The Miami Dolphins signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this offseason to the richest contract in NFL history for a defensive player. When the news first broke that the Detroit Lions were not using the franchise tag on Suh, speculation began immediately of where he may end up. When everyone learned that he had touched down in Fort Lauderdale that same evening, rumors began to fly all over the place throughout the week until the deal was leaked during the legal negotiating period that the NFL allows before free agency officially opens.
Now, with Suh at the facility and taking part in practices and meetings, head coach Joe Philbin is pleased with what he has seen so far and is excited for what he brings to the table.
“I think he’s acclimated well. I think any time it’s new, he was on one team for five years, he’s coming to a different team, so maybe techniques – the game, football is football, but what we call something might not be exactly what he calls it, the technique might be a shade different. Terrell (Williams) might want him to step a hair flatter than his prior coach. There’s always an adjustment phase with any player. But I think he’s handled it very well. I think he’s picked up on schematically, I think one of the things that was most exciting about adding him was I thought, from a scheme standpoint, he was a really, really good fit for what we like to do.”
A big part of being a part of a team and having a cohesive unit is the ability for teammates to get along with one another. Philbin said that the process between Suh and his new teammates is taking shape and the foundation is being built.
“Yeah, I think that’s coming along. I definitely think that’s coming along, especially obviously with the first group is his guys and then the defensive line. I think that’s off to a good start, defensively. I think it’s off to a good start overall.”
One player who is ecstatic about having Suh on his team is quarterback Ryan Tannehill. After playing lights out several games last year on offense, Tannehill would often sit on the sideline while his defense struggled to stop the opposing offense. While he never has and never will throw his defense under the bus, he had trouble discounting what a big addition Suh is to the team and just how much he will be able to help.
“I always have confidence in our defense. I think he brings a lot to the table both in the run game, taking up two guys, and getting to the quarterback. He is a heck of a player and an impact player. Teams are going to have to account for him in both the run game and the pass game, so you add that with the other lineman we have (Olivier Vernon) OV, Cam (Wake), Earl Thomas – we have a stout front. I think that front is going to take lot of pressure off of our secondary and make some big plays for us.”
Of course, Tannehill got his first taste of Suh during the 2014 season when they traveled to Detroit. Suh met Tannehill in the backfield quite often that game. At the time, Suh had great praise for Tannehill, calling him one of the toughest quarterbacks he has ever went against. Now, they'll face off against each other every day in practice and each of them are ready for the challenge, especially Tannehill.
“He’s got one of the quickest first steps I have seen. I think that is something he shows on tape consistently. We saw it from day one out here. His jump off the ball is exceptional. His timing of the snap count, we have had to put in a few hard counts to try to keep him honest, so it has been fun and I am looking forward to seeing that first step off the ball," he said. “It is going to be great. This time of year it is tough because no pads, you can’t really rush, they can’t really work on their punch or the defense can’t really work on their rush moves. Once we get into camp and we are grinding away full pads then it is going to be a true test. It is only going to improve our offensive line facing that quality of talent every day.”
There is no question that both Tannehill and Suh are the two faces of the Dolphins' franchise for the next several years. Together, with their respective units, they'll lead this team into the future and look to bring a Super Bowl to Miami.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
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