Well, we can say this about the Lions run game this season — they are giving it a go.
The Lions have run the ball 78 times in the first three games averaging 3.7 yards per carry. That compares to 64 rushing attempts for their opponents averaging 4.0 yards per carry.
Ameer Abdullah leads with 163 rushing yards (3.5 yards per carry, while Matthew Stafford is second with 56 (8.0 yards per carry). Theo Riddick has just 10 carries for 19 yards.
Certainly there are positive signs.
“We’re optimistic but we would like to see more results. We would like to see better production in the run game, carry after carry after carry. As an overall offense, that’s on all of us. That’s on me. That’s on the players. That’s on everybody,’’ offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “For us to really get where we need to be as a team, that things got to be better on a carry-by-carry basis and not kind of up and down like it has been.”
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Coach Jim Caldwell is optimistic about the run game which has been a concern since he landed in Detroit, in part due to injuries.
“We’re not going to be a 150, 200-yard rushing team. That’s not how we’re built. We want to just have a good, respectable running game, make teams honor it where they don’t just discount it,’’ Caldwell said. “I think that’s the way in which we’d like to approach this thing. And I think we’re working to get to that point.”
On Sunday the Lions’ defense will face one of the best rookie running backs in Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook. He is averaging 96 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.
— Golden Tate isn’t the tallest or speediest NFL wide receiver but he routinely gets the job done. Matthew Stafford calls him “a gamer.” It’s hard to disagree.
Certainly Cooter appreciates Tate.
“He makes plays. Makes plays. It’s not always picture perfect. It’s not always exactly the way it’s drawn on the sheet of paper or the way maybe you thought it might go,’’ Cooter said. “Sometimes, he kind of gets into some funny body positions but he tends to catch the ball and he tends to make plays once he has it in his hands. And we plan on getting it to him quite a bit this year.”
— The Lions are over the call that decided Sunday’s game — the 10-second runoff. Perhaps it took longer for some (Tate) than others, but they’ve been focusing on the Vikings since Tuesday.
“I think anytime just in terms of competitive individuals that when things don’t go their way the week before, you would think that they would certainly be eager to get back out there and prove that they can get back on a winning track again,’’ Caldwell said. “I think that’s a normal process, and does not have to do with whatever the situation is.’’
Caldwell says the best teams have the same demeanor on Mondays after a win or loss. That’s been his goal to get these Lions to think like that. He has changed their attitude in his three-plus years as coach.
This goes for wins or losses.
“If they won the game, they know that one is behind us. There’s nothing they can do about it. And they can rest on their laurels. You can’t get caught up in flattery when you do do well. Flattery is much like flowers, you can smell them but you can’t eat them,’’ Caldwell said.
— Caldwell’s quote of the week came from St. Augustine: “A lot of truth is like a lion, you don’t have to defend it, let it loose and it will defend itself.”