Just when you think the Lions are on the right track, something unforeseen happens that effectively throws a monkey wrench in the gears. The latest occurrence was a pizza – yes, the delicious food many of us survive on – falling off the seat in Nate Burleson’s car. After trying to catch the pizza, Burleson wrecked, breaking his arm.
While there is some comic value in the reason behind Burleson’s wreck, the impact it has on the Lions is no laughing matter. Once again, teams will be able to load up against Calvin Johnson, which could grind the Lions’ offense to a stop.
Nate Burleson’s greatest value isn’t necessarily in actually catching passes. Burleson is a strong option behind Calvin Johnson, and he keeps defenses off the team’s best player, at least a little bit. Frankly, there’s no players on the open market that can immediately come close to replacing Burleson while he recovers.
The only silver lining is that Burleson wasn’t the only alternative target for Matthew Stafford to target. When he’s healthy, Reggie Bush provides a big-play threat out of the backfield, and the team’s tight ends are adept receivers off the line of scrimmage.
Essentially, this comes down to options. With one less legitimate target on the field at any given time, defenses will be able to focus that much more on the team’s biggest play makers. We won’t say that Nate Burleson’s injury will cost the Lions a chance at the playoffs, but it will cost them a few points here and there, and in the NFL, that can be the difference between wins and losses.