Martin Mayhew admitted he had made a mistake. And it was a big one.
Shortly after the 2012 season, the Detroit Lions’ general manager at the time said he had mistakenly counted on running back Jahvid Best to return from a concussion he suffered the previous season.
Best didn’t play a down in 2012. The Lions were 23rd in rushing that season, the offense suffered and the team finished 4-12 — a big step back from the 10-6 record and a playoff appearance a year earlier.
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Concussions were a murky issue at the time, but it was inexcusable for the person in charge of personnel to ignore a major personnel uncertainty.
That’s why the Lions deserve credit for signing Adrian Peterson. The move was bold and brilliant, a testament to the urgency and dedication general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia have to win now.
Same Old Lions? Hardly.
The fact is there were a lot of questions about the Lions’ run game before they signed Peterson. The jury is out on Kerryon Johnson’s knees. Rookie D’Andre Swift could be behind the learning curve while missing time in training camp with an injury. Last year’s late-season savior, Bo Scarbrough, also missed time with injuries and was placed on injured reserve to make room for Peterson.
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Adding Peterson answers a lot of those questions. The future Hall of Famer is 35 and isn’t the dominant force he was five years ago. But he’s a potent and durable player who ran for 1,940 yards and 12 touchdowns combined the past two seasons in Washington.
“We always make sure (we) do our due diligence there and took a look at it, talked about our situation and decided it would be something that we want to pursue,” Patricia said Monday. “We had good contact, communication, and from there just kind of worked out where (we’re) fortunate to bring him on board. It’s early. I have a lot of respect for Adrian Peterson. I’ve played against him for a long time. He’s just a phenomenal player.”
A player like Peterson, a highly respected veteran nearing the end of his career, doesn’t sign with a team unless he’s confident he will get a good amount of playing time. A lot of factors will go into how much Peterson carries the ball. What’s the real health status for Johnson and Swift? Do the Lions want to stick to a committee approach regardless of who’s healthy?
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It’s hard to say. Patricia wasn’t giving anything away on Monday and suggested we keep our eyes on Wednesday’s first injury report.
But he said something else, too. He said something I hope is true. He said he was interested in acquiring Peterson on his own merits, regardless of who else the Lions had on their roster.
“I think with Adrian Peterson, it was kind of independent of everything else that was going on,” Patricia said. “Just having an opportunity, just to talk to him on the phone was great as we pushed and figured out it would be something that we’d want to pursue and there was mutual interest. It’s kind of an independent situation.”
Who knows how much tread Peterson has left? Who knows how healthy the other running backs are?
But we do know this: Quinn and Patricia aren’t waiting and hoping for the best. It took Mayhew a year to figure out he couldn’t wait for Best to be cleared to play. It took him a year to realize he had to sign a still-effective veteran like Reggie Bush.
If nothing else, we know if the Lions’ run game doesn’t work out this year, it won’t be because Quinn and Patricia failed to do as much as they could to improve it. It won’t be because they continued to do business the same old way.
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