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Offensive Line gives Mixed Messages

In the Lions last preseason game, the offensive line showed a lot of promise, and yet gave reasons for the fans to worry.

Continuously the offensive line out muscled the Buffalo Bills at the line of scrimmage. Over and over the running backs had positive gains due to the line moving the trench forward or simply opening holes. On one particular play, Cason took a hand-off up the left side and as he broke through the line, he was stood up straight by a defender. The Lions offensive line did not give up though and during the ensuing pile up, the Detroit Line moved that pile forward for ten yards before Cason was finally dragged down. In the power running game, the Lions line looked good. Maybe even better than good. Their pass protection however had mixed reviews.

Stafford often had time to throw and on one occasion, he had too much time as he let his eyes lock onto Calvin Johnson for too long before throwing the ball, allowing the defense to read his eyes and move accordingly. Luckily for Stafford, defensive players often do not have great hands and the ball slipped through the defenders fingers. The problem was that the offensive line too often broke down. Stafford only dropped back for 11 pass plays and twice he took sacks. On one his arm was hit just before he was and he lost the fumble.

That is two sacks the line gave up in one half of play. That would add up to 64 sacks in a full season. What makes this worse is that these were not sacks that can be blamed on Stafford for holding onto the ball for too long. These are sacks where the line caved in and the defense was upon Stafford too fast for any quarterback to do much more than get hit. That kind of break down twice in one half is much too often. Especially when the Lions had a strong running game going, making it hard for the Buffalo defense to just come after Stafford alone.

Even with the break downs however, the Detroit Lions offensive line looked much improved to what we watched in 2008. They look primed to open a lot of room for Kevin Jones and to actually move the ball occasionally on short yardage situations. The Line should also give the quarterback more time far more often than it has in the past. Whoever starts for the Lions at quarterback, can expect a chance to have a good season. But only if they are tough enough to take the hits.

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