Lions president: Protection for Stafford an offseason priority

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

In praising quarterback Matthew Stafford on Thursday, Lions president Rod Wood mentioned one of the team’s plans for this offseason.

“Obviously last year he got hit way more than he should’ve and way more than he needs to going forward,” Wood said of Stafford during an hour-long interview on Detroit Sports 105.1 (WMGC-FM). “We need to build a better line around him to give time to give him the kind of time that he can be successful.”

The Lions have several needs to fill this offseason, and they’ll have more if wide receiver Calvin Johnson retires. But, after Stafford had the highest sack totals in his career the last two years, 44 in 2015 and 45 in 2014, the front office wants to improve the offensive line before the 2016 season.

“We need to keep our quarterback protected and not on the ground, and the offensive line is an area that we’re going to focus on,” Wood said during the interview.

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General manager Bob Quinn, not Wood, makes the football decisions for the Lions, but Wood said he and Quinn agree on many of the team’s plans. Wood added that Quinn shared his plans for how to improve the roster, including the offensive line, during his interviews last month.

Among the players Wood labeled as building blocks on the current roster were defensive end Ziggy Ansah, cornerback Darius Slay and Stafford, who’s played in 80 straight regular-season games.

“There’s a lot of teams in the league that would love to have Matthew Stafford as their quarterback, and I think we’re very lucky to have him,” Wood said. “He’s a very tough player.”