The Detroit Lions are facing a big momentum swinging game against the Houston Texans. Could Zach Zenner be key to their running game getting jump started?
If the NFL didn’t have so many teams that were terrible at running the football, the Detroit Lions might be ranked a lot lower than 24th offensively in that category.
The Lions’ passing game has done most of the work this season to getting this team scoring over 24 points per game, which is above average in the league right now (ranks them 12th). Still, the running game needs a spark, and I think I know where they will find it.
With a healthy Theo Riddick and the depth signing of Justin Forsett, I think the Lions are going to get a spark from Zach Zenner.
Zach Zenner, you say? Didn’t he already get a chance to prove he could carry the load for Detroit?
This is a fair point, but Zenner has carried the ball just 33 times this season and scored his first NFL touchdown at the goal line last weekend. This week, the Lions are going up against the Houston Texans, who nearly gave up 200 yards rushing to the Denver Broncos in a Monday night loss.
The Texans rank 29th in the NFL in run defense, and this week presents the Lions a perfect opportunity to get something going on the ground and try to dominate a game with a balanced offensive attack.
Detroit’s passing game has been very solid this season, as Matthew Stafford has been playing some of the best football of his career. He’s not turning the ball over at a high clip, and as a result, the Lions’ run game woes have been masked through the first seven games of the season.
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The Lions are still going to throw the football plenty, but establishing a solid ground game is going to be key for their offense moving forward and getting it going against a weak run defense in Houston is a high probability.
Jim Bob Cooter has to continue to be patient and get Zenner some carries. Theo Riddick is an effective player in space with the ball in his hands, but he’s not a lead ball carrier. Perhaps Justin Forsett could also become that guy for the Lions, but Zenner is someone who has finally gotten a real taste of the NFL.
It was a rude awakening for a player who rushed for over 2,000 yards in three straight seasons at college, as Zenner has been unable to muster even a 4.0 yard per carry average. As rough as it has been on 33 carries thus far for Zenner, the Lions know they have a talented kid here who just needs repetition.
My advice to Detroit? Keep handing Zenner the rock, and I think this week, good things are going to happen.