It is well documented that the Lions haven’t had a 100 yard rusher since Thanksgiving 2013 when Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards against the Green bay Packers in a 40-10 win. This has obviously had some negative effects when it comes to team production and makes winning games significantly more difficult. Opposing teams can adjust more toward the pass due to the inefficiency of any running game the Detroit Lions can put together.
Let Matthew Stafford Play
Another stat that is quite well known is that during his career Matthew Stafford has only had a 100 yard rusher for seven games, but when he has he ended up winning six of those seven games (an 85% win rate). Although the sample size is small it does show that having a rushing attack hugely benefits Stafford as it gives him the freedom to do what he does best, make ridiculous throws that not many other quarterbacks could make.
If the defense has to load the box on plays, something that seldom happens with the current lack of a rushing threat, this will leave receivers in one on one matchups that can be exploited with the quality the Lions have at the position. This also works in reverse where currently teams rarely stack the box against the Lions that could open up chances to pick up more running yards.
Time of possession will increase
Something that is usually overlooked is the time of possession that teams have during the game. Although there isn’t a lot of meat to this particularly, there are some common themes that if a team is in possession for longer their chances of winning increase. Now looking at the games where Detroit has had a 100 yard rusher they have had the ball for significantly longer in five out of the seven games, with their one loss being one of the two that they had less possession and the other was very close (32 – 28 minutes).
There are many advantages to having the ball for longer but the two that I think mean the most are that the defense will get more rest time which will keep them fresh to make plays on the field. It will also frustrate the other team’s offense forcing them to have to score faster when on the field, which can lead to mistakes being made.
Less sacks allowed
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly if you are running the ball more often, the opposing defense can’t rush the passer on every play, they have to accommodate for the fact that you might be running the ball, thus leading to less sacks as a result. This can be seen in the seven games where Matthew Stafford has had a 100 yard rusher he was sacked only eight times.
If you extrapolate that to 16 games, the sack count goes to around 18 sacks, which is remarkably lower than the 47 times he was sacked last year. Secondly there will simply be more rushing attempts if the run game is working, which in turn will lead to less sacks if there are less plays where a potential sack could occur.