Lions Insider

10 QUESTIONS WITH TWENTYMAN: Why the Ndamukong Suh fine was the wrong call

Posted Oct 17, 2013

Tim Twentyman answers fan questions as the 4-2 Lions prepare for a Week 7 matchup with the first-place Cincinnati Bengals

Every week during the season I plan to answer 10 good questions I receive through my Twitter account @ttwentyman in a feature we call "10 Questions with Twentyman," which is sponsored by Huntington Bank.

I saw the (Ndamukong Suh) hit live and replays (Wednesday). Even for today's NFL, I didn't see anything. What am I missing? Tony (@tony_boone)

20man: Same thing I am, Tony.

Suh's helmet did make contact with Weeden’s chest, but I thought it was more a glancing blow.

The thing I notice about Suh when he hits guys is that his arms aren’t usually extended; he’s not a wrap-and-tackle kind on player. He loads and hits, which means he cocks his arms and when he gets to a ball carrier or quarterback the arms extend to shove a player the same time the rest of his body does, including his helmet.

What I don’t like about the fine is one, the official that saw it in real time didn’t flag Suh on the play. Slow any hit down and it’ll usually look worse. Two, the helmet wasn’t the violent part of the hit. The shove with his left arm was.

Did Suh’s helmet hit Weeden first? Yes. But it wasn’t the crown of his helmet. His head was up, and his arms delivered the blunt of the blow.

To me, it was a football play and shouldn’t have been fined, and I’d feel the same way if a Browns player got fined for a similar hit on Matthew Stafford.

Last time I checked, I was covering football. There was no helmet-to-helmet or targeting on the play.

What are the key matchups to watch this week going into the game? John Pop (@JPop_On_Top)

20man: Well, John, I think cornerback Chris Houston really has to have a nice game on Bengals All Pro receiver A.J. Green.

I’d also include safeties Louis Delmas and Glover Quin in that equation because the Bengals run so many double moves with Green and like to push him down the field.

I don’t anticipate Houston will be left on an island with Green too many times on Sunday. Green is that special of a player and should command the same respect from the Lions defense that Calvin Johnson gets from opposing defenses.

Houston said Wednesday that the key to playing Green is to force him inside and into short routes. The Bengals like to get him deep on the outside part of the field. If the Lions limit those big plays, they’re ahead of the game.

I’ll add a bonus answer to this question.

Watch Lions running back Reggie Bush against the Bengals linebackers. They aren’t the fleetest of foot bunch in pass coverage. Could the Lions expose that matchup for a second consecutive week?

With Fauria's success in the red zone, do you feel he starts lining up outside the red zone as well? Marty (@Martifilus)

20man: That’s certainly part of the progression with him.

We shouldn’t forget that Fauria wasn’t the best route runner when he got to Detroit. That was part of the knock on him.

In the middle of the field, a receiver has to be able to run a good route. He can’t always depend on his size.

I asked offensive Scott Linehan about Fauria on Tuesday and this is what he said:

"He runs better than people think," he said. "He has really strong hands and he has a bigger catch radius than many people. We have a guy that gets a lot of attention on this team (Calvin Johnson), so guys like Brandon Pettigrew and Joe (Fauria) and Kris Durham get more of the one-on-one-type stuff."

Linehan said he'll get more opportunities there.

Fauria played 23 snaps last week in Cleveland, which is more than he played the previous two games combined, and I expect even more this week vs. Cincinnati.

With Joe Fauria’s new fame and his size and athleticism, doesn’t he remind you of Gronk in New England? #LionBlood (@8Megatr0n1)

20man: Let’s slow down a little bit comparing him to an All Pro.

Look, I like Fauria, and I think he’s a great story, but before we start comparing him to a guy that has a history of production in the league, let’s see if Fauria can continue this pace over the course of the next few weeks.

Like I said above, he needs to convince me he can be a good route runner in all parts of the field – like I think Gronk is – and show some consistency in his production.

Fauria has all the tools, but let’s wait and see if he can keep it up.

Do you see the lions making any moves before the trade deadline? And would you prefer Nicks or Gordon. Mike Nowak (@mikenowak32)

20man: The closer the Lions get to the return date of Nate Burleson, I think the least likely it is for the Lions to make a major trade for a receiver.

That’s not to mention that both Cleveland and New York have said publically that they have no intention of trading either player.

I’m not a big fan of the rent-a-player mentality, either. The Lions are 4-2 and lead the NFC North. Johnson is getting healthier, Burleson will be back soon and Durham is getting more comfortable in the offense after being a practice squad player this time last year.

Add in the fact that tight ends Pettigrew and Fauria are productive right now, Bush is also producing as a receiver and Kevin Ogletree is getting more comfortable in the offense, and I don’t think it’s as big a need as others might.

I get a lot of questions about this on Twitter, but I don’t really see it. The Lions should be fine there.

How close is #Megatron to being back at 100%? Nathan Williams (@TheRealNate13)

20man: It’s a really good sign Johnson was practicing Wednesday, which was the first time he practiced that early in the week since suffering the injury Sept. 29 vs. Chicago.

Johnson ran routes in Wednesday’s practice and was without a knee brace. I think that’s a very good sign he’s getting better.

Why hasn't Broyles been productive thus far? Is he another wasted 2nd round pick? Adam Perez (@AP804)

20man: I’m not ready to say that yet. Let’s not forget, Adam, Ryan Broyles has suffered two ACL tears in as many years. Most doctors will tell you that it takes about a year to come back from one.

Not everyone is Adrian Peterson.

I’ve been a little disappointed with Broyles’ production so far, but I’m not ready to write him off just yet. Let’s see where’s he’s at moving forward as the knee becomes a thing of the past.

He certainly has to pick up the production, though. He's supposed to be a chain mover for them. He had an opportunity last week and dropped the ball.

Do you think having Cunningham in the booth rather than on the sideline is making a difference with the D making adjustments? Cindy P (@CanswpP)

20man: The defensive statistics don’t really show it, but I think Gunther’s ability to see the whole field has helped put players in some better position to make plays. I look at the 10 interceptions on defense vs. 11 all of last year as evidence to that. Some of that are players making plays, but they have to be in position to do so, as well.

I also look at the third-down defense. The Lions are second in the league on third down at 28.6 percent. It helps to see the whole field on third down.

I think the run defense has been disappointing and that’s something they’ll need to sure-up moving forward.

I guess the most important thing is that Cunningham likes being up there. He likes seeing the whole field and if he likes it that's good enough for me.

Who do u think gets released when Montell Owens is back? Ryan Derenzy (@RDerenzy)

20man: That will be an interesting decision for the Lions. Owens isn’t scheduled to be back until after the bye week, so there’s some time to figure those things out and you never know what can happen injury-wise between now and then.

I still think there’s the possibility of Tony Scheffler going on injured reserve at some point this year and that could make room for Owens.

The Lions will have a surplus of running backs when Owens returns with Bush, Joique Bell, Mikel Leshoure, Theo Riddick and Owens.  

To me, Owens and Leshoure are similar style of runners, but Owens gives you more on special teams. That seemingly would make Leshoure available to the market, but the price still has to be right. The Lions aren't in the business of giving assets away for free and I think Leshoure can still be an asset to the is team.

How serious is Delmas' injury? Maximus Gerald (@maltavious)

20man: It’s something he’s going to deal with the rest of his career, Maximus. The Lions knew it could become an issue when Delmas was coming out of Western Michigan University, but probably thought it was something they’d have to deal with much later in his career.

It is what it is. He takes good care of it during the week, the Lions limit the wear on it during the week and Delmas hasn’t missed a game this year. He’s not 100 percent, obviously, but a less than 100 percent Delmas has been pretty good so far.

The Lions protected themselves financially by structuring Delmas’ contract the way they did with playing bonus and things like that. It’s been a good arrangement so far and the plan for him seems to be working.

It’s something he’ll probably always have to deal with.