After the Miami Dolphins made big moves on day 1 of free agency by signing Mike Wallace and Dannell Ellerbe, the Detroit Lions were the clear winners of day 2. Ironically, the biggest signing of the day for the Lions was running back Reggie Bush, who left those same Dolphins to sign a 4 year $16 million dollar contract. Also added to the fold were former Texans safety Glover Quin and former Seahawks defensive linemen Jason Jones in addition to the team retaining the services of cornerback Chris Houston.
These are all winning moves for a Detroit team that took significant steps backwards in 2012 after a a playoff berth in 2011. First off, Detroit’s defense was a mess in 2012 giving up 27 points per game. However, Chris Houston was one of the lone bright spots as he is a good cover corner who does not give up many big plays. Since joining Detroit in 2010, Houston has averaged 12 passes defended per year, with his high coming in 2011 when he had 14 in addition to his 5 interceptions. Detroit also helped out its number 1 corner by signing Glover Quin from the Texans.
Quin comes to the Lions looking to help stabilize a pass defense that was routinely beaten for big plays in 2012. Since coming into the league in 2009, Quin has also averaged 12 passes defended per year. He has a knack for being around the ball at all times, evident by his 84 tackles last season. With the addition of Quin and the resigning of Houston, look for Detroit’s pass defense to be a lot more stout than it was a year ago.
Jason Jones is a versatile defensive linemen who can lineup inside or outside at tackle or end and will contribute to a rotation that includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly. Primarily though, Jones will have to try to replace the production of Cliff Avril who bolted Detroit for Seattle, which was the only negative among many positives on day 2 of free agency.
This brings me back to Reggie Bush. After it became clear that Jahvid Best could not be counted on as a reliable back in the NFL the Lions were seeking a runner who could fill that versatile role that they envisioned Best in. Bush fits that bill perfectly. In his 7 years in the league, Bush has 372 receptions for 2,730 yards. He is a legitimate threat to take a check down pass and turn it into a 20+ yard gain. Over the past 2 seasons in Miami, Bush proved he could be an every down back as he had over 200 rushing attempts in each of those seasons. In New Orleans the most carries he ever attempted was 157 back in 2007. Another factor that leads Detroit to believe that Bush can be a lead back is that in Miami Bush missed 1 game out of 32, whereas in 5 seasons with the Saints he missed 20. Perhaps becoming acclimated to the rigors of being an every down back has toughened Bush to the point where he has gotten rid of the injury prone label.
They may not be done making moves yet, but what the Lions did on day 2 of free agency will go a long way to improve the team relative to last season. Perhaps a return to the playoffs is on the horizon.
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