Theo Riddick or Reggie Bush? Who Should the Detroit Lions Utilize?


Detroit Lions second year running back Theo Riddick has truly began to come into his own in 2014. At his alma mater, Notre Dame, Riddick was utilized some as a wide receiver, which has carried over into his professional career.

In my opinion, when the Detroit Lions offense has been at its best this season it has been when offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has used some shorter routes mixed in with some deep shots to his wide receivers and some dump off passes or screens to his running backs out of the backfield. The best evidence of this came on Thanksgiving when the Lions defeated the Chicago Bears in Detroit.

Riddick’s receiving skills combined with his ability to make quick, open field moves makes him a miss-match for most linebackers in the NFL, something that many expected to be pivotal to a Lions victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 14.

The Lions came out of Sunday’s matchup victorious, however Theo Riddick never touched the football on offense.

Why is that you’re probably wondering?

"“It’s just one of those things,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you get into the flow of the game, you’ve got so many guys running in-and-out of there. George (Winn) played some, Reggie (Bush) played a little bit more, it kind of takes that ball out of Riddick’s hands a little bit.”"

Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It’s great that Detroit managed to win the game, and it’s also great that fellow running back Joique Bell managed to break his best run of the season, a 57-yarder. Yet, it is still disappointing that Detroit couldn’t find room for Riddick in the game plan.

One of the obvious reasons that first come to mind when trying to diagnose the Lions lack of Riddick on Sunday is the return of Reggie Bush.

Bush has battled ankle injuries throughout 2014, but returned as the Detroit Lions starter against Tampa Bay. During Bush’s absence, Riddick seen 16, 25, and 24 offensive plays. Furthermore, Riddick has not seen more than seven snaps in a game when Bush has been active.

On Sunday, Bush played 22 of a total 69 offensive snaps. He had eight carries for 26 yards and four catches for eight yards. Bell seen 44 snaps, George Winn somehow managed to see five reps, and even fullback Jed Collins seen an increased work load. His 27 snaps were the most action he has seen since week four.

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Some consider Bush a better runner at this point, (I’m not so sure) as Riddick is averaging 2.5 yards per carry and has a career long run of just nine yards. I think those numbers would improve dramatically if given the opportunity.

The Lions seem to have found a clear No. 1 back in Bell following Sunday’s win, and an offensive line that is at its healthiest point since the beginning of the year, should certainly continue to help the running game improve when the team could use it most. But you have to really ask yourself; should the Detroit Lions continue to negate Riddick in favor of an injury prone, perhaps over-the-hill, Reggie Bush?

Theo Riddick seemed to play a key role in helping the offense click vs. Chicago, and is definitely the better receiver of the two at this point. He had established a role throughout most of the season, showing his ability to run routes and make decisive cuts, and the Lions had better find a way to get him the ball more as the post season approaches.

Below is a breakdown of the offensive snaps played vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 14, via Justin Rogers of MLive:

NamePositionOffense%Defense%Special Teams%
Rob SimsG69100%723%
Matthew StaffordQB69100%
Dominic RaiolaC69100%
Riley ReiffT69100%
Larry WarfordG6899%723%
LaAdrian WaddleT6696%723%
Calvin JohnsonWR5580%
Golden TateWR5377%
Joique BellRB4464%
Eric EbronTE4261%517%
Jeremy RossWR3449%1033%
Brandon PettigrewTE3449%620%
Jed CollinsFB2739%1033%
Reggie BushRB2232%
Corey FullerWR1420%723%
Joseph FauriaTE1217%13%
George WinnRB57%1757%
Travis SwansonC46%723%
Cornelius LucasT34%723%
Rashean MathisCB64100%310%
DeAndre LevyLB64100%310%
Glover QuinFS64100%310%
James IhedigboSS64100%
Darius SlayCB64100%
Cassius VaughnCB5281%723%
Ndamukong SuhDT5281%310%
Ezekiel AnsahDE4773%
Tahir WhiteheadLB4469%827%
Jason JonesDE4062%310%
George JohnsonDE3250%310%
C.J. MosleyDT3148%1033%
Josh BynesLB2031%2067%
Darryl TappDE1930%723%
Devin TaylorDE1828%620%
Andre FluellenDT1727%310%
Ashlee PalmerLB914%2067%
Kyle Van NoyLB35%2067%
Isa Abdul-QuddusSS2377%
Don CareyFS2377%
Julian StanfordLB2067%
Sam MartinP1757%
Mohammed SeisayCB1343%
Don MuhlbachLS1033%
Matt PraterK723%
Theo RiddickRB723%

Be sure to scroll down and let us know which running back you prefer the Detroit Lions to utilize as the post season approaches!

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