A Film Breakdown Of Detroit’s New Right Guard TJ Lang’s 2016 Season
TJ Lang Excels In Pass Protection
The Detroit Lions have been a pass first team ever since drafting Matthew Stafford in 2009. While this move certainly helps the run game, the biggest reason for optimism with the signing of TJ Lang is his ability in pass protection.
While right guards are predominately your run blocking guard, with how often the Lions pass the ball Lang is a big upgrade over former Lion Larry Warford. Lang’s pass blocking is incredible. He almost never let pressure affect Rodgers all year. Lang has also only allowed 2.5 sacks in the past two seasons.
Lang is almost always the first person moving after the ball is snapped. He is a great person to watch if you want to learn blocking technique and fundamentals, which the younger lineman on Detroit’s roster will likely benefit from. Lang’s footwork is amazing and does a great job keeping his hips low and balanced. He rarely gets beat by stunts. Which is great for Detroit since that has been an issue on the right side of the line, for the past two seasons. His technique is so good that even though Lang is an average athlete, he rarely loses ground on bullrushes and has the footwork to keep quick interior penetrators in front of him.
This is great for a team like Detroit that throws the ball so much. The Lions trust quarterback Matthew Stafford to take control of games and win them for them with his arms and feet. But there were many times the offense stalled last season because Stafford could not get the time he needed to progress through his reads or was running for his life. Lang should drastically improve pass protection and give Stafford much more time to throw.
Lang Is A Great Scheme Fit In The Lions Zone Heavy Running Game
Lang is a run blocking technician. He is extremely consistent when it comes to positioning. He does a great job sealing of defenders from running lanes. But where Lang will really help the Lions is his ability to run block in space. This is something Warford and the Lions have struggled with recently. That is largely due to the fact that Larry Warford was not a very good scheme fit.
Larry Warford is an absolute mauler in a power blocking scheme. You can see this success in his rookie year. Warford will be at his best when he is simply asked to hit the guy in front of him, and he was extremely good at it in the one year he spent in that scheme. However, Warford does not have the lateral agility or footwork to be able to function in a zone blocking scheme as well as he does in power blocking. But that was some time ago and Detroit now runs predominately zone blocking. Which is likely why Detroit was comfortable letting Warford walk. Enter TJ Lang.
Lang does not have the same power that Warford had to pancake even the NFL’s biggest defensive lineman. But, that’s okay as Detroit will not ask him to do that. They need someone who will consistently be in the right spot and create the hole for their running backs to follow. Lang does has some limitations as a run blocker since he is not the most athletic lineman. When he gets beat in the run game it is usually because he cannot match the speed of really athletic linebackers on stretch and toss plays. This could be an issue against a team like Minnesota that has linebackers like Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks.
The nice thing about Lang is that even though his run blocking is not his best asset, because of how he fits schematically versus Larry Warford, the Lions should see a huge upgrade in pass protection and a solid run blocking from their right guard position this year. Provided Lang stays healthy, the Lions offense could take a huge step forward.