By: Eric Thomas
If hope had a name, it would be Mikel Leshoure.
Lions fans watched their team limp into the regular season. No way to know if the Rams are gonna be tough looking back, or if the 9er game was merely ‘a trip to the west coast’ anomaly. We do know this: it hasn’t been nearly as much fun as last year’s 5-0 start.
The Lions need a running game. Put your little hostile comments section down below, and let them float into tin ears. There are fans who that think the running game is passé in the NFL. Spare me. Some teams that have gotten creative and won the Super Bowl without a running game, that’s true. But it would be a misnomer to say they had NO running game at all. You have to get 6 yards when facing a 6 man front. The Lions are one dimensional, and regardless of how dynamic that one dimension is, any NFL defense can take it away. The 9ers shut down Megatron. The only way they could have done it better would be to have him kidnapped before the game.
The team ignored a chasm of need. They felt like they would march into the 2012 season with a full cadre of Leshoure and Best. They’ve had Kevin Smith and Joique Bell. Nice guys with yards of heart but the 9ers ate them. The Lions don’t need Adrian Peterson but they at the very least need James Stewart.
Fans all of us fans will watch this weekend with a worry doll, hoping beyond hope that the panacea will come trotting off the sideline. Leshoure looked good against the Bills, but so did Mark Sanchez. We can’t expect the sun and moon and starry sky out of a running back with second round talent coming off a nasty injury. We can’t expect he is going to rush for 250 yards in his first game, but we can hope.
The Lions need to address the running game in a significant way in the off season. If the rushing woes turn into a malaise they might have a high draft pick. If Best comes back this year, you thank him for the good times and send him on his way. Pay the cab fare. The lions are the best when, erm, Best is on the field but the emerging science about concussions reduces Javid’s career to abrogate.
If you feel like you want to lead the latest trend the NFL, where you throw around the ball like a teenager with a t-shirt cannon, do so at your own peril. Fans who advocate this particular course of action apparently have advanced amnesia. Or willful blindness. They seem to forget that this is the year where everyone adopts the West Coast Offense, this is the year that the greatest show on turf won the Super Bowl so you don’t need defense anymore, the Ravens won the because they have the best defense. For years the Lions chased this. They were followers bellying up to the next big thing.
I’m guilty. I watched other teams like the 9ers under Bill Walsh, Mariucci, Tampa Two and the greatest show on turf. I wanted a piece of those for myself. I wished for the expanse of grass that was just a fencepost away. But you and I both remember that none of those thing worked, right? Trying to adopt a system that is the latest fad in football is a recipe for disaster. If you look at the Packer’s Super bowl run and think you can repeat it, you are doomed for failure. Following the latest trend was numbers one and two in the Matt Millen playbook.
Balanced teams that innovate capture the flag. Spend your time looking in the rearview and you will get run over by a truck. The teams that are today’s innovators are on tomorrow’s tape. The people who thump their chests and proclaim that the rules have changed are delusional.
Run the ball. The Lions need to run the ball well. If they have a home run threat in the backfield they will take their next step. Until then we can sit and watch with our hands spider-webbed over our eyes.