Detroit Lions’ Taylor Decker 11-month sackless streak will be challenged by Washington

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
| Detroit Free Press

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Taylor Decker can’t recall the last time he allowed a sack, and after nearly 11 months, it’s hard to blame him.

Decker, the Detroit Lions‘ fifth-year left tackle, is playing the best football of his career heading into Sunday’s game against Washington.

He has not allowed a sack in eight games this season and has been perfect in the pass protection department dating back to Dec. 15, when he got beat on a speed rush by Shaq Barrett in the first quarter of a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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That’s nearly 11 games and almost 700 offensive snaps of football, 392 of them in pass protection (not including scrambles).

“Everybody knows there’s no room for error,” Decker said Thursday. “As an offensive linemen, you can have 75 plays in a game and you can play 74 good plays, but if you have one bad play in pass protection everybody’s like, ‘Oh, it was a terrible game by this guy.'”

Increasingly, everyone has been saying just the opposite about Decker.

Bob Quinn’s first draft pick as general manager in 2016, Decker has emerged as one of the NFL’s top left tackles. 

He signed a four-year, $60 million extension in September, and the peace of mind of having that deal done has contributed to his steady start.

“I mean, it’s definitely nice to go into the season, I guess, not having to worry about any sort of negotiation process,” Decker said. “At the end of the day, I was just going to try to control what I can control, which is my play. And if you’re playing well, hopefully you’ll get a contract or get extended and have that security.”

The Lions have gotten solid play out of their offensive line as a whole this season, though with 21 sacks, Matthew Stafford is on pace to be sacked the fourth most times in his career. (Several of those sacks were allowed by tight ends or running backs, or not attributable to the offensive line for other reasons.)

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Decker acknowledged he’s playing “pretty good,” but said he’s one slip up away from that not being the case.

“Every single day I try to go out there and focus on, even little things that may not seem important but just my stance or my weight distribution, where I’m carrying my hands,” Decker said. “Cause at the end of the day, if you have a streak where you’re playing well and then you go out and you don’t play well one week — you got to play good, week-in and week-out. The defensive linemen are too good. You can’t have an off day and that’s really what I’m trying to strive for is to be consistent and just be on it every single day at practice, meetings, lifting, whatever.”

This week, Decker and the Lions (3-5) will face one of the NFL’s most formidable pass rushes.

Washington (2-6) ranks second in the NFL in sack rate — taking down opposing quarterbacks on 11.7% of its attempts — and boasts five former first-round picks on its defensive line, including this year’s No. 2 overall selection, Chase Young.

“Across the board, their defensive line, talented,” Decker said. “Talented. You see (Montez) Sweat and Young out there, and then Ryan Kerirgan jogs out who, I think he’s the franchise sack leader all time. Like, it’s a very, very talented group that’s got depth.”

Contact Dave Birkett at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. 

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