By Kyle Miller
Hello and welcome to Honolulu Blue & Silver Linings with your dashing host, Kyle. After a disappointing season with a strong finish, this segment will serve as your weekly reminder that not all is doomed in The Den. In fact, there’s actually a lot to look forward to.
After flying high all off-season with visions of a playoff win and feeling like an actual contender, our beloved Lions didn’t just stumble out of the gate–they fell directly on their faces. Let’s not dwell on the first half of the season, as I’m sure it’s been dwelt on plenty. Instead, let’s consider something that most teams sharing the Lions record don’t have the luxury of: a roster with some young talent turned a major corner this year and will likely be huge contributors as the team continues to push for a championship. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight a few of the players that provide hope for a Super Bowl caliber roster. The first silver lining we can point to should be pretty obvious.
During the last few training camps, we’ve heard coaches rave about a young satellite back from Notre Dame. Eventually, the season would arrive and the same coaches would only use him when the team was down late in games where he would show flashes of playmaking ability only to see the same role the following week.
Thankfully, during the most recent off-season, the team parted ways with Reggie Bush. This allowed Riddick to shine in a position perfected by guys such as Darren Sproles and Danny Woodhead and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, he’s just as important to the Lions offense as those two greats. Riddick went from a situational role player to having the second most receiving yards in the league for running backs.
Not only is he a crisp route runner with some of the best hands in the business (zero drops on the season), he’s become the safety valve Stafford needs behind an offensive line that fails to provide protection on a regular basis. In Oakland, he took what looked to be a sure sack on Stafford and turned it into a first down by locating a shovel pass from the man now competing with DeAndre Levy for Best Beard on a pivotal 3rd and 10. That’s only one of example of how many times he’s been able to make plays that win this team games. The chemistry that was on display this past season between those two was key in the second half surge we saw from the Lions. Whether it’s saving a broken play or catching a game winner in the back of the end zone, Riddick comes up big on a consistent basis.
Possibly the best thing about Theo is how much he cares. The score or situation never affects the way he plays. During the debacle that was the first half of this season, Riddick was routinely one of the few guys on the field that looked like he still gave a damn. For Riddick, it doesn’t matter if they’re down by three scores late in games— he’ll fight for every yard. I’m convinced now that the only thing Riddick doesn’t care about is the ankles and pride of opposing defenders trying to catch him in space. See for yourself in these amazing highlights as put together by the best Lions highlights producer, Sandman: