Here's what happens when Lions QBs Matthew Stafford, Jeff Driskel say 'Blue 80' differently

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Here's what happens when Lions QBs Matthew Stafford, Jeff Driskel say 'Blue 80' differently

Post by admin » Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:37 am

Believe it or not, the way Matthew Stafford yells “Blue 80” sounds quite a bit different from the way Jeff Driskel yells “Blue 80.”

It’s the same presnap call at the line of scrimmage. But even to offensive linemen who hear it all the time, it sounds different coming from the two Detroit Lions quarterbacks.

“Yeah, it does,” left tackle Taylor Decker said Thursday. “It really does, 100%. They try to make it as close as they can. But some guys use inflection on different words, whether it’s the blue or the 80. It’s a different rhythm. They try to sync it up, but it’s never going to be the same.”

That’s just one of the changes the Lions’ offensive line has had to adjust to while playing the past two weeks with Driskel under center as Stafford deals with a back injury. And getting used to each quarterback’s communication style in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage, Decker said, is a big deal.

“Just something even as simple as hearing their rhythm of how they call a play,” he said. “You get used to one guy, their rhythm and how they just call the play in the huddle. It just sounds different, so it’s just a little different thing with the rhythm of their cadence.

“And that’s a huge thing, especially (since) I love getting off the snap perfectly. So that’s a huge thing for me. So yeah, just getting more comfortable with the communication I think is big.”

Of course, all that communication stuff was in peril when Stafford caught a cold and was severely hoarse before the Oakland Raiders game.

“Guy better get some extra cough drops, because we gotta have him call that cadence,” Decker said with a laugh. “But luckily he was able to. In practice it was a little dicey when he couldn’t talk.”

Credit Decker and the offensive line with doing its job well not only with Stafford but also with transitioning to Driskel. The Lions have given up just 23 sacks this season. That tied them for 13th fewest in the NFL after Week 11 and puts them on pace to give up their fewest sacks in a season since they gave up 23 in 2013.

The key to that success has been a holistic effort from every player on offense.

“No. 1 just improvement from guys across the board trying to improve individually, not rest on your laurels sort of thing,” Decker said. “It’s always a whole offensive effort protecting the quarterback. I know not everybody thinks it does, but the receivers having good timing on their routes, the quarterback getting the ball out, the offensive line being able to run the ball. It all works together. So it’s just a full offensive effort.”

Something else that has helped keep Stafford and Driskel clean has been the commitment to the run game. Even though the Lions only ranked 20th after Week 11 with 987 rushing yards, they ranked 13th with 262 attempts.

“We’ve always wanted to run the ball,” Decker said, “but at the end of the day, as offensive linemen you’ve got to earn your runs. If they’re not going, you’re going to have to pass the ball more.

“It’s been nice. We’ve been able to get quite a bit of big plays from our play-action pass game. And obviously with play-action, D-line’s not pinning their ears back. They’re having to see the ‘run sell’ first and then react.”

If Stafford misses his third straight game, the Lions would turn to Driskel for Sunday’s game at Washington. Stafford has much more experience but Driskel is more mobile and can extend plays. The technical aspect that goes into protecting either quarterback doesn’t change for the offensive line. But understanding each player’s unique ability — and voice — definitely helps the offensive line do its job.

“The protections are the protections,” Decker said. “The spot’s going to be the spot for the quarterback, regardless of who is in at quarterback. Obviously (Driskel) has a little bit more mobility at his disposal to be able to maybe get out of situations. But then Stafford, from his perspective, has played a lot more to be able to feel the pocket, where’s the pocket going to change, and just more feel for the offense to get the ball out.

“Different quarterbacks have different strengths. Even if they’re a pocket passer they can still help set up the pocket, whatever it may be.”

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