With the Minnesota Vikings approaching their first divisional game of the season, there’s already a little trash talk coming out of Winter Park.
Locker room interviews can be monotonous at times. Most scrums are filled with complimentary language as players heap praise upon teammates, coaches or members of the opposing teams. Rare are the moments of genuine criticism.
Everson Griffen broke the status quo Wednesday when asked about Detroit Lions left tackle Greg Robinson.
“To be quite honest, he’s kind of lazy,” said Griffen. “He’s lazy. He gets beat on the inside, and I just think the biggest thing is he’s got to compete more, but yeah, he’s pretty lazy. I feel like the rest of the offensive line, they do pretty well.”
The Lions have protected decently for Matthew Stafford but haven’t been able to get the running game going through three weeks. Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick labeled a bust by many, was acquired by the Lions in June, coming over from the Los Angeles Rams to replace the injured Taylor Decker.
Through three games, Robinson has not performed well, according to analytics website Pro Football Focus. The 24-year-old is ranked 71st amongst NFL tackles and is in the bottom 10 in hurries allowed (12).
Robinson is certainly an easy target considering his struggles in recent seasons. He was responsible for eight sacks last year with the Rams, which was one away from the league lead.
Only once this year has Robinson allowed a sack that was truly his fault, when he got charged with holding against Atlanta’s Takkarist McKinley yet still allowed the sack. Against Arizona, Chandler Jones beat him for a coverage sack after Robinson held a good block for about three seconds. Then against Atlanta, Stafford was flushed right into the grasp of Adrian Clayborn, who was being blocked decently by Robinson.
On numerous other plays, Robinson has been bailed out by his quarterback’s mobility or quick release.
On the play below, Robinson, No. 73, and his linemate are saved by some Houdini magic by Stafford.
Robinson has been overwhelmed at times when faced with stunts or extra blitzers, as you saw above. Of course, many tackles are, since the opposing team is typically sending more men than the offensive line can account for. But instead of blocking the most immediate threat, Robinson sometimes gets caught in no-man’s land, like on this play against the Cardinals, where he ends up backpedaling into his running back.
Robinson has been forced to hold sometimes to prevent sacks. He was charged with two holding calls against the New York Giants — one of them declined (see below) — and one against the Falcons (also declined).
As far as Griffen’s claim that Robinson gets beat inside, this has also been true, though not an egregious amount. Neither of the following examples resulted in a sack thanks to Stafford, but the lunging from Robinson might remind Vikings fans of T.J. Clemmings.
Griffen also commented on Robinson’s competitiveness. His lack of energy seems to manifest itself most in the run game, where he doesn’t often get to the second level and sometimes gives up on plays going away from him, only to watch his assignment separate from the block and make the tackle, as Clayborn did below.
In fairness, there are plenty of good, or at least neutral, reps on Robinson’s reel from the season thus far, such as when he pancaked Derrick Shelby against Atlanta. But his poor analytics are poor for a reason thanks to about half-a-dozen bad plays each game.
Is Robinson lazy? That’s a pretty subjective word. It’s safe to say, though, that Robinson will be overmatched by Griffen on Sunday, which could mean more double teams against Griffen and less attention paid to Danielle Hunter, who is still in search of his first sack.
Griffen’s remarks will certainly become bulletin-board material for the Lions, as they seek to motivate their new left tackle. It’ll be fascinating to see how this one plays out.