Detroit Lions: D’Andre Swift emerging as best option out of the backfield

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Detroit Lions rookie running back D’Andre Swift enjoyed a breakout game in a Week Six matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Finally, the former Georgia Bulldog standout running back, D’Andre Swift, proved what many thought; he can be a franchise-type, multi-purpose back.  The Detroit Lions used a premium pick selecting Swift with the 35th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to solidify the position; he’s finally emerging as Detroit’s best option out of the backfield.

Entering Sunday’s game, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had relied heavily upon the savvy ageless veteran Adrian Peterson in the run game.  Through the first four games of the season, Peterson had carried the ball a team-high 54 times, to Kerryon Johnson‘s 21, and Swift’s 12.

Peterson has enjoyed shouldering the load averaging 4.5 yards per carry through the season’s first four games.  While Peterson had been trying to turn back the clock, it limited both Johnson and Swift’s opportunities. Sunday Peterson averaged 2.7 yards per touch, to Swift’s 8.3.

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Swift hadn’t made much of his first 12 carries, averaging just 3.5 yards per tote, scoring one touchdown became more of just a receiving threat.  Swift had been exclusively used in the passing game making 13 receptions on 16 targets totaling 124 yards and a score.  Despite Swift’s stellar 81% catch rate, all we can seem to remember is that brutal game-winning drop in a Week One matchup with Chicago.

Things appear to be changing in the Detroit Lions backfield after an explosive performance from the rookie runner in an impressive Week Six victory over Jacksonville.

D’Andre Swift exploded for 116 yards on just 14 carries, also scoring a pair of touchdowns.  Swift proved to be exactly what the Detroit Lions thought they were getting when they used the 35th overall pick on his services.

The young back got up to 20 MPH on his 54-yard run showing off his top-speed.  I bet looking back Swift wishes he didn’t slow down in hopes of deking the defender rather simply keeping the pedal to the metal and beating him to the endzone.

Along with that great speed Swift regularly lowered the boom on inside runs. It’s great to see a running back lowering his shoulders, wearing down defenders with punishing runs.  That’s exactly what Swift did several times Sunday against Jacksonville.

Peterson still out-touched Swift to the tune of 15-14, but Bevell seemed content using Swift as a lead back before the game had been determined.  Kerryon Johnson is ranked as the leagues top pass protecting back will still see some work, but likely on a more limited basis moving forward.  Johnson made just four carries Sunday.

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Peterson returned late in the fourth quarter as the ‘closer’ after the game had been well in hand.  Expect a heavy dose of Swift moving forward, playing more as a dual-threat back, not just as a pass-catcher.