"Did the Lions improve?" is our latest series analyzing the Detroit Lions' roster in comparison to their 7-9 2015 season. Next up, we look at the running back position.
2015 RBs: Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, George Winn, Zach Zenner
2016 RBs: Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Stevan Ridley, George Winn, Zach Zenner, Dwayne Washington
Last offseason the Lions essentially swapped Reggie Bush for Ameer Abdullah. This offseason the Detroit replaced Joique Bell with Stevan Ridley. Bell was reportedly offered a contract earlier in the offseason, but after the hometown running back balked on the offer, the Lions eventually landed on Ridley as his replacement.
Did they improve?
It's hard to conclude whether Ridley is an upgrade over Bell, but given Ridley's recent struggles with injuries, the answer seems to be no. That being said, at his peak, Ridley was a 1,000-yard rusher, an accomplishment Bell never fulfilled. But Ridley last reached that benchmark four years ago.
You could make the argument that with his rookie year out of the way, Abdullah's progression alone may make this unit better in 2016. But with his recent shoulder surgery, the hype on Abdullah will have to simmer until late summer.
Of course, the Lions running game may improve regardless of whether this unit has improved, as the offensive line will likely go through drastic changes this year. But we'll discuss them on another day.
What about compared to 2014?
2014 RBs: Joique Bell, Reggie Bush, Theo Riddick, George Winn
There's no doubt that the Lions are in better shape than they were in 2014. Back then, Theo Riddick was still more hype than talent, Reggie Bush was starting to decline, and Bell was an adequate change-of-pace back. Now, presuming that Abdullah gets healthy again, the Lions have a clear No. 1 back, along with two significant role players in Riddick and Ridley.