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Looking at the Detroit Lions offensive line, Week 12: For the first time, pass blocking is a problem

The final play. Stafford decides to back pedal and Reiff can't hold his block.

The final play. Stafford decides to back pedal and Reiff can’t hold his block.

In a game the Lions would rather forget about, the offensive line had a forgettable day. They just couldn’t handle Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy.

Pro Football Focus gave McCoy a +8.8 rating, a new career high for him and made him the MVP of the game. Most of his damage came on the pass rush, which the Lions struggled with for the first time all season. Part of the reason was the line. Part of the reason was Matt Stafford hung on to the ball too long at times.

Take that last play. The screen shot looks bad. Left tackle Riley Reiff can’t contain Adrian Clayborn, forcing Stafford to backpedal and fire off his back foot. But the breakdown comes late in the play. Stafford held the ball for two seconds waiting for one of his receivers downfield to get open, then actually moves towards Clayborn, presumably to get away from the linebacker coming off the left edge.

It was a team breakdown and it encapsulated the day for the Lions. Reiff actually wasn’t too bad. Pro Football Focus gave him a +2..6 rating, his second best grade of the year, and he certainly had his moments. On the Lions’ 28-yard screen pass early in the game, Reiff cut the linebacker and opened up the hole. He also allowed a sack and gave up a couple of pressures.

Left guard Rob Sims spent most of the day on McCoy. It didn’t turn out well. Combine that with a false start penalty and Sims missing the hole when he pulled to become a lead blocker a couple of times and it was one of his worst performances this year.

Because of that, and because of center Dominic Raiola’s steady play, we’re turning a Rob Sims Day into a Dominic Raiola Day. Raiola had a Dominic Raiola Day, albeit a small one. There was a little more inconsistency than usual. He got beat three times. He had a couple of difference-making blocks. On one occasion the positive and negative came on consecutive runs.

Right guard Larry Warford missed getting to the linebacker a couple of times, preventing a decent play from turning into a huge play, and just flat-out blocked the wrong guy twice, including once on the Lions’ third-to-last play of the game. Detroit had 1st-and-10 on the Tampa Bay 26. The Buccaneers lined up three defensive linemen. Reggie Bush took a handoff to the right. Warford elected to double Tampa’s Akeem Spence instead of blocking Gerald McCoy, you know, the guy who had been making plays all day. That resulted in Reggie Bush seeing this:

Warford missTwo yard loss. Using the transitive property or the butterfly effect or something, you could say Larry Warford lost the Lions the game. You’d be wrong, but you could say that. Warford’s miscues were crucial but there weren’t that many. Overall it turned out OK.

Next to Warford, it looked like right tackle LaAdrian Waddle’s party was over. He got blown by on the second play of the game, resulting in a two-yard loss and then got bull rushed and gave up a QB hurry on the next, so using the transitive property or the butterfly effect — nevermind. But after a holding penalty a little later on, Waddle settled down and continued his run as the best undrafted free agent the Lions ever signed outside of James Mungro.

Run game breakdown

No adjustments needed. The Lions ran 24 times for 104 yards.

LT Riley Reiff, LG Larry Warford, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT LaAdrian Waddle

LT Riley Reiff, LG Larry Warford, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT LaAdrian Waddle

The Lions had a lot of success up the middle, so that’s where they continued to pound it. The only other thing of note: Detroit basically abandoned running to the left side of the line late in the game.

Chances Rodney Austin has of making the lineup: This is the last week I’m including this.

Week 12 offensive lineman rankings: 

1. Dominic Raiola

2. LaAdrian Waddle

3. Larry Warford

4. Riley Reiff

5. Rob Sims


Week 11: All hail LaAdrian Waddle

Week 10: Larry Warford is back everybody

Week 9: BYE

Week 8: The coaches trust LaAdrian Waddle

Week 7: LaAdrian Waddle gets on the field, but coaches have little trust in him

Week 6: Larry Warford was good, but was everyone else bad?

Week 5: Here comes the bad news, especially for Riley Reiff

Week 4, when the underrated becomes overrated

Week 3, where things start to fall apart

Week 2

Week 1

One comment on “Looking at the Detroit Lions offensive line, Week 12: For the first time, pass blocking is a problem

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