Through the first three weeks of the season, despite injuries, the Detroit Lions’ offensive line has been able to jell and hold the fort in excellent fashion, picking up where they left off in 2013.
Last Sunday,Detroit was even able to salt a game away by controlling the clock and running the football, a sure sign that the road graters up front are getting their jobs done, one and all.
This week, though, the Lions will face a stiff test from Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Ryan, through his career, has made no bones about the fact that he likes to bring pressure on an opposing offense, and does so with a variety of blitz packages.
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That success is set up, mostly, by the ability of New York’s defensive line to get pressure and win their one-on-one battles up front. Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison are space eaters in the middle, while Muhammad Wilkerson is dominating off the edge.
As a result of that, and an outstanding set of linebackers, the Jets are a team that features the best run defense in football. This will make it extremely difficult on Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to enjoy the type of success they had against Green Bay. Additionally, it could complicate matters for Matthew Stafford to have time to throw the ball.
Pressure will certainly be on usual suspects, lineman like Dominic Raiola, Riley Reiff and Larry Warford, but most notably, the spotlight could shine brightest on backup tackle Garrett Reynolds once again.
Most notably, the spotlight could shine brightest on backup tackle Garrett Reynolds once again.
LaAdrian Waddle might not be available to return, and on the off chance he is, the tackle could still be a bit gimpy on his strained calf. Reynolds played well against Green Bay last week, and will have to back up his contributions again and prove he is capable of getting the job done.
If the Lions are able to run the football, that will open things up against a New York defensive backfield which has been sticky in the past. Anything additional they can get on the ground will certainly help the team be less one dimensional, and take the pressure off Stafford to make so many throws.
How well Detroit does on the road will probably be dictated by how well the offensive line holds up against a tough front four and linebackers that can pressure the passer. If the answer is well, the Lions will have a great chance to be 3-1 by sundown Sunday.
If not, there’s a good chance the game could end as painfully as the road loss to Carolina did.
Relevant Stat Check
Detroit Lions’ Rush Offense: 25th overall, 261 yards, three touchdowns.
New York Jets’ Run Defense: 1st overall, 165 yards, zero touchdowns allowed.
Detroit Lions’ Offensive Line Efficiency: 14th pass protection, 21st run blocking. (Football Outsiders).