12th Man Report: Lions don’t live and die with Reggie


The Lions offense used to be a two-man show.

The Stafford-to-Johnson connection became so customary we started to take the duo — and their success — for granted. This year, they’ve added another act: newly acquired Reggie Bush.

Bush has made all kinds of noise in the football and fantasy football worlds so far this season, but is doubtful this week after injuring his knee in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Though the initial thought was he’d be good to go, it looks less and less likely.

A common response to an injury in the backfield used to be something along the lines of, “Oh, the Lions running back is injured. Didn’t even know they used one of those.”

Not anymore. The offense isn’t just, “Stafford drops back, and Stafford throws deep to Megatron.” Bush gives the Lions a completely different offensive dynamic.

And we got a taste of what a Reggie-less Lions offense looks like last week after his injury; it wasn’t pretty.

Without Bush in the lineup, the Cardinals focused much more energy on Johnson, and the offense sputtered. Unfortunately, Joique Bell doesn’t quite have the same skill set as Bush at tailback. Don’t get me wrong — Bell is a very solid back to pair with Bush, but that’s the case because Reggie does one thing and Bell does the other.

Everyone who’s concerned over the possible absence of Bush this weekend is justified in doing so. The difference in the offense with him versus when he wasn’t in was very noticeable last week. However, I’d like to think the Lions offense is more than “The Reggie Bush” show.

Matt Stafford is a pretty good quarterback. Calvin Johnson; he’s not too shabby either. Last week when the Lions lost the game in the second half, it wasn’t a result of Bush being out. His injury just masked the bigger problems the Lions have.

Passes were dropped, too many stupid penalties were taken, and there was just an overall failure to make a big play late in the game. Bush’s absence didn’t help, but it was a small factor in a big problem.

So this Sunday, don’t worry about Bush’s status — that is unless he’s on your fantasy team. If the Lions are going to win, they’ll do so with Bush or without him. Yeah, he helps the offense. But the team’s success won’t be decided by him in or out of the lineup. It will come from a more disciplined team that shows up when the game is on the line.

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