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Looking at the Detroit Lions line, Week 5: Here comes the bad news, especially for Riley Reiff

At the top of your screen you'll see Nick Perry beating Riley Reiff to the outside to force a fumble

At the top of your screen you’ll see Nick Perry beating Riley Reiff to the outside to force a fumble

(Moved to Monday because it could be.) 

Of course Calvin Johnson missed the game. Of course the Lions right tackle, Jason Fox, returned from an injury in this game then got injured again.

This is how a team gets to 0-for-22 and moves to 0-for-23.

But the most depressing thing is that the other stuff probably didn’t matter: Packers were much better than the Lions. Aaron Rodgers tore up the secondary. The Packers’ game plan neutralized the defensive line (as much as is possible, at least). The Lions offensive line didn’t play horribly, it was simply overmatched.

After six runs of over 10 yards last week, including a 37 yarder, the Lions had two this week. They came within three plays of each other and one came on a reverse that had nothing to do with the blocking.  After giving up three sacks in four games, the Lions gave up five.

On the inside, the Lions couldn’t move the Packers’ defensive tackles. When they did, the Packers linebackers just ran past the attempted blocks on the second level.

There were none of the punishing run blocks from right guard Larry Warford that have created some of the Lions’ long runs this season. (He was still solid in the passing game, though.) Warford and left guard Rob Sims spent a lot of time getting stood up then thrown to the side as the hole created for Reggie Bush closed before he could get through.

Center Dominic Raiola had some of the same problems, but they weren’t as extreme. His bigger issue was trying to wrangle the Packers’ linebackers, which he almost exclusively failed to do. 

On the outside, the Packers had too much speed. Of the five sacks allowed, one was allowed by Fox and two were allowed by left tackle Riley Reiff. (The other two came because the Brandon Pettigrew is terrible at blocking anything and because the Packers called a good blitz that had Clay Matthews running in untouched. You could put the latter on Raiola for failing to call the right protection, but we’ve already heaped enough blame today.)

Fox looked average-to-below average in his return at right tackle before getting injured and having Corey Hilliard replace him.

Stafford probably shares some of the blame for Fox’s allowed sack because he held onto the ball too long, but getting pushed into your quarterback isn’t a good look. Hilliard didn’t do anything worthy of praise after Fox left.

Reiff did plenty worthy of ire. The Packers must’ve saw something that Julius Peppers did to Reiff with his speed in the second half last week, because they sent blitzers around the left side a lot, leaving Reiff to block a linebacker more often than he was blocking a defensive lineman. Twice Packers linebacker Nick Perry ran around Reiff to sack Matt Stafford. Once Reiff blatantly held Perry and still couldn’t prevent the sack. Once Perry caused a fumble.

The worst thing for the Lions: Reiff’s run blocking wasn’t much better. Ge had many of the same problems as Sims and Warford. Put the elements together and they add up to the worst game of Reiff’s career, with an added bonus of exposing his weakness on speed rushers.

Run game breakdown

Taking out the Matt Stafford kneel at the end of the game, we have 18 Lions rushes for 65 yards.

Lions line: LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT Jason Fox/Corey Hilliard

Lions line: LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT Jason Fox/Corey Hilliard

The Lions’ strategy was, um, interesting. After averaging 8.4 yards per carry running to the right in Week 4, they didn’t attempt a run to that side in the first half, running up the middle six times and to the left three.

Some of the middle runs were next to Warford who was the Lions’ best lineman last week, but given the (relative) success they had in the second half running to the right side, it’s still a little curious that they didn’t go there more often. Maybe Hilliard is a better run blocker than Fox, so the Lions went there more when the former came in. Maybe the Lions just trust Hilliard more.

Rodney Austin’s chances of making the lineup: Nope. Still none.

Week 5 offensive lineman rankings: 

1. Dominic Raiola

2. Larry Warford

3. Rob Sims

4. Jason Fox

5. Corey Hilliard

6. Riley Reiff

None of them deserve to ranked higher than No. 3.

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One comment on “Looking at the Detroit Lions line, Week 5: Here comes the bad news, especially for Riley Reiff

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