I just finished reading an article posted on ESPN that was talking about the Lions and how they aren't going to make the playoffs this year. I know how hard it can be to for some to grasp the concept of the Lions not only having a playoff push, being how long it’s been since the words Lions and playoffs have been uttered in the same sentence, but that they are considered to be a dark horse for the Super Bowl. Now I 'm not having any lofty hopes on the matter (I did throw some money down on them to get there. At 35-1 heck why not?), but I do think they should be talked about as a legitimate playoff contender.
If anyone cares to read the article the link for it is here.
With that, the first big gripe that Ben Lorimer had about the Lions was their offensive line. I’ve heard this a few times this year, and it always seems like a convient place of blame. Offensive lines are always the easy scapegoat when it comes to loses, and are quickly forgotten whenever your team is winning. I know in the article it says that the Lions O-line is old, but to say that it was a weakness, I’m not sure I agree.
To everyone that starts saying the line for Detroit was bad; you need to start looking at stats. Now the Bears allowed the most sacks this year at 56. The Super Bowl champion Packers allowed 51 the year before and 38 this year. The Lions only allowed 27.
Some of this falls on the QB doing a good job of getting rid of the ball, but even with QB hits:
And if the three step drop works and wins games, why would you change it? I know about big plays and everything, but if you are winning, why change it simply to have 50 yard pass plays? You adjust your play calling to your team’s strengths. You don’t change your plays to accommodate your strong armed QB. And you can’t be planning around Stafford. He hasn’t played a full season.
Enough with that…Now on to rushing stats; it’s hard to believe this but the Lions were actually better at running the ball then the Bears and Packers:
Bears: 3.9 average 1,616 total yards.
Packers: 3.8 average 1,606 total yards.
Lions: 4.2 average 1,613 total yards.
I didn’t put the Vikings numbers up because AP kind of screws them up. That man could make any line look good.
When I saw those numbers I was shocked. I didn’t think the Lions beat the Bears and Pack in rushing last year. But they did.
For all the grief the Lions line has taken, they were actually the best line in their division.
Personally I think the Lions O-line gets overlooked because for so many years they have been on bad teams. As much as Kitna had great heart, he didn’t always have good decision making. As much as both Kevins (Jones and Smith) tried, they weren’t durable.
Aside from a few rather costly mistakes (looking your way Backus) the line did hold up. I even give them SOME credit on a few of the wins at the end of the year. It was strange to see Morris getting 5-8 yards downfield. But that was because he is a downhill runner. With Leshoure coming in, and having a set of young power legs, we might be looking at a 1,000 rusher since, what Jones’ rookie year? Until we actually get a good blocking fullback, we aren’t going to see Best hit that mark.
With all this being said, I’m not saying the line couldn’t be better, because it could. Backus is old, as is Raiola, but to say they won’t be serviceable enough for a playoff push is unfair. Not to mention the lions actually have a young group of backups that they have picked up the last two years that might be the future O-line. Only time will tell.