The free-agency period has been good one way or another for every NFL team. Hence, it’s time to take a look at the positives in our newest series for End Zone Score. Which newcomer to the club was the franchise’s best offseason move and why? You can get caught up on the entire series by clicking right here. Now we are onto the clubs that finished third. And that means the Detroit Lions are in the spotlight.
There’s not a lot you have to say about the Detroit Lions and their running game in recent years. In 2014, only four teams in the league gained fewer yards on the ground. That disappointing performance was followed by a season in which the club finished dead last in the league in the same category.
This past year, only the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams manage fewer yards rushing per game. Including playoff losses to the Dallas Cowboys (’14) and Seattle Seahawks (’16), the Lions have played a total of 50 games under head coach Jim Caldwell. The team totals fewer than 100 yards rushing in 36 of those contests.
The Lions have gone through their fair share of running backs over the last few seasons. The loss of Ameer Abdullah early in 2016 certainly hurt. Theo Riddick leads the team with 357 yards on the ground, followed by Zach Zenner (334), Dwayne Washington (265) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (207). The talented signal-caller was also sacked 37 times in 2016.
It all adds up to changes and upgrades on the offensive front. The addition of right tackle Ricky Wagner (Baltimore Ravens) is a key move. But the signing of guard T.J. Lang from the Green Bay Packers to pair with Wagner on the right side is huge. He’s not only one of the best players at his position in the league, he has seen starting duty at tackle as well.
Perhaps even more significantly, it’s a big blow to the defending NFC North champions. And perhaps this is one of a number of moves that could catapult the Detroit Lions to their first division title since 1993.