Taylor Decker looks to lend his input as Detroit Lions retool for 2021
There’s this ubiquitous belief in the NFL that players need to stay on their lanes. Players play, coaches train and the front office parts make up the squad.
But before he packs his bags and goes to his off-season home in Arizona, the Detroit Lions offensive battle against Taylor Decker wants to ensure franchise makers hear his perspective, the player’s perspective, about what’s going on with the organization and after the organization goes right and wrong, hiring a new general manager and head coach.
“There will be sales every year,” Decker said. “We may have more in the squad and coaching staff this year, with the circumstances of course. But I want to be here my whole career and be a winner. I want this team and this city to win.”
“I’m not going to cross, but I’ll probably have conversations here in an hour or two,” Decker said. “I’ll see if (Team President) Rod (Wood) is available. I’ll talk to Rod and only give my opinion because I’m invested in this team. There are people out there if they have their way I’d want to keep it. It’s not my decision, but over the last five years I feel like I’ve put a lot into this organization and given what I can, so if I can just say a word for a player or a coach, I’ll do it . “
It doesn’t take a verifiable genius to figure out which people Decker will vouch for, led by positional coach Hank Fraley and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who seems to be at a crossroads with the changes ahead.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Decker said. “Of course that’s not my job, but I love Stafford. Personally, he’s my most respected team-mate I’ve ever played with. I couldn’t have more respect for the guy. You see it year after year and I am sure you saw it before i was even here – how tough this guy is, how professional this guy is … that guy’s a phenomenal talent, he’s a phenomenal soccer player, he’s a phenomenal teammate and friend always happens, happens but I think everyone knows I love Stafford and I’ll tell everyone. “
Decker was a first-round draft pick in 2016 and has never shied away from being frank with his opinions. During the Scouting Combine that year, he made it clear that he had little interest in moving on to the real duel. An explanation that many young players would find uncomfortable.
The Lions were obviously buying what he was selling, immediately blindfolded him and flipped Riley Reiff, the longtime leftist, over to the right.
But Decker has really started to blossom as a leader in the last few years. He was selected as captain by his teammates in the last two seasons. When Lions players canceled training during training camp as part of a social justice demonstration earlier this year, Decker was one of three players who reached out to the media and showed emotion with passion during the brief speech.
The Lions signed up to Decker this off-season and signed a lucrative contract renewal with him a year before his current contract expires. And he rewarded this decision with the best performance of his five-year career.
It was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bad year for the franchise.
“I think our position group had a really good year,” Decker said. “I would say in five years this is the best we’ve ever played and I think we have some really good pieces to build on. It seems like I am the old man in the room and I am 27 Hopefully this is a good sign for the future.
“And personally, I think I’ve had a really good year,” Decker said. “I think I was one of the best tackles in football. I didn’t mean to say that during the season, but the season is over now and I hope I can build on that and improve.”
That is a bold and refreshingly honest statement. And it is supported by neutral observers. Pro Football Focus rated him at his position as a top 5 pass blocker and gave him his best run blocking grade since 2016.
And after Decker says his piece to Wood, which will focus on what’s going to work well in the building, rather than making specific parking spaces for the next coach or GM, the veteran’s offensive gear will return to Arizona and take a week or two off. and continue his education with the aim of being an even better player in 2021.
“At the end of the day, I like to play football so I want to work on it again and improve in any way I can to help this team,” he said.