The Detroit Lions will go as far as the lines carry them

Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Frank Ragnow, Detroit Lions (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Da’Shawm Hand, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Da’Shawm Hand, Detroit Lions (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Lions will go as far as their lines allow them

Year three of the Bob Quinn/Matt Patricia era will not only be defined by how these Lions play in the trenches, but it is the very element that will determine how far they go.

The Lions have assembled enough talent at their skill positions on offense to be potent, but how potent they are will be determined by the efficiency of the offensive line. Meanwhile, the Lions defense during Matt Patricia’s time in Detroit has underachieved because of the front seven.

While the linebacker play does have to be better, the defensive line is still the backbone of the defense. If they win their match-ups in the trenches, the improved linebacker corps will certainly benefit from it.

Also while I think all of us agree that Matt Patricia’s willingness to be more flexible on defense and more willing to blitz will be an important key to improving the pass-rush, that doesn’t give the defensive line a free pass.

Holding your ground at the line of scrimmage isn’t easy, but given the size and talent NFL defensive linemen have these days, it shouldn’t be mission impossible. But getting into the backfield, making a push up front is another story.

Tre Flowers will need to pick up right where he left off. Danny Shelton has to play at the same level he did in New England last year. Da’Shawn Hand has to return to health and build upon his great rookie season from two years ago. Austin Bryant has to progress. Nick Williams needs to make an impact and both the Okwara brothers, veteran Romeo and rookie Julian, have to give the Lions pressure off the edge.

Heading into camp, the Lions aren’t without talent on the defensive line. The depth could be better, but they aren’t destitute. They are good enough to play at a reasonable level.

There is enough talent to stack up running lanes and even get to the opposing quarterback on paper. But games aren’t played on paper.

We all tend to analyze the Lions roster, but as is human nature we look closer at the glamour positions like quarterback. Yet the game of football, despite all the rules changes for safety, is a physical game. It’s a game of collisions.

The team that usually wins the physicality usually wins the game. That’s why we say defense wins championships. A physical ground game opens up an offense to do anything it likes. A physical defense disrupts opposing offenses mentally and causes mistakes.

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As we enter Detroit Lions training camp 2020, this franchise has enough talent to contend for the postseason and even win a playoff game. The question will be if the line play on both sides of the ball allows them to. Because this team will go as far as those guys in the trenches take them.