Todd Bowles has figured out the key to slowing Ndamukong Suh, the disruptive and playmaking defensive tackle of the Miami Dolphins.
”Yeah,” the New York Jets coach said with a smile, ”him not playing.”
Good try, coach.
But Suh will be out there Sunday lined up across from the Jets when the teams square off in London. And it’ll be up to New York’s offensive line to come up with a solution to keep Suh from getting too close to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
”Oh, man,” right tackle Breno Giacomini said. ”Everybody’s really good in this league. He’s really good.”
Suh signed a six-year contract with the Dolphins in the offseason, a deal that’s worth $114 million, with about $60 million fully guaranteed, making him the highest-paid defensive player in league history. In five years with Detroit, Suh was a force as he routinely overpowered offensive linemen and terrorized quarterbacks.
Through three games, Suh has seven total tackles and no sacks – a bit of a slow start for him. The Dolphins’ defense, which includes linemen Cameron Wake, Earl Mitchell and Olivier Vernon, has taken down the quarterback just once while not yet living up to some high expectations.
”I’ve gone through this before,” Suh said. ”Teams don’t want us to get sacks and I commend them for that. At the end of the day, we have to go out there and will ourselves to sacks. Nobody is going to give them to us.”
The Jets are well aware of what Suh and the rest of the Dolphins are capable of.
”They’ve got a lot of guys down there,” Bowles said of the Dolphins’ defensive line. ”We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Fitzpatrick has been sacked just once in two games, and he knows that number could rise in a hurry.
”They create some matchup problems for you,” Fitzpatrick said. ”I’m not sitting here looking at that saying, `Boy, I’m going to be able to sit back there all day and throw.’ They’ve got a lot of talented guys up front that can rush the passer.”
And, talk about timing. Brian Winters is set to make his first start since early last season as he fills in for the injured Willie Colon at right guard. Winters, who started six games at left guard last year before going down with a knee injury, and Giacomini will likely see plenty of Suh on Sunday.
”He’s a good player,” Winters said. ”I’m just going to take it like any other game.”
Suh isn’t quite like just any other player. The four-time Pro Bowl selection has 36 career sacks and is routinely recognized as the best defensive tackle in the NFL.
”He looks so big and powerful, but he’s got some speed,” Giacomini said of the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Suh. ”He knows how to use his technique. … His toolbox of defensive moves or techniques that he uses is pretty full. He can change it up at any time.”
Because of all that, Bowles had some sage advice for Winters when it comes to blocking Suh.
”Just eat your Wheaties,” Bowles joked. ”He’s going to be there. Brian’s a tough guy. He’ll fight.”
That’s something else Suh isn’t particularly opposed to. The defensive tackle has been fined more than $250,000 during his career for his aggressive style of play. In Week 1, he was accused of kicking off Washington running back Alfred Morris’ helmet – an infraction the NFL deemed was not on purpose and did not fine him.
Giacomini also has a reputation for being ready to rumble, frequently getting into it with opponents while sticking up for teammates. So that could make for a potentially explosive showdown.
”Obviously, you don’t want to get any flags or anything to put us in situations that make it tougher to score,” Giacomini said. ”It’s noted that he’s a physical player and plays to the whistle and all that. But we’ve got to play smart.”
Giacomini added that facing both Suh and Wake will be a ”good challenge” for the right side of the Jets’ offensive line.
During the offseason and the beginning of training camp when Colon was out while getting his knee healthy, Giacomini and Winters constantly worked together. So, communication on the line isn’t expected to be an issue for the two linemen.
”We’re comfortable with each other,” Giacomini said. ”I think he’s getting more comfortable on the right side. Winters is a good player and we’re just going to have to go out there and do what we do, man.’