Tampa Bay’s front seven was one of the league’s best -if not the best- in 2020. The unit was once again the league’s best at stopping the run and the pass rush was close to the top of the list, as well.
When you look at the depth chart from a year ago, it’s easy to see how it all came together. The front seven was loaded. All of the players were perfectly suited for their roles, as well. And then there’s Todd Bowles: The final piece of the puzzle and the man who makes it all work.
What makes last year’s success even more impressive is the fact that the Buccaneers were able to remain an elite unit despite Vita Vea’s 11-game absence. Or 13 if you want to count the playoffs. The Buccaneers defense allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and the fifth-lowest yards per carry mark from Week 6-Week 17. The sack rate dropped off a little bit, but the defense still tied for the eighth-most sacks over that span.
Bowles’ system and his ability to create/scheme up pressure is a big reason why the Bucs were able to stay effective up front, but the one guy who made it all go was Ndamukong Suh. His ability to not only take on double-teams, but beat them on a consistent basis, is what allowed everyone else -including Bowles- to do their thing.
Not only were his 6.0 sacks the most he’s had in a single season since 2015, but he was almost top-5 in all the major pass rushing stats in 2020. Per Sports Info Solutions, Suh finished the 2020 regular season with the fourth-most total pressures (48), which include the fourth-most hurries (29), the fourth-most quarterback hits (32), and the sixth-most knockdowns (14) among defensive tackles. His pressure rate of 9.5% ranked 13th among all defensive tackles with at least 16 pressures on the year.
Suh showed that he can still carry a defense, or at least remain an integral piece to the puzzle. That showed up on paper at the end of the year, too. He played 74% of defensive snaps in 2020, which led all defensive linemen for the second year in a row.
He starts. He’s on the field more than anyone. And his production is at the top of the league in almost every major category.
Why the hell would this guy take any kind of pay cut? He deserves a raise, if anything.
This may sound crazy considering we are talking about a 34-year-old defensive lineman, but all of those numbers I listed earlier were better than Suh’s 2019 numbers. It’s only natural that you deserve to get paid more if you’re producing more, right?
Spotrac.com currently has Suh’s market value at $6.8 million per year and Over The Cap has him at $9.3 million. If I’m Suh, I’m shooting for the latter number and honestly, you can’t blame him if he does.
And you can’t blame the Bucs if they’re unable to bring him back for that amount, either. It’s going to be really hard to replace him if he does walk, though. It’s a tough decision, but every decision that is made during this time of year is tough. Suh is no different from the rest.
Or is he?