Well, 2023 first round running back Jahmyr Gibbs has brought “unreal” speed to the Detroit Lions — and in the process has won over the fanbase through the eyes of franchise legend Sanders. And when the NFL legend and Hall of Famer speaks vibrantly about the rookie, that’s when you know the praise is taken seriously.
Speaking with “Around the NFL” on the NFL Network Tuesday, August 8, Sanders believes the aura of excitement for the Tide star has been building around the Motor City.
“I believe they couldn’t more geeked about Jahmyr Gibbs,” Sanders said on the show. “Being able to get him early in the first round, and what they’ve seen so far and his attitude and his approach to practice. When you get a young running back in camp and you see him in real live action with other players to see whether that speed transfers, whether he still has that speed, whether he still has that zip that he had in college. I think, so far, we see that he’s going to be a guy that makes plays.”
And there was already one play that could’ve come off as Sanders-like.
Gibbs Unleashes ‘Unreal’ Speed on Linebacker With 152 Tackles in 2022
Here’s the reason why: Gibbs absolutely grills Bobby Okereke during a one-on-one drill — which witnesses the Tide star increase his distance on the linebacker who delivered 152 tackles with the Indianapolis Colts last season.
While Sanders was known more for his juke moves to evade tacklers, he also used his speed to dust defenders. And he was on hand in watching Gibbs turn up the grill on Okereke.
Is Gibbs the Guy to Catapult the Lions & Rewrite the Narrative They’ve Had?
Gibbs is already heading to the league with this good omen on his side: Being an Alabama RB adjusting to the league. Guys like Najee Harris, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and in the past Mark Ingram have put together 1,000-yard seasons or Pro Bowls.
But there’s this narrative Gibbs will have to help change for the Lions: The longstanding culture of mediocrity that has plagued the franchise.
Since Sanders’ retirement after the 1998 season, he’s one of the few Lions to have tasted a playoff victory. Detroit hasn’t won a postseason game since then as they’ve gone 0-3 from 2011 to present. And, the Lions will be aiming a six-season streak of missing the playoffs.
This Lions team, though, has witnessed a buzz building following their late season surge that got them to finish 9-8 overall. Now, Gibbs’ arrival has helped fuel the expectations — and in the process has Sanders convinced this team can finally change their fortunes.
“It would mean so much, and I think that has to be in the back of this team’s mind, changing that narrative,” Sanders said of Detroit’s postseason aspirations. “We’ve all heard it, we’ve all had to live with it. It’s there. That’s how it is and that remains the reality at this point, but I know that if there’s any team that can change that, then it’s this group and coach Campbell and just sort of how he’s built the last few years and the product they put on the field. So, yeah, I think if there’s any team that’s going to do it, this the right time to do it right now.”