So you certainly wouldn’t expect Lions head coach Matt Patricia to come out the next week and talk about how impressed he is with the offensive line. But that’s exactly what he did on Wednesday.
“I like our offensive line a lot,” Patricia said. “These guys work extremely hard.”
Patricia has a background in offensive line play. In his first two years with New England he went from an offensive assistant to the Patriots’ assistant offensive line coach before transitioning to the other side of the ball. And based on that experience, Patricia clearly like what he sees from this unit.
So how does he explain such a poor overall performance last week, and to a lesser extent the week before against the Seahawks?
“No one likes a game that we had on Sunday. Certainly not a good situation for us there,” Patricia said. “There’s a lot of contributing factors to something like that. But I think, again, it’s a full team game. We probably should’ve done something better all the way around to help everybody, because obviously we didn’t win.”
Obviously, Patricia has a point there. On Tuesday, we broke down how Matthew Stafford was culpable for at least a few of the sacks on Sunday (PFF agrees), and other factors like good coverage also contributed to the Lions’ 10 sacks allowed against the Vikings.
We, both as fans and analysts, tend to be a little reactionary. While the offensive line had a really bad game on Sunday, how soon do we forget that they entered Week 9 as literally the most efficient pass-blocking unit in the entire NFL:
Remember, this was a unit that entered the year having allowed Matthew Stafford to be the second-most sacked quarterback over the past three years. They’ve come a long way in just one offseason.
That kind of improvement is important to Patricia, despite one really, really bad performance.
“If you look at the overall picture of what we’re talking about, this group has been one of the groups of our that has gotten much better. In the course of a year, I think we would all agree, that this offensive line has gotten a lot better, and that’s a positive.”
But they’ll need to put last week behind them and continue to show improvement every week, and they may need to start relying on some of their reserves. One of their best offensive linemen, right guard T.J. Lang, has been battling a hip injury recently and his replacement Kenny Wiggins has had to take over in certain offensive series. Left tackle Taylor Decker, too, was on the injury report last week and had to be briefly removed from the Vikings game due to cramping.
Patricia doesn’t seem too worried, though.
“It’s probably one of the best groups we have that’s trying to (improve) every single day.”