Detroit Lions: The days of relying solely on Matthew Stafford are over
The Detroit Lions invested heavily in their run game this offseason. Will it be enough to finally take pressure off of quarterback Matthew Stafford?
For far too long the Detroit Lions have relied solely on the arm of Matthew Stafford to win ball games. Being an unbalanced offense seems to be the default in Motown every season as the running game in the Motor City always falls short. Will 2018 be a case of déjà vu?
This offseason, Lions general manager Bob Quinn and his front office went about the business of improving the league’s worst rushing attack. During free agency, Detroit inked three-time Super Bowl champion running back LeGarrette Blount.
At 6-0, 247 pounds, Blount is a human hammer that should be able to pound out first downs and touchdowns in short yardage situations. That something that has been desperately missing in Motown for years.
But the Lions weren’t finished with the signing of Blount. They also wanted to secure their run game for the foreseeable future.
In order to do so, they used their top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft for that purpose. Arkansas center Frank Ragnow, their first-round pick, has been impressive in training camp and throughout the preseason. Ragnow, who is slated to start at left guard, might well become the best overall first-round selection in the Bob Quinn era once it’s all said and done.
Detroit also traded up in the second round of this year’s draft to select Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson. The rookie runner has put on a show in the preseason, impressing in limited snaps.
The trio of Blount, Ragnow, and Johnson represent the investment the Lions have made to run the ball in the Motor City this season. In a recent Football Morning in America column, longtime sportswriter Peter King wrote about his visit with the Lions at Allen Park. His biggest takeaway was Patricia’s use of Blount during 11 on 11’s and Detroit’s stable of talented running backs.
"“So what is Patricia doing? A couple of things, as I read it. He wants to establish a toughness on the offense that he thinks just wasn’t there in the last couple of years, when the running game has stunk. Two: He wants to tell his players, The days of living and dying with Matthew Stafford are over.”"
The days of relying solely on Matthew Stafford to win games in Detroit appear to be coming to an end. The 30-year old gunslinger is entering his 10th NFL season. And he has yet to win a single playoff game. Stafford needs help to get the Lions over the postseason hump. And finally, it appears he has some solid pieces in the running game.