Could the Detroit Lions improved ground game create an MVP candidate?

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions have added several pieces to finally get the results they expect from the rushing attack. Could those moves result in an MVP?

The Detroit Lions have been searching for an answer to their ground game woes ever since Barry Sanders retired what,… almost 100 years ago? O.K. so he only retired back in 1999, but it certainly seems like much longer.

Especially given the state of Detroit’s rushing attack. During the 60s, 70s, and 80s the Lions were generally pretty good at running the ball, and we all know the work Barry did in the 90s. This was fairly important considering the state of the Lions’ quarterback position during that whole period.

Until Matthew Stafford came along and re-wrote all of Detroit’s passing records, the position has been a weakness for the Lions. Motown quarterbacks have been anywhere from inconsistent to abysmal. If the rushing attack hadn’t been at least functionally productive, this 60 plus year championship drought could have been even worse, if that’s possible.

Now suddenly as we all look ahead to next season, the belief is that the Detroit Lions might actually have a ground game that could not only be productive but possibly even feared a little. Now that’s a new concept.

Yet if we take a cold, hard look at what general manager Bob Quinn has accomplished, mostly in the draft, to improve the Lions sluggish rushing attack, this franchise has invested more into the improvement of their ground game than any other team in the NFL.

Tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai was a free agent acquisition and is an above-average run blocker. Guards Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg were selected in the draft. Both have a nasty disposition, especially Stenberg, and love to bury defensive linemen while second-round pick D’Andre Swift is a very polished and productive runner, who many considered the best back in the draft.

If you toss in the speed and versatility of fifth-round selection, running back Jason Huntley, the Lions have made positive additions to the offensive line and created a deeper more versatile backfield. In other words, on paper Detroit looks like a club that can run the ball.