Lions' Taylor Decker rounding into form after sluggish start to season
Allen Park — It was a start to the season to forget.
In the season-opening tie against the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker delivered the worst performance of his career, allowing seven quarterback pressures, two sacks and committing four penalties.
The next week, Decker popped up on the injury report with a back issue, which sidelined him the Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.
On social media and talk radio, the overreaction came swiftly, largely in the form of a surging suggestion the Lions pursue a trade for disgruntled Washington holdout Trent Williams.
But since Decker has returned to the lineup following the one-week absence, he's been playing to the standard that made him Detroit's first-round pick in 2016. In the past three games, he's allowed a combined four pressures (zero sacks).
There's reason to believe Decker's back might have been bothering him heading into the Arizona matchup, or, that the injured occurred during the game, but he's not interested in making excuses for the performance.
"I've said it before, when you're out there, you're expected to perform at your best," Decker said.
More than anything, he's chalking it up to a bad day at the office, something he believes everyone deals with on occasion.
"Everybody at some is going to have a bad game," Decker said. "It's just part of football. I hope not too many, but I'm sure there will be some in the future for me."
Up next for Decker and the Lions are the Minnesota Vikings, a foe known for their ability to get after the quarterback. No team has sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford more during his career, and it's not particularly close, thanks to a combination of quality individual talent playing in an aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme.
"(Vikings coach Mike) Zimmer has been there a long time developing that package and they do a great job of disguising it and they bring a lot of different pressures off it," Decker said. "And it's not just schematically, they also have players that can win their one-on-one matchups. They have (Danielle) Hunter on one side, (Everson) Griffen on the other, for us tackles. It's a big challenge, but I've been seeing them twice a year since I've been here."
Decker's had his fair of struggles in the matchup. As a rookie, he surrendered seven pressures, but no sacks, over two games. In an injury-shortened 2017, he allowed a sack and two hurries in his one matchup against Minnesota. And last season, in a dreadful performance where the Lions allowed 10 sacks as a team, Decker was responsible for one, along with another quarterback hit and three hurries.
The entire Lions offensive line will look to counter those trends with their recent stretch of positive play. For the season, the team has allowed 10 sacks, which is tied for seventh in the NFL.