The Detroit Lions went out west to take on the Arizona Cardinals with a chance to start the season 2-0. This should have been a great opportunity to get a jump on the season and stay atop the competitive NFC North. Instead, the Lions get to head home with a bad taste in their mouth, and an L in the loss column.
There are plenty of areas the Lions could cast the blame, but the most likely cause for Sunday’s loss was the offense’s inability to sustain a drive in the second half. The Lions had six offensive possessions in the second half, but they led to a fumble, a blocked kick and four punts. With an offense that led by Calvin Johnson, this type of production is simply unacceptable.
Johnson did what he could on Sunday, catching six passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns, but he cannot carry the load on his own, especially when the Cardinals draped Patrick Peterson all over him. Johnson needs help, and last week it looked like that help would come in the form of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell.
Bush was a monster in Week 1, rushing and receiving for nearly 200 yards in his Lions debut, but he was knocked out early against the Cardinals, and without him on the field Detroit became extremely one dimensional.
Bush looked fantastic early, but hit his knee on a helmet at the end of a 26-yard reception in the second quarter. Bush could be seen clutching his knee, but was later cleared to come back into the game.
“I was able to go back in the game, but I wasn’t myself,” Bush said after the game. “I probably shouldn’t have gone back in. But I went back in and tried to give it a shot. Felt like I could still go, but I wasn’t myself.”
Bush will have an MRI on his knee, and the Motor City will be holding its breath waiting to hear the results. Before he left the game, Bush had gained 25 yards on the ground and another 44 through the air. He balances out the offense and gives Mathew Stafford a go-to option when Johnson is being blanketed like he was on Sunday.
The Lions need Bush to stay healthy. He probably should not have gone back into the game. Hopefully his knee proves to be sound, and he is able to get back onto the field next week when the Lions face Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins’ defense has been atrocious so far this season, giving up a staggering 511.5 yards per game so far. They are exactly what the Detroit offense needs to get going, but without Bush on the field, the Lions could end up being the soft team they needed to meet to get things headed in the right direction.
With Bush lined up in the backfield, Stafford has a wide range of options. Defenses are still going to commit to Johnson, but the attention he demands leaves holes for Bush to exploit, and if they target him as well, it opens up lanes for the rest of the Lions’ skill players.
Detroit needs Bush on the field, just like they needed Jahvid Best in 2011. Without the receiving running back that can make plays in the open field, the Lions’ offense becomes one-dimensional, and we already know how that story ends.
Hopefully Bush’s knee is okay and he is able to suit up next weekend. If not, it is going to be a very long season for Lions fans.