After Years Of Futility, The Detroit Lions Appear To Have Finally Solved Their Ground Game.
The Detroit Lions past struggles on the ground are well documented, so well documented that their inability to run the football has been one of the primary staples of this team for years now. There are countless mind-boggling statistics that speak to the ineffectiveness that has plagued the Lions in the run game that paints a laughable picture of what the offense has had to overcome in past years.
It looks like those years of futility are finally over.
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson looked really good against the Miami Dolphins. He’s looked really good all year, but the game against the Dolphins was the first real opportunity that Johnson has had to take on a heavy-volume role for the Lions this season. He did not disappoint.
Johnson rushed 19 times for 158 yards, good for 8.3 yards per carry. This was far and away the strongest performance that the Lions have had from a running back in a very long time, and Johnson’s impact on the game was very apparent.
The Lions put up 32 points in a game that quarterback Matthew Stafford only threw the ball 22 times for 217 yards. In past years, if you saw Stafford only threw for 217 yards, you could probably safely assume that the Lions offense was lifeless and struggled to move the ball. You could probably also assume that the Lions lost that game by a significant margin.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday against the Dolphins. The Lions rushing attack carried the team to victory and allowed Stafford to quietly have a very efficient performance, completing 18 of 22 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was always the hope of Lions fans that the team could finally muster up a rushing attack for Stafford so that he didn’t have to carry the team himself.
The game against the Dolphins is exactly what that looks like.
Johnson wasn’t the only back that had a good showing on Sunday. LeGarrette Blount also had a nice performance, putting together 50 yards on 10 carries, averaging five yards a carry and punching in a short yardage touchdown behind the strength of the Lions offensive line.
GM Bob Quin has invested a lot of draft capital and salary cap into building this offensive line, and it finally seems to be clicking. The line has protected Stafford well all year, and we are finally getting to see what it looks like to get a push from the offensive line on running plays. It’s a feeling that has started to feel foreign to most Lions fans after years of struggles in run blocking.
If there is one thing that we can take away from the Lions win over the Dolphins, it is that this run game is the real deal. The offensive line is looking really good. Johnson is looking really good. When that running game is working, it opens up the offense to win in a variety of different ways, rather than having to force Stafford to win the game with his arm.
It’s been a long wait, but the run game has officially arrived.