Tion Green’s Debut Showed Promise In Sunday’s Loss To Baltimore.
Excitement was in the air for rookie running back Tion Green’s debut in the NFL this past Sunday. Green was made active for the first time due to fellow running back Ameer Abdullah‘s neck injury. The Lions have struggled to get a ground game assembled this season and looked to Green for a spark or even a sliver of hope that things could still turn around. After an impressive showing in the preseason, there were plenty of fans clamoring to see him in regular season action as well.
Green’s debut started with a bang. On the first carry of his career, Green took a handoff towards the left sideline and burst through a hole for a 33 yard gain. Talk about impressive average yards per carry stats. The run can be found here for a refresher – Tion Green’s Debut Carry
The first thing I noticed on this play is the wall that is set up initially. The line did a great job of sealing play side penetration. Additionally, tight ends Darren Fells and Michael Roberts did a tremendous job of sealing the traffic pursuing from the backside to set up a lane behind them.
The last key here was guard Corey Robinson’s lead block to kick out the cornerback. This play was blocked as perfectly as it was drawn up. Green showed good vision and followed his blockers well but it’s hard to credit him too much with no resistance from the defense. I question whether Abdullah may have had a bigger gain on the same play because of his superior speed. Nonetheless, it was a great start for Green.
Late in the third quarter, Green scored his first touchdown from six yards out. Here’s a link to watch – Green’s TD
This impressed me far more than his 33-yard run. The play was a toss sweep to the left. Once again, the blocking was actually solid. Left tackle Taylor Decker had a nice lead block and reserve guard Don Barclay made a terrific block of his own to get Green to around the 4 yard line. This time he had to create a bit on his own though.
After being met with traffic, he found the opening necessary and maneuvered himself to barely cross the goal line. His vision was important here, I’m not sure Abdullah scores on this play all things being equal. He has a habit of taking what’s there at times. Lowering his shoulder and trying to finish the run likely would have landed him around the 2. Instead, keeping his eyes open and trying to find space paid off for Green.
The touchdown was a nice run and the first scamper was a great way to start. But the most impressive thing I saw from Green’s debut was his ability to avoid being tackled for a loss. He had 11 carries and none went for negative yardage. The Lions have been plagued with 2nd and 12 type situations all season. Being able to get a yard or two on a bad play is light years better than losing a yard or two.
There was no hesitation as plays developed so he was hitting the point of attack hard. Green’s bigger frame allowed him to fall forward and he wasn’t going down on initial contact like other backs have at times. This is something the Lions have been missing sorely.
Green has likely earned more playing time down the stretch. Abdullah is still injured and Green’s performance was worthy of more carries. It’s important to take this for what it was though. I saw nothing out of Green that made me believe he’s any sort of superstar in the making or that he should be a full-time bell-cow back.
That being said, it’s a very small sample size. There’s still no way to tell as of now. A comparison I’ve seen thrown around is Joique Bell and I agree heavily. They have similar styles and their bodies are built almost identically in size, both at 220 lbs and Green being an inch taller at 6’0”. My expectations are low, but I’m looking forward to seeing Green a bit more as the Lions make their final push.