The Detroit Lions think that this year’s offensive line could play with a mean streak.
In Darrell Bevell’s first season as the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, he was hoping to establish a new offensive mentality and rely heavily on the running game.
The Lions also ranked 29th in the league in rushing touchdowns with a measly seven scores on the ground. The running game did improve later in the season with Alabama product Bo Scarborough at the helm, but the Lions were pretty much out of the playoff picture at that point.
Improving the running game in 2020 starts with the offensive line, which should feature some new faces after guard Graham Glasgow and tackle Rick Wagner signed with the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers, respectively.
Detroit Lions: New Lineman, New Attitude
While the rising potential of Glasgow may be tough to replace, general manager Bob Quinn seems to be confident that former Philadelphia Eagles tackle Hal Vaitai can more than replace the loss of Wagner, who is coming off his worst statistical season in his seven-year career according to Pro Football Focus.
When asked about the appeal of Vaitai and the Lions’ new linemen in his latest Zoom call with beat writers, Quinn referenced back to what starting center Frank Ragnow said in an interview via MLive.com last week, speaking on how important it is to have a certain type of toughness to succeed as an NFL offensive linemen.
"“It’s a lunch-pail, so to speak type of group. Guys that kind of like to hurt the opponent as well. It’s really a mentality, and all you got to do is turn Logan (Stenberg)’s tape on, and you can see that in him and in (Jonah Jackson) as well. I talked to Logan, you know, he kind of goes over the top sometimes. I think he had like 14 penalties, so we got to cut that back. But, you like that mentality. I think that’s what I’m trying to get across. You want those tough, nasty grinders because that’s what it is in the run game. It’s a grown man’s type of game.”"
Logan Stenberg was one of college football’s leaders in penalties committed by interior lineman last season, helping earn the ‘Mr. Nasty’ nickname that the Detroit Lions coaching staff has already fallen in love with.
Stenberg will be fighting with Jackson to fill the hole that Glasgow left. It will be hard to replicate Glasgow’s production with one lineman, which is why the Lions may adapt the same guard rotation they had last season with the new rookies, Joe Dahl, Tyrell Crosby, and Kenny Wiggins.
Starting left tackle may want to adapt Stenberg’s mentality, as he is heading into a pivotal contract year and needs to solidify himself as a reliable starting tackle if he wants to earn a second contract.
Ragnow called upon Decker to help him lead a fairly young group in that same interview, as Decker’s improvement combined with the new mean mentality and Ragnow’s chase for a Pro Bowl bid could lead to significant improvements in the running game.
The Lions’ running game core could look a lot different this season, with the additions of Vaitai, the rookie guards and D’Andre Swift competing with Kerryon Johnson for a starting role.
If this young group can adopt a Bad Boy Pistons-Style mentality, not only will fans fall in love with rooting for that edginess, but quarterback Matthew Stafford would be much happier trying to complete 3rd-and-3’s instead of 3rd-and-13’s.