I spent the first half of the 2012 NFL season covering the Lions for Bleacher Report. During that time, I watched a team that just one season earlier looked like it was on the verge of great things collapse in the midst of off-field distractions and on-field shortcomings.
Perhaps the greatest of those shortcomings was the uncertainty at the running back position. It took a while for Mikel Leshoure to find his rhythm after serving a suspension for off-field transgressions (one of which comically involved him eating a bag of marijuana). Once he settled in, however, Leshoure provided the Lions with a power running game, something Detroit hadn’t had in a while.
In the end, it would not be enough. The Lions went from a playoff team in 2011 to divisional cellar-dwellers in 2012. It didn’t matter what they did — it always just seemed like they were missing something.
That something may have been found this offseason with the acquisition of Reggie Bush. Bush’s presence is expected to make Detroit’s offense as dynamic as the one in 2011 that was the catalyst for the Lions’ trip to the playoffs. He’ll no doubt share time and carries with Leshoure while playing the same role that Jahvid Best played two years ago.
The extra wrinkle Bush provides could well be the spark needed to shoot the Lions back toward the top of the division. The Packers will likely be the favorite one again to win the division, but in all actuality, the NFC North will be wide open.
Minnesota traded away its second best player and one of its young quarterback’s safety nets in Percy Harvin, while the Bears are installing a new offense while going through a coaching turnover.
With a dynamic collection of skill players including Calvin Johnson, Bush, Leshoure, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burelson, Ryan Broyles and Mike Thomas, Detroit’s gun-slinging quarterback Matthew Stafford will have ample weapons at his disposal to light up scoreboards around the league.
Don’t look now, America, but the Greatest Show on Turf is Back. It will be playing all autumn long and quite possibly well into January this upcoming season in the Motor City.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON MARCH 16, 2013