Much less credit always goes to the team’s offensive line, as unfair as that might be. This year, though, the line deserves a ton of credit for allowing Detroit’s offense to operate.
Through multiple injuries and several different combinations already, Detroit’s line has held up well for the most part. Jared Goff has had time to pass, and the Detroit run game is a top-three unit in the NFL through two games.
So why is that the case? While Ben Johnson has been earning tons of praise for his scheme, another more underrated coach might deserve the most praise according to a veteran lineman.
Speaking to the media on Monday, September 19, offensive tackle Taylor Decker was asked about what has allowed the Detroit offense to operate so well. He offered a few answers, but perhaps the best revolved around Hank Fraley.
“I would say Hank (Fraley) is a phenomenal coach. There’s a reason why when Dan (Campbell) got hired I wanted to talk to Dan and be like ‘can you at least just interview him’ because he had been here as an assistant under Jeff Davidson and then took over and he’s just done a great job,” Decker explained. “He understands the guys’ personalities in the room. He does a really good job at putting us in positions to succeed knowing what we’re good at, scheming the run game and does a good job of making the hard things simple. Telling us what we need to know out there so we can play fast.”
Keeping things simple up front has allowed players to adjust, and that quick adjustment has allowed new players to come in and not miss a beat. That’s been a good outcome for the Lions, who have used that to surge forward on offense.
Decker has been with the Lions since 2016, so he would know what makes things go. Hearing he is giving Fraley a lot of credit for the job is very significant for the roster and the offense.
Decker Praises Lions’ ‘Dynamic Playmakers’
Obviously, it isn’t just Detroit’s offensive line that is getting the job done. They’re playing a huge role, but Decker knows that the damage is being done by plenty of the team’s other weapons.
Decker admitted that sometimes, he can’t believe that the skill position players are playing the same sport as him.
“It’s easy when you have skill position players like we do. We have dynamic playmakers who even though I see it every single day, it’s just amazing to see. It’s amazing that I’m out there playing and I’m playing the same sport as those guys,” Decker told the media. “Those guys are on my team. It’s amazing to see guys make plays, so if we can just do our job and maybe move the guy one foot or maybe you move them five yards, we got guys that can make plays.”
So far, the Lions have gotten standout performances from wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, running back D’Andre Swift, wideout Josh Reynolds, running back Jamaal Williams and wideout DJ Chark. All of this, and Detroit hasn’t even been able to unleash wideout Jameson Williams yet.
Quietly, the Lions are building something that might be very scary in the future on the offensive side.
Fraley’s Career Biography
In terms of Fraley, he was one of the holdovers from Matt Patricia’s staff when the coach was fired during the 2020 season.
Fraley joined the Lions when Patricia took over in 2018. He joined the team from UCLA, where he was their offensive line coach. He worked in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings as an assistant offensive line coach from 2014-16. Prior to his coaching experience, Fraley was a player in the NFL, lasting for 11 seasons in the league with the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.
A big advantage for Fraley seems to be his ability to connect with players and fellow coaches alike. No doubt his experience in the NFL helped him with this, and clearly, players who are working with him understand this.
READ NEXT: Watch Lions Week 2 Postgame Celebration