It’s no secret the Detroit Lions are extremely limited in all facets of the game, both due to the number of injuries the group has endured this season plus a lackluster roster, to begin with. When you put both together, you get an 0-7 record.
The Lions have been forced to play without their top player on defense, Romeo Okwara, and their top two offensive linemen. That’s just the high-end talent on this roster that has been missing; once you start to talk about the remaining starters that are either out or missed time plus depth players, it is almost hard to stomach.
Taking all of that into consideration, it isn’t easy to remain optimistic with this group. Still, there are a few players on each side of the football to be excited about moving forward.
Lions rookie offensive tackle Penei Sewell has settled in over the past three weeks on the left side of the line, leaving head coach Dan Campbell with a decision to make moving forward as to where Taylor Decker will play once he returns; whether it is in 2021 or 2022.
Another bright spot on the offensive side of things for the Detroit Lions has been second-year running back D’Andre Swift.
Swift is enjoying a spectacular season that will long be overlooked due to the team’s overall lack of success.
The 22-year old franchise-caliber running back burst out with a massive 144-yard effort this past Sunday rushing for 48 yards on 12 carries plus catching eight balls totaling 98 yards and one receiving touchdown. He’s amassed 262 rushing yards on 78 carries to date this season.
If you recall, at the time of his draft selection, I called Swift the best running back Detroit has seen since Barry Sanders. A bit bold, and if you follow me, I am not one for a bunch of hot takes; I saw Swift’s body of work in college, his vision, and ball skills and put it all together.
Check out what Swift accomplished this past Sunday.
That is pretty elite company if you were to ask me.
The Lions are using Swift in a way the Pittsburgh Steelers used to use Le’Veon Bell or how New Orleans uses Alvin Kamara or Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles. These running backs are as effective in the passing game as they are running the football. Although Swift is not quite on this level yet, he’s clearly well on his way.
Swift currently leads the NFL in 2021 in receptions (42), targets (52), and receiving yards (391) from the running back position. Part of this production is due to quarterback Jared Goff quickly checking the football down, but offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn also loves completing short passes to his running backs.
Ekeler made a name for himself as a pass-catcher, plus Melvin Gordon with Lynn in Los Angeles became one of the league’s top dual-threat running backs.
The second-year running back is becoming everything and more of what we could have expected from him. The Lions need to continue getting Swift 20-plus touches per week and continuing to mix in Jamaal Williams.
Along with T.J. Hockenson and Kalif Raymond, the pair of backs seem to be the lone bright spots on this team at the skilled positions.