Lions: Bell on fast(er) track to replace Bush?

| 2 years ago

Lions: Bell on fast(er) track to replace Bush?


PFF-headlinesIt’s no secret that Reggie Bush has never quite lived up to the hype he created coming out of college. While sometimes an exciting runner, he’s never been considered among the best in the league. Now it seems he might not even be the best on his team.

Undrafted running back Joique Bell has been giving Bush a run for his money, not just last year but early on this season as well. While Bush received a lion’s share of the carries for Detroit in 2013 (223 to Bell’s 166), Bush was only on the field for 63 more snaps than Bell. So far this season Bell has played 77 snaps to the 62 snaps played by Bush.

While the Lions continue to publicly state that Bush is their starter, it’s easy to understand why they might be looking at Bell as both their present and future. Last season Bell graded out at an overall +12.5, while Bush only managed a +0.4 grade. In the passing game, Bell had a higher grade, more yards per route run and less drops. In what is supposed to be Bush’s strong suit, he was outshone by Bell. In fact, runs of over 15 yards was the only thing that Bush was significantly better at than Bell.

The Lions seem to have noticed and are giving Bell more and more opportunities early on this season. He’s had 10 more carries and has been targeted 3 more times than Bush has. While the Lions run game hasn’t exactly been a threat, it speaks volumes that Bell has been the go-to running back so far this season. While it’s only been two games, look to see if the Lions continue to give Bell the starter’s share of the snaps this week and for the rest of the season.

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

  • Steve Blank

    nah…he will be injured very soon and Bush will resume his role as the unquestioned number one

    • Dohkay

      Think you have them confused. Bush is the one who gets injured.

      • Kent Lee Platte

        They were both injured last season. Bush with a knee, Bell with knee and shoulder. Bell and Bush have both been dinged up already this season as Bush sat out some practices this past week with knee soreness and Bell missed most of camp due to lingering issues from last season’s injuries.

        • Dohkay

          Both were dinged but only one (Bush) missed games. I have more faith in Bell suiting up for 16 games than I do for Bush.

          • Kent Lee Platte

            I wouldn’t trust either. Both nearly 30 and have recurring injuries. Only a matter of time.

          • Dohkay

            One has 400 touches. The other has 1,600 touches. One has missed 0 games in his 3 seasons. The other has missed 23 games in his 9 seasons (only 2 seasons playing all 16). I get that you’re not a fan of Bell but please don’t act like they are on par in terms of injury risk or ability to play every game.

          • Kent Lee Platte

            I’m not putting them on the same plane, Bush is obviously a bigger risk. But they are both risks. Just because Bush is a bigger risk of injury doesn’t mean I am going to ignore Bell’s to the same.

  • Dohkay

    I’m not so sure it’s indicative of anything. Against the Giants they had a big lead and kept Bush out much of the second half which I assume had more to do with preventing an unnecessary injury more than anything. Against the Panthers he racked up a lot of catches in garbage time.

    He also has two fumbles this year which hopefully won’t continue but could see him take a back seat to Bush (who admittedly had issues last season). I think Bush is the clear number 1 and by clear I mean he’ll get 55% of the snaps to Bell’s 45%.

  • BiggiesHouse

    Joique Bell is one of my favorite Lions. He is a local kid who played his college ball at Wayne State (just a couple miles from Ford Field). He is a Lions fan first and a Joique Bell fan last.

    Reggie Bush is all about Reggie Bush. The dude could not say “no comment” to save his life and is always uttering the dumbest things (see his comments about harsh discipline and his 1-year-old daughter).

    Now stop with the fumbling, Bell. Just stop.

  • Kent Lee Platte

    Bell has the 2nd most fumbles of any Lion RB since Barry Sanders retired (Kevin Jones is #1). He’s a fan favorite, but he started off rough in 2013 and looks like an even worse start this season. He doesn’t play 4 quarters of consistent football, never has, and won’t be a true #1 until he can.

    As part of a rotation, both backs are at their best. Trying to pit one against the other as better at the expense of the other is silly. Take one of them out and they both suffer significantly.

    • Dohkay

      I don’t think they’re advising that in this article. It seems pretty clear to me that Bell should be the between the tackles RB while Reggie comes in on third downs or obvious passing situations. It also makes sense long-term as Reggie only has a few years left while Bell is just entering his prime.

      • Kent Lee Platte

        Bell is only a year younger. While he has significantly less wear, he’s a more physical runner than Bush and those don’t have long shelf lives.

        • Dohkay

          Fair enough. Long-term I’d still rather have Bell given Reggie’s already long injury history. Nevertheless, I like having them both in the backfield and the Lions should utilize both in specific situations.

          • Kent Lee Platte

            I don’t mean to sound like I’m dogging on Bell, love the guy. He’s just vastly overrated by most fans and PFF tends to perpetuate that. If I’m not mistaken, he had the same PFF grade for the Panthers game (-0.7) as Bush despite a fumble, drop, and sub 4YPC.

            Bell is a good runner, but he is what he is. He’s a RBBC guy. There’s no shame in that, but in terms of “Long Term Option” at RB the Lions are going to have to draft someone. Bush nearing the end, Bell rotational, still waiting on Riddick. Need a difference maker and none of the Lions RBs are that guy, at least for 4 quarters, 16 games.

          • Dohkay

            I don’t disagree with you. I would never trust Bell to carry the ball 25 times a game. He’s a good runner but he’s basically a better Trent Richardson. He’ll break tackles but I don’t see him ever averaging more than 4-4.5 ypc at best. They need a speed back which Reggie fulfills and hopefully Riddick makes that jump in the next year or two. If not I agree they need to get someone else.

          • Kent Lee Platte

            There’s a pretty strong chance that Winn takes over much of Bell’s duties this coming season, sooner if Bell gets injured. Essentially the same backs. Speed is a bigger concern, since we don’t really have anybody. Riddick is faster than his timed 40 suggests (Pulled a hammy during the run), but he’s still not a burner. Lions didn’t really plan that well for if their backs couldn’t replicate 2013.

          • Dohkay

            They signed him to a 3 year deal worth $9M so unless they suddenly change their mind on him I don’t think he’ll be benched for Winn anytime soon.

          • Kent Lee Platte

            Don’t mean to imply he’ll be benched any time soon. Unless Bell falls off a very steep cliff, he’ll still have a job. If Winn comes in 2015 and performs at or near Bell’s play, he’ll cut into time.

            As to his contract, it’s pretty team friendly after 2014. Much like how they structured Pettigrew’s so that it seems bigger than it is, the bigger guarantees are frontloaded. They did the same with Delmas’ contract and cut him in year two. Bush’s contract, similarly, is structured for the same relieve in 2015 or 2016 to protect against the player falling off production wise.

  • Kent Lee Platte

    How does PFF account for stat padding? For instance, 5 of Bell’s 6 catches against the Panthers were on the last drive of the game and meant nothing. His yards per route run I’m assuming will go way up based on those catches, but they’re practically meaningless since the game was well out of hand.