Did anyone else cringe while watching Kenyan Drake or pulling up the stat line from this Thursday? He made a great debut for the Cardinals, earning 162 total yards and a TD. Take a deep breath and count to 10. Even if the fans wanted him and got excited from the rumors, it seems like he was never in the Lions’ plans.
Detroit seemed poised to upgrade the running back position before the trade deadline but struck out. Now they have to rely on several unproven (Ty Johnson, Tra Carson) guys along with a few others that have rarely if ever carried the torch as the top back on their team (J.D. Mckissic, Paul Perkins).
As we mentioned last week, the Lions’ playoffs chances are slim so they have to play every remaining game as if it’s the difference between being in or out of the postseason. Through the air, Matthew Stafford and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have put together a nice tandem as one of the better passing attacks in the league. Now it’s time to hope one of Detroit’s running backs gives them a glimmer of respectability on the ground. It’s an underwhelming crew, to say the least, but someone will have to step up if Detroit is going to make a run this second half of the season. The question is who.
But let’s stick to one game at a time as we answer today’s question. Who will be the Lions’ leading rusher vs Oakland?
My answer: Ty Johnson
Of all the candidates to rise above expectations, Ty Johnson seems to have the most upside. From the blazing speed (reported in the 4.3s for his 40-yard dash time) to the solid preseason, Johnson went from a roster bubble guy to a near lock within weeks. He also had a solid college career, averaging 7.7 yards per carry his senior year with 506 rushing yards total.
Even last week he had a few decent runs (some of which were called back) that shows his potential. Once he bounces to the outside, he’s often able to outrun defenders for a good chunk of yards. Hopefully we see a few runs similar to what’s highlighted here versus the Patriots during the preseason.
We’ve all complained about the amount of runs up the middle we’ve seen, pining for variety when Kerryon Johnson was healthy. Now is the time more than ever to get our speedback out in space and running outside to use his skill set to the fullest. From pitches and screens (in the passing game) to simply designed runs to bounce outside, it’s a must to showcase his speed. Let Ty Johnson do what he does best... outrun defenders.
So there you have it. I’ve got Ty Johnson being our leading rusher (yards) versus the Raiders. Who are you rolling with and what will the Lions have to do to make the ground game at least respectable?