Everyone knew the Detroit Lions were going to run the ball more in 2019 with the addition of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Even though the rest of the NFL seems to be moving in the opposite direction, the Lions front office and coaching staff have prepared the roster to grind down opponents and lean on their backs to help win games.
So far, everything is following the script. While Matthew Stafford did throw the ball 45 times in an overtime game in Arizona, the running backs still logged 28 carries. Last week against the Chargers, the Lions almost had a 50/50 split between pass attempts and rushes, showing that the team is serious about the plan.
During the preseason, there were a few theories about how this increase in rushes would actually play out among the personnel. Some believed sophomore Kerryon Johnson would move toward being a bell-cow back, taking the vast majority of the carries. Others saw the acquisition of C.J. Anderson as an indication of a running back committee. Two games in, however, and there is still not a ton of clarity.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What do you make out of the current backfield rotation?
My answer: I was someone who believed Johnson would see a significant workload, partially because I did not believe in those behind him. I was never excited about the Anderson signing—nor LeGarrette Blount before him—although I did not expect him to get cut mid-season.
Week 1 saw Johnson get 57 percent of the carries, with Anderson falling at 39 percent, making me rethink my expectations. However, Anderson saw just five carries against Los Angeles, the same number as Ty Johnson. With J.D. McKissic even getting in on the action, Kerryon’s workload fell to 50 percent (although some might be due to an injury).
What does that mean for Week 3 and beyond? It seems like Kerryon will hover around 55-60 percent of the carries on a normal basis, but expect Ty Johnson, McKissic, and new arrival Paul Perkins to see some action as well. This is a solid number, but not quite at the level of a true workhorse.