How quickly fortunes can change in the NFL. I had the Detroit Lions neck and neck with the Green Bay Packers vying for the NFC North title this year.
As of yesterday, I had no idea I’d be writing about the loss of LT Taylor Decker. For those of you who don’t know, the LT (left tackle) is the second most important position on an NFL offense. He protects the “blind side” or the back of the quarterback. Decker’s loss is so significant I can now see the Lions finishing third in the NFC North this year. Decker was the first draft pick of Bob Quinn’s career and now he’s gone for much of the 2017 season with an undisclosed shoulder injury. We don’t know the extent of his injury except for the fact he’s already had surgery. We don’t even know which one.
Lack of communication
There’s something you are going to have to warm up to and that is since Bob Quinn took over last year the Lions coaches and players are not allowed to speak about injuries, even their own. During the season, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has become notorious for referring reporters to “check the injury report”. It’s something Bob Quinn brought with him from his time in New England.
Apparently, this injury happened last week. Surgery was performed this past Monday so there had to be time to diagnose and schedule the surgery. Then there’s this little nugget, it would seem Decker’s injury is severe enough to have Bob Quinn contacting free agents to fill the void. He’s already invited OT Cyrus Kouandjio for a tryout.
The timetable for Decker’s return is still shrouded in mystery, he could be out anywhere from three to nine months. Three gets us to the regular season and if Decker could return by then adding any free agent would seem superfluous. It is also possible Decker is already lost for the year. At this point, either scenario is a real possibility and only the doctor’s prognosis will tell the tale. Of course, Jim Caldwell won’t be telling anything so we are left to wait and wonder.
Wait and wonder. Hey, I get it. Look, it’s their business, not mine and I should not stick my nose in other people’s business. So, if we can’t talk about Taylor Decker then we can talk about what the Lions intend to do and are doing.
A week ago the Lions offensive line was a strength. Today, that is not the case. The OL has taken a dramatic step backwards. Decker was one of the NFL’s best LT’s last year. He never missed a snap. As a rookie, he only gave up 4.5 sacks and four of those came in his first four games.
Bob Quinn signed two elite free agents this offseason. Good thing, too. They’re going to need them. Joe Dahl has been improving and was expected to back up both RG and LG this year. He played LT in college and may be called upon again. The Lions have two other options on the roster. Cornelius Lucas has been a backup OT but a RT, not LT. The other is Corey Robinson, but he hasn’t practiced this spring because he’s still healing from foot surgery.
Bob Quinn hasn’t had the time or money to fix everything. Not having a legitimate backup for his starting LT could be devastating. Whoever mans Decker’s spot will most certainly have help. TE’s Darren Fells and Michael Roberts are sure to double team or chip block to help secure Matthew Stafford’s blind side. That somewhat hamstrings Jim Bob Cooter’s playbook but it is a necessity at this point.
As of today, the Green Bay Packers have become the obvious front-runner to win the division. Many will say that was the case all along. I disagree but that’s for another article. Without Taylor Decker, I can see Stafford being injured again this year. The Lions’ franchise QB has started 96 consecutive games and without Decker, that streak is in jeopardy. Should that happen, I don’t see the Lions finishing any better than third in the division. Minnesota isn’t a great team but they do have the defense to pass Detroit in the standings. The Vikings do not have a roster capable of unseating the Packers.
So, it’s up to the coaches and the Lions GM to figure out a solution. This is what they get paid the big money for and it’s going to be trial by fire for the sophomore GM. We shall see.
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