When it comes to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, just about everyone has an opinion on Ryan’s coaching methods and his overall ability to develop talent. However, during Wednesday’s media conference call, Ryan showed a lot love to the defense of the Detroit Lions, starting with the Lions front line which is led by Ndamukong Suh.
“Suh is probably the version now of Warren Sapp,” Ryan said on a conference call with Detroit media Wednesday. “He’s probably as close to Warren Sapp as I’ve seen.”
“Just a phenomenal player.”
As far as compliments go, it doesn’t get any better than that for Suh. Not only was Sapp was a seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle but he also played 198 career games, where he total 96 total sacks. Which allowed him to not only be enshrined in the Hall of Fame last year but to also go down in history as one of the best players in NFL history.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that Sapp hasn’t always thought of Suh as his equal or even as a good player, despite the fact Suh has been terrific throughout his four-plus seasons with Detroit. In fact, throughout Suh’s NFL career so far, Sapp has been critical of Suh.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, at the Super Bowl last year, Sapp called Suh “a blind dog in a meathouse” and said he hasn’t improved since his rookie season.
Then to add fuel to the fire, back in January, Sapp said Suh was nothing more than a bull-rusher.
“I don’t think the kid wants to learn, because I haven’t seen him go anywhere or develop anything,” Sapp said during an interview “I watched him early in the preseason and he blew out a couple of dudes, but then I watched him in the regular season and he went right back to bull-rushing.”
Regardless of whether you agree with Sapp’s opinion about Suh or not. There is no doubt that Suh, who has made three All-Pro teams so far, is widely considered by many to be the one of the best, if not the best defensive tackle in the NFL right now.
Think about, Suh had career highs of 10 sacks and 66 tackles as a rookie. Although he has only recorded one sack so far this season, it doesn’t change the fact that he is huge part of the Lions defensive success both in the running game and in pressuring the quarterback, considering that he has eight quarterback hurries, which is second-best at his position league-wide.
“(Sapp’s) a Hall of Famer. Again, it doesn’t get much higher than that.” Ryan said. “This kid [Suh] is fun to watch. He’s got an excellent motor, and he’s got skills. He has unusual balance. He’s not off his feet, he’s able to play with power, he’s able to play with finesse, and it’s just a rare combination.
“He’s a guy that’s obviously a difference-maker.”
Keep in mind that Ryan’s high praise didn’t stop at Suh. Ryan also gave a lot of high praise to Lions weak-side linebacker, DeAndre Levy, who is having another standout season.
“Oh man, this guy (Levy). It’s funny because I never really knew him and when you look at the fact that he has seven interceptions, I’m like ‘what’ but you know that only tells you a little bit about him.” Ryan said. “(Levy) is really an instinctive player and he’s a guy that, outside of the kid from Carolina (Luke Kuechly), that I always say that you put him in the same rep as the kid from Carolina.”
Levy is certainly deserving off all the love that he is receiving from across the league. Three games into the season, Levy already has 27 tackles and an interception. Then if that’s not enough, Levy has clearly defined what every NFL player should be, which is hard-working, selfless and motivated beyond reason to succeed in everything that he does.
Now, above you saw me bring up his stats from but what the stats don’t tell you is the that when Tulloch went down on Sunday, Levy had to not only fill the void of Tulloch physically but also vocally, which mean he had to be the one calling out defensive calls and at times the defensive adjustments. Even though, he had some difficulties he didn’t panic or give up, instead, he proved to be the true leader that we know him to be as he showed great poise and recognition, which allowed to him not only lead this defense but to also help this defense to seal their victory over Green Bay on Sunday.
It’s because of that attitude and his overall play that I think the Lions are lucky to have him and why so many teams and coaches including Rexy Ryan are aware of Levy and what he can do on the field.
“(Levy) is instinctive, he plays the run, he’s got great timing.” Ryan said. “He’s a heck of a football player when you stack him behind that defensive line of theirs.”
He’s impressive, man. Really impressive.”
Lions began preparation for their Sunday match-up against the Jets, on Wednesday.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.