LIONS INSIDER

Lions are hoping RB Jahvid Best can be an immediate difference maker for their offense

Posted Oct 6, 2012

If Best gets clearance from independent doctors to return to the field in a couple weeks, offensive coordinator Scott Linhean gets back a potentially key component to forcing opposing defenses out of the two-high safety sets the Lions have been seeing all season.

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham told detroitlions.com this week that not having all 11 of his starters on the field together for any game yet this season has been bugging him.

Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan could say the same thing as he has yet to feature running back Jahvid Best this year. The Lions are hopeful Best will be able to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list in a couple weeks for their Week 7 matchup with the Bears on Monday Night. The last time Best played the Bears on Monday night he ran for a career-high 163 yards and scored on an 88-yard touchdown run.

Best hasn’t played in a game since Week 6 last season when he suffered a concussion against the 49ers.

If he does get clearance from independent doctors to return to the field in a couple weeks, Linehan gets back a potentially key component to forcing opposing defenses out of the two-high safety sets the Lions have been seeing all season.

The Lions are hoping he can be an immediate difference maker for their offense, not only as a running back, but also as a receiver.

Imagine Best, with his elite speed, as a receiver matched up one-on-one with a linebacker in the middle of the field with no safety help becausethey’re 30 yards back and on the wide side of the field, which they've been most of the last four weeks.

Imagine Best, with his open-field running ability, as a runner seeing a front seven where it only takes him beating a linebacker to edge or getting past the first level of the defense and then letting his speed take over.

Essentially, the Lions would have more margin for error in the run game with Best’s speed as a factor. He had five “explosive” plays of at least 20 yards in only six games last season, four of which came as a receiver.

"Obviously he's a weapon out of the backfield,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Best. “Whether it's man coverage and or zone coverage or whatever it is, the guy is really good with the ball in his hands and is really good in any man-to-man matchup as well.

"He's definitely a guy who was a chain-mover for us some on third down last year, being able to check it down to him and let him get the first downs."

Unfortunately, it’s not a luxury the Lions have right now.  Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell can do some of those things, but it’s Best’s speed out of the backfield the Lions have been missing the most. It’s a difference maker against some of the defenses they've been seeing.

Best might just be the kind of player the Lions need to force their style of play on opposing defenses, instead of it being the other way around.