With the 2017 NFL regular season in the books, let’s review the Detroit Lions running back position with an eye on 2018.
In 2017, the Detroit Lions possessed the worst rushing attack in the NFL. Averaging a league-low 76.3 yards per game, nearly ten less yards than the next lowest team, the Cincinnati Bengals (85.4), the Lions have some serious work to do on this positional group this offseason.
With a new head coach at the helm, soon-to-be former New England Patroits’ defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, fans can only hope he brings with him a new attitude about running the football in the Motor City.
But before we get into any possible changes, let’s take a look at the current depth chart at running back and the Lions’ list of free agents set to leave Detroit this offseason.
The Lions need a near hockey-style lineup change at the running back position. Former second rounder Ameer Abdullah was given the benefit of the doubt last offseason as the default starter coming off a season-ending injury in 2016. But Abdullah failed to impress and was benched by the end of last year.
Theo Riddick continues to impress in spot duty, but he is a much better receiver out of the backfield than a workhorse back. The bruising rookie Tion Green had his moments in 2017. And he had a chance to shine playing limited snaps in the Lions’ final five games of last season. But he also ended the year on a sour note, with a 2.3 carry average in Detroit’s last game of the season.
Both Dwayne Washington and Zach Zenner have had their chances to prove they are the answer to the Lions’ rushing woes, but they’ve proven to be nothing more than role players.
The direction is clear for the Detroit Lions this offseason. It’s time to make an major investment or two in the running back position. I expect general manager Bob Quinn and this Lions’ front office to be very active in free agency and in the upcoming NFL draft trying to find their next offensive superstar.