We live in an era of superlatives.
A guy goes to one of those food trucks, eats a grilled cheese sandwich, and immediately needs to tweet, Instagram, and hash tag that the sandwich was "the greatest ever". There's an indie band out in Brooklyn that plays a show for an audience of 20, and it's written up by the music websites as "The Greatest Show You Weren't At". John Oliver says something -- anywhere, about anything -- and it's not only smart, but it's the most brilliant thing ever done in the worlds of social commentary, television, and life.
Hyperbole is all the rage. And when it comes to the NFL, things are no different. The Cowboys' rushing attack is off to an impressive start, but is it the greatest ever? Let's check back in November. Julius Thomas is off to a fast first few months, but is this the greatest season ever by a tight end? Slow down.
Heading to Minnesota for last week's Vikings-Lions game, an NFC scout texted me: "Wait until you see that Lions defensive line. It's one of the best I've seen on film."
This wasn't some novice throwing around a compliment. This was a guy who's seen a lot of defensive lines. The Lions? I knew they had big names, and I knew they had big numbers, but this is a defense I've seen roasted time and time again over the years. The best he's seen on film? C'mon. Enough, already.
And then I saw this unit up close and in person last week. No hyperbole. They're dominant.
This Detroit Lions defensive line is not only the league's best unit, but it could be a historic one. Truly massive, young, and only getting better and better each week -- they are the real deal. Better than the fancy band and the food truck sandwich -- they're no joke.
I spoke with Teryl Austin, Detroit's defensive coordinator, last week and he said there was some hesitation from the players when he started installing the defense during OTAs. It was a lot of looks and information at once. But come training camp, it all started to click. And if you go player by player, name by name, the star-studded defensive line is finally -- after years of patient waiting -- all coming together.
Ndamukong Suh may not have the big sack numbers he once had, but he's got to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. He's the unit's leader. He moves; they follow. The consummate professional, Suh's one of those "first guys to work, last ones to leave" guys and treats every game like it's the biggest one of the year.
Watching him on Sunday and then again on film this week, there are no snaps taken off. That effort rubs off on his teammates. Nick Fairley, a guy who was demoted back in August and then took it upon himself to lose 20 pounds, is having his best year as a pro. Ziggy Ansah, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Week after his 2.5-sack performance in Minnesota, is growing into one of the sport's best pass rushers each week before our very eyes.
And then there's the support staff. George Johnson and Daryl Tapp are in the rotation and making plays whenever called upon. Big man Jason Jones is the perfect complement to Ansah coming off the other edge. Every Lions game I watch, I see 10-year veteran C.J. Mosley showing up. The wildest part about the Lions defensive line's success is that one of their rotational guys from years prior -- Willie Young -- is the current NFL sack leader out in Chicago.
They're a huge part of the No. 1-ranked defense in the league and they're a joy to watch.
Are they the best ever? Well, I'm not big on Instagram and don't do much with hash tags, but in an era of hyperbole, exaggeration, and great hype -- the Lions defensive line exceeded all my expectations.
And he's drinking the honolulu blue and silver koolaid:
New Orleans at Detroit: I'm all in on this Lions defense. They've been downright dominant since the Carolina loss, come at you from three different levels, and play with a chip on their collective shoulders. Suh, Fairley, and Mosley are all free agents at the end of this year. I'm not sure who gets paid and if any of them are back, but all three have been having career years in 2014. More of the same and a hellish afternoon for Drew Brees is up ahead. Joe Lombardi, the offensive coordinator of the Lions, coached Brees for eight years in New Orleans. I have to think he knows something about the former Super Bowl MVP that other coaches around the league might not.