Another year, another dose of hypothetical scenarios led by “if the Lions can stay healthy.” That fantasy didn’t even make it to Week 1 this year, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai landing on IR and Frank Ragnow well below 100 percent with a groin injury in the lead up to opening week. That led to a last minute free-for-all at the right guard position, and Logan Stenberg claimed the crown heading into Week 1.
The feel-good story ends there, with Stenberg guilty of back-to-back false starts on the Detroit Lions’ opening drive and finishing with a dismal PFF pass protection grade of 0.0 on the day.
Question of the day: Should the Lions stick with Logan Stenberg at right guard in Week 2?
My answer: I think Stenberg should get at least one more week.
For starters, Stenberg had concerningly little time to prep for the start. As late as Wednesday, the Lions had a carousel for an offensive line, including moving Penei Sewell to right guard.
Just walked out of practice, where, yes, Penei Sewell was taking some reps at right guard.— kyle meinke (@kmeinke) September 7, 2022
Complicating matters: No Tommy Kraemer, the listed starter at the position after Halapoulivaati Vaitai, the expected starter, went on IR this week
That lends a maximum of two days of practice for Stenberg with the first team, and that would explain a lot of his visible discomfort at the start of the game. That doesn’t excuse Stenberg’s mishaps, but it gives reason to believe time can heal those flaws.
Beyond that, Stenberg was formidable on the ground, with a run blocking grade of 53.5. That’s by no means a stellar grade, but it’s a lot higher than his pass blocking grade, and not bad for a backup, all things considered.
To top it all off, Stenberg did show flashes of improvement as the game went on, both in the run game and passing game. Notably, there was this screen pass Stenberg sold impeccably:
Since Stenberg is getting slammed by PFF grades, found this good moment of his that earned some teammate praise. pic.twitter.com/PVOTN2NKIh— Jeremy Reisman (@DetroitOnLion) September 13, 2022
If Stenberg has the IQ to make plays like that, then I firmly believe he can do much better with proper time to acclimate. So does Penei Sewell:
Penei Sewell speaks on Logan Stenberg playing at Right Guard saying, “he’s going to be money this season.” #OnePride pic.twitter.com/bjUrXAQSL7— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) September 12, 2022
Then there’s the question of alternatives: if the Lions don’t roll with Stenberg, what are their other options? Right now, the only alternative without displacing another starter is former UDFA Tommy Kraemer. Kraemer missed practice last week and the Eagles game with a back injury, so even if he were to come back this week, you’re playing the same game of plugging in someone new at the last minute. Likewise, as a UDFA, you’re not exactly getting Quenton Nelson at guard. If Kraemer is an upgrade over Stenberg, odds are it’s marginal at best.
At the end of the day, Stenberg wasn’t great by any means on Sunday, but he gave reason to believe that he’ll be better next week. His ability to put his mistakes behind him and keep hustling one play at a time has earned him the start against Washington in Week 2, if you ask me.
What do you think? Are Stenberg’s flaws too big to overcome? Will Tommy Kraemer unseat Stenberg? Let’s hear it.
Should the Lions start Logan Stenberg at RG in Week 2?
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