The Detroit Lions have many needs, but defense still wins championships. How will they address their deficiencies on the defensive line?
As the Detroit Lions continue through the offseason process, general manager Bob Quinn and new head coach Matt Patricia are having to make many decisions about how to find the numerous pieces needed to springboard them into contention this fall.
There has been much talk about finding the feature back needed to carry the load on the ground as well as fortifying the offensive line to protect the Lions franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and pave the way for the running game to find success.
These are certainly needs that simply have to be addressed. Yet in the end the old axiom ‘defense wins championships’ is the truest statement ever uttered in reference to sports.
The Detroit Lions defense deteriorated as this past season wore on. The secondary was the only part of that unit that was fairly solid the whole season.
The defensive line was decimated by injuries, much like the offensive line was, and the linebackers are still not as fortified as they will need to be.
So this leads us to what has been a tremendous amount of conjecture; will the Lions us their top pick in the draft on a defensive lineman or a running back?
The answer to that should be simple. The 2018 NFL Draft is very deep at running back. While many fans continue to beat the drum with urgency for a franchise running back, these Lions are much more than a proficient ground game away from being contenders.
As a matter of fact if we look over the course of NFL history in the Super Bowl era, only two teams have boasted the leagues leading rusher and actually won the Super Bowl. Terrell Davis was the NFL rushing champion in the 1998 season and the Denver Broncos went on to win Super Bowl XXXIII, while the Dallas Cowboys championship teams of Super Bowl’s XXVII, XXVIII and XXX all featured Emmitt Smith who was the leagues leading rusher each of those seasons.
Those are also the only teams to have gone to the Super Bowl with an NFL rushing champion.
I don’t point this out to say that an explosive ground game is overrated, but I do point it out to emphasize that it is hardly ever the difference between being contenders or pretenders. It is an important complimentary piece of the puzzle that can make a teams passing game that much more effective and that total package makes a team dangerous.
Yet some of the games most dominant runners like Gale Sayers, O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Petersen barely saw playoff action, much less ever winning the Super Bowl.
Because defense wins championships.