The Detroit Lions rush attack is among the worst in the NFL. At 78.3 yards per game, only Arizona and Cincinnati have worse ground games than the Lions.
It is a disturbing trend under head coach Jim Caldwell. As you already know, it has been more than four years since a Lions’ running back rushed for 100 yards or more, and that streak doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon. Each year under Caldwell’s leadership, the team’s rushing average has declined: 88.9 per game in 2014, 83.4 in 2015, and 81.9 last season. Detroit has never finished better than 28th in the NFL in that stat in the Caldwell era.
If this team, which sits at 6-5 on the season after the Thanksgiving loss to the Vikings, is going to make a push toward the playoffs, the run game is an area that must improve. Bob Quinn should be looking for anything he can do to make that happen, and a possible improvement may become available from an unlikely source: the Dallas Cowboys.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Dallas and running back Darren McFadden will part ways on Monday:
Sources: Based on mutual discussions, the #Cowboys are going to waive veteran RB Darren McFadden. A possible addition for a playoff team
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 26, 2017
It seems like odd timing since the Cowboys are in the middle of Ezekiel Elliott’s 6-game suspension, but apparently, McFadden is not happy with his role in the offense. You can see why, since McFadden has just one carry this season despite Elliot being out. I’d be upset too.
However, McFadden has been a 1000-yard rusher twice in his career, the most recent just two seasons ago before the Cowboys drafted Elliott. McFadden also averaged 4.6 yards per carry that season.
The downsize on McFadden is that he is 30 years old, the age at which most running backs have a big drop-off. Three things still make it a good chance for the Lions to take:
- McFadden has not taken a beating for two seasons. In addition to basically not playing this year, last season he only carried the ball 24 times. He is certainly rested and not as beat up as others his age.
- McFadden is going to be very motivated to prove the Cowboys wrong and that his career is far from over.
- The Lions suck at running the ball (see above). Even if you get McFadden at 80%, it will be an improvement.
The question isn’t “Should the Lions consider signing Darren McFadden?” The question has to be “Why NOT sign Darren McFadden?” Honestly, what could it hurt? Even if McFadden isn’t the player he used to be, maybe his presence will light a fire under Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick to step up their game. Nothing motivates a player like someone trying to take their job. I see no downside to this potential signing.
Of course, McFadden would have to agree to a deal, and he will likely get offers from other potential playoff teams. If Quinn is serious about winning now, he will make McFadden an offer for this season so big that the others pale in comparison. After taking a chance by claiming Dwight Freeney off waivers, this is another move Quinn can make to let the fan base know he is doing everything he can to improve the team.