Detroit Lions 2019 season ending report cards: Offense

Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Offensive Line

The Lions’ long-standing dedication to building a high-level offensive line finally started to see some tangible gains in 2019, after years of pouring valued resources into its development. However, some hiccups and strange patterns kept this from being a first-rate group and contributed to the Lions’ overall poor play at times.

In year four, Taylor Decker has established himself as a good, but not a great left tackle. He got off to a rough start in the first game of the season, overmatched by the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive front as well as committing a pair of penalties. Decker would also miss the next game with an injury, compounding a rough beginning to the season.

Decker would settle in after that, holding steady all season as he faced some of the league’s best pass rushers on a weekly basis. He missed just two offensive snaps in the 15 games that he played. Decker’s nine accepted penalties are a bit too many, but it’s not an excessive number. His fifth-year contract option was picked up last spring, and extension talks could be a topic to follow this offseason.

Rick Wagner completes a third straight average season at right tackle, despite being one of the higher-paid players at his position. Health was a factor, as he missed four games with assorted ailments. The Lions could do with an upgrade, but they likely don’t have it on the roster at the moment and may have to dedicate funds elsewhere.

Second-year swing tackle Tyrell Crosby was unable to take a step forward in Wagner’s stead, struggling to keep pressure off of the Lions’ quarterbacks. Crosby also racked up six accepted penalties in his five starts, a troubling rate. The Lions could use an infusion of talent at this position to challenge the incumbent players when next year’s training camp rolls around.

The middle of the line was a fascinating group to watch all season. After moving to his more natural center position in his second year, Frank Ragnow made good on his first-round pedigree, becoming the rock in the middle of the offense that the Lions had envisioned. He is already one of the best at his position in the NFL and should be a fixture for Detroit for years, assuming he can stay healthy.

The guard situation was much more unsettled and may have led to the Lions’ mediocre results in the run game. Graham Glasgow, Joe Dahl, and Kenny Wiggins were part of a confusing rotation all season long at the two guard spots, despite Glasgow and Dahl being the clear superior performers.

Glasgow, coming off of two straight seasons playing every offensive snap, saw his snap counts fall to 81 percent this season, despite being one of the most steady performers at the position in the NFL. The rationale behind this strategy remains a mystery and might cause the impending unrestricted free-agent to seek a fresh start elsewhere.

Dahl’s development in year four was promising, and having a good player at left tackle is important. However, the Lions’ inconsistent running game and at times shaky pass protection (43  sacks allowed) is a reflection of this group and yields their just-above-average grade

Grade: B-

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Do you agree with our report cards for the Detroit Lions’ offensive position groups? What grades would you give them? Let us know in the comments section below