We all know that the strength of the Detroit Lions’ offense is their passing game. There is no doubt. Detroit is third in the NFL in passing, averaging 309.3 passing yards per game and utilizing the league’s best wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, virtually every snap. But no team wins the Super Bowl with a one-dimensional offense. Balance on offense as well as on defense allows for a deep run in the playoffs. And over the past few weeks, the Lions have fine-tuned their run game.
You have to go all the way back to week six against the Cleveland Browns, to find one of Detroit’s top two featured backs (Joique Bell and Reggie Bush), not averaging over five yards per carry. Not to mention the slump that Matthew Stafford finds himself in. Two weeks ago against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stafford threw four interceptions, not including Kris Durham’s fumble. On Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford threw two interceptions, leading to four turnovers after two fumbles. With a high amount of turnovers every game, the Lions must capitalize when they do have the ball on offense. And this means no more forced throws by Stafford.
The best way to avoid turnovers from interceptions is a solid run game. When the run game is performing at a high level like they did against Green Bay last week, the passing game improves and Stafford finds himself with more time to throw and more open receivers. However, the relationship between a solid run game and a solid pass game is mutual. In order for Detroit to run the ball effectively, they must have a threatening passing game.
Adding RB Reggie Bush this offseason has been key to the Lions’ success on offense this season. With the threat of Bush and Bell running the ball, less attention has been dealt with the Lions’ receivers. In turn, with the high-level performance of the passing game, holes have opened even larger for Reggie Bush and Joique Bell to run through.
If the Lions can keep this up, they not only will have an easy time with the rest of their schedule, they might even earn a first-round bye in the playoffs, and home advantage. Nevertheless, earlier this season was a different tale for the Lions against the Packers. With “Megatron” out due to a knee injury, the Packers focused on the run game of Detroit and diminished the threat of Bush and Bell on the ground.
The Lions must avoid a slip-up on offense, and if they can, who knows how far Detroit could travel once they reach the playoffs.