It’s always important to keep your quarterback upright, but protecting Matthew Stafford may be one of the biggest keys to the game when the Detroit Lions face off against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night. Stafford has only been sacked 15 times this season, which means that his offensive line has been protecting him better than ever. In 2012, Stafford was brought down in the backfield 29 times, and in 2011, he was sacked 36 times.
So far this year, however, any time an opposing defense got to No. 9 at least twice, the Lions lost the game. Averaged out, the Lions have given up 0.7 sacks a game in their seven wins, and 1.6 sacks a game in their six losses. And the Ravens certainly know how to get after the quarterback, especially off the edge. Outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs have 18.5 sacks between them on the year.
As far as pass protection goes for the Lions, former first round pick Riley Reiff has solidified himself in the left tackle spot, having started every game so far in 2013. The right tackle spot, however, is a different story, with three different Lions starting there over the first 13 games.
There are, of course, ways to help with an outside rush, but for the Lions, that would mean taking their running backs out of the passing game, a role that they have excelled at this season. Reggie Bush has 45 catches on the year and Joique Bell has 38 catches of his own out of the backfield.
It will be up to Detroit’s coaching staff to decide how they want to neutralize Baltimore’s outside pressure, but they will need to find a way to keep Stafford on his feet if they want to pick up this important win.