Now this is what the Dolphins are paying Ndamukong Suh $114 million over the next six years for.
To be the disruptor in the backfield, not only wreaking havoc on the quarterback but terrorizing running backs who find him swarming upon them as soon as they touch the ball.
To inspire the defense from the sidelines, pointing out to teammates things he’s noticed so they can make the adjustments when they get back on the field. Simply when the game is on the line and it’s time for a big play to be made, to be the one who makes it.
“When you get in games like this, your impact players need to step up and make impact plays and ours did [Sunday],” said interim coach Dan Campbell following the Dolphins’ improbable 20-19 win over Chip Kelly’s Eagles in which they trailed 16-3 after the first quarter. “Suh, he stepped up.
“He makes a tackle for a loss. He gets a sack. He creates a hold. He did so much for us. He’s a stud. He’s a guy that when things don’t go your way he’s gonna dig in and go that much harder.
“He’s gonna force his will upon the opponent. It showed [Sunday].”
Actually, it has been showing more and more the past few weeks but until Sunday it had not resulted in a down-to-the-wire win. With three of his four sacks this season coming in the past four games, the 6-4, 320-pound Suh is finally making his presence felt for a 4-5 Miami team that still believes it has something to play for this year.
According to Suh, the only difference is he’s learning how to beat the standard double teams.
“I’m understanding the way people block me,” said Suh, who was credited with seven solo tackles, including a sack and two other tackles behind the line of scrimmage. “Just attacking and leaning on my guys up front.
“I’m getting a great feel for how they play. People who understand football know it’s the opposites who help each other. They’re gonna push guys in my direction, and I’m gonna do the same thing for them.
“I’m just being consistent to who I am; I’ve always been a guy who plays attack style on the run all the way to the quarterback.
“You attack, find the ball and make plays. I think we did a good job of that [Sunday].”
But not until digging a 16-3 hole for themselves that would’ve been worse had not ex-Dolphin Caleb Sturgis shanked a 32-yard chip shot. From then on Miami was a different team, especially defensively, with Suh, Kelvin Sheppard and Reshad Jones consistently making big plays.
“Ndamukong impacted the game a lot,” said backup linebacker Chris McCain, whose third-quarter sack of Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford sent him to the sidelines for the rest of the day and ushered in veteran Mark Sanchez. “Seeing what he did [Sunday] came as no surprise.
“He really had a good game and everyone was feeding off him.”
And not just on the field.
“Ndamukong is like another coach out there for the defensive line,” McCain added. “Sometimes he might line us up on the sidelines because he’s seen something, and he’ll tell us what to do the next time.
“Playing with Ndamukong has been really special, especially this early in my career, because he’s a guy who can help you grow and develop as a player.”
Just past the midway point of the season, Suh is finally starting to make the Dolphins grow and develop as a team.
“We want to start playing at a high level toward the end of the year because that’s when the games count the most,” said the 28-year-old Suh. “This is a great opportunity for us.
“I think we’re starting to jell together as a unit, especially up front. We just have to continue to be consistent and now get focused and ready for Dallas.”
But if Sunday is a hint of what’s to come for Suh and the Dolphins, that $114 million over the next six years just might surprisingly wind up being money well spent.