Tag Archives: defensive tackles

Ndamukong Suh’s next 5 years

The Dolphins just handed Ndamukong Suh the key to their safe-deposit box: a 6-year, $114 million deal ($60 million guaranteed) that dwarfs his original 5-year, $60 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) with the Lions. (And let’s not forget: His rookie contract, under the old CBA, enabled him to earn a lot more than the second pick in the draft can now.)

In situations like this, the Albert Haynesworth Effect — a player getting buried in free-agent dollars and suddenly losing his enthusiasm for his job — is always a concern. There probably isn’t a team in the NFL that doesn’t have a horror story like that.

But an equally pertinent question is: What’s the likelihood Suh’s next five years will be as good as his first five? Because by paying Suh franchise-quarterback money, the Dolphins are saying, unequivocally: We think this player is still ascending. We think he’ll be worth more — substantially more — from 2015 to 2019 (and even 2020, if it comes to that) than he was from 2010 to 2014.

Here’s the thing, though: If you look at the top defensive tackles in recent years, you’ll see that’s rarely the case — in terms of sacks, at least. Granted, there are many ways to evaluate a player at Suh’s position, but certainly pass pressure is a big part of it. In today’s game, especially, a DT had darn well better get to the quarterback (if he wants to have much value of the free-agent market, that is).

Anyway, check out these well-known defensive tackles — and the sack totals they posted in their First 5 Years vs. their Second 5:

SACKS IN THEIR FIRST 5 YEARS VS. THEIR SECOND 5 YEARS (DT DIVISION)

Years Defensive tackle Teams(s) 1st 5 2nd 5 Diff.
1985-93 Keith Millard Vikings/3 others 51.0   7.0  -44.0
1990-99 John Randle Vikings 48.0 58.0 +10.0
1983-92 Bill Pickel Raiders/Jets 43.5 12.5  -31.0
1997-06 Trevor Price Broncos/Ravens 42.5 34.5    -8.0
1995-04 Warren Sapp Bucs/Raiders 42.0 37.5    -4.5
1996-05 La’Roi Glover Saints/2 others 42.0 29.5  -12.5
1988-97 Michael Dean Perry Browns/Broncos 41.5 19.5  -22.0
1992-03 Dana Stubblefield 49ers/Redskins 39.5 14.0  -25.5
1993-04 Bryant Young 49ers 37.0 29.5    -7.5
1992-01 Chester McGlockton Raiders/2 others 35.0 12.5  -22.5
2003-12 Kevin Williams Vikings 34.0 22.5  -11.5
1987-96 Henry Thomas Vikings/Lions 34.0 38.5   +4.5
1994-03 Dan Wilkinson 49ers/2 others 32.5 17.5  -15.0
1990-99 Cortez Kennedy Seahawks 32.0 25.0    -7.0

Suh has 36 sacks through his fifth season, so I limited the list to guys who were in that neighborhood at that point in their career. I also didn’t include erstwhile Eagle Andy Harmon (38.5 sacks) — because he didn’t last much more than 5 years. At any rate, we’ve got two gainers (Randle, Thomas) and 12 decliners (ranging from -4.5 to -44) — not the most encouraging odds for the Dolphins.

Of course, every player is different, particularly in the Internal Wiring Department. Maybe Suh will prove to be one of the exceptions. But chances are better Miami will be glad that “only” $60 million is guaranteed.

Source: pro-football-reference.com

The Dolphins are betting $114 million that  Ndamukong Suh will keep doing this to quarterbacks.

The Dolphins are betting $114 million that Ndamukong Suh will keep doing this to quarterbacks.

“The Thing with Two Heads”

Happened upon this the other day while nosing around the Internet. It’s gotta be, by at least five touchdowns, the worst movie that ever featured a former pro football player — in this case Rosey Grier, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle with the Giants and Rams in the ’50s and ’60s. (And believe me, there are a lot of candidates for this honor.)

For those of you who aren’t movie buffs, Ray Milland, Grier’s co-star in The Thing With Two Heads (1972), won the Best Actor Oscar in 1945 for The Lost Weekend, a film about a drunk who goes on a four-day bender. It might also have been during this “lost weekend” that the plot for The Thing With Two Heads was conceived. Here’s the trailer (and it’s perfectly all right if, at some point, you want to cover your eyes):

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the inspiration for Stuck on You, the Farrelly brothers’ 2003 take on conjoined twins. Unfortunately, neither Matt Damon nor Greg Kinnear ever played in the NFL . . . though they did play some high school ball:

Stuck on You football photo

Work of Art

Defense doesn’t get nearly as much attention at Pro Football Daly as it probably should. So I’m going to give a shout-out here to Art Thoms, the long-ago Raider, who played one of the greatest games ever by a defensive tackle on this date in 1972. Before a “Monday Night Football” audience — that’s why I’m posting this in prime time — Thoms . . . well, why don’t I let you read what UPI wrote about him?

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What Thoms did in one game — a 34-0 smothering of the Oilers — would make for a pretty good season for some defensive tackles. Two blocked field goal tries? An interception, plus a batted pass that led to another pick? Sure beats four quarters of “gap control.”

On a defense that featured Sistrunk (from “the University of Mars”), linebacker Phil Villapiano and a trio of celebrated DBs — Hall of Famer Willie Brown, George Atkinson and Jack “They Call Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 9.49.29 PMMe Assassin” Tatum — Thoms was hardly a household name. Indeed, he never made the Pro Bowl and intercepted only one other pass in his eight-year career. But in this game he was Godzilla. Or maybe J.J. Watt after chugging a six pack of 5-Hour Energy.

