Is the Detroit Lions ground game running on empty?
By Robert Jones
Stafford to the rescue?
Today will be a proving ground for the Lions run game. They will try to run at a Giants defense that isn’t that good and hope that some of what they do will translate into the following games. Hope that some sort of spark will get the line playing at a higher level and the backs will be productive.
As much as I like J.D. McKissic, he’s not a big back and while I think he could be featured more in a variety of ways, I think he will probably continue to stay in the complementary role he has been used. Darrell Bevell might put in some more short ‘get McKissic the ball in space’ passes which would be one of the ways an offense can help supplement the ground game, but I think this will mostly be Ty Johnson’s chance to shine.
And given somewhere to run, Ty Johnson could do really well. He hasn’t had a chance to break off any really big runs yet because he simply hasn’t been provided the space to do so, but I look forward to hopefully seeing him turn on the after-burners.
However, if we are being honest with ourselves, without some major steps forward by the ground game, the Lions will do what they’ve always done since selecting number nine first overall in the 2009 NFL Draft; lean on Stafford.
Matthew Has bounced-back nicely from last year’s subpar season and played well in general. I say in general because it seems like he has struggled a bit more in the second halves of a few games after opponents have made some adjustments.
Yet with a receiving corps of Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and tight ends T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, and even Logan Thomas, the Lions have the ability to lean on the passing game more if they need to. Especially given that it has carried this team more than any other facet of their game this season.
But in the long run, the Lions need to be more productive on the ground. Running the ball becomes a rite of passage in the playoffs. Once teams are battling in the poor weather of January for an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, the ground game becomes even more important.
So do the Lions have enough in their backfield to start mustering a ground game or will they need to address it before the trade deadline? One way or another, the rushing attack has gotten weaker without Kerryon and unless someone steps up and becomes ‘the man’ in his absence, then the questions will continue to linger around the Lions ground game for good reason.