The recent success enjoyed by the Detroit Lions’ offensive line changed drastically
All year, despite the overall unsuccessful nature of the Detroit Lions season, the offensive line had been the one fairly consistent part of the team. They weren’t getting beat too badly in pass protection, often giving quarterback Matthew Stafford time in the pocket. A number of sacks in weeks one through three were just as much on Stafford for holding the ball too long as on the offensive line.
Also, despite the lower rushing numbers, lanes were being opened in the ground game by the line. Starting running back Adrian Peterson simply wasn’t able to take full advantage of them like he once was. After the bye week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, the offensive line looked even better.
Against the Jaguars, the offensive line was opening up lanes all over the place but Peterson still wasn’t getting the job done. Finally, the Lions turned to rookie D’Andre Swift, who took advantage of those openings and exploded for 116 yards on just 14 carries (goof for over eight yards per carry). The line also held Jacksonville to just six total hits on Stafford and zero sacks on the day. Things were looking up.
The Falcons offered a tougher challenge along the defensive front, featuring all-pro caliber defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and the three former first-round picks Dante Fowler Jr., Charles Harris, and Takkarist McKinley. They didn’t fare as well on the ground, picking up 68 yards total, but they were able to pick up the big runs when they needed to.
When it came to protecting the passer, they allowed just two sacks the whole game, and even those sacks came from the back-seven of the defense on delayed blitzes. Along with those two sacks, they allowed just six total hits on Stafford. Overall, a nice game against a defensive front full of name-value players.
Detroit Lions’ offensive line spirals badly against the Colts’ front-seven
Things would not go so smoothly in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. The offensive line got zero push against the Colts’ front that featured elite All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Denico Autry, and linebackers Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke.
Detroit ran the ball with their running backs 11 times and gained a pitiful eight yards on those carries with seven yards coming on Detroit’s second drive of the game. The best runs of the game came from wide receiver Jamal Agnew on a sweep that went for 11 yards and a scramble from Stafford that went for 10 yards. The offensive line was manhandled all game long and even standout center Frank Ragnow did not have a good day.
Stafford has just as bad luck when dropping back to pass as well. There were rare instances when he actually had a few seconds to survey his options, but otherwise, he was running for his life buying time before throwing the ball. Stafford was hit a recorded seven times on the day with five sacks, and a ridiculous amount of pressures/hurries.
If the offensive line cannot get back on track and continues to leak like a sieve then Detroit will have no hope of reeling off a sizable winning streak against the number of bottom-tier teams they’re about to go head to head with.
Fortunately for the Lions, they have a season-long record of at least playing adequately enough to win. Along with that, Detroit’s offensive line coach, Hank Fraley, is very well thought of in Detroit so expect the offensive line to get back on a positive track next week against the Minnesota Vikings.