The Ndamukong Suh experience in Miami wasn’t necessarily a failure, but the former All-Pro defensive tackle certainly didn’t play to the expectation of his monster contract from 2015. Suh, who was a top draft choice with the Detroit Lions before signing in Miami, was inked to a huge deal with the Dolphins and ultimately played out just half of the commitment before the Dolphins parted ways — Suh was considered to be a cap casualty as an “underperforming” talent.
Suh, in those three seasons in Miami from 2015-2017, logged 15.5 sacks, 13 passes defensed, accounted for 37 tackles for loss and 49 quarterback hits. Hardly a poor return. But due to the size of his contract, expectations for Suh in Miami included him completely changing the face of the defense — and that didn’t happen.
Perhaps part of the issue was Suh’s own perspective on his time in Miami. According to Suh himself, who has gone on to play in multiple Super Bowls since leaving Miami as a member of the Los Angeles Rams (2018) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019-present), his emotional intelligence (or emotional quotient, as he phrases it) was detrimental to his time in Miami. And the hard lessons he learned about those shortcomings with the Dolphins prevented him from trying to steer the Dolphins into his vision for the team.
But, more importantly, Suh’s lack of tact was “creating divisions on the team”. Here’s Suh’s full thoughts on the lessons he learned from Miami and how he contributed to a toxic locker room culture with the Dolphins:
“EQ (Emotional Quotient) is one of the most important traits I look for in people. But for many, it’s seen as less valuable than IQ. This is not true. Here’s the story of how I learned the importance of EQ, the hard way in Miami. If you’ve watched me play, you know I can be a lot of in your face. I’m a very direct person by nature. My job is entirely about imposing my will on others. So that bleeds into other aspects of my business. For a long time in my career, I was always just saying what I wanted to say. Never thinking about how I delivered the message. Everything changed when I got to Miami.
I was in a strong, influential position. So I was just making my opinion known, regardless of how it impacted others. 2 years in, I realized this attitude was:
– Creating divisions on the team.
– Pushing people away.
– Putting me in a negative headspace.
Then along came our new coach. I disagreed with everything he wanted to do. But…nothing I said was being heard. I couldn’t get the support I wanted. I realized it was because I had 0 tact. If you’re not careful about how you do things, you end up being the bad guy. So what did I start doing that I still do today? 1. I listened way more than I talked 2. I paid attention to HOW I interacted with people 3. I observed others reactions and adjusted as needed 4. I chose my words carefully to be more empathetic.
It was a total 180. There was less arguing & more agreements. I turned my influence on the team into impact. But most importantly, I felt better about myself and my mood improved. Since then, I’ve never forgotten how much EQ matters. In business and life, being sensitive to others always brings better results. Don’t just think about what you want. Think about what others want.
– Listening > talking (we have 2 ears, 1 mouth)
– Observe other’s reactions to you closely
– Assess yourself and be self aware, always improve
– Think before speaking (esp. in disagreements) I promise you’ll see way better outcomes in your relationships.
Thanks Miami!” — Ndamukong Suh
There’s plenty of fascinating clues to Suh’s tenure in Miami inside, but none more fascinating than this excerpt:
“Then along came our new coach. I disagreed with everything he wanted to do. But…nothing I said was being heard. I couldn’t get the support I wanted. I realized it was because I had 0 tact. If you’re not careful about how you do things, you end up being the bad guy.”
Dolphins head coach Adam Gase arrived in Miami after just one season (2015) of Suh on the roster. And, to Gase’s credit, Miami won 10 games in 2016 in Year 2 of Suh in South Florida. So which coach is he referring to here? Is it Matt Burke, who took over defensive coordinator duties in 2017 after Suh was on the roster for two seasons of play? Given Burke’s defensive performance, Suh would be justified to disagree with “everything he wanted to do”. Burke’s Dolphins defenses finished 29th and 27th in scoring defense and conceded 826 points over 32 games (over 25 points per game) in 2017 and 2018; although Suh would only see the first 16 games of that tenure before being cut in March of 2018.
Regardless, Suh has come clean about his negative contributions to the locker room in Miami and, now, is enjoying a healthier perspective up the gulf coast in Tampa Bay. And while his new perspective won’t undo the damage done in Miami, the Dolphins can take some solace in knowing that they, too, are in a healthier space with their locker room culture under Brian Flores.