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NEWS - 06/26/2009 -- Center - Raiola signs 4 Year Contract Extension

The Detroit Lions signed center Dominic Raiola to a four-year contract extension Thursday, putting the 6-foot-1, 295-pound starter under contract through the 2013 season

“If you talk about the great centers, probably in the history of the National Football League,” Schwartz said, “I think they’d all have in common: leverage, feet, balance, quickness. Dom has all of those.”

Okay, now this got me to thinking, and anyone who knows me understands that is not always a good thing. I can understand giving Raiola a contract extension. He is a decent center.... but great? To refer him to one of the best in history? Going a little over board here if you ask me.

Along with handing the ball to the quarterback, the Center has two more major contributions he has to make to the team. He needs to protect that same QB he just handed the grenade to and he has to run block. In quarterback protection, I would say he is decent. Yes the Lions have been giving up over 50 sacks a season for the last three years now, but I can believe most of those came from the other linemen. QB protection I am okay with... its the who run blocking thing I have a problem with.

When was the last time the Lions had the ball in a short yardage situation when any of us felt confident they could push it forward for a couple yards? When was the last time the Lions were at the goal line and just dominated the point of attack to get the touchdown? When was the last time Raiola pancaked a guy opening up a huge hole for the running back to fly through?

Dominic Raiola has good balance, good feet, good leverage and good balance. He is missing the one factor which I for one believe is the most important of them all. Power!

Consider how much improved an offense becomes when they can get the push to gain a couple yards when they really need it. That ability at the goal line forces defenses to worry more about the middle and it opens up small passes and outside rushes. Gaining those first downs when needed sustains drives, giving offenses more chances to score. Sustained drives keep the defense on the bench and rested up. The Detroit Lions have consistently been one of the worst short yardage teams in football and Raiola is at the center of that fact.

Give him the extension if only because he is the best we have and you need to keep him. But to say he is listed with the great ones? If Schwartz keeps saying things like this I am going to start wondering if he is going to be a good coach or just another politician in charge of a football team.

Notice in the picture above, how Raiola #51 seems a bit smaller than all the other Detroit Lions offensive Linemen.... who are not known for their power.

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