The Detroit Lions believed Jahvid Best would be back in time for the start of this past season but the running back never got the green light from doctors to return.
In an interview with local beat reporters Wednesday night, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said not having a backup plan was his biggest mistake from this past season as Detroit went from being a playoff team to a 4-12 finisher in the NFC North.
Best’s career is in jeopardy because of multiple concussions and Mayhew made it sound like running back will be a top priority for the club this offseason, someone to pair with Mikel Leshoure.
“Probably the biggest mistake that I made last year was counting on Jahvid Best to come back,” Mayhew said, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. “And it's no knock on him. He did everything he could to get back.
“But based on the information we were getting, medically, I felt very comfortable he was coming back. We did not have a real plan to replace him, and all of the information that we had acting in real time was that he would be back.
“Really, in the history of the NFL, I've asked people, I can't think of a single player with a head injury who was asymptomatic that wanted to play that wasn't allowed to play. I think he's the first one ever.
“I can't really get into what (the doctors’) motivation was, but it was something. It was totally different than the way these situations have been handled in the past. That's all I can really say about it.”
Best had open-field ability but he wasn’t an every-down back. Personally, we think the Lions made even bigger errors on defense where they once again failed to adequately address the secondary. Detroit has a defensive line that can be dominant at times but year-after-year the club has ignored issues in the secondary. That is a greater need at this point than a part-time running back, and in the interview Mayhew did discuss a need for more defensive playmakers.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune