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Sunday open thread: How good will the Lions’ running game be in 2018?

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The Lions running game will be improved this year, but how improved?

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The entire Detroit Lions offseason was perfectly encapsulated by their final 2018 draft pick, fullback Nick Bawden, who explained to the media what the Lions said to him back when they crossed paths in the pre-draft process:

There’s no doubt about it. The Lions want to get back to running the ball. We know all the horrible stats by now. All of the droughts, the “consecutive games without [blank]” statistics, Matthew Stafford’s poor running support through literally his entire career.

That looks like it could all change this season. The Lions have a new offensive line coach, two new running backs that will start at the top of the depth chart, two new offensive linemen—one who will start, another who will compete—and the aforementioned fullback.

The Lions’ 2018 running game, on paper, will have no resemblance to the one that has frustrated general manager Bob Quinn since he stepped into the building.

“I think when I look back at our team last year, all those critical situations, like it’s goal line, like we can’t run the ball like half a yard, that bothered me,” Quinn said after the draft on Saturday. “So, I took it upon myself to implement some changes in terms of what we want to do, what we want to look at, what we want to look like as a team.”

Quinn is being modest here. He didn’t make “some changes,” he made ALL THE CHANGES. But now the question is whether it’ll work. Can offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter work with his new moving parts and turn around the running game? If so, how much improvement can we expect?

Today’s Question of the Day is:

How good will the Lions’ running game be in 2018?

My answer: I think Detroit will move from 32nd to the top half of the league, but will remain outside of the top 10 in terms of rushing yards per game.

That’s a pretty huge jump for a team in one year, but it’s hard to imagine a team making a more drastic change to their running game in a single offseason. To add onto all of the new additions Quinn made both in the coaching and personnel departments, the Lions’ offensive line is almost sure to be more cohesive than it was last year, seeing as their continuity was historically bad last year.

But all that being said, I don’t expect this team to transport into a top 10 rushing attack. Not because they won’t be capable of it, but because that’s not the identity this team is going to want. This is a team still led by Matthew Stafford, and while the hope is that an improved running game will lighten the load from his shoulder, this will still be a passing offense.

Detroit still is not going to run the ball 35 times a game very often, so their average running yards per game will not eclipse the top 10 rank. However, that’s not really the important statistic here. As long as the Lions can finish with a yards per carry over 4.2—something they haven’t done since 2011—the improvement will be more than enough, and I think they can accomplish that.

Your turn.

Poll

How good will the Lions’ running game be in 2018 (by rushing yards)?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Top 5
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  • 13%
    Top 10
    (231 votes)
  • 54%
    Top 16
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  • 24%
    Top 20
    (417 votes)
  • 5%
    Bottom 10
    (93 votes)
1702 votes total Vote Now