A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:
The Lions invested a lot of money in their offense over the past three seasons, but if they can’t keep quarterback Matthew Stafford upright and not running for his life, none of that will matter. The Lions, who face Minnesota on Sunday, have to do a better job of protecting Stafford. He's been sacked 17 times in five games.
The Lions are 31st in the league in sacks per dropback at 8.3 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information, after being second in the NFL last season at 3.6 percent. While injuries to LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard appeared to be part of the issue at first, it looks like the problem is bigger than any one player. A bigger potential concern is the Lions were beaten soundly by a Bills defense that rarely blitzed, sending five or more rushers only 10.3 percent of the time.
One way the Lions can fix this is to have Stafford get rid of the ball faster. He’s holding on to the ball for 2.48 seconds before the pass, a fraction slower than last season. However, in the NFL, a fraction of a second can make all the difference.
There’s also this: In the past two weeks, Detroit has faced two of the NFL’s top pass rushes -- including that of the Jets, which is ranked No. 1 in the league. Facing a more middle-of-the-road group in Minnesota might help start building some confidence to fix what ails the Lions' line right now.