Detroit Lions need to embrace Swift, Okwara, and future now

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D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions

D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions need a new plan going forward. They need to focus on the future with pieces that they do have.

The Detroit Lions are 1-3 and are already looking like a shoo-in for a Top-10 pick again. They’ve looked incompetent, listless, and impotent on defense and at points overwhelmed, overmatched, and defeated on offense. Going forward, the rookies like D’Andre Swift, Julian Okwara, and other young players on the roster are the key to making future progress and should be the focus going forward.

The Lions 2020 draft class has some playmakers in it but they haven’t all seen the field in equal amounts. In particular, second-rounder D’Andre Swift and third-round pick Julian Okwara need to be developed to address two big deficiencies on the roster. The team also lost two running backs,  Ty Johnson (second year) and Jason Huntley, a fifth-round prospect, to roster moves.

Looking at the big areas of need, running the football effectively, getting the ball in the endzone on offense, stopping the run, tackling, generating a pass rush, stopping teams on passing downs, and generating turnovers, the Cardiac Cats need help with some big issues.

Detroit Lions plan moving forward

We need to know what players are worth keeping for the long-term. That means playing the younger players more to see what they can do or simply allowing them to mature as professionals.

Is this a tank strategy?

No. Try to win; if they could’ve won with the veterans on the roster, they already would have.

Is it possible that they don’t win many games by playing young players?

Yes but again, they went 1-3 with their best foot forward, using the entire roster. That doesn’t mean that vets won’t play but that they should cede reps to lesser-proven players situationally. For example, Julian Okwara should get to rush the passer on third-downs going forward or have a plan for him to see his way into certain sub-packages to give him growth opportunities. Okwara needs to be in the rotation and if that means that a veteran is displaced, then that’s the cost.

This strategy could have the effect of a tank strategy if these opportunities by the young players cannot produce better results over the remainder of the season.

Is it possible that the team could turn things around by simply adjusting the plan and being healthy?

While many things are possible, it is often more instructive to talk about what is known. The defense is pretty healthy with the exception being at cornerback where two of their top five players are out, Justin Coleman (slot) and Mike Ford. Next, the defense is ranked 28th in yards at 405.0 per-game. That includes being the league-worst at stopping the run, letting teams pound them for 170.3 yards-per-game.

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