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Film breakdown: Analyzing the Lions’ first-team offensive line performance vs. Texans

Breaking down every play from the Lions’ first-team offensive line.

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Houston Texans John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Even before last week’s nine-sack performance, the biggest question facing the Detroit Lions was the play of their offensive line. Matthew Stafford has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks throughout his career, and despite the constantly changing parts, nothing seems to have helped keep Stafford off his back.

But with a new offensive scheme and a lot of returning faces, the hope is that the Lions’ front five finally settles in.

So how did they do after last week’s game? Let’s break down every single play the first-team offensive line played against the Houston Texans on Saturday night.

Drive 1

Play 1: Kerryon Johnson run right off tackle, 5 yards

Good blocks from Rick Wagner to seal the defensive end. T.J. Hockenson perfect cut blocked an outside linebacker to spring the run. Fellow tight end Jesse James gave a solid block at the second level, but Chris Lacy couldn’t find anyone to block. Could’ve gone for more.

Play 2: Josh Johnson sacked, fumbles

The pocket collapses from the inside. Frank Ragnow rides his guy out of the pocket, but Graham Glasgow’s guy stunts inside, causing the two to collide. Joe Dahl gets driven backwards by blitzing linebacker. The ball should’ve been out by the time pressure got there, but you still don’t want to see pocket collapse like that.

Play 3: Incomplete deep pass

Texans send four, while the Lions keep a running back and tight end to help chip the edge defenders. Easy pocket for Johnson to throw in, thanks to this Joe Dahl pancake:

Drive 2

Play 4: Quick screen, incomplete

Graham Glasgow and Frank Ragnow connect on their cut blocks. Not much else to say.

Play 5: Kerryon Johnson run (left guard) for 6.

Solid blocks from Jesse James, Taylor Decker and Joe Dahl clearing out the first level. Both Rick Wagner and Frank Ragnow overrun the second level a bit, but both recover nicely to do just enough to spring this run into the secondary.

This goes for more had Johnson not run into Chris Lacy, who didn’t get much of his defender.

Play 6: Johnson incomplete to Tommylee Lewis

Dahl gets a little too high in his set and is driven back a good five yards by Texans defensive end Angelo Blackson before he’s able to anchor, giving Johnson little room to throw. Otherwise blocked well.

Drive 3

Play 7: C.J. Anderson run (right tackle) for 1 yard

This is a big yikes from me, dawg. Neither Graham Glasgow nor T.J. Hockenson pick up the play-side linebacker, leaving him free to cut through the defense untouched.

On the back side, Joe Dahl is too slow with his cut block, allowing another linebacker to squeeze into the backfield, while Taylor Decker is a tad slow to beat his guy to the inside.

Credit to Anderson for somehow turning this into a positive gain.

Play 8: C.J. Anderson run (right tackle) for 5 yards

T.J. Hockenson with the key seal block along the right edge and Joe Dahl pulls nicely from the left side as the lead blocker, but doesn’t hit his guy cleanly. He drives him back enough to create some room, but his guy eventually makes the play.

Play 9: Josh Johnson scrambles for 3 yards

Johnson had a pretty good pocket on this play, but seemed to get happy feet and panic.

Johnson runs right by Joe Dahl, which causes the Lions guard to hold tight of his defender to prevent Johnson from getting hit. That’s a tough position to put Dahl in, but Dahl made it an easy call for the officials.

Drive 4

Play 10: Deep pass to Tommylee Lewis, pass interference, 42 yards

Solid pass protection from everyone, aside from maybe Joe Dahl, who gives up a very late pressure. Still, he stalemates the defender initially, which was all the time that Johnson really needed.

Play 11: Kerryon Johnson left tackle for 6 yards—called back due to crackback block on T.J. Hockenson

This was a display of perfect harmony between the interior offensive line. Dahl and Ragnow perfectly execute a combo block, allowing Dahl to get to the second level. Meanwhile, Glasgow and Wagner are doing the same on the backside.

As for the crackback block, Hockenson didn’t even touch the guy, but he did go low, which is illegal when there’s an actual block being thrown.

Play 12: Johnson short pass to Chris Lacy for 8 yards

3 step drop. Nothing notable on the offensive line.

Play 13: (Read option) Johnson run for 1 yard

Glasgow and Wagner create a nice big hole for what could have been a big Kerryon Johnson run. Unfortunately, Josh Johnson didn’t sell the run well at all, allowing the unblocked edge defender (unblocked by design) to sell out on the quarterback.

Play 14: Johnson pass to Ty Johnson for 9 yards

Good pass protection all around. Glasgow’s defender is completely stalemated at the line of scrimmage. Plenty of room to throw, but Johnson opts to check down fairly quickly.


After the fourth drive, the Lions would keep Glasgow and Dahl in the game, but rotate everyone else out.

It’s a small sample size to go off of, but a promising performance nonetheless from what may very well be the starting offensive line in Week 1. The run blocking looked particularly good—aside from one play. The Lions ran six designed running plays and gained 24 yards on them (including the crackback block play). That’s not a great average, but it includes one really bad play and one that was poorly executed by the quarterback, not the line.

In terms of pass protection, it was obviously a much better game than last week. The Lions’ starting offensive tackles played a completely clean game, while Ragnow continues to look comfortable at center.

Joe Dahl had an eventful night, both good and bad. He probably had the worst night of the starting five, but still had enough promising plays to warrant at least a little confidence should he win the starting left guard job.

There are still a ton of questions about the depth of this unit, but thus far in the preseason, the Lions’ starting offensive line has looked—dare I say—good.