybody kind of knew who he was,” Slauson said. “He wasn’t well-liked.”
Slauson declined to comment whether the two reported incidents of Suh stomping on former teammates in practice was true. In other words, it most definitely was true.
Slauson, who went against Suh a lot in practice since he plays right guard, is alarmed by Suh’s agression on the field.
“Last year, when he got fined for the takedowns on the quarterbacks, it looked like he was trying to kill them,” Slauson said. “I’m all for physicality, but within the framework of the game. I know it takes a different type of person to be a defensive lineman — you’ve kinda got to be a jerk who wants to take the quarterback’s head off. But you [shouldn't] literally want to kill them like he does.”
He makes an excellent point. You have to be somewhat crazy to play on the defensive line at the professional level. But Suh has absolutely no remorse for his actions. It was evident in his refusal to apologize for his stomp after the Packer game. He was almost dilusional in what had happened; he appeared to have convinced himself of a different reality altogether. He has since apologized, but that is after he has cooled down and talked to P/R guys. When you are on the field, there is no time for that. Suh has to be more responsible.
Now, some of this has to be to blame on the coaches that has not stopped or slowed his behavior. Where was Bo Pelini when he stomped on his teammates? Why did Jim Schwartz continue to allow his player to act in an unacceptable manner? What happened on Thanksgiving was bound to happen at some point. Schwartz has no one to blame but himself for letting Suh get out of control in front of his eyes.
If Suh is going to change as a player, now may be his last chance. The problem is, playing the way he does is so entrenched that it may take a while for him to really change. It is easy to talk about playing within the rules, but when the bullets start flying, it will be tough for Suh to not revert to his primitive instincts and get back out of control.
Either way, I have a feeling that this is not the last time we will see Suh on the back page.