As Jahvid Best exploded for a 51-yard scamper on his first carry in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Browns, it may have been a sign of things to come for the Detroit Lions’ offense.
Yes, the preseason is an entirely different beast from the actual NFL season. Players don’t get quarters—or, in some cases, halves—off to sit and rest. But what the exhibition season does do is give a glimpse of what the season possibly holds.
For Detroit, the near future is best represented in a quite offensive way.
With second-year quarterback Matthew Stafford one year older and seeming to have complete reins of the offense, along with an impressive rookie tailback in Best, vast improvement may occur sooner rather than later.
The NFL is a funny league. The “defense wins championships” mantra is usually spot on, but time and time again offenses have carried their teams to superior heights—including Super Bowl victories.
The Lions still have their deficiencies on both sides of the ball, no doubt. Improvement at this point seems imminent, or at least somewhat expected.
The franchise quarterback is in place and now fully understands Scott Linehan’s system; Calvin Johnson is healthy and ready to have a big year; veteran Nate Burleson was acquired as a positive on-and-off the field influence; the team has talented tight ends in Tony Scheffler and Brandon Pettigrew.
The running back position is probably the biggest question mark currently surrounding the team.
Best is very fast, but he is still a rookie. Injury concerns should always be considered, especially when a first-round draft pick with numerous career concussions plays a physical position such as tailback.
On the other hand, players like Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith should be able to help Best handle the load. Morris is a good backup with pass-catching skills, while Smith plays hard every snap he is on the field.
The 2010 Lions won’t be the greatest show on turf, nor will they shatter the offensive stats of the 2007 Patriots. What the team is doing and will continue to do is improve on the ground and through the air.
The talent is there and the players just have to put it all together.