Ndamukong Suh in a Jets uniform? According to this NFL insider, it almost happened for a very specific reason.
Long before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and winning a Super Bowl ring, Suh was looking for his third NFL team back in 2018. He had just wrapped up a three-year stint with the Miami Dolphins following his first five years in the league with the Detroit Lions.
Believe it or not, the All-Pro defensive tackle almost joined the Jets (a franchise coming off back-to-back five-win seasons) for a chance to play for head coach Todd Bowles.
"It was just the way he's always carried himself,” Suh told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. “I got to meet him a long, long time ago when he was in Arizona. There was a guy named Jim Washburn that I'm super close with and was my coach in Detroit and in Miami. They're very close, and I got to sit down with him and understand—then really just watch them from afar, him and Coach Kacy [Rodgers]. Then having the opportunities to really speak with him, understanding how he wanted to use me in his defense, it was appealing to me."
Suh ended up signing with the Los Angeles Rams on a one-year deal, deciding not to pick Gang Green because the franchise was in the midst of a rebuild with a rookie quarterback (Sam Darnold was taken third overall in the draft that year).
Bowles was then fired by the Jets following the 2018 season, a four-win campaign, paving the way for the hire of Adam Gase. That next year, Bowles and Suh linked up with the Buccaneers (with the former head coach serving as Tampa's defensive coordinator) and as they say, the rest is history.
"You take that leap of faith with a strong gentleman like that and we just went from there," Suh said.
Bowles' defense was able to hold the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes to just nine points in the Super Bowl earlier this month, a true testament to his ability to lead a talented defensive unit. Suh surely wouldn't have been able to singlehandedly bring the Jets to contention in 2018 if he signed with New York. It's fair to wonder, however, how his presence on the Jets' defense could have altered this franchise's recent history.
If the Jets won more games with Suh on their defense—assuming he's playing at a high level and potentially recruited another quality defender or two to New York—then is it possible Bowles would've kept his job?
More importantly, if Suh stuck around, do the Jets still take Quinnen Williams with the third overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft the following spring? With Suh on the roster, who knows, maybe the Jets address a different positional need with that first-round pick.
This is all speculation, of course, but it's fun to look back on what could have been. It also shows that Bowles' record at the helm in New York doesn't tell the entire story.
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