The Detroit Lions’ offensive line has been a source of stress and frustration for fans this preseason (and almost every season). In the preseason opener, the Lions allowed nine sacks and got their backup quarterback injured. The second game was a mild improvement, but Detroit still looked vulnerable, especially in the second half. Last week’s dress rehearsal game was going swell, but starting center Frank Ragnow went down with what looked like a serious injury, only for later reports to be much more optimistic in their diagnosis.
But despite all of the doom and gloom of the preseason, one aspect of the Lions offensive line has actually been performing quite well: the starting offensive tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner are two of just 14 offensive tackles this preseason who have played at least 25 pass blocking snaps and have yet to allow a single pressure:
There are 14 OTs that have played at least 25 pass blocking snaps this preseason without allowing a pressure— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) August 26, 2019
3 of those OTs wear Honolulu Blue for the #Lions
K. Wiggins- 44 snaps, 76.2 PB Grade
R. Wagner- 28 snaps, 72.0 PB Grade
T. Decker- 28 snaps, 85.2 PB Grade#OnePride
When you consider just how many different offensive tackles have met the minimum snap requirements (over 130 players), that’s quite the accomplishment for the Lions’ starters. The fact that Kenny Wiggins also finds himself on this list could provide a little bit of optimism for the team’s reserves, as well.
Decker and Wagner are entering this season with a fair amount of skepticism surrounding both. For Decker, he has yet to return to the level of promise provided by his rookie year performance and hasn’t been quite the same since his torn labrum in 2017. Though the Lions picked up his fifth-year option for 2020, his future with the team still remains a mystery beyond this season. Wagner, on the other hand, has been solid but unspectacular. Given the Lions handed him a big five-year, $47.5 million deal, that has to be considered a minor disappointment.
Obviously, this is just the preseason, and these guys will need to carry this kind of performance into the games that matter for anyone to truly care. But at this point, I’ll take any signs of optimism for this offensive line.