The Detroit Lions have seen Penei Sewell excel thus far in his young career, and the reason for that could be his shift to the left side of the line early on in the 2021 season.
Sewell continues to impress, and in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season, he managed to do that again while taking on the Green Bay Packers. Sewell hardly looks out of place early in his NFL career, and once again helped Jared Goff stay clean and the Lions’ ground game churn out some yards in just his second game in the league.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Perhaps impressively, Sewell’s streak of not allowing sacks from college has continued through to the professional ranks. At this point, Sewell is on a streak dating back to 2018 in terms of not allowing anyone to get to his quarterback from the left side as PFF pointed out.
Sewell has transitioned to the league in a great way thus far, and opened some eyes with his impressive play on the field. The fact that he continues to keep this up while facing the best pass rushers of the best is certainly eye-opening and proves that Sewell does in fact belong in the league.
Lions Won’t Commit to Moving Penei Sewell
In spite of all these solid numbers, Detroit offensive line coach Hank Fraley spoke with the media on Thursday, September 16 in an interview posted to DetroitLions.com and was asked about Sewell’s future in the league. Where does the coach see the solid rookie lineman playing as things move forward?
“Right now this week, it’s at left tackle. He’s done a nice job. He’s done a nice job all camp. I know outside of the building there’s always a lot of speculation on everything and that’s where it stays, outside the building,” Fraley said definitively.
Specifically, with regards to any talk of moving Sewell and Decker, Fraley admitted that the discussion hasn’t been happening, and the focus is more on the immediate future including the game against the Green Bay Packers.
“I’ll just be honest, there’s been no discussion on that stuff. Right now, in my mind, Taylor’s our left tackle and Penei’s our right tackle and when Taylor’s not playing, Penei’s the left tackle and Matt Nelson’s the right tackle. So that’s how we’re doing things and he’s done a nice job,” he said.
Detroit will have a few more games at the very least to see Sewell on the left side, as Decker remains sidelined on injured reserve with a hand ailment. It’s clear the team wants him to rest up and be completely ready whenever he does come back.
For now, Sewell is staying on the left side and will move back to the right side when Decker returns. That seems to be the way things are going to be listening to the coaching staff.
Former Offensive Linemen Proclaim Sewell ‘Left Tackle’ for Lions
In terms of former linemen, the opinion seems to be concrete about what the Lions should do. NFL Network analyst and former league offensive lineman Brian Baldinger hopped on Twitter and provided a quick analysis on what makes Sewell so good up front. Specifically, he said he believes Sewell looks more comfortable on the left side than the right side thanks to his play against Bosa and the 49ers.
“Penei Sewell looks just so much better on the left side than he does on the right side,” Baldinger says in the clip. “He’s going agains Nick Bosa here and he had some rough moments in the game but this is Penei Sewell at his best right here. Bosa’s got a little leverage on him but he’s got his hands in the right spot, digs them out. (Jared) Goff is throwing the ball and look where Bosa’s at. He’s got him on the Lions logo right there and he stays with him. Sewell, I know they got him on the right side and I know why he’s over to the left. But that natural kick, athlete, using his strength right here, dropping the anchor. No doubt he had some rough moments, but he also had some good moments like that one.”
Baldinger is far from the only one who believes Sewell should be playing the left side of the line in Detroit. In the opener, Lions had to move Sewell over in an emergency to left tackle, his natural position in college. According to former offensive lineman and analyst Geoff Schwartz, they may have found something with this switch. After a mere quarter played out for Sewell, Schwartz had seen enough to say that he believed the team had their new left tackle of the future in the former Oregon Duck.
What the Lions decide to do with Sewell will remain a question, because the team does have Taylor Decker entrenched on the left side, and Decker just signed an extension with Detroit last year and played well in 2020. Decker has only played the left side since being picked by Detroit in the 2016 NFL draft, so whether or nor he would move at this stage of his career remains to be seen. It is an interesting thought to remember nevertheless, though.
Some believe it’s time for the Lions to think seriously about moving their rookie back where he started, but at this moment, that doesn’t seem to be completely in the cards. That’s true even as he continues to play well at the posititon.