It was the front-office equivalent of the ill-advised pseudo pass attempted by former (and, as it turns out, current) Philadelphia Eagles running back Ronnie Brown a few weeks ago. The trade earlier in the week that saw the Eagles send Brown to the Detroit Lions in return for running back Jerome Harrison and a 2013 draft pick has been voided because Harrison failed his physical with the Eagles. The news was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
The voided trade hurts the Lions more than the Eagles, who have the excellent LeSean McCoy in their own backfield. Detroit is trying to shore up its running game with feature back Jahvid Best dealing with serious concussion issues and rookie power back Mikel Leshoure having been lost for the season before the season even began with a torn Achilles tendon.
"He had a hard time with some of the lights after the game," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Best's concussion issues. "Those are signs that you've got to be concerned about, and you have to be objective about. We'll have a whole protocol that he has to go through to get back on the field."
Brown, a longtime star with the Miami Dolphins, understands the work of Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who served that same function for Miami in 2005 when Brown was a rookie. "I'm familiar with Jahvid and what he's been able to do," Brown said Tuesday. "I think he's a talented guy and look forward to working with him. And I just feel like there is an opportunity [to] be a part of something. They're, obviously, on the right track, at 5-1, and I think they have tremendous goals. And I have the same type of goals for myself, so I feel like everything just worked out. We'll see what happens."
Asked about the trade falling through on Wednesday, Brown texted the Detroit Free Press and said he was "lost for words." And with the trade deadline having passed on Tuesday, there's nothing either team can do from an exchange standpoint.
Schwartz, who has had to deal with a season's worth of frustration this week with this debacle, his first loss of the season, and the fact that his postgame handshake issues with San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh won't seem to die down just yet, said on Wednesday that he's simply looking to get the running game going with whoever's available. But the Brown acquisition made a lot of sense; the Lions run more shotgun formations than any other team in the NFL (70.9 percent of all offensive snaps through Week 6, according to Football Outsiders), and Brown was the feature back when the Dolphins were successful with the Wildcat formation a few years back.
Now, Schwartz is left with Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams if Best can't go. Asked on Wednesday about the positive aspects of the backs he does have, Schwartz tried to remain positive. "Maurice has answered the bell anytime that it's rung for him. He's been a very productive runner for us," Schwartz said of the veteran. "We know that he'll do well if he plays on Sunday. And Keiland has shown some really nice things. A little bit more short yardage and goal line and things like that, but that doesn't mean that's the only thing that he can do. He played a lot of third-down back for the Redskins last year. He's done some really nice things for us. No matter who we're handing the ball to, we expect them to gain yards and be able to make explosive plays for us."
The Lions will face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday, and that's not a team you want to face with a star-crossed running back rotation. The Falcons are allowing just 3.76 yards per carry, and they're stopping enemy backs at or behind the line of scrimmage on 24 percent of all plays. "Their defensive line is a very strong defensive line group, it's a group that rotates eight guys through, very similar to the way we do," Schwartz said Wednesday.
It sounded like everyone was excited about Ronnie Brown getting a new place to run, but he was never able to even practice with the team. Now, he goes back to a team that didn't seem to want him. Kind of a lose-lose situation, but without due diligence, these things will happen.
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