Detroit Lions Need To Discover Run Game If They Want To Compete for NFC North
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Confetti is flying, delusional fans are dreaming of a Super Bowl appearance and Detroit's run game ranks (drum roll please) 26th in the NFL. Ouch.
Yes, the passing game looks great and the defensive line may be the best in the entire NFL. Let's be honest with ourselves for a minute though folks, is 78.3 rushing yards per game good enough to win the NFC North?
I, for one, don't think it is.
The weather will become a factor, temperatures will drop and throwing the ball 50 times a game will no longer be a viable option. Luckily for the Lions, they play in a dome. But what about those trips to Chicago and the frozen tundra of Lambeau? Thankfully, those are the only frigid climates Detroit will have to travel to this year. But still, teams will begin daring Detroit to run; the lack of a ground attack is a glaring hole this team needs to fix.
Jahvid Best is a great change of pace back, he's excellent out of the backfield in a Reggie Bush/Darren Sproles role. He cannot run between the tackles 15 times a game, however. I was suspicious of this when the season began and my worry has been confirmed three weeks into the season.
Mikel LeShoure sure would come in handy right about now. I'd give up my top fantasy player's unborn son (I'm not big on personal sacrifices) if it meant LeShoure would be healthy by Week 8. However, Detroit will likely have to go without LeShoure for the duration of their 2011-2012 campaign.
Can the Lions win the NFC North averaging less than 80 yards rushing per game?
So who will be the man that steps up and gets the job done?
Right now, that answer seems to be no one, making the Lions' chance of beating out Green Bay for the division crown slim.
Maurice Morris showed flashes of capability late last season, but then had fumbling problems against Tampa Bay in Week 1.
Jerome Harrison is so inconsistent I want to come up with a made-up word to more accurately describe his play...frust-thwarting? One minute he displays the right amount of shiftiness, combined with a north-south mentality and the next he runs four yards backwards for a loss (there was only one Barry Sanders). How a guy that ran for 286 yards in a single game can't even average 86 is beyond me.
Then, there's Keiland Williams. The most intriguing stop plug RB the Lions added to help with the loss of LeShoure. Williams is a little bowling ball, a poor man's Mike Tolbert. The problem is, when he enters the game, opposing defenses know the Lions are just trying to gain a yard or two. I'd like to see WIlliams get more touches before I form a concrete opinion of him. Maybe he hasn't learned the playbook, I'm not at the practices or team meetings.
Playoff football is won by running the ball effectively and being able to stop the run. So far, the Detroit Lions have amply been able to do the latter. However, if this team is to make more noise than a one and done Wild Card appearance, 78.3 rushing yards per game is not going to cut it.
Think Martin Mayhew would be more persuasive when knocking on Barry Sanders' door than Matt Millen was?
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