If the Detroit Lions lack of urgency demeanor during the free agency period is any inkling of how the 2013 season will fair, then Lions fans in the Motor City may not have anything to look forward too.
In a move that brought Detroit one of the most high profiled names since Barry Sanders, the Lions signed former Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush to a 4-year deal on March 13. While the Bush signing has created a lot of water cooler discussions of playoffs between Lions fans, the certainty of it being a stupendous signing will be non-existent if the franchise doesn’t address its offensive line issues.
Last season, the Detroit Lions averaged 100.8 yards rushing per game, ranking them 23rd in the National Football League (NFL). As for Bush, he rushed for a respectable 986 yards and 6 touchdowns with the Miami Dolphins last season. The leading rusher for the Lions last season was Mikel Leshoure, who quite honestly did not have a bad season, rushing for 798 yards and 9 touchdowns.
If we look at what is forthcoming, the Lions are just a few player insertions away from creating a good offensive line, that will invent a powerhouse running attack. In addition to a improved running game, refurbishing the offensive line will also help with the pass protection that was mediocre at best last year, leaving quarterback Matt Stafford to be sacked 29 times.
The departure of Gosder Cherlius (a Indianapolis Colt now), Stephen Peterman (released) and Jeff Backus (retired) leaves a gaping hole on the front line of the Lions that if replaced with the right players, this could lead to the team having its first running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards since Kevin Jones during the 2004 season.
At first glance, it appears that the Lions are comfortable with their offensive line situation, due to the franchise paying more attention to signing Bush, safety Glover Quin of the Houston Texans, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jason Jones and also resigning corner Chris Houston, safety Louis Delmas and linebacker DeAndre Levy in early March. In fact, more than a month into the free agency period, the Lions have only signed one offensive linemen (Dylan Gandy) since free agency began.
During the 2013 Free Agency period, the amount of lucrative contracts for offensive linemen has increased, as the league continues to deviate towards being a more pass-oriented coalition.
In order to stay competitive within the NFL, it is definitely a necessity for the Lions to have elite caliber linemen who can run and pass protect against high profile defenses in the NFC. Hopefully, the Lions will take notice of that necessity and start seriously pursuing some elite offensive lineman prospects through free agency or the upcoming draft while the talent is still in the market.
If serious about returning to the playoffs, then it would behoove the Detroit Lions to start pursuing some of the free agent elite talent at the offensive lineman position, who are still available. Bryant McKinnie (former Baltimore Ravens),
Andre Smith (former Cincinnati Bengals) and Eric Winston (former Kansas City Chiefs) are just a few that are suitable and available talent that would be a great addition to the Lions front line. Continuing with the status quo approach, then the Reggie Bush signing would be a waste of time, a waste of $16 million dollars, delivering yet another disappointing season at Ford Field.