The Detroit Lions offensive line has been the target of a lot of criticism over the years. Especially in 2012, the O-line received a lot of criticism for its inability to protect Matthew Stafford and open holes for the running backs. While Stafford wasn't actually sacked all that much, many think it doesn't change the fact that the O-line didn't give him a ton of time in the pocket.
As it turns out, the Lions offensive line wasn't actually all that bad. In fact, it was quite good if you go off of Pro Football Focus' offensive line rankings for 2012. The rankings have the Lions seventh in all of the NFL and first in the NFC North.
PFF's rankings are based on three criteria: pass protection, run/screen blocking and penalties. The Lions are ranked as having the fourth-best pass blocking unit, which isn't a huge surprise given how few sacks they gave up despite throwing the ball so much. What is surprising is that the Lions were ranked as having the 13th-best run blocking unit. They came in 10th for the penalties category.
PFF graded right tackle Gosder Cherilus as the "stud" of the offensive line for the Lions. He was given a score of +26.3 for 2012. The "dud" was right guard Stephen Peterman, who graded out at -8.4. PFF says Peterman "was as good as anyone on the team" in run blocking, but he graded so poorly because he allowed 45 quarterback disruptions.
The summary from PFF is that the Lions offensive line did a good job working to make sure Stafford had enough time to make a play. While some may disagree, let's also consider that the quarterback's pocket presence and decision making play a role in how the offensive line looks. The same goes for the running backs, but PFF doesn't seem to be very high on the O-line's run blocking. The write-up mentions that the run blocking was "far from terrible," but there's a "need to do more."
Handing out stats for offensive linemen is an inexact science for sure, but I agree with PFF's assessment. The pass blocking was pretty good given how much the Lions threw the ball, and if Stafford's pocket presence was a bit better, he could have done a better job of not letting pressure affect him. On the flip side, the running game leaves a lot to be desired because of the offensive line, and that is something that needs to be improved going forward.