The Detroit Lions are 3-1. They are 2-0 in the division and since they currently hold a tie breaker over the Chicago Bears we can effectively say they are in first place in the NFC North. Since we know a football team is more than the sum of its parts let us take a moment to look at those parts individually.
We turn our attention to the Running Backs, and we already talked about their importance to the passing attack. For today we focus in on what they can do running the ball. Getting tough yards on the ground and helping the offense extend drives. Taking some of the heat of the receivers or exposing big holes when a defense pays to much attention to Calvin Johnson.
As a team the Lions have gained 383 yards on the ground on 107 attempts. They are averaging 3.6 yards per rush and have found the end zone five times running. Those are not numbers that will set the world on fire but are good enough for the Lions to be a more balanced offense and for defenses to pay the running game a lot of attention.
The simple fact here is we have not had a RB in this town since Barry Sanders retired that has the big play ability of Reggie Bush. Add to that the likeability and skill of Joique Bell and we see a team all of a sudden with a very explosive, dynamic backfield. They have a pair of RB's that can do a lot of things. They create mismatch problems all over the field.
The only real negative here is the fact that Mikel Leshoure has not had a single carry this season. The Lion still traded up to draft him, and invested a lot of their draft resources in him and he is basically done in Detroit.
Again, this is still a pass first team, but they needed a respectable running game to keep opposing defense honest. They certainly have that and a ton of big play ability in Bush. His long rush of the year is 37 yards, but he averages 85 yards on the ground in addition to what he brings to he passing attack. Overall the Lions running game has to be given an A grade for their work in 2013.