The Detroit Lions longest runs Sunday were from their quarterback, and their punter.
Ameer Abdullah, hailed as the savior of the Lions running game all off-season, averaged two yards per carry. Dwayne Washington, the clear second option running the ball, led all running backs with an average of 3.6 yards per carry. The nominal number two back in expected snaps on the year had one carry for -1 yards.
The offensive line was not capable of keeping defenders out of the backfield. They were not visibly better at run blocking than last year’s unit. In short there are plenty of reasons, even in a week where the team won in convincing fashion to be more than a little terrified as a Lions fan about the future as it relates to the Detroit Lions run game.
Before you call in to 97.1 “The Ticket” and start calling for Bob Quinn‘s head on a pike you need to take a few things in to consideration. You should not have expected the Lions to put up 200 rushing yards on the Cardinals. If you did, that was just an unrealistic expectation,. That’s on you.
The Arizona Cardinals had a top ten run defense last year, and they added pieces to their front seven. The Cardinals most common inside linebacker group on the day were Karlos Dansby and Hasson Reddick. A veteran bro bowler, and a first round pick. The Cardinals defensive front seven has players like Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, and Corey Peters, and Frostee Rucker on the line of scrimmage. This was probably one of the three best front sevens they will face this season.
The Detroit Lions run game had a rough draw for an initial opponent. Even under that circumstance, on Monday morning the Lions were number 14 in the NFL in rushing yardage, and seventeenth in yards per carry. The Lions are a pass first team, and always will be.
That is why they made Matthew Stafford the highest paid player in the NFL. When the team needed their offense to come alive they put the ball in Stafford’s hands and hoped for the best. That is what this offense should do. When they needed to score, to put the game out of reach, they put the ball in the air.
When they needed to kill the clock, they put their power back in, and they killed the clock.
Moving Forward For The Detroit Lions Run Game
The Detroit Lions run game was not great. The final score should tell you that they do not need it to be. They just need it to be decent. If their current yards per game and yards per carry last the season, that would be a problem. If they can do that against the Cardinals, however, they should fare much better against the Saints and Ravens of the league.
It is not yet time to grab your torches and pitchforks. Wait until the bye week before making any judgments, and remember that they just have to be good enough.