ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Every Saturday, we try to answer one or two questions for a Detroit Lions Mailbag. To ask a question for next week's Mailbag, use the hashtag #LionsMailbag, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask away on Facebook.
Now, to this week's question:
With Greg Robinson playing like he is, chances we see one of the Boston College guys starting at LT between now and Deckers merciful return?— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) October 13, 2017
@mikerothstein: That's an interesting question, Kent, and I get the reasoning for it. Greg Robinson has not played well this season. He's struggled in pass protection, giving up at least four sacks in 314 snaps. He's also committed five penalties this season -- although three came in one game against the Giants.
But he's been a problem, at least part of the reason Matthew Stafford has been sacked 12 times the past two weeks and 18 times this season. His play has been one of the reasons Darren Fells has gotten more playing time, too, as an extra blocking tight end. And whenever Taylor Decker returns from his shoulder injury, Decker will head right back into the starting lineup.
All of that said, not sure if the Lions would make a switch at left tackle just yet. Continuity on the offensive line is a big thing and the line as a whole has been having issues, particularly in pass protection. And neither of the potential replacements is clearly a better option.
Brian Mihalik has never started an NFL game. Emmett Cleary has played in 16 NFL games and started once for Dallas last season. But he's not a guaranteed upgrade over Robinson and based on his lack of starting experience, could be a less-viable option.
In other words, the Lions knew they were in trouble when Decker went down. They tried their best to find reasonable replacements, trading for Robinson and signing Cyrus Kouandjio, who didn't pan out. Robinson won the job pretty easily. And the Lions have to live with him at least for one more week.
If Detroit was going to make a change, the bye week is when it could happen. That would give a new starter a chance to work with the offensive linemen and have two weeks to prepare for that role. Of course, by then, there's the chance Decker ends up close to playing.
No matter who is at left tackle, though, one thing is obvious: Detroit needs better play from the position -- particularly with Stafford banged up. The Lions' blocking issues are part of why Stafford has been hit so much -- so keeping him clean has to be a priority, whether that's Robinson, Mihalik, Cleary or Decker whenever he returns.