Here is a couple of Lions offensive line questions I got from my editor at Fanballfor their Fantasy information. My response is below – and it also ties in to the ongoing features about the success/failure of the front office and personnel moves made by the Lions this Ifseason. What are your thoughts?
Got a couple of questions I wanted to ask you about the Detroit offensive line, and I’ll use it in my feature on Fanball this Saturday.
I hear they are moving some parts around. Who is moving where, and more importantly, why? I didn’t note any concerning injuries on their line last week before the game … so what’s up?
Gosder Cherilus did have a minor injury at one point, and was replaced by Jansen. However, Cherilus is healthy and has a lock on the right tackle position. The RG position is also stable, as Stephen Petermanis still holding down that spot well. The two of them work well together, especially in the run game. Dominic Raiola rock at center, and Jeff Backus is – for better or worse – entrenched at the left tackle position.
The spot that is in flux — and has been, it seems, for the past dozen years — is left guard. Daniel Loper and Manny Ramierez were fighting for the starting job throughout camp. Loper was fighting a neck injury early and was replaced by Ramierez, who has since held onto the starting job — that is, until the bye week came around.
The Lions’ coaching staff spent extra time breaking down film heading into the bye, and decided they that while Ramierez was better than Loper (especially in the running game) at this point he was still having too many mental lapses. To try to improve on the LG position, they have been working Jon Jansen (who has spent his entire career as a RT) with the 1’s in the LG spot. They are hoping his power in the run game, combined with his finesse at blocking ends as a tackle will translate well to LG.
While the outcome remains to be seen, thus far the Lions offensive line has out-played its’ talent level on the whole. They have been providing at least decent holes in the run game, and good protection for whoever is under center. This comes back to Jim Schwartz’s willingness to shoot for a better combination rather than tolerate mediocrity, or especially repeated mistakes, from any position. At this point, the LG position is where they are still trying to find an answer they like; Indicators point to this week against the Rams being Jon Jansen’s turn. We’ll see how long he can hang in there before Loper or Ramierez overtakes him.
Don’t get me wrong — the left guard play has been far from horrendous; but on the whole, it has been average at best. This coaching staff will not settle for average unless that is the best they can do with the players they have. Thus – Jansen gets a shot to see if he can improve the play of that position for the Lions. How he does dictates what happens next.
On a side note, the Lions are doing this up and down the roster — if there is a possibility of a better option they will try it. Thus far, they appear to be satisfied with the healthy Kevin Smith at RB. When he was healthy, he was making the tough yards he did not pick up the last couple of weeks after bruising his shoulder. Word is that he is healed up and motivated after the bye to go out and prove he deserves his current role as feature back for the Lions. Something tells me he won’t disappoint.