There is plenty of time to confront the NFL's dire realities of building a winner. But if you’re a Lions fan, enjoy what your team brought home in its first splurge of free-agent shopping. You deserve relief from the eight-game losing streak that ended last season’s grim trudge to the bottom of the NFC North.
The first 22 hours of the NFL’s free-agent signing period should bring relief and genuine promise that the Lions are closer to the team that went 10-6 and made the playoffs in 2011 than the ragged outfit that fell to 4-12 and capped the season by losing the last eight games.
The bell to open free agency rang at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. By 2 o’clock Wednesday afternoon, the Lions had accomplished more than could have been reasonably expected.
Player by player, deal by deal, the Lions filled some holes and prevented another from developing by signing four players.
Three were free agents - running back
The four players all had common qualities. They all played positions of need, they’ve been productive starters, and they’ve all been durable.
Don’t discount the durability factor. Quin, who missed only three games in four seasons with the Texans, put it best when asked about durability.
"I think that was a big deal, because in this league, it’s all about if you can play on Sundays," Quin said. "It doesn’t really matter how good you are if you’re not able to go out there and play on Sundays and play at a high level.
"Obviously, being healthy and being able to play for as many games and not missing games, obviously that plays a part in a team’s decision in investing in you."
All things considered, Wednesday represented a good day’s work by the Lions’ front office. The Lions brought in what they needed, and kept a cornerback who is important to their secondary.
Of course, the job isn’t finished. The draft is in April. Training camp is more than four months away. The regular season starts in September.
As GM Martin Mayhew often says, free agency and the draft and most other days in the year aren’t the finish line. But the Lions got a good start in the race to restoring themselves to competitive status. So enjoy the day.
Bush was the centerpiece of the Lions’ efforts. His skill set adds a dimension to the offense that has been lacking. Bush can make plays on his own. Get him the ball in space, with a defender to beat, and Bush can turn a certain short gain into an explosive big play.
An offensive scheme can do only so much. To be really effective, players have to add to what the offense is designed to give them, and Bush can do that. He proved it in five years with the Saints, and the last two with the Dolphins.
One sad stat shows what Bush can add to the offense. The Lions had four runs of 20 yards or longer last season. That tied them with the Chargers for the league’s fewest. Bush had six on his own for the Dolphins.
The Lions signed Bush for what he can do on the field, but he also adds something off the field. Bush is a genuine celebrity/star, and he’s comfortable in the spotlight.
The prospect of the Lions’ going after Bush created a level of anticipation among Lions fans that is higher than any free agent they’ve pursued since Reggie White was on the market in 1993, the first year of free agency.
Twitter hits were ringing for days over the possibility of Bush becoming a Lion.
The fact that Lions veterans
Barry Sanders sent out a tweet Tuesday evening, imploring Bush to sign with the Lions.
"It means a lot," Bush said. "It means a lot to have support in a situation like this this."
Bush talked about the running room he’ll have, facing defenses with only five or six players in the box to concentrate on covering Johnson.
"It’s a running back’s dream," Bush said. "It’s the first thing we talked about. We have to be able to run the ball in that situation. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here, is to be able to bring a balanced attack, take some of the pressure off Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.
"I did love the fact that the Lions have such a strong fan base. The fans show up and sell out all the home games. That’s really important."
Starting in September, we’ll see how much it translates into winning football games. There’s plenty of time to worry.
For now, Lions fans should enjoy the early free agent shopping haul.