Miami decided to release their best player, Ndamukong Suh. Some teams play checkers while others play chess. Miami is playing Tic-Tac-Toe
Miami’s loss is obviously going to be another team’s gain. Last year, the Rams were 11-5 in the regular season and lost in the Wild Card Round with a sophomore QB. In DC Wade Phillips’ first year as DC in LA, the defense ranked 19th in yards allowed and 12th in points allowed. Worryingly, they were 28th in rush yards allowed and 30th in rush yards allowed per attempt. GM Les Snead and Phillips have been very active in improving that defense this offseason. They traded away Alec Ogletree. They’ve added Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to create a fearsome secondary. Now they’ve added the best defensive player available in Suh, to play next to, arguably, the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald.
In Miami, Suh played 883 snaps last year, compiling 48 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Based on how snaps were allocated among the LA D-line last season, you can expect Suh on the field for somewhere between 750-850 snaps this year. Opposing gameplans will change though. Instead of being the guy offenses key on every snap, Suh will be playing second fiddle to Donald. Both players are likely to see fewer double teams which is a scary thought.
Last year, Donald put up double-digit sacks for the second time in his career, this time in only 14 games. Donald had the lowest tackle total of his career with 41 on 790 snaps. Michael Brockers had a career year in 2017 turning 730 snaps into 55 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He may put up even better numbers this year as he’s guaranteed to see even less attention from opposing O-Lines.
This defense is stacked at several positions, yet it still has huge holes at others. Unless Mark Barron is going to play both ILB positions himself, L.A. needs to add another ILB. They signed Ramik Wilson, but the KC-castoff is unlikely to take over a 3-down role in the middle of this defense. Expect the Rams to draft an ILB in this year’s deep class and expect that LB to have plenty of clear paths to ball carriers come September.
More worrisome is the outside pass rush. The Ram’s OLB starters last year were Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin. Quinn took his talents to South Beach via trade. Barwin remains unsigned although LA is trying to re-sign him. Given the Rams draft slot and how shallow the Edge position is in this draft, it could be difficult for them to replace Quinn. Available options on the roster are former UDFA Matt Longacre and 4th Round sophomore Samson Ebukam. Longacre put up 23 tackles and 5.5 sacks on 378 snaps. Ebukam had 31 tackles and 2.0 sacks on 352 snaps.
Keep in mind, Suh only signed a 1-year deal. He wants a chance at a Super Bowl. He wants to put up big numbers and come back next year for another huge contract. L.A. needs to draft an ILB, they could also use an OLB. Drafting another Interior D-Line, in the deep class, would be useful starting as soon as next year.
The primary loser in all of this is all the NFC West QBs not named Goff. Russell Wilson may want to stay at Yankees training camp rather than face the prospect of facing Donald and Suh crushing his swiss cheese O-Line and trying to throw past Peters and Talib. The Cardinals have a terrible O-Line and Sam Bradford at QB. How many knees does Bradford have left?
Suh’s absence leaves a gaping hole in the Miami line. This draft has a lot of talent at interior D-Line, and the Dolphins need to use multiple picks at DT, potentially even their 1st Rounder. Currently, they have Davon Godchaux and Jordan Phillips. Phillips is a former 2nd Rounder who lost snaps to a 5th Round rookie last year. Phillips ended with 16 tackles and 2.0 sacks on 404 snaps. Godchaux was said 5th Round rookie last year and put together 40 tackles and 0.0 sacks on 504 snaps.
DFF’s resident Titans fan, @DFF_DWIN, who was hoping beyond hope that Suh would end up in Tennessee, is taking this one a little hard. If you don’t already follow Dwin, you’re doing something wrong. Just for fun though, ask him what he thinks of Suh’s value in the City of Angels.