The past couple of weeks I've supposedly been doing revision for exams that are apparently the most important of my life. Sadly, NFL and specifically POD has kind of distracted me just a little. Instead of going into the minute points over whether your President is imperial or imperilled or if we truly have a special relationship with you, I instead started thinking about what is more important nowadays with an offensive line - the interior, or the exterior. And more importantly, in relation to us.
Conventional wisdom states you need a franchise left tackle to protect the crown jewels of a franchise. Jake Long, Jason Peters, Joe Thomas are all viewed as the best offensive linemen, purely because they are the best at the perceived most important position. However Jason Cole argues that "it's a luxury position". Out of the left tackles in the top four scoring teams last year (Patriots, Saints, Packers and us), none had a stand out left tackle. Meanwhile Drew Brees last year was helped greatly by the presence of arguably the two best guards in the game. The game has evolved so that it is no longer premium to have that big body holding down the left side. The arguments he puts forward for this is that quarterback's now pass the ball a lot quicker than before and that the best pass rusher is no longer the right de or olb. It seems to be much more important to get pressure from the middle, so as to disrupt the pocket as much as possible. Our defensive line I believe is a prime example of this - Suh and hopefully Fairley this year are primarily pass-first, run-second in thinking.
However, Pat Kirwan argues that a good tackle combination is still very important for the welfare of the qb, and in general the passing game. He argues that, having a good tackle pairing means that quarterbacks have a much better chance of playing all sixteen games, and gives tail backs and tight ends more of an opportunity to become options in the passing game. It's become quite obvious the Lions FO feels the same way; we are stacked at the position, whilst the interior has largely gone unchanged the past two, three years. The pick of Reiff was seen as picking at the very least the right tackle of the future.
The Lions seem to be operating something of a paradox in terms of defence and offence. On the one hand, you have the defence built from the inside, with two potential all-pro tackles and two other very solid players fitting in the rotation. It aims to collapse the pocket from the middle, giving the defensive ends one-on-one's to pick up the scraps. On the other hand, you have an offensive line which is seemingly at its weakest in the middle, and the offensive tackle position seen as an area that needs strong reliable players. In my opinion it is paramount to have a strong middle of the offensive line. Not only does it pay dividends in the run game, but Stafford is a pocket passer, and needs a clean pocket to work at his best. Meanwhile, a franchise left tackle is less important because rushers now aren't just limited to rushing from the right hand side. If anything, it primarily gives a psychological advantage to the quarterback knowing his blindside is protected.
It's going to be interesting to see what the Lions do over the next couple of years. Dom is nearing retirement, and Peterman is seen as a big liability. I doubt we have seen the end just yet of high draft picks on the o-line. And btw, in response to my revision, We the UK only have any say in the world because of you lot and Congress is a real bitch to your President.