A lot of analysts and draftniks wondered why the Detroit Lions traded up in the second round of this year's draft to take running back Kerryon Johnson.
Now they have an answer, and it's clear: Because Johnson's a talented, dual-threat playmaker as a runner and receiver who could be a key part of a plan to upgrade the anemic running game.
That's one of the things we learned in the Lions' 26-10 win over the New England Patriots at Ford Field.
There were flashes in training camp, the preseason and the first two regular season games of what Johnson brings to the Lions' offense. His performance individually, and what the Lions did as a group, provided hard evidence that general manager Bob Quinn and his personnel staff nailed it when they targeted Johnson and made the deal to ensure getting him.
Among the other things we learned from Sunday night's game is that the Lions have balance at wide receiver, that there's something special about sacking quarterback/icon Tom Brady and that statistics on what the Lions' 0-2 start are meaningless based on the current NFC North standings.
We start with Johnson:
After relative baby steps in the first two games – five carries for 17 yards against the Jets, eight for 47 against the 49ers – Johnson took a giant step in Sunday night's win over the Patriots with 16 carries for 101 yards.
Johnson and LeGarrette Blount, who plays a power back role, are legitimate running threats that give the offense the balance that's been lacking most of Matthew Stafford's career.
At 5-11 and 206 pounds, Johnson is more than a scat back speedster. He has surprising power – which shouldn't be a surprise considering that he ran against some of the toughest defenses in the country to lead the SEC in rushing in 2017, his final season at Auburn.
As much as players have downplayed it, Johnson and Blount were fully aware of what it meant for the Lions to break a 70-game streak of not having an individual 100-yard rushing game.
"It was amazing," said Blount. "Obviously, this hasn't happened around here in a long time."
Johnson talked more about what the running game meant to the overall makeup of the offense than he did about himself.
"I think we saw a different offense today and we won," Johnson said. "I think it helped us a lot, opened a lot of our passes. It made life a lot easier for Stafford and our receivers, and the o-line did a fantastic job.
"It takes a lot to get us there. It takes a lot to do that and pass-block, and they did an awesome job."
Barry Sanders' comparison: It's a disservice to compare any young back to the greatest player in franchise history, but one part of Johnson's running style is similar to Sanders'.
Johnson can almost come to a stop, then accelerate to make a defender miss. Again, the word is "similar."
There is no carbon copy of Sanders.
Trade value: The Lions got Johnson by trading with the Patriots to move up from the 51st spot to 43rd in the second round.
To gain those four precious spots, the Lions also gave the Patriots their fourth-round pick, which was No. 117. The Patriots later traded both picks they got in the deal, but that doesn't matter to the Lions.
The bottom line: If you want a player, go for him. And that's what the Lions did to get Johnson.
Run game, what we shouldn't forget: It was a group failure in 2017, not just an individual failure.
The Lions were last in the league in rushing yards per game (76.3), tied for last in yards per attempt (3.4) and they had only two 100-yard rushing games as a team.
By comparison, the Lions are averaging 98.7 yards per game and 4.5 yards per attempt. The 159-yard rushing game against the Patriots was the most for the Lions since they ran for 241 in a win over the Packers on Thanksgiving Day of 2013.
Bagging Brady: Linebacker Eli Harold has gone quarterback hunting the last two weeks. He had one of the six sacks on former 49ers teammate Jimmy Garoppolo last week, and he got both of the sacks on Tom Brady Sunday night.
Sacking Brady is special. Harold said Brady was his quarterback when he played Madden.
"Amazing," Harold said of sacking Brady. "I'm 24. I remember growing up, watching him in elementary school.
"Tom's the greatest quarterback ever."
Receiver roulette: The Lions' receiver corps does not have a preeminent star like Julio Jones or A.J. Green, but the balance they have in the three starters with running back Theo Riddick a threat out of the backfield is among the league's best.
We saw how it was too much for the Patriots to handle, just like it was too much for the 49ers the previous week.
The three-game stats demonstrate the varied threats the Lions' group poses, as follows:
Golden Tate, always near the top of receivers in yards after the catch with 20 catches for 257 yards and a TD.
Kenny Golladay, a deep threat with power to go inside, with 19 catches for 256 yards and two TDs.
Marvin Jones Jr., a long-ball threat who has added yards after the catch to his repertoire, with 12 catches for 177 yards and two TDs.
And Riddick, third on the team with 17 catches for 98 yards.
Add one to keep an eye on: Kerryon Johnson 10 catches for 52 yards.
More to come from him.
0-2 start: No matter what the playoff odds say, it doesn't doom a season, depending on what comes next.
Beating the Patriots to make their won-loss record 1-2 put the Lions back in the NFC North race.
No team has taken command. The Bears are in first place at 2-1. The Packers and Vikings are tied for second at 1-1-1. And the Lions are last at 1-2.
All four teams are in the race. Whether they stay there depends on what comes next.