Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Aug 2011

Lions' Mikel Leshoure Out For The Season

Detroit running back Mikel LeShoure, their second-round pick in last April's draft, has been lost for the year with a torn Achilles tendon. Thus far, most of the offseason concerns about overweight players post-lockout have been unsubstantiated. What we apparently should have been worried about? Achilles injuries.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 08 Aug 2011

40 comments, Last at 10 Aug 2011, 4:39pm by RickD


by DetroitCity (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 2:51pm

Wow, first Fairley's injury (though not a season-ender), then Jeff Backus, then Jason Fox, and now Leshoure's. Ouch. Can this team really improve that much for next year? I know it's a weak division, aside from the Pack, but it just seems like too many injuries too soon.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:00pm

Again with the under-estimating of the Bears. Learn your lesson, folks - as long as Cutler and Peppers are healthy, that Bears team can hang with the Packers (i.e. any team in the NFL)...

by JasonK :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:09pm

I'd say that they match up better with the Packers than they've shown in their other games. Middle-of-the-pack, DVOA-wise.

by Marko :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 4:59pm

Last time I checked, DVOA isn't used to determine a team's W-L record and has no effect on playoff tiebreakers. So who cares if you don't want to crown their ass based on their DVOA?

by jebmak :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 7:20pm

DVOA having a better predictive value looking forward to this season than their win/loss record last season might be one reason to care...

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 6:17pm

Their weighted DVOA puts them at 11th, which is solid, and I think even that slightly underrates them.

On the other hand, they were extremely fortunate with injuries last year. So it may be hard to reproduce their best from last year.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the Bears this year. If they can get some young players to improve or start playing well (mostly on the line and the secondary) they could get really good.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:18pm

This post needs 13 more "z"s.

by MCS :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:11pm

Weak Division? How short the human memory can be.

The NFC North had two teams in the NFC championship. They must be doing something right.

If the Lions were healthy, I'd say 3/4 teams could play with anybody in the NFL.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:21pm

I don't know about that, but while Stafford is there, we might never find out

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:26pm

Detroit? Really? Why? The Lions were 6-10 last year. They have an injury-prone starting QB who has never shown anything beyond "potential." On their D-line, their supposed strength, they have a good DT (who might turn out to be great), a mediocre-to-bad DT, an aging DE and an injured rookie. Their sack rate was 6th, which is fine, but hardly word-beating, when you consider GB ranked above them and no one would consider GB's pass-rush their #1 strength as a team. Their defense on the whole was bad. Their offense was below average at best.

They're not awful anymore, whoopie. But they're clearly primed to take the title from last year's 49er's squad as "pre-season sleeper that flops painfully." If they make it to 8-8 or 9-7 that's awesome, that's a real exciting improvement for their fans. But that's not "play with anybody in the NFL" level good.

by lionsbob :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:48pm

Man who does Cliff Avril have to blow to get some sort of recognition. They also have Lawrence Jackson (who put up 6 sacks despite being traded for during the preseason), Sammie Lee Hill (young DT who has shown to be quite good)...

Apparently since: that Bears team can hang with the Packers (i.e. any team in the NFL)...

I am not going to speak of the Lions, but they lost the 1st game against the Bears on a controversial TD reversal (right call or not...) and then lost the 2nd game to the Bears with the 3rd string QB starting by 4 points.

The Lions also lost to the Packers by 2 points and then beat them 7-3 (with Drew Stanton again as the starting QB).

Are the Lions a complete team yet-not quite. A lot hinges on the health of their QB. But they fixed issues they had on defense (crappy LBers, secondary depth) and should be a much improved team-and considered they underachieved last season that is something to look forward to.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 4:11pm

Cliff Avril is fine, I guess. Put him on the 49er's or the Panthers and he's 100% a nobody, blow-jobs or not.

But it looks like we're all on the same page. If the Lions go 9-7, I won't be shocked. But let's not pencil them in for the NFC Champsionship game yet alongside the Packers or Bears, who it wouldn't be crazy to see going back there.

Anyway,I brought up last year's 49er's team not only because they were a trendy pre-season pick, but because you just can't really get behind a team with a highly suspect offense unless their defense is really something amazing. And the Lions defense is not. They're probably not even on the level of last year's 49er's defense, which was hardly a world-beater.

I know when you watch horrible football teams for over a decade, it's easy to get excited about a .500 team, but that's really what we're looking at here...

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 4:38pm

I think this sounds like battling overreactions. The Lions' offense actually finished better than below-average last year ... they had a positive DVOA despite the QB carousel and were 15th in weighted offense. The improvement from first half to second half was noticeable. While the OL isn't exactly a strength, Detroit has quality players everywhere except QB, and Linehan's been able to get results despite Stafford's injury problems.

I don't think it's reasonable to dismiss the Lions' adjusted sack rate by pointing out Green Bay's better rate and then using an opinion of the Packers' DL to diminish both. Detroit boosted their ASR 75% from 2009 to 2010; credit should be given where it's due. I can understand people not wanting to consider Avril a quality DE, but he was productive even when KVB was out near the end of the season. I think he fits the Lions' scheme well, and Schwartz must think so as well, given that they signed him to a tender and are still discussing a long-term deal.

