Ndamukong Suh focused on Jay Cutler
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said Thursday a quarterback repeatedly getting hit affects his demeanor and affects his team, and that's why Suh's plan for the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler on Monday night is simple.
I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure we're in his face and hitting him as much as we can.” -- Ndamukong Suh
"He's a guy that's gone through a lot," Suh said. "He's definitely kept his composure. But when you have a quarterback back there and he's repeatedly getting hit -- every single play or every other play -- it's definitely gonna have some effect on him. And it's gonna affect their team, his demeanor, and how they carry their offense.
"So I think the biggest thing for us is to make sure we're in his face and hitting him as much as we can."
Cutler has been sacked 15 times this season and was dropped 57 times -- including the playoffs -- last season. He admitted recently that being hit so often can tinker with the clock in his head and make him rush a throw, even if the pressure is more perceived than imminent.
But there was nothing perceived last December, when Suh generated a $15,000 fine from the NFL for what referee Ed Hoculi called "an unnecessary non-football act; a blow to the back of the runner's helmet in the process of him going down."
Does Suh cross the line with his physical play?
"That's up to the officials," Cutler said Thursday. "They'll do their best to watch us.
"I don't think you're gonna change his game. He's said it publicly. Just ask him; he'll tell you all about himself."
That's precisely what Suh did Thursday in speaking of his physical style that has drawn criticism from around the league. Suh said that people are "entitled to their opinion" on the matter, but nothing will change.
"Honestly, I really don't have a concern of why people think I may have crossed [the line] or not. I've said it many, many times before, and I'll say it again that I don't teeter-totter around that line," Suh said. "I feel that I play very hard and aggressive. That's how I got to where I am today; playing blue-collar football and really being physical, and doing the things I'm supposed to do and doing them with a hard nose.
"I'm gonna continue to play that way. I think it's one of the reasons I'm able to be successful."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz bristled when asked about the perception that Suh is a dirty player.
"He doesn't get very many flags," Schwartz told reporters during a conference call Thursday afternoon. "Go back and look at how many flags he's gotten over the year-plus that he's played. It's hard to have reaction for something like that. It makes for talk amongst people like [media] or fans or something like that. But there's a perception, reality there, I think. ... He hasn't been flagged very much and the reason is he's a good, hard football player. He's out there playing as hard as he can."
Schwartz reiterated just how high the Lions organization is on the young defensive force.
"One of the things we liked about him when he came out in the draft was [that you] really couldn't compare him to anybody else," Schwartz said. "He has some unique characteristics. He's extremely strong. He's alive on every single play. He's very difficult to knock off his feet. He's good against the run, he's good against the pass. He's a hard worker. He's very, very serious about his craft. He's consistent from week to week.
"You said have you ever had a player like that? The answer is no. It's not that there haven't been players that are as good or better or anything else, it's just that his qualities are unique. When it's all said and done, you're not going to compare Ndamukong Suh to anybody else. He's going to stand on his own. On his own talents, on his own production, on his own merits."
The 2010 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Suh drew a $20,000 fine from the league for throwing Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to the ground during a preseason game. Suh received two fines last season for hits on Cutler and former Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme in a preseason game.
Asked whether Suh's game was built on intimidation, Cutler said, "I don't have to block him. You can talk to [offensive lineman] Lance [Louis] and those guys. I don't go against the guy every play."
Suh, meanwhile, insisted it's not his intention to knock quarterbacks out of the game, but laughed at his own remarks just seconds later.
"I like rattling a quarterback and having him frustrated," Suh said. "If he unfortunately takes a tough hit that he has to leave the game, so be it. That's not necessarily my concern."
When questioned about whether Suh tried to intimidate him the last time the players met, Cutler said, "I don't talk to the dude."
Suh's hit on Cutler in the fourth quarter of Chicago's 24-20 victory last December resulted in an automatic first down at the Detroit 7, which allowed the Bears -- behind 20-17 at the time -- to rally for the win.
Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis said the team won't worry about Suh's reputation when the teams meet on Monday night, adding that it's important to avoid getting "caught up in the moment" in dealing with the defensive tackle.
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"At the end of the day, if he's going to do things after the whistle, they've got people who can deal with that," Louis said.
Bears cornerback Zack Bowman played college ball with Suh at Nebraska, and indicated his former teammate has a more pleasant demeanor than his reputation suggests. Bowman said that during Suh's freshman year at Nebraska, the defensive tackle "literally pick[ed] up a car from the front and lift[ed] the whole thing up. I was like, 'Get out of here.'"
Bowman said he and Suh meet for dinner in the offseason and that "he's a nice guy," but when the defensive tackle takes the field, "he just turns into the Hulk."
"I think he has intent to harm anybody he's in front of. That's just his attitude, his mentality," Bowman said. "I had the opportunity this offseason to work out with him, and that's just his focus; to get out there -- I wouldn't say to kill you -- but to hurt you. I think he's on the line [between being aggressive and dirty] on both, but that's just him. That's the type of player he wants to be in this league."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson and Nick Friedell contributed to this report.