Offensive Line Struggles
If you’re a Detroit Lions fan, then you probably know by now that their offensive line just hasn’t been able to find any cohesion this season, and their production has regressed. The right tackle position has been a revolving door up until this point, and left guard Rob Sims is struggling to say the least. Even right guard Larry Warford who had an incredible rookie season last year has looked vulnerable at times. Riley Reiff and Dominic Raiola have done an okay job so far, but they definitely aren’t picking up any slack for the Lions.
Basically, Detroit’s offense has failed to get any rhythm going and that all starts up front in the trenches. If you can’t protect your quarterback or make him feel comfortable, then you’re in for a rude awakening.
NFL Game Rewind
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Lions lead by just eight points and are in their own territory on second-and-long. They have Stafford with an empty set and 3×2 formation. Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes (#55) is lined up in a two-point stance and eventually runs an inside stunt behind defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (#99). Rob Sims (#67) is unable to pick up Hughes quick enough, and the entire left side of the pocket collapses in front of Stafford which leads to a sack fumble, recovered by the Lions.
If Stafford just had another second of protection he would of had a wide open Eric Ebron across the middle. Stafford is eyeing Ebron down, but Sims gets pushed back into Stafford a split-second too early, and it results in a fumble.
What Are You Looking At, Matt?
Despite the offensive line giving Stafford reason to panic, he cannot be absolved of blame because when he did have time to throw, he was unable to make a few routine passes that could have ultimately changed the outcome of the game.
NFL Game Rewind
In the play above, Marcell Dareus absolutely destroys both Rob Sims and Dominic Raiola. Normally when you make an inside swim move and get sandwiched by two linemen, the result isn’t going to end in your favor. However, Dareus has unparalleled strength and manages to sack Stafford while dragging them with him.
But if you watch the play in its entirety, Stafford has a wide open Eric Ebron up the seam but doesn’t pull the trigger. It’s almost as if Stafford is just staring aimlessly down the field with no progressions at all. Towards the right sideline, Megatron is running a verticle route with the defender draped all over him, so the only option here is to throw Ebron’s way.
Another example comes even earlier in the game when the Lions are facing a third-and-long in their own territory.
NFL Game Rewind
Stafford has all the time in the world to throw this ball and dumps it off to an open Reggie Bush for just two yards.
As you can see, Stafford has a wide open Tate across the middle, yet he dumps it off to Bush who had three defenders staring at him. Instead of having a huge gain down the middle, the Lions are forced to punt the ball.
The offensive unit as a whole has been a disappointment to say the least. Hopefully it’s just a matter of getting more reps in and building more chemistry, but if that is the case, then it better happen quickly for the Lions’ sake. This is as good of a time as any to take control of the NFC North and make a playoff run with the depleted defenses of their division rivals.