The Detroit Lions’ running backs struggled once again this year. This was due to poor schemes and even worse blocking up front.
Five Detroit running backs accounted for just 1,073 yards on 325 carries. That’s an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Detroit finished tied with the Arizona Cardinals for last in the NFL in yards per carry.
It’s likely the Lions will be adding a new running back through the draft and/or free agency. General manager Bob Quinn and his renovated coaching staff will need to evaluate who will be worthy of being a part of the 2018-2019 roster before that happens.
Here’s how the running backs performed this past season.
A lot was expected out of Abdullah coming into the season. He never managed to live up to the expectations, however.
Abdullah carried the ball 165 times for 552 yards. That comes out to just 3.3 yards per carry. That is the lowest in his career.
Abdullah posted less than three yards per carry in six games this season. It doesn’t matter how bad an offensive line is. That’s just inexcusable for a starting running back in the NFL.
There were times that Abdullah looked timid and frustrated throughout the season despite the struggles with the offensive line. It resulted in him being benched during the season and receiving a lesser role in the offense.
Pro Football Focus gave Abdullah a grade of 42.1, ranking him 61st among all running backs in the NFL.
It’s almost certain that Abdullah will be demoted from the starting running back position next season.
Riddick didn’t fare much better for the Lions on the ground. He averaged 3.4 yards a carry and had 286 yards rushing.
Riddick was tied for third on the team in catches with tight end Eric Ebron (53). He had 71 targets on the season, being fourth on the team in that category.
Riddick may not be the best ball carrier on the team, but his pass catching ability makes him much more versatile than the other running backs.
Overall, it was a step back for Riddick. He didn’t have career highs in any statistical category. His versatility puts him above Abdullah.
Green was a breath of fresh air to the Lions’ struggling ground attack. The undrafted rookie from the University of Cincinnati played well, when he was given the opportunity. There were times where he looked like a rookie in the NFL as well.
In five games, Green carried the ball 42 times for 165 yards with two touchdowns. He had the highest average of yards per carry on the team (3.9).
Green proved himself this season and ultimately received a bigger workload than Abdullah down the stretch. It would be nice to see someone like Green getting carries for Detroit in short yardage and goal line scenarios next season.
The rest of the group
Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington both never reached more than 20 carries this season. This was largely due to the emergence of Green.
Neither one of them were productive when featured in the offense. Washington averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. Zenner averaged 1.9 yards per carry.
Zenner likely won’t be re-signed next season if Detroit adds another running back from the draft or free agency. Washington will have to prove himself through special teams work to make the roster next season if that’s the case.
With such limited playing time, it’s difficult to give out a grade for these two.
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- The state of the Detroit Lions’ offense - October 31, 2017
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- Detroit Lions’ offensive line position preview - August 28, 2017
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