Aaron Brown's Legs Are Turning Heads, But Let's Not Hand Him a Starting Spot Yet
I hate to be the one to always have to do this.
No, I’m not going to lecture everyone about how the Lions’ comeback 27-26 victory means nothing. We know that after last season’s 4-0 preseason and 0-16 regular season.
I’m here to temper the mass hype over Aaron Brown.
On Saturday, Brown lived up to his billing as a speedy back with a bit of an attitude problem.
He scored two touchdowns. The first came on a play where he basically just ran by everyone, and the second came on a screen pass where he juked a couple defenders and then ran by everyone.
He celebrated with a faux Lambeau Leap and then by giving the Falcons 15 free yards with a well-documented backflip.
It sounds great. It looks even better. On the replays, Brown looks like a blur among men.
One minor problem.
Brown came in during the third quarter and put up those numbers against a third-string defense on a team that ranked 24th in total defense last year and made almost no improvements to it in the offseason.
Many of the guys Brown ran by probably won’t even make an NFL team.
Now, with Brown’s perceived dominance over what will amount to be the better part of a practice squad, he has at least earned himself a roster spot. That's as it should be. If nothing else, Brown has proven himself to be superior to future third-stringers and cut players.
But at this point, that is all he has proven. No matter how good he looked, his performance is not setting the league ablaze.
Why? Because speed is great, but it’s not all there is. First-string NFL defenses can account for a speedy back. This is known as “Reggie Bush Syndrome.”
Bush’s speed was supposed to be unmatched, remember? He was going to run for 1,500 yards every season and be a threat to take it all the way, every play. Sure, he’s still fast, but so are NFL defenses—and every season he plays, he gets a little further away from “featured back” status.
Now, Brown is fast too. He’s not fast like Bush, but he’s fast, and he could be a nice change-of-pace back for the Lions with some seasoning.
But to anyone who saw Saturday’s game (probably not many, given the NFL Network blackout) and thinks that Brown is the next big thing, keep dreaming.
Excitement is fine, and Brown could still be the next big sixth-round steal. But for now, Kevin Smith is the man in Detroit, and the best Brown should get this season is a few carries to spell Smith and Maurice Morris.
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