Scott Linehan says run game paying dividends as the passing game opens up

Posted Sep 24, 2013

The play of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell is trending defenses toward specifically working to stop the Lions' ground game

Don't look now, but the Lions are successfully garnering respect for their running game.

Both head coach Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan mentioned following Detroit's win at Washington that the Redskins played a certain type of run front, which isn't conducive to running the football.

"This last game, (it was) tough duty to run the ball," said Linehan.

"We were able to crease some of those looks with some runs and it was not just great blocking and great running, but those guys playing hard, playing together and playing with great effort. That is how you overcome a not-so-perfect look."

The Lions signed running back Reggie Bush this offseason with the hopes of pulling in defenders and opening things up for wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the receiving game.

Week 1 was a runner's dream. Bush notched 90 yards on the ground and 101 yards via the quick-passing attack. Joique Bell added 25 rushing yards and 67 receiving.

That totaled 283 yards from Lions' backs.

"We had a lot of good boxes to run and I think we proved to people that we're willing and able to run it," said Linehan. "Since then there's been a respect factor not just for Reggie, but for Joique running the ball."

That respect factor had to grow following this week's win at Washington when Bell successfully led the run game with Bush inactive.

Against boxes not ideal to run the ball, Bell finished with 132 all-purpose yards and one touchdown, with 87 of those yards setting the tone in the first half.

"The passing game opened up a little more," said Linehan. "So hopefully we can keep that going."

Linehan also commented on the loss of Nate Burleson and how the Lions will adjust:

On learning of Nate Burleson's car accident: "Well, first thing I thought was, ‘is he okay?' and said a prayer. I found out he was, so we were all very relieved about that and certainly thinking about him. It wasn't anything life threatening, which was great news. I know Nate's really down, but he's got to know that we're all supporting him and know he'll back as soon as he can."

On if – in light of losing a key contributor -- it was encouraging to see good performances from so many players in last week's win: "Yeah, that was the key to our win, I think, was the contributions we got from Joique Bell, from Nate Burleson; big catch from Kris Durham in the fourth quarter. That type of thing has to happen week-in and week-out for us because we're going to get those good games from Matthew and Calvin and -- with Reggie back in there -- we expect to have some pretty good production.

"But when people are game-planning and saying, ‘Hey, we're going to make you go other places' and Matt has the confidence to do that and to be able to do that, hopefully, week-in and week-out, that's going to bode well for us."