The Detroit Lions have the ingredients to finally run the ball well. Does that mean the passing game will be put on the backburner?
Lions fans have had very little to cheer about since their last NFL championship 63 years ago in 1957. Since then poor moves by ownership, the front office, and coaches have doomed this franchise in every way possible.
For years William Clay Ford surrounded himself with good old boys who he liked but didn’t have sufficient football knowledge or savvy. The results were bad coaching hires and poor drafting. This is of course how the Lions could go over 60 years without being able to build a true championship contender even by accident.
But the Lions have made some right moves. In 1989 they drafted Barry Sanders. The results were a Hall of Fame career that set up Detroit to have one of the most feared rushing attacks in the NFL and the one player no defender wanted to see in open space.
Today Barry is still one of the standard-bearers for running backs. Almost a decade after his retirement, the Lions went another direction by drafting Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson in 2007, and shortly after in 2009 they added the Motor City’s all-time leading passer Matthew Stafford.
While the passing game in Detroit has flourished since Calvin and Matthew, the ground game has virtually had no pulse. Outside of Reggie Bush barely eclipsing the 1000 yard mark in 2013, there hasn’t been any kind of consistent rushing attack.
But now Matthew Stafford is in Los Angeles while the Rams’ former signal-caller, Jared Goff, who led them to the Super Bowl just three years ago is now the Lions quarterback of record. Meanwhile, Detroit’s top outside threats of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones have migrated to New York and Jacksonville respectively.
As the Lions approach training camp, their passing game has more questions than it has in over a decade. However, the ground game has turned into the team’s strength almost overnight. But will Dan Campbell and his staff really pack up the passing game and toss it into the closet?