NEWS

Lions' Reputation Has Clouded A Strong Season Protecting the Quarterback

Posted Dec 30, 2010

The Lions have had a reputation for struggling in pass protection. But that reputation is unfounded, particularly because it is based on past seasons.

The Vikings have a reputation for having one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
 
The Lions have had a reputation for struggling in pass protection.
 
But that reputation is unfounded, particularly because it is based on past seasons.
 
“Our sacks allowed are way down this year,” said Head Coach Jim Schwartz. “We’ve done a much better job.”
 
It seems Detroit’s reputation as being an offense that struggles in pass protection has clouded the fact that the Lions are having a strong season protecting the quarterback.
 
The Lions are tied for seventh in sacks allowed this season with 26, nearly seven fewer than the league average of 32.7.
 
“That’s (attributed to) our offensive line, that’s getting rid of the ball and that’s having places to go with the ball,” said Schwartz. “Our running backs, our tight ends, our wide receivers – there’s a lot that goes into that.”
 
Minnesota carries two strong pass rushers in Jared Allen, who is tied for sixth in the NFC with 10.5 sacks, and Ray Edwards, who is 17th in the NFC with 7.5 sacks.
 
But Schwartz credits the Lions’ offensive line – particularly its tackles – for diffusing some of the league’s best pass rushers this season.
 
“We’ve faced a lot of really good rushers,” said Schwartz. “When we faced Cameron Wake last week, he was leading the NFL in sacks. When we faced Clay Matthews earlier in the year, I think he was leading the NFL in sacks.
 
“It seems like every time we play there’s a Pro Bowler.”
 
The NFC North alone carries Allen, Edwards, Matthews and the Bears’ Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers, who are tied for 14th in the NFC with eight sacks each.
 
“You can’t overlook what our offensive line has done,” said Schwartz.
 
Schwartz has credited tackle Jeff Backus with having the most consistent season amongst Lions’ linemen and tackle Corey Hilliard for effectively replacing the injured Gosder Cherilus.
 
Their assignment for this week will be neutralizing Allen and Edwards and it will be a tough one.
 
“We have a lot of respect for Jared Allen and the things that defense has done,” said Schwartz. “That defense has been outstanding this year. They put one of the best efforts of the year together against Philadelphia. I’m sure they’re going to want to continue that.
 
“We’re going to need to meet that challenge. Our offense has met a lot of challenges. That’s a big part of this game.”

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