Why aren’t Lions using Abdullah-Riddick combo?

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Ameer Abdullah (front) and Theo Riddick (red jersey)

Allen Park – Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are both dynamic, versatile playmakers, but for some reason, the Detroit Lions have been reluctant to have the two running backs on the field at the same time.

Through six games, the two haven’t shared the field. In fact, the Lions haven’t run any two-back formations this season, unless you count the random usage of a defensive player as a fullback.

Asked why the two haven’t been utilized together in a formation this season, Lions coaches were vague. Jim Caldwell acknowledged the formations are in the playbook, but have yet to be incorporated into a game plan.

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“Depends on the situation, depends on who we’re playing, depends on what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Caldwell said. “It just kind of varies from team to team.”

And despite the absence of a split backfield, coordinator Jim Bob Cooter reacted favorably to the idea.

“Whenever you can get good players on the field, that’s something you got to consider,” Cooter said. “Makes a lot of sense.”

In 2014, when Abdullah was a rookie and Joe Lombardi was the offensive coordinator the first half of the season, the Abdullah-Riddick look was something the Lions used somewhat regularly. The duo ran 20 plays together that season, 18 of which were passes, resulting in 78 yards of offense.

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That’s not exactly stellar production, and probably a little predictable, but you could say the same thing for the team’s current offense, which ranks 30th in the NFL, averaging 4.57 yards per play.

Through six games, neither Riddick or Abdullah are being overworked. Both have played fewer than 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps with Abdullah pacing the backfield rotation at 44.6 percent and Riddick at 39.8 percent.