Mady: The Present and Future of Suh

Indianapolis Colts' coach Bruce Arians is one of the few people who see Ndamukong Suh for what he really is: a disruptive presence in the middle of the defensive line, and one that "plays football the way the game's supposed to be played." Lions' insider Mike Mady provides analysis on the Suh enigma, and his future in Detroit.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is often viewed an enigma.

Not always understood, often criticized and always cast under the spotlight.

His play, actions, words and tweets are commonly dissected and discussed, perhaps more so than any other interior lineman that is playing in the league.

The most recent conversation is a cleat-to-crotch collision with Suh's foot and Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub's groin – a play which the league fined, but did not suspend, Suh for.

"It's a crazy play," said Suh of the incident. "It's one that unfortunately happened, I didn't even realize until the end of the game and I see my twitter feed and I see my friends tell me about it. Other than that, I can't do much more about it. I was being dragged to the ground and my foot inadvertently hit the man. It's over with, I'm moving forward and getting ready to play the (Indianapolis) Colts."

The Colts – well at least their head coach Bruce Arians – doesn't believe anyone can judge Suh's intent on the play nor label him as a dirty player.

"No, I don't buy into that stuff," said Arians. "I mean, he plays football the way the game's supposed to be played.'

Still, the conversations continue, as do the replays, and Suh's every action is analyzed.

"I think I'm going to always be punished in some form or fashion for last Thanksgiving," said Suh. "I've apologized for it and I'm going to continue to apologize for it. It's something that happened, a mistake that I made. I'm living up to it and continuing to move past it. Some people may not, some people will and some people will teeter-totter back and forth."

Suh's assessment is accurate, most notably the fact that everybody – whether it's positive, negative or on the fence – has an opinion of the 307-pound Nebraska product.

When people aren't discussing Suh's sportsmanship, they are talking about his production.

At 20 tackles and 4.5 sacks this season, Suh isn't statistically satisfying the lofty expectations of some but football – particularly on the interior of a defensive line – isn't about stats.

"Look at a guy like (San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman) Justin Smith," said Suh. "Everybody sees him as a pretty good, dominant defensive tackle and his sacks are down. I believe he's only at two or something of that sort but he has a huge effect and the guy that feels his effect, and I'm sure he would say it, is (49ers linebacker) Aldon Smith. He's at 16.5 or something like that. As a defensive tackle, he's making a big impact and his numbers won't always show."

Stats won't always paint an accurate picture for defensive players but are often the foundation behind the opinions of many.

"I have an effect on games but it's not always statistically shown," said Suh. "But you have another situation where I do have statistics but they are not as great as everybody expects because of my first year. (I will) Continue to grow and continue to be the best person I can be and continue to play hard and help my team win."

Again, this is something that Arians agrees with.

"Oh, there's no doubt he's disruptive. I mean, just because a guy doesn't put up numbers, statisticians don't play football," he said.

(Colts defensive end) Dwight Freeney, his numbers are down. Everybody's saying it's time to get rid of him. Crap, he's all over the place being disruptive and getting sacks for other guys. Suh's the same way. I mean, he's tearing up the middle of the pocket and I love the way the guy plays football. He's truly a football player and I like the kid."

Another heavily-debated-Suh-topic is his desire to stay in Detroit.

To some, the 25-year-old has created the perception that he doesn't want to remain in Detroit and will jettison the franchise at the expiration of his rookie deal in two more seasons.

The topic of Suh's next contract will not be something discussed with the media but he did make his feelings about the town and team.

"My comfort level is very nice here," said Suh. "I have a home here that I recently purchased, later last year. I don't think anybody who is buying a home somewhere doesn't feel comfortable there. Great teammates, (quarterback) Matt (Stafford), (wide receiver) Calvin (Johnson) and all these other guys that I'm playing with…. We can (win Super Bowls) as a team as long as we don't make mistakes.

"We made mistakes this year so it's made it tough for us. We've dug ourselves holes and it's something we have to continue to dig ourselves out of. We have five games to continue to do that and move on and go on to the next season."

Suh is often misunderstood, which often leads to misconceptions. At the end of the day, it's not his words – or even his actions – that will define him as a football player. It is his play.

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