GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A week after the Detroit Lions saw all the potential danger they could cause opponents with a healthy Reggie Bush on the field at the same time as Calvin Johnson, on Sunday they saw the opposite.
They saw what an offense without Bush might look like. And it was an offense that struggled to move the ball.
“It’s tough. It’s tough not having Reggie out there,” Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson said. “But at the same time, we still had opportunities. Guys were still getting open, guys were still catching the ball. The run game was still there.
“Him going down, it didn’t stifle us too much by any means. It’s just tough because he’s one of our big guns and we rely on his playmaking ability.”
Yes, the Lions still have Johnson, who caught two touchdown passes in the first half against Arizona. And yes, they still have an improved offensive line, a group that has now allowed just one sack over the first two games.
But something seemed missing for Detroit without Bush. Joique Bell is good, but he averaged less than four yards a rush (3.9 yards) and less than 10 yards a reception (8.2 yards).
Bush is the catalyst to Detroit’s planning. He is its quick dump-off option who can take any play and make it a big one. He is a player who can split out wide and line up in the backfield.
And Bush takes pressure and sometimes physical coverage off of Johnson, the team’s big-play deep threat.
“Obviously he’s a big part of the offense but that’s no excuse,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. “We have plenty of other guys that can step up and make plays. We just didn’t get it done on offense in that second half.
“It certainly affected us but we still got 11 guys on the field even after he was down and we have to find ways to convert third downs and get the ball moved and then score.”
Bush tried to return. He came back for one rush in the first half and then two more in the second half. But it just didn’t feel right for him. He couldn’t get the push he wanted to off the leg.
Even after the game, after he said he was cleared to return, Bush said he felt he shouldn’t have come back. He just didn’t have it after Tony Jefferson’s helmet collided with his knee.
And the Lions, a team that relies on the power of their offense, didn’t have it either. For what it is worth, the Lions said they didn’t notice Arizona changing much of what it did after Bush’s injury. They instead blamed their own missteps and issues converting third downs or making enough plays.
“How’d it change their game plan, I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it changed our game plan too much.”
Meanwhile, Bush said he doesn’t think his knee injury is serious. He’s hopeful he’ll be back by Sunday to face Washington.
But that's just a hope for Bush and Detroit at this point, not a definite. For the Lions, that could be the most dangerous thing of all.