Dec 22, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) listen to the national anthem before the game against the New York Giants at Ford Field. Giants beat the Lions 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Are Detroit Lions Risking Fate of Defense in Suh Decision?

It’s becoming clear that things could be a lot different for the Detroit Lions if certain people can’t deliver this coming season.

Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley uncertain beyond 2014

He may be one of the best players on the defense and a key cog in their pass rush but Detroit is not letting that cloud the issue with Ndamukong Suh.  His ongoing issues on the field, mostly regarding his erratic behavior has eroded the good will he has built with his play.  Despite having 27.5 sacks in four seasons and establishing himself as a top defensive tackle in the NFL, the Lions made it clear they expect more from him in 2014.  They don’t just want sacks and good play anymore.  By shelving contract talks they are sending a clear message that they need him to grow up and lead by example.

The same can be said for his running mate Nick Fairley.  The third-year defensive tackle had his best season last year with six sacks and 35 tackles.  However, like Suh he’s gotten into trouble and hasn’t done enough to convince coaches he’s worth a long-term investment.  Perhaps that is why the team chose not to pick up his team option for a fifth-year on his rookie contract.

Jim Caldwell gambling future to prove a point

It’s an unprecedented power play for new head coach Jim Caldwell.  Having spent years with top organizations like Indianapolis and Baltimore, one would expect him to bring that sort of respectability to a franchise that has drawn a label as undisciplined and cheap.  By joining hands with the front office in daring Fairly and Suh to call their bluff, he is sending a clear message to the rest of the team that no amount of good play can excuse not acting like a professional.

At the same him Caldwell runs the risk of gutting the Detroit Lions defense.  For all their headaches, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley form the core of the unit.  Their ability to both stop the run and rush the passer are unequaled by any other tandem in the league and is a big reason why the Lions are respectable on that side of the ball despite ongoing problems in the secondary.  If the team doesn’t play their cards right they stand to lose both in free agency next year.  Then what will they have?

Tags: Detroit Lions Jim Caldwell Ndamukong Suh Nick Fairley

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