Detroit Lions at the halfway mark: Positional report cards
A longtime passion project of Quinn’s, the Lions have made some progress up front this season, but not enough to help mask other deficiencies on the team. Overall, they are on pace to surrender just 36 sacks on the year, a slight improvement on last year’s 41 sacks allowed. Any extra time that can be given to Stafford to make plays is a plus, and the line has given him enough room to push the ball downfield with regularity.
The main issue with the offensive front has been their inability to clear running lanes for the Lions’ tailbacks, resulting in a sputtering rushing attack that has ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in most categories for most of the year. They have just one run of longer than 25 yards on the season.
Tackles Rick Wagner and Taylor Decker are average players and are prone to occasional mistakes, penalties, and struggles against powerful pass rushers. Decker, in particular, had a rough beginning to the season against the Arizona Cardinals followed by missing the next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
He’s been steady since then but barring a surge in performance in the second half of the season. It seems likely that the Lions will look to upgrade at least one of these spots in 2020.
The Lions have been solid in the middle, anchored by two emerging young players in guard Graham Glasgow and center Frank Ragnow. Moving Ragnow back to his natural center position looks like a no-brainer in retrospect; he is currently Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) highest-ranked center and has held that mark for most of the year.
Despite his equally strong play, Glasgow has been part of a confusing guard rotation with Joe Dahl and Kenny Wiggins. Of the three, Wiggins is the only one to play 100% of the snaps in any one game, which came in last Sunday’s loss to Oakland when Glasgow missed just his second career game with a back injury and Dahl left the game late with an ankle problem.
The rationale behind the shuffling seems to be to keep all three fresh in the event of an injury like Glasgow’s, but it’s still an odd strategy considering Glasgow and Dahl are the better options.
Glasgow’s situation is especially worth tracking the rest of the year since he will be a free agent at season’s end. The Lions curiously opted to refrain from giving him an extension over the summer, and it seems unlikely that they plan to any time soon. Losing him would be a serious blow; will he be content to re-up with the team after being part of a strange rotation system?