Once you have done something long enough, you begin to learn and understand the minutiae of the role. Small things you can do to make your life easier. Tricks of the trade, if you will.
This applies to just about any occupation, and when it comes to playing offensive tackle in the NFL, it’s more of the same. The best to ever do it will tell you—proper preparation is everything, and all of the talent in the world will only get you so far in this league.
For Detroit Lions’ left tackle Taylor Decker, the mental approach to his craft has been refined over the course of six years. He immediately started after being drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, and despite being tossed into the proverbial fire, he had himself a fine rookie year.
After year one, the NFL and its harsh reality began to set in. Decker’s sophomore season began with him suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery. After missing half of the 2016 campaign, he rushed things to get back onto the field, resulting in major dip when it came to his on-field performance. And to make matters worse, Decker encountered mental hurdles during that time as well—as he recalled in an excellent piece from The Detroit News’ Justin Rogers.
“I came back way too early and I was watching so much film that I was psyching myself out. I wasn’t going out there confident”, said Decker. “A part of that was the mental side, knowing I probably shouldn’t be out here, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
Another interesting component to Decker’s approach is to not re-watch bad reps unnecessarily. Similar to how people talk about quarterbacks needing to possess some form of “short-term memory loss”, the same can be said for tackles. Time to move on because guess what? There is another superhuman pass rusher waiting to try and do the same thing to you next week.
“I’m not going to sit there and mull over them and just get in my own head about it”, Decker continued. “You can find any left tackle in the NFL, no matter how good they are, they’re going to get beat by somebody. Everybody is so good, it just happens, so I try to stay away from those games, honestly.”
Rogers touches on all of this and more in his article, which you can read here. If you are an offensive lineman enthusiast like myself, then I would consider this is a must-read for you.
A look at Taylor Decker's evolution with Lions, from game day to the film roomhttps://t.co/7ID1Ty5nPk— Detroit News Sports (@detnews_sports) July 6, 2022
And now, onto the rest of today’s notes:
- Big shoutout to @justinthetrees on Tiktok for the excellent craftsmanship. The Lions logo isn’t the easiest, just ask rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams.
- We all know Jameson Williams is fast. Still, some of these practice clips he posted to his Instagram story are eye-popping. Especially when you consider he was doing this against the vaunted Alabama defense.
- Feel like I have to put this here, just so we can formally put this ridiculousness behind us.
Finally, we can stop the Baker Mayfield to Detroit inanity. https://t.co/zwrcnnWTTe— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) July 6, 2022
- Jeff Risdon of the Lions Wire discusses the Lions’ (lack) of pass rush over the course of the last three seasons.