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Tuesday open thread: Is it time for the Detroit Lions to make Kerryon Johnson a starter?

Is it time to unleash the beast?

NFL: Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions don’t have a lot of things going for them right now. They’re one of seven 0-2 teams remaining in the league. They have arguably the worst run defense in the league, and their extremely skilled passing offense remains extremely underwhelming through two games.

But if there’s one thing the Lions may actually have going, it’s an improved running game. Detroit’s stats are far from outstanding—they’re averaging just 68.5 yards per game (28th)—but their yards per carry currently stands at 4.2, which is much higher than last year’s mark (3.4).

Part of the reason for that success is Lions second-round pick Kerryon Johnson. The young back out of Auburn has 60 rushing yards but is gaining 4.6 yards per clip. The Lions have been slow in rolling him out, rushing just five times in the season opener and eight times on Sunday.

So today’s Question of the Day is:

Should the Detroit Lions start Kerryon Johnson against the Patriots?

My answer: I’m not exactly hung up on the “starter” designation, but Kerryon Johnson should absolutely get the bulk of the carries from here on out. Don’t get me wrong, I still want a healthy split with LeGarrette Blount, who finished with a solid 4.8 yards per carry against the 49ers last week. However, Johnson needs to be freed, because the Lions don’t just need consistent gains here and there, they need big plays. So far, Johnson is the only one who has shown capable of a big play in the running game. On Sunday, he picked up the Lions’ longest run of the season, a 21-yard gain.

And then there’s Theo Riddick. Riddick didn’t earn a single carry last week, but was still an integral part of the offense, hauling in a team-high nine catches. The Lions will have to sprinkle in some carries for Theo if they’re going to keep defenses honest, unless the plan is to simply put Riddick in on obvious passing downs.

Either way, Kerryon’s play throughout the preseason and the first two weeks have made it clear he needs more touches. Whether he gets to be anointed a “starter” or simply just gets the ball more matters little to me. Give him the rock, and do it now.

Your turn.


Is it time to make Kerryon Johnson the official starting running back?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    (797 votes)
  • 5%
    (42 votes)
839 votes total Vote Now

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.