When the Lions passed on franchise-tagging Ndamukong Suh, they did so knowing that their decision might close the door that leads Suh back to Detriot. The truth is, both of Suh's feet were already out that door when Suh allowed his agent to decide his fate for him.
That's right, Suh is looking for a pretty paycheck. Everyone knows that. Naturally, the teams with the most cap space immediately become Suh's most suitable landing spots. So while it's kind of stupid, the Jaguars seemingly got thrown into the Suh lottery just because they have infinity dollars in salary cap space.
But then again, is it really that stupid? It's crazy to think that Suh will probably demand the kind of money that turns him into the highest paid defensive lineman of all time. It's even crazier to think that the Jaguars are in a position to not only give him that money, but come out of it in three seasons virtually unscathed. Alfie broke down the cap situation in regards to Suh on Tuesday.
I'm still not sure how likely it is for Suh to go from Detroit to Duval. What I am sure of, though, is that he would fit. A lot of fans don't see a free agency need within the D-line, and I wouldn't argue with that. What I will argue, however, is that while the Jags might not have a pressing need at the position, some might say that there's always a need for a top 10 player. Yeah, the Jags have built their D-line around a stout group of guys. And yeah, pass rush really isn't an area of concern for the Jags right now. But Ndamukong Suh is an elite talent and the Jaguars have the means to take swing at him. Frankly, all aspects of present contracts and talent should almost be ignored.
Scheme should also be ignored in deciding whether or not you're on the Ndamu-bus. It's really no use worrying where Suh would fit within the group of recently assembled DL pieces like Marks and Miller. Despite popular belief, Suh isn't a stand-alone talent. He has always been used in a rotational scheme centered around depth in the D-line. So Suh might be a center piece, but he's never had to get the job done alone. In a way, this makes Jacksonville a much better potential suitor than a lot of other teams. Working Suh into the rotation wouldn't take much more than plugging him into any open spot on the line. Let him attack the interior, or move him outside. Hell, you could probably tell him to protect Bortles and he'd go play RT. Suh's physical attributes are what make him great, but his versatility is what makes him elite.
Suh's game leans of this rare versatility, but it is also composed of a sick sense of determination and relentless pressure. He's a pressure creator - pressure on the O-line, pressure on the QB, and pressure on opposing OCs to find a way to game plan around him. He's just an offensive nightmare. Breaking down his game is, frankly, easy. You don't have to dig deep to uncover Suh's talent. And I really don't have to convince anybody of Suh's potential, as his talent is a known quantity. The tape absolutely speaks for itself.
When studying Suh, I think it's best just to forget about techniques. Suh can play all over the line, in a lot of different presets. Still, you'll find him most often in a tackle position. Below, you can see Suh lining up to run a stunt to the outside.
It's a TE stunt, something the Lions ran religiously last season to break Suh free. Suh is at his best when he can get around the edge.
Suh engages the guard, then releases and comes all the way around to meet the edge. The frame below is what impresses the hell out of me.
The still frames might not do it justice, but Suh's ability to get around the edge is just something that is unequaled by any other player at his position. Suh gets extremely tight to the stunt, allowing him to make up ground on Cutler that he hasn't even lost yet. Look at how Suh is parallel to Cutler - Suh's ability to totally abandon all logical components of momentum and just round the edge at full speed means that he doesn't have to run a fumbling half circle to attack the QB from the back.
Then, Suh still finds a way to sack Cutler with one arm and force a fumble returned for a TD with the other. I mean, there's a reason he's going to get paid a bajillion dollars.
Then there's this play. Below, Suh is lined up to the outside. Remember how I told you Suh is versatile? Suh is versatile.
The Bengals' OT, Andre Smith, is no scrub. He's a big man. Smith is going to do everything he can to stop Ndamukong here, but that won't be nearly enough.
Suh beats Smith to the edge easily. So Smith does the sensible thing, and wraps his arms around Suh's neck. That will slow Suh down, right?
Nah. Suh is blind, being strangled, and is still able to get a few fingers on Andy Dalton and pull him to the ground with brute strength.
Like, holy shit. Below is a closer look at Suh's raw determination.
Suh isn't JJ Watt-ing for a flag here. He never gives up on the play. Suh extends in the direction he knows the QB is at, and he doesn't give up until he's able to bring Dalton to the ground with one hand.
The tape goes on. I've highlighted a couple of Suh's relentless plays, but the reality is that Suh dominates every single down. Seriously, Suh's menace reputation doesn't even begin to describe the relentless energy he brings on every play. But again, I don't need to convince you of that. There's a reason why the guy is so hyped.
And there's a reason why Suh will get a paycheck that a very limited number of NFL players will ever get to enjoy. And in my opinion, that is reason enough for Caldwell to take a close look. Suh is damn good at what he does. He's in his prime, he's ready to cash out, and the Jags have the green to get him. It's an opportunity they might not want to pass up - but then again, I'm not Dave Caldwell.
In what's gearing up to be one of the biggest free agency periods in Jags history, anticipation and speculation attaches itself to some of the big fish in the free agency tank. The Jags sit in an area of wealth and good standing. Could they be fishing for the biggest fish in the aquarium?