Lions Fans Instructed to Be Optimistic About Historically Bad Position

Kerryon Johnson

Getty Kerryon Johnson gets stuffed by the Broncos.

The Detroit Lions have a revved up offense they will be depending on in 2020, and a big reason they could be successful is the team’s ground game.

Soon, the Lions will start training camp. As usual, there are no shortage of players to watch, but why should the team feel some level of optimism for camp this year? Personnel wise, it has to do with the running back room, a sudden strength in Detroit.

Bleacher Report writer Maurice Moton was charged with putting together a list of the reasons every team had for optimism heading into camp. When it came to Detroit, the running game was the primary focus of this future optimism.

Here’s what Moton wrote as to why:

“Since the Detroit Lions selected Matthew Stafford in 2009, the ground attack hasn’t ranked higher than 17th in yards (2013). He’s had to take on a major responsibility in moving the ball without consistent help from the running game.

The Lions could finally field a balanced offensive attack with two young tailbacks able to threaten defenses as ball-carriers and pass-catchers.

We saw glimpses of running back Kerryon Johnson, who accumulated 1,384 yards from scrimmage over the last two terms, but he’s battled knee injuries, which cost him 14 contests.

The Lions selected D’Andre Swift in the second round of April’s draft. He’s arguably the best pass-catching back in this year’s class, hauling in 73 passes for 666 yards and five touchdowns through three terms at Georgia.

Because of Johnson’s injury history, Swift could take on a significant role and handle close to half the touches out of the backfield. A competition between the two could lead to a strong collective showing on the ground in 2020.”

Detroit’s passing game already figures to be one of the better outfits in the league thanks to the wideout group, but if the team gets anything out of their ground attack, it will be to the benefit of the whole offense and could make the team even more dangerous.

It’s been a few decades since the Lions had a ground game worth being excited over, but heading into camp this season, there could be reason to think about the group as a true strength for the team.

Lions Celebrated for Drafting Running Backs

Following the draft finishing up, Gregg Rosenthal of took a look at some of the biggest themes from every team’s performance. When it came to the Lions, it was obvious there was a serious theme and it had everything to do with getting tougher in the trenches and improving what has been a severely weak running game.

Rosenthal wrote:

“From the selection of running back D’Andre Swift this year and Kerryon Johnson in 2018 to the interior line picks that GM Bob Quinn has made in the last few years, the Lions have invested a lot of capital in improving their running game — but they have yet to see great results. Quinn needs that vision to come together this season. Swift is the type of talent who can put the team’s running game over the top.”

With Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough and now D’Andre Swift, the Lions have a loaded backfield of former SEC standouts. More than that, the team was able to add guards to their stable in Jonah Jackson as well as Logan Stenberg, affectionately known as “Mr. Nasty.” Those players will try and change the narrative that the team simply can’t run the ball. If a ground game is like a mindset, the Lions have changed their mind more than a bit.

Following the draft, general manager Bob Quinn admitted that his team wants to change how they are viewed and get more physical up front. That will now be the goal heading into 2020.

Kerryon Johnson Loves D’Andre Swift Addition

Johnson watched from afar as Swift tore up the conference for the last few seasons, and as he said, he is excited and ready to have him on his side with the Lions. While playing for Auburn, Johnson admitted he didn’t much like to see Swift and his teammates given how dangerous they could be.

Additionally, Johnson said that he’s ready for a running mate and is fired up for Swift’s arrival into the Detroit backfield. Speaking with the media including Fox 2 Sports, Johnson made the comments.

Johnson said:

“I knew we were going to draft a running back eventually. I think we got, in my opinion, definitely one of the top 2. I love having a running mate, I love winning games and I think he can help us do that so I wasn’t really tripping at all,” Johnson said. “I’m excited. He’s a phenomenal player. I remember playing against him in college. I hated seeing him every time we played against Nick Chubb and Sony (Michel), when that kid stepped on the field, he’s lightening in a bottle. He’s threatening to go 80 yards, 70, 60 every time he touched it. So I’m excited. I can learn from him, he can learn from me and we can all learn from each other and we can all get better and win some games.”

Obviously winning is the name of the game for the Lions moving forward, and the fact that Johnson is ready to go is a good sign for the entire team in 2020. The pair can be very good together given what each did in college, and it can only be seen as a positive for the Lions to have this duo in the mix.

That positive should begin for fans in camp if Moton and Bleacher Report are to be believed.

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