Of his two blocks, Thoms said, “The guard opposite me [rookie Solomon Freelon] was firing out, which he wasn’t supposed to do. He was almost stepping out a little bit. I couldn’t believe it. I just sliced through. It was easier the second time because I was looking for it.”

The game also was memorable for another reason. As MNF staffers George Hill and Malibu Kelly Hayes reminisced in 2002:

As the game became a runaway and the fans started streaming out of the Astrodome, the TV audience became just as upset. Oilers officials claimed that as many as 75 calls came to the stadium from viewers (remember, there were only the three networks at that time) blasting everything from the play of the Oilers to the announcers’ commentary.

Despite the fact that the game turned into a rout, the evening was not without some historical significance to Monday Night Football. As the stands emptied, a cameraman spotted a solitary man sleeping in a near-empty section of the stadium. The camera zoomed in for a close up, and Cosell described the shot as, “A vivid picturization of the excitement attendant upon this game.” With the camera on him, the fan opened his eyes, looked up and casually extended his middle finger. This prompted Meredith to say, “He thinks they are number one in the nation.”

What a ballgame. You had Thoms running amok, you had Howard at his multisyllabic best, and you had Dandy Don getting off one of the great one-liners in sports TV history.

Friday Night Fights IV: Fridge Perry vs. Manute Bol, 2002

For sheer grotesqueness, it’s hard to top the celebrity bout between William “The Refrigerator” Perry, the former hole-clogger for the Chicago Bears, and Manute Bol, the erstwhile three-point shooting machine for the Golden State Warriors. Perry weighed over 400 pounds — at least 50 above his playing weight — when he climbed through the ropes at Atlantic City’s Emerald Queen Casino on May 22, 2002. As for Bol, he was still the 7-foot-7 stick figure of his basketball days when he climbed over — yes, over — the ropes:

In a pre-fight interview, Fridge seemed undaunted by Manute’s 102-inch reach (as well as his reputation, as a youth in his native Sudan, for killing a lion with a spear). “He’s seven-foot-something,” he said. “I’m 6-3 or whatever. But, you know, you don’t fight standing up. You got to bend down, you got to bend your knees and everything. So he’s got to come down to size.”

Ring analyst Ray Mancini, the onetime WBA lightweight champ, wasn’t sure how Perry could attack Bol — legally, at least. “This guy is so tall,” he said, “I don’t know where [Perry]’d hit him without it being below the belt.” And indeed, watching the two paw each other was like watching a giraffe tangle with a water buffalo.

Both men had retired in 1994. They also were the same age: 39. In his sports afterlife, Perry goofed around in wrestling and Toughman boxing, while Bol engaged in various publicity stunts to raise money for relief efforts in his war-ravaged country. He even tried to play hockey with the Indianapolis Ice of the Central Hockey League, “but his arthritic feet swelled in his custom-made skates before he could take the ice,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bout was scheduled for three rounds of about 90 seconds (by my watch). Looks like Michael Buffer is ready to introduce the fighters. . . .

Thankfully, there was no rematch.

Alex Karras punches a horse in “Blazing Saddles”

Some people, me among them, think Alex Karras belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The late Lions defensive tackle definitely belongs in some kind of Hall for giving us this memorable scene — as the inimitable Mongo — in Blazing Saddles (1974):

You also might enjoy this clip, from the same movie, of Alex at his thespian best. My guess is that he’s reenacting for the townsfolk what he and his defensive mates did to the Packers offensive line when they sacked Bart Starr 11 times in the ’62 Thanksgiving Day game:

Mike Reid’s biggest hit, on or off the field

Bonnie Raitt never played in the NFL (though she knocked ’em dead at Super Bowl 37), so you’re probably wondering why I’m bringing her up. Answer: Because a guy who did play in the NFL — Mike Reid, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Bengals in the ’70s — co-wrote, with Allen Shamblin, perhaps her best-known song.

I Can’t Make You Love Me “has become something of a modern standard,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ Mikael Wood, “a go-to source of grown-up melancholy for established stars as well as the young hopefuls on televised singing shows “American Idol” and “The Voice.” It became a hit for Raitt on her 1991 Grammy-winning album, “Luck of the Draw,” and has been covered over the years by the likes of Prince, George Michael and, most recently, Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves for their new “Crossroads” series on CMT.

Wood asked Raitt about the song and got this response:

I knew immediately when Mike Reid sent me the song that it was absolutely one of the most honest and original heartache songs I had ever heard. It was a point of view that I had been on both sides of, and it struck me deeply; I knew immediately I wanted to sing it.

There’s just something so soulful about the combination of the keyboard part and the lyrics and the melody. It’s a marriage that comes together once in a while, where the music really sounds like what the person’s singing. Part of it for me is Bruce [Hornsby]’s beginning. The way Bruce plays — he calls it Bill Evans meets the hymnal — he’s one of those piano players where there’s just so much intrinsic soul in the way they play. And it’s the simplicity of the arrangement that we wanted to do when [producer] Don [Was] and I were talking about it. It just didn’t need any gussying up, you know? The song is best naked.

The following rendition — with Hornsby on the lead keyboards — might be closest to perfect. Bonnie just seems to hit every note right. As you’re listening, keep reminding yourself: an NFL defensive tackle wrote this.