Detroit Lions offensive line impresses and disappoints in win over Eagles
The Detroit Lions won in Philadelphia with a 27-24 win. In the win, the offensive line was impressive in pass protection, but disappointing in the run game.
The Detroit Lions were not given a chance to win this game by anyone in the national media. No one thought that the Lions, despite just upsetting the Los Angeles Chargers at home the week before, could walk into Philadelphia and win. And yet despite an early field goal and a touchdown from the Philadelphia Eagles, the Lions buckled up and never once trailed after the first quarter.
It was another performance that was not quite as stellar as it could have been but all three phases of the team came together to earn the win. The defense gave up 24 points but put the clamps on for the Eagles’ final two drives when it mattered most, while also causing two turnovers.
The special teams unit also contributed with solid play all around (excluding the blocked field goal at the end of the game) and opened up the Lions’ scoring on the day with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown by Jamal Agnew. The offense put together two touchdown drives and two field-goal drives which proved to be just enough as the team walked away with a huge 27-24 road win.
During the game, a big matchup that was happening was the Lions’ offensive line against the Eagles’ very talented defensive line and the many different ways Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz chose to get pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford. Many were worried that left tackle Taylor Decker would struggle a lot because of his dreadful performance in week one against the Arizona Cardinals.
However, the Lions’ offensive line showed that they could hold down the fort and didn’t allow a single sack on the day. Stafford was really only hit hard once on the day when he stood in the pocket and took a shot straight to the chest when the Lions were backed up close to their own end-zone trying to drive the ball down the field for a first down on third and long (it fell incomplete). At the end of the day the offensive line out together a very impressive performance giving up only three total quarterback hits and allowed exactly zero sacks.
However, it wasn’t all good for the offensive line Sunday. Prior to the season, many expected this to be a team that ran the football down the throats of opposing teams, while ultimately running the ball just as much as, if not more than passing the ball. But through the two games prior to this, it hadn’t proved true and Sunday would be no different.
It was actually worse this Sunday than any other of the last two games. The best run on the day was a reverse sweep to JD McKissic that went for 44 yards and deep into Eagles territory. If you take away that outlier, the Lions ran for just 42 yards on 27 carries which tallies just an abysmal 1.56 yards per carry number.
The offensive line was getting little to no push most of the game and running back Kerryon Johnson actually had a very solid game considering he was more often than not being met at or behind the line of scrimmage by defenders. He would often turn three to four-yard losses into either just one-yard losses or no gain on the play. The offensive line has got to be better in the run game or teams are gonna be able to start narrowing in on the passing game only and hurt the overall production of the offense.
The Lions have been regularly rotating in top reserve guard Kenny Wiggins with starters Joe Dahl and Graham Glasgow every week up to this point. It’s time for the Lions to commit to Dahl and Glasgow and stop the rotating.
While it might not mean a huge improvement, perhaps the knowledge of knowing their starting spot isn’t on the thinnest of ice could result in more relaxed and better play. Doing this would also result in more familiarity and continuance between the five starting lineman which could also lead to better play all around.
The offensive line needs to continue their good pass protection of Stafford but has got to start opening up bigger holes and getting more push for the running backs. If they can’t, this surprising and promising 2-0-1 start by the team could end up being just an early-season fluke because of the lack of a rushing threat (due to offensive line play, not Kerryon Johnson) the offense currently possesses.