Detroit Lions: Running back rotation needs to be tweaked moving forward

(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions appear to be committed to deploying a running back by committee, but how should the teams’ three-headed monster be managed?

So far in 2020, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell appears to enjoy being reunited with Adrian Peterson.  Bevell savored calling plays for the future Hall Of Fame running back during his first four professional seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s been said recently that Peterson is content with his current workload.  The Detroit Lions appear to have promised the ageless veteran the majority of the teams’ first and second down opportunities along with mixing in the odd look on third down.

I have no issue with Peterson carrying the ball eight times per game, primarily on first down and short-yardage situations; anything more at this point seems foolish.  The Detroit Lions spent the 35th overall pick in the NFL Draft on D’Andre Swift.

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The explosive rookie finally burst onto the scene with 116 rushing yards last week in Jacksonville.  Before that outburst, he’d been used more as a receiving back exclusively, but Swift proved he could be a three-down back if given the opportunity.

We need to understand that the Detroit Lions offensive gameplan changes week to week, but the corps of Adrian Peterson should not out touch Swift again in 2020.  Peterson is averaging nearly 13 carries per game so far this season compared to Swift’s five.  And for good measure, Kerryon Johnson is averaging just five carries as well.

Not only is Peterson shouldering the rushing work, but he’s also being granted more opportunities than Swift and Johnson combined weekly, and this needs to stop regardless of the overall game plan.

Moving forward, I’d like to see Swift compile 12-15 carries per game.  Johnson has been utilized in pass-protection situations as he’s graded out as the leagues’ top pass-blocking running back thus far in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).  There is no reason to think Bevell should reward Peterson with more work than Johnson either.

The perfect running back share in Detroit would feature Swift, having Johnson changing the pace with Peterson entering the ball-game on short-yardage and as a play-action decoy.

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Peterson is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, to Swift’s 6.1 while Johnson comes in at a dull 3.2.  A better mix would surely provide the Detroit Lions with better results, and that is on Bevell’s shoulders.