Glass Half Full: Kevin Smith To Key Detroit Lions Turnaround

Joel JarviContributor IApril 3, 2017

I’m a silver lining guy.

Being a Lions fan, I don’t have much choice.  I have built an entire fanhood on silver linings.  Trust me, finding hope amongst an 0-16 season is not easy.

Kevin Smith is a bright, shining silver lining. It’s hard not to like this kid. 

On an offense with Calvin Johnson, Matt Stafford/Daunte Culpepper, Brandon Pettigrew, I think Smith can be the key to the Lions turning things around.

Smith came 24 yards shy of topping 1000 all while not being the clear-cut starter until late in the season.  This was one of the wonders of watching Rod Marinelli coach.  I understand the whole “you need to earn the starting position, it isn’t just given to you” point-of-view, but, c’mon, Rod.

Marinelli took this approach every rookie the Lions drafted during his tenure and the guy never got A CLUE.

Travis Fisher ahead of Leigh Bodden, Shaun McDonald ahead of Calvin Johnson, Rudi Johnson ahead of Kevin Smith...need I say more?

Nothing stunted Smith’s growth like Marinelli and former offensive coordinator Jim Colletto.

Of the 16 games Smith appeared in there were only 8 games he carried the ball 15 or more. 

When you spot your opponent three touchdowns in the first quarter, pounding the ball on the ground does not come easy. 

Compared to the other three rushers in his draft class to finish ahead of Smith in yards (Steve Slaton, Matt Forte and Chris Johnson), each of those teams showed a strong commitment to the run.  Forte alone reached 15 carries in 14 of the 16 games. If Smith can get more carries, that means more yards and that will translate to more wins.


A real offensive coordinator will be able to bring out the best in Smith. 

After stagnating in Steve Mariucci’s ancient West Coast offense, one of the things I was excited for when the Lions hired Rod Marinelli was his reported commitment to running the ball.  But then he hired pass-happy Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and Smith, as well as the running game, suffered a lot.

Martz was fired and Colletto replaced him.   Colletto attempted to keep much of Martz's plays until later in the season.  When the Lions played a more conventional style that emphasized the run game, Smith stepped up his play.

Scott Linehan knows what it takes to win ballgames (see Stephen Jackson and Robert Smith). You need the threat of a run to be able to air it out.

Smith’s twittering that the Lions will make the playoffs.  OK, not everyone likes this aspect of Kevin Smith. What do you want him to say? “The Lions stink. We’ve always stunk. We are going to stink this year, too”. No, I hear that enough from the rest of the country. I want guys that are confident (if not a little delusional).

I have faith that the offensive line has improved.  Adding Jon Jansen, Daniel Loper, and Ephraim Salaam has to make some positive impact.  Throw in the fact that defenses will have to respect Brandon Pettigrew and Calvin Johson and Bryant Johnson, I think you will see some lanes open up for Smith.