One of the many stains left on the Detroit Lions organization by the mismanagement of former General Manager Matt Millen is an ineffective Offensive Line. While Jeff Backus has carried a lot of blame throughout his career, and earlier this season, he has gone five games without giving up a sack. However Backus will always remain the first ever Millen draft pick, and the consolation prize the Lions got for losing Backus’ former Michigan Teammate Steve Hutchinson. While Backus is fairing better in the new Lions offense that relies on shorter QB drop backs, and is designed around having their QB deliver the ball more quickly, Backus who has started in all 139 games since being drafted his LT position is one the Lions will have to upgrade before they can be considered a playoff team.
Sure Backus has been a work horse, but simply showing up for work everyday isn’t good enough. Far too often Backus needs help making blocks, and keeping his QB safe. More than that though, Backus is a member of the Millen draft pick club, and a part of an 0-16 2008 campaign, for the Lions to move forward they may need to simply rid themselves of these players who have been around for all the losing. Throughout his career it seems that Backus has underachieved.
This seemed to be why the Lions brought in OT Jon Jansen in the last off-season. However they tried to convert him into a starting Guard, and Jansen just couldn’t get low enough on blocks to be effective on the interior of the Lions O-Line. The team still has faith that Jansen is a quality backup Tackle, but since the 2009 season is already over for the Lions looking ahead to the 2010 NFL draft, is all Lions fans have.
Since the Lions will have a top ten pick, and many quality Offensive Linemen, and for that matter Defensive Linemen will be available there, it seems to make sense that after nine full seasons, the Detroit Lions will finally address their needs on both their offensive and defensive lines.