Lions address needs in free agency, offensive line remains a question
5:16 PM, Mar 17, 2013
5:45 PM, Mar 17, 2013
By: Mike DeWitt
(WXYZ) - The Detroit Lions entered free agency with holes that needed to be filled on the roster. They attacked those weaknesses by signing big names that not only look good on paper, but will add to what the Lions are trying to do on the field.
Reggie Bush signed a four-year contract that is reportedly worth $25 million and is expected to carry the load for a Lions running game that has struggled the past couple seasons. Last season, the Lions ranked 23rd in the league in rushing with 100.8 yards per game. The 2011 campaign was even worse for Detroit as they averaged just over 95 ypg. The Lions are hoping Bush can become the team's first 1,000 yard rusher since Kevin Jones did it back in 2004.
The addition of an every-down running back like Reggie Bush should add another element to the offense. While in New Orleans, Bush was strictly a third-down back who created a matchup nightmare for the opposing defense. When Bush signed with Miami, he was given the opportunity to be an every-down back, and he proved he has what it takes to carry the load.
In his two seasons in Miami, Bush rushed for 2,072 yards and added 588 yards in the receiving game. Keep in mind that he played on a Dolphins team that had four different quarterbacks in those two seasons, and one of them was a rookie, Ryan Tannehill, who started all 16 games for Miami last season. In an offense as potent as the Lions, expect Bush to cause defensive coordinators problems as he has the ability to run in-between the tackles, and is one of the better receiving backs in the NFL.
The main offseason focus for the Lions was on the defensive side of the ball. They re-signed cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas, while also signing safety Glover Quin from Houston and defensive end Jason Jones from Seattle. Jones attended Southfield-Lathrup and Eastern Michigan.
The secondary was the weakest unit on last year's defense, and the acquisitions should create more depth and consistency in pass coverage. In 14 games last season, Houston intercepted two passes and had 11 more pass-deflections. While Houston is not a lockdown corner, one that you can put on his own island and expect him to shut down the other teams' No. 1 receiver, he is a serviceable cornerback who is consistent in coverage and doesn't get beat often over the top. In 2011 he had five interceptions and took two back for touchdowns.
Louis Delmas and Glover Quin give Detroit its best safety duo in years. Delmas has a lot of promise, but he has trouble staying healthy. He has missed 13 games the past two seasons, after only missing two in his first couple seasons. When healthy, Delmas is a safety who can play the ball when it's in the air and can also come down to stop the run.
One of Quin's strengths is his ability to stay on the field; Quin has only missed one game in his four seasons in the league. Quin started every game last season for the Houston Texans and led the team in tackles. Glover plays close to the line-of-scrimmage and finished last season with one sack and five tackles-for-loss. Quin also recorded two interceptions last season. If both players can stay healthy, the Lions should have one the better safety units in the NFL.
The Lions last big free-agent addition was Jones. Jones saw limited actions in his time with the Seahawks, only played in 12 games, but he was still able to record three sacks. One area where Jones excels is his ability to read the quarterbacks eyes and deflect passes at the line-of-scrimmage. Last season, Jones deflected four passes. The Lions will be looking for Jones to fill in for former defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril. Vanden Bosch was released this offseason and Avril signed with the Seahawks.
While the Lions were able to bring in players to fill the needs on defense, the offensive line wasn't addressed. Detroit lost three of its starting linemen; Gosder Cherilus signed with Indianapolis, Stephen Peterman was released, and Jeff Backus retired. Detroit will need to address its offensive line before the season starts if it wants Bush, Matthew Stafford, and Calvin Johnson to play to their potential. An offense is only as good as its offensive line.