Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley make Lions’ DL unique
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com October 21, 2012 8:37PM
The Lions’ Ndamukong Suh is adept at bringing down quarterbacks and running backs. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 23, 2012 6:22AM
The last thing Bears quarterback Jay Cutler wants to experience Monday against the Detroit Lions is a face full of Ndamukong Suh.
Or Nick Fairley.
Yet, he knows it’s a certainty against the massive and nasty.
“What they have is not only guys on the outside, but those two inside can get a push,” Cutler said. “Whenever you feel pressure on the outside and you step up and they’re getting a push in there, there’s not a lot of room to operate. It’s a big challenge for us.”
Since the Bears surpassed 200 rushing yards two weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars, there has been plenty of talk about the offensive line, which is starting to jell after enduring ample criticism since training camp.
“I feel like we’re coming together as a group,” left guard Chilo Rachal said. “We’re playing physical, and we can only continue to get better.”
The Lions should be the line’s best challenge to date.
“Anybody that plays against this front has a challenge, for the fact that they can take over a game,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “We have to go out and have answers, as many as we can. As dynamic as they play, as aggressive as they play, as long as they play — they play right through the whistle — this will be a great challenge for us.”
The Bears have faced some talented pass-rushing linebackers and defensive ends this season with varied success. But Suh and Fairley set the Lions apart from other defenses.
Since 2010, Suh has 161/2 sacks (tied for first among defensive tackles entering Week 7) and 111/2 tackles for loss (sixth-most). The Bears also see Fairley coming into his own in his second season.
“Fairley’s gotten better,” right guard Lance Louis said. “He’s moving around better than last year and playing more physical. Suh’s just a strong guy [with] quickness. He’s got a couple moves he likes to go to. They’re just good players overall.”
Suh and Fairley are coming off strong games in the Lions’ 26-23 overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday. The Lions’ defensive line accounted for three sacks and seven tackles for loss against the quick and nimble Michael Vick.
“They don’t have to blitz an awful lot because of the pressure they can generate from that four-man rush,” coach Lovie Smith said.
Bears offensive linemen say their improved communication has made a difference. It also has helped that J’Marcus Webb, Rachal, Roberto Garza, Louis and Gabe Carimi have stayed together for three games.
“We’re working together better knowing where everybody fits and how to fit,” Garza said. “We don’t listen to what other people have to say. It’s all about winning football games and going out there and competing and getting after people.”
But like Cutler and Tice pointed out, “We have a big challenge ahead,” Garza said.