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The Importance of Lions' Offensive Line in 2020

Read more on how important the play of the Lions' offensive line will be to the team's success in 2020

The Detroit Lions' offense is going to be key to the 2020 season. 

With how poor the defense played last season, it’s difficult to imagine any massive turnaround in the span of just a year. 

So, that leaves quarterback Matthew Stafford & Co. with plenty of pressure to perform.

As with any offense, most of the success starts up front with the offensive linemen. 

Without solid O-line play, it’s incredibly difficult to establish the run game, and a signal caller with no time to throw is a recipe for disaster. 

In 2019, the Lions actually played decent overall along the line -- not great, but not horrible, either.

In terms of the run game, Pro Football Focus graded the Lions' run-blocking as the ninth-best unit last year. 

Looking at analysis from Football Outsiders, it ranked the Lions as the 19th-best line for “power success” with a 64 percent success rating. 

Their power success metric is described as the “percentage of runs on third or fourth down -- two yards or less to go -- that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.” 

Meanwhile, they also were the 12th-best “stuffed rank” in the NFL -- which is the percent of rushes where the running back is either tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. 

Pass-blocking was in the middle of the road as well. 

Their adjusted sack rate landed them 20th in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus graded the team as the 21st-ranked pass-blocking offense.

The hope would be the Lions could improve these numbers. 

Returning are left tackle Taylor Decker, left guard Joe Dahl and center Frank Ragnow.

However, there will be two new linemen this year manning the right side of the offensive line. 

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And one of Detroit's losses from a year ago -- right guard Graham Glasgow -- was one of their better players. 

Despite Rick Wagner having a down season last year, he still was a reliable right tackle for the majority of his career.

So, if the Lions are to improve, a few things must happen. 

The newcomers, such as guard Jonah Jackson and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, will have to be better than their predecessors, the returning group must continue to develop and/or new offensive line coach Hank Fraley will need to gets the group to gel.

All of those may be easier said than done. 

It is important to note that Decker and Ragnow have reportedly looked very solid so far in training camp. 

Jackson and Vaitai being a marked improvement over last year’s duo on the right side seems like a tall task, however. 

After all, Jackson is only a rookie, and Vaitai has never been a full-time starter in his career.

There is no doubt the Lions' passing game has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. 

In order for the Lions' offense to be elite, the offensive line is going to have to be able to protect the quarterback and open up holes for the backs.


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