It may be a bit much to suggest that they can play with anyone, but this is the same team that finished on a four-game winning streak, posting DVOAs of 49.4, 38.7, 33.8, and 21.4%, two of those coming against teams in the playoff hunt while the Lions were playing their #3 QB. There's no guarantee that the Lions can carry any momentum from that into this season, but I think optimism makes a little more sense than pessimism in this case.

by lionsbob :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:18pm

Avril is fine? He played in only 13 games last season and still would have led the Bears in sacks, he would have been tied with Justin Smith on the 49ers (who played in 16 games). He had 3 less sacks in 3 games then Charles Johnson. I don't get it. I am not saying Avril is a stud DE, but he is far from a nobody.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:53pm

His year to year sack stats very closely resemble juqua parker and his advanced stats are nowhere as good against the run. Again, Avril is fine, but he's only something more than a nobody if parker is something more than a nobody... he's a perfectly fine #2DE, I guess, if his 2010 production holds up... (and doesn't drop back down to 5 or 6 sacks...)

by lionsbob :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 6:25pm

Yes Parker at the age of 29-31 seasons I guess they are equals. Avril just turned 25. Eh, I will take that nobody.

by MCS :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 3:52pm

I'm not sure how I became a Lions defender as I'm from Green Bay and am vaguely indifferent to the Lions, but here we are.

The Lions finished 6-10. P-F-R has them at 7.8-8.2 projected wins. Did they overperform or did they catch some bad breaks? Hard to tell really.

What we know is this. 19 of 32 teams finished with nine wins or less in 2010. 22/32 teams in both 2009 and 2008. 21 in 2007 and a whopping 24/32 teams in 2006.

Maybe "play with anybody in the league" was a bit of hyperbole, but, if they play to their potential and catch a couple of breaks (stay healthy), I believe they can be competitive.

The largest part of that comment is, "if they play to their potential" You could say that about most teams in the NFL. Any given sunday and all that...

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 4:12pm

"Play to their potential and catch a couple breaks..." We can agree, right, not to say that about this year's Raiders team?

by dryheat :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 8:43am

I'm just happily surprised that I live in a world where the Lions have generated so much debate.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 4:44pm

The niners aren't going to give up that title without a fight, I still see article about how they're the most talented side in the NFC West despite the fact that the coaching staff has had no time to install new schemes on both sides of the ball. I think it's likely to be another very frustrating season for 49ers fans.

As for Detroit, they're going to get caught in the same mess as everyone else when the two toughest divisions in the NFC go head to head.

by chemical burn :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:55pm

Yeah, but isn't "Most Talented in the NFC West" a lot like being the tallest midget in the world? Or the prettiest girl in Cincinnati? 49er's deserve the "best in the West" title as much as any of those "NFL teams" do...

by RickD :: Wed, 08/10/2011 - 4:39pm

The NFC North had two teams in the NFC championship.
And a third team that made the Championship game 12 months earlier.

The NFC North is not weak by any stretch of the imagination.

by andrew :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 6:44pm

I just want to say if he doesn't already have it, he needs to be nicknamed "Row the Boat".

Mikel "Row the Boat" Leshoure.

by jebmak :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 7:25pm

I am so in on that.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 7:35pm

How about 'Swim for' Leshoure?

by andrew :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 9:23pm

That doesnt' tie in his first name, nor the song...

I can just picture a Berman highlight, as he sprints for the end zone. "Mikhel Rows the Boat Leshoure, Hallelujah!"

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 10:02pm

"Michael Row the Boat Leshoure is really up a creek now. He's paddling for all his might, but he can't make any headway against this stingy defense."

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 8:15am

I don't know that song.

by andrew :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 1:49pm

Its an old traditional folk song dating from the Civil War, first noted being sung by freed former slaves on the Sea Islands of South Carolina.

It was popular with folk singers in the 50s and 60s, such as the Highwaymen, Pete Seeger or even the Smothers Brothers...

here is a standard version of it... it remains well known, though not as well as I thought, I guess...

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 3:09pm

I do recognise the tune, didn't know the name though. Cheers.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 3:20pm

I think the issue here may be that the boat never made it across the Atlantic . . .

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 3:28pm

I'm pretty sure we sang this song in school when I was 5-10 years old.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 7:14pm

Ok, I take it back - the linked version was #1 in the UK singles chart in around 1961, per Wikipedia, and a Lonnie Donegan version got to #6. I wasn't around then, and I guess it didn't spend much time on the Capital Gold playlist that was the soundtrack to my childhood car journeys.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 9:39pm

Oh, I'm American, just wanted to point out differences in culture.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 8:29pm

Really, losing Leshoure hurts, but it's still not as bad as Stafford's season-ending injury.

Oh, wait, that hasn't happened yet. Just save this post for later.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 9:28pm

The Bears had a good year in 2010. Now they will have a poor year. Such is the life with Lovie Smith as coach.

Rooting for the Lions. Fun team to watch. If they ever find someone who can cover a receiver watch out.

To h*ll with the Vikings.

by ASmitty :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 10:16am

Lions just signed Jerome Harrison.

Not the big back leShoure is, but you have to think that signing pretty much fills that hole completely. Good, sensible response by the Lions.

Also, I found the hand-wringing by a lot of people with regard to this injury sort of odd. Isn't LeShoure a rookie back-up running back? As in:

Rookie = Never played before
Back-up = Not the starter
Running back = Most fungible position in the modern NFL

With Harrison I think the Lions got back to even on this in less than 24 hours.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 11:37am

All the above might well be true. That simply emphasises to me that the Lions should have spent first and second round picks in the last two drafts on something else.

by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Tue, 08/09/2011 - 6:10pm

Because all the 1st round needed was selecting another crap-ass QB.

by witless chum :: Wed, 08/10/2011 - 12:37pm

Well, they weren't taking a QB with either of those picks. The fans were mostly screaming for them to take a OL, DE, CB or LB at those positions. Mayhem filled those positions through free agency and trades and stocked up at RB and WR. He seems really committed to BPA, which I think will tell in his favor over the long haul.

And they already had a quality backup to Best in Maurice Morris. And returner Stefan Logan is listed as a WR, but actually looked decent in a few appearances lining up at RB last year.