The Detroit Lions backfield could be a horn of plenty
By Robert Jones
On paper, the Lions backfield looks promising
As we fast forward to this coming season, the prospects of running the ball are pretty good. The offensive line has undergone some change, but let’s consider that what these Lions accomplished in the second half of last year on the ground was behind a line that was average at best.
This season the Lions will line up Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle who graded out as one of the best run blockers in the NFL last year in limited opportunities. Frank Ragnow returns at center and is already a very accomplished run-blocker himself while Taylor Decker has been a better run blocker than pass protector in recent seasons.
So the question marks are the guard positions. It seems that rookie Jonah Jackson is destined to line up at right guard and he has the potential to be a building block for Detroit’s offensive line. If either Joe Dahl, Kenny Wiggins, or rookie Logan Stenberg can handle the left guard spot, then the offensive line has a chance to maybe be pretty good.
That leaves the Lions ball-carriers. We all know that Kerryon Johnson, when healthy, is a good back. Yet even healthy, he will be in a battle to keep his starting job from talented rookie D’Andre Swift. The former Georgia Bulldog was considered by many the best back in the 2020 draft and Bob Quinn couldn’t pass on him despite pressing defensive needs.
The combination of those two alone should bring plenty of optimism, but when we toss in Bo Scarbrough who may not have been spectacular last year but was effective, and Ty Johnson who started to show some production down the stretch in limited opportunities and the Lions backfield starts to look a little more like a horn of plenty.
Especially when the talents of super-fast rookie runner Jason Huntley are added to the mix. Huntley is very versatile and electric at whatever he does. Whether he’s excelling as a return man, making plays in the passing game or given room to run with the ball, he goes from zero to 60 in the blink of an eye and if no defenders are there to make a play, he won’t be caught.
Logically and on paper Matt Patricia has every reason to believe that his Lions will be pretty good running the ball, but paper doesn’t win games. Only how Detroit performs on the field will tell the true tale of the tape.
Yet if the offensive line is indeed improved and the threat of Matthew Stafford throwing the ball draws the attention of opposing defenses squarely on him as usual, then it seems very hard to believe that this talented cast in the Lions backfield won’t only be productive, but possibly a strength.