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Looking at the Detroit Lions’ offensive line, Week 14: Edging back to mediocrity

Dominic Raiola has his torso wrapped in an invisibility cloak

Dominic Raiola has his torso wrapped in an invisibility cloak

How do you measure a player’s performance in a game that was so affected by weather that Fox had to digitally add yardage lines and head ref Ed Hochuli had to stop the game at one point because the ref’s weren’t able to see the goal line? How can you honestly say a player played a good game or a bad game when they had to clear a spot for their footing before every play?

The weather affected every aspect of that game, but the stats were recorded for posterity and the Lions’ loss sure counts, so it’s time to evaluate the offensive line, even if it isn’t a one-to-one comparison to the last 13 games they played.

It’s not very good news, especially on the outside.

Right guard Larry Warford had a pretty good day, not allowing any pressures or making any big mistakes, but the dominating performance in the run game wasn’t there either. It was a quiet day for him, and when it comes to offensive linemen in a blizzard, quiet is good.

Left guard Rob Sims got blown past two times but played pretty well outside of that. One of his two mistakes resulted in no gain on a  run play. The other went for 28 yards after Matt Stafford bailed him out on the other and got rid of the ball.

Things take a step down with center Dominic Raiola. Between mistimed snaps, missed protection slides on blitzes and a few times where he was driven into the backfield, it was one of Raiola’s worst games of the season, probably his least impressive since Week 3 against Washington.

It’s another step down to right tackle Jason Fox, who got his first meaningful playing time of the season this week when LaAdrian Waddle went out with an elbow injury after just seven snaps. Apparently Waddle was available to return, but Jim Schwartz opted against it. Fox wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t good either and spent most of his day behind the Lions line of scrimmage. Pro Football Focus gave him -4.9 grade in run blocking as he couldn’t handle Eagles defensive end Cedric Thornton. It wasn’t as bad as that number indicated though. He never got beat clean to allow a TFL.

Left tackle Riley Reiff did though, a couple of times. He STRUG-GLED with the Eagles’ Fletcher Cox and got a -4.4 grade in the run game from Pro Football Focus because of it. He also gave up a hit on Matt Stafford early in the game and had a false start on a two-point conversion play that pushed the Lions back far enough that Schwartz decided to go for an extra point (make your own conclusions on the coaching decision there), which eventually and obviously failed. 

On a day that you’ll remember for the conditions, the offensive line had a forgettable performance. 

Run game breakdown

Take out a couple fumbled snaps, a few scrambles and a kneel down and the rushed 26 times for 81 yards.

LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT Jason Fox

LT Riley Reiff, LG Rob Sims, C Dominic Raiola, RG Larry Warford, RT Jason Fox

Don’t read too much into this. Running up the middle was the only thing the Lions could do in the Great First-Half Blizzard. Of the Lions’ 37 plays in the first half they ran up the middle 11 times.  

Offensive lineman Week 14 rankings:

1. Larry Warford

2. Rob Sims

3. Dominic Raiola

4. Jason Fox

5. Riley Reiff

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