Sep 8, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush (21) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions Interior OL Kept Matthew Stafford Nearly Pressure-Free

Sep 8, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola (51) celebrates running back Reggie Bush (not pictured) touchdown during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In diagnosing the issues that plagued the Detroit Lions last year, Martin Mayhew made specific mention of the pressure that got to Matthew Stafford through the interior of the offensive line.

As a result, Stephen Peterman is a former Lion, Dominica Raiola bulked up and the team drafted Larry Warford in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Vikings were without Kevin Williams, but the trio of Rob Sims, Dominic Raiola and Larry Warford deserve some credit for the job they did yesterday. Pro Football Focus has already graded (subscription required) each player on every play and all three interior offensive linemen come out with positive grades. Sims (+0.9) and Raiola (+0.6) only marginally so,  but Larry Warford’s +2.9 was only surpassed on offense by Matthew Stafford (+3.8), Reggie Bush (+3.3) and Joique Bell (+3.1).

Those ratings can be hard to put in context at times, so what is more important in this discussion, particularly in light of last year’s specific issue, is how their play impacted Stafford. PFF charts sacks, hits and hurries and identifies the responsible party. Sims and Warford come out clean while Raiola was tagged for only one quarterback hurry.

The Vikings did get some pressure, but it came from the outside. PFF has Riley Reiff responsible for two hits and two hurries and Corey Hilliard responsible for five hurries.

If the interior of the offensive line can continue keeping pressure out of Matthew Stafford’s face, we will be much more likely to see the 2011 Stafford than the inconsistent version we saw in 2012.

Tags: Detroit Lions Dominic Raiola Larry Warford Matthew Stafford Rob Sims

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