There are a couple of things about Ndamukong Suh that are of interest today.
Most importantly is his ability to push the pass pocket from the interior on pass plays and plant himself like Plymouth Rock on run plays to where he's either swallowing blockers or the ball carrier. His ability to do these things is why he got a $114 million contract from the Miami Dolphins.
And those abilities are exactly what the Dolphins need to show up against the New England Patriots on Thursday. Let's face it, the formula for beating the Patriots is making quarterback Tom Brady uncomfortable about the inside rush -- up the gut, in his face, affecting his vision, comfort and confidence.
And that's what makes Suh so important now.
Is he up to the task of having a great game against the defending Super Bowl champions?
"I’ve had some success against them in the past and it’s all about getting after their quarterback," Suh said today.
But the success Suh has had versus New England is a matter of perspective. He's played two regular-season games against the Patriots during his career. Last season he had four tackles in a 34-9 loss. In 2010, he had three tackles and a sack in a 45-24 loss.
That's the depth of his regular-season experience against the Pats.
Obviously, despite factoring some on defense with a handful of tackles and a sack, Suh wasn't able to positively affect the outcome of the game. The Dolphins hope perhaps the cumulative affect of Suh, Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon and Earl Mitchell can do what Suh and the Detroit Lions defense could not.
If that can happen on a regular basis -- like maybe twice a year? -- during Suh's days in Miami and starting on Thursday, the $60 million in guaranteed money the team is paying the defensive tackle will start paying dividends for everyone.
Oh, yes, the second issue of interest concerning Suh?
He says "at the end of the day" a lot.
Count them from today's press availability:
(On the challenges of stopping the Patriots’ offense) “They execute, they find ways to win games and that’s something that they obviously pride themselves on and something as a defensive line we got to get after their quarterback and try to get him off his spot and out of rhythm. They’re a big rhythm team; I’ve had some success against them in the past and it’s all about getting after their quarterback."
(On how much respect he has for Tom Brady) “I definitely have a lot of respect for him. I think we’ve come across each other every single year that I’ve been in the league and had good interactions; obviously played against him in preseason games, regular season games and I’ve always enjoyed going against a great competitor like him."
(On if there is a disadvantage to being the road team in a Thursday night game) “At the end of the day we’re all at a disadvantage because it’s a short week, but I wouldn’t say there’s a huge disadvantage. Obviously they have the luxury that they don’t have to travel anywhere, we have to travel somewhere, but it’s a night game so we get to make up some time there and have the opportunity to see some different things and have some extra film time in the evenings to get ready to play on Thursday. At the end of the day, you really put those things to the side and kind of do what you need to do so you’re prepared for the game regardless or nonetheless and go out there and play as hard and as fast as you can."
(On the biggest difference in the pass rush over the last two weeks) “Executing, working together. I think we’re starting to mend and play off each other a lot better. I’m getting a good feel for Cam (Wake), a good feel for C.J. (Mosley) as well as Earl (Mitchell) and obviously (Olivier Vernon) O.V. as well, I’ve gotten some rushes over there with him. At the end of the day, it’s over time people are going to get better and better as we get more opportunities to rush the passer.”
(On the different atmosphere since the coaching change) “It’s always good to have a positive home and be able to obviously feel good, but at the end of the day, you come here and you have to focus on the task at hand and being a professional. You’re going to have many distractions and you got to be able to play through those things and be able to come out on the other end, whether it’s a Thursday night game, a Sunday night game or Monday night game and be successful."