Ever since Bob Quinn became the general manager of the Detroit Lions in 2016, offensive line has been the team’s No. 1 priority in player acquisition. Quinn’s first draft pick was franchise left tackle Taylor Decker. Two rounds later, he selected Graham Glasgow, who would go on to become the team’s starting center and continues to provide nice interior versatility. The following year, Quinn upgraded the line via free agency, grabbing two of the best options available in T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner. Then, of course, he spent another first-round pick on a linemen by selecting Frank Ragnow back in April.
In short, Quinn has sold out on fixing the offensive line in his two years on board. Unfortunately, the results just aren’t there yet.
Last season, the Lions offensive line was a huge disappointment, and Pro Football Focus put it into focus this week. PFF ranked all 32 NFL offensive line by their pass blocking efficiency numbers, and the Lions came in tied for 27th, or good for the fifth worst efficiency in the league.
According to the article, the Lions allowed 199 pressures on passing plays, which was fifth-most among all NFL teams. Unsurprisingly, that resulted in quite a bit of sacks. The Lions ceded 47 sacks, which was seventh-most in the league. In terms of individuals, only one quarterback (Jacoby Brissett, 52) suffered more sacks than Matthew Stafford last year (47).
Of course, personnel wasn’t necessarily the problem for the Lions last year. Injuries devastated the front five to the point where the starting offensive line only took a total of 95 together during the season.
Additionally, the Lions seemed to suffer from schematic problems, as evidenced by former offensive line coach Ron Prince’s firing as soon as the season ended. While the Lions didn’t end up retaining a lot of positional coaches this offseason, Prince was the only one who was let go on the same day as head coach Jim Caldwell.
So there is hope moving forward. All five projected offensive linemen are now “Bob Quinn guys,” and the Lions’ new offensive line coach Jeff Davidson has a history of, at least, moderate success.
But the Lions had similar hopes for their offensive line last year, and as we saw, the best laid plans often go awry. On paper, the Lions’ offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the league, but until they actually go out and do it, there will always be concern with this unit. Especially considering Stafford has taken a total of 173 sacks in the past four years, more than any other quarterback over that time.