Last year, the Detroit Lions offensive line was one of their strongest units. Starting center Frank Ragnow was named to his first Pro Bowl and received second-team All-Pro honors. Taylor Decker put his name back in the conversation of top-10 left tackles in this league. And the unit, as a whole, finished 13th in PFF’s end-of-season rankings.
But for left guard Jonah Jackson, who will be entering his second season this fall, he believes the best may be yet to come. Expectations for the offensive line are always going to be high, but this year the potential to be special.
“I think we can be the best, know what I’m saying?” Jackson said after the Lions’ final minicamp practice. “It’s just a matter of how far we want to go, and how we attack each week.”
Last year, the Lions’ statistical output was average. They finished 20th in ESPN’s pass block win rate and 14th in run block win rate. They averaged just 4.1 yards per carry (26th). Jackson wants that number to be 4.5 or over this year. They allowed 42 sacks (23rd), and Jackson wants that number to be... well...
“Zero. Hopefully none,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to set a standard for that. Hopefully, it’ll never happen.”
The Lions' offensive line obviously got a huge addition this offseason with the selection of offensive tackle Penei Sewell seventh overall. Sewell will almost assuredly take over the starting right tackle job—admittedly, an adjustment for the rookie—but Jackson is noticing how the youngster is already carrying himself like a veteran.
“They say he’s a 20-year-old, but he acts like a grown man with how he handles himself not only in the meetings but on the field,” Jackson said. “And definitely on the field, you see why he was the seventh overall pick. It’s very evident, and I’m excited for his future and what’s to come for him.”
Jackson himself obviously has a lot to improve upon after a solid but inconsistent season. He’ll benefit from knowing his exact role (left guard) from the onset of the offseason, but he’s also making sure to take better care of himself than he was able to in his rookie season.
“Handling my diet, staying on top of my weight, just getting stronger, bigger, smarter,” Jackson explained. “You know, just trying to dial it in as much as I can to help myself this next year.”
Unfortunately, that means cutting out some of life’s finest delicacies.
“Not as many trips to Taco Bell and White Castle.”