Detroit Lions: Is D’Andre Swift the main guy at running back now?

D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

The rookie’s breakout performance against Jacksonville confirms expectations and opens the door for a new priority in the Detroit Lions’ backfield

With 116 rushing yards, two touchdowns, and an electrifying 55-yard run on his first carry, rookie D’Andre Swift emerged in a big way for the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Granted, Jacksonville just happens to be a team with even more glaring weaknesses than the Lions, but the thorough 34-16 victory brings the Lions right back to a not-so-awful 2-3 record. That, plus an upcoming yes-awful stretch on the schedule has me playing the ‘what if’ game against my better judgment.

With Matthew Stafford playing well beneath his standards, and Adrian Peterson fading fast from his hot start in Motown, Swift’s breakout game couldn’t have come at a better time. He showed off his speed and shiftiness, and has so far displayed surprising power between the tackles and in short yardage situations, especially near the goal line.

In his limited touches, Swift leads the team with four total touchdowns through five games, and he can expect an increase in opportunities in the coming weeks as he continues to earn them.

Another argument for making Swift the main option in the backfield is the fact that his counterparts, Peterson and Kerryon Johnson, haven’t held up their end of the bargain in recent weeks. After his impressive 93 yards on 14 carries in Week One, A.D. (or A.P., depending on who is doing the whole initials nicknaming thing) has seen his yards per carry drop in each of the next four games.

Against Jacksonville, Peterson found the end zone in the first quarter, but managed just 40 rushing yards on 15 carries. Against the Saints, it was a pretty similar stat line, with 36 yards and 3.1 yards per carry. Peterson’s drop in production may be a little disappointing, but for an aging back on a one-year deal, it’s hardly unexpected.

Unfortunately, the same is true for Kerryon Johnson, still just 23-years old, but who doesn’t remotely resemble the guy who tore it up the backfield early on in 2018.

Johnson has just over 100 yards from scrimmage through five games, and watching him run the ball right now, his tentative and uncertain steps look exactly like a guy with numerous serious knee injuries who isn’t sure if his next cut will be his last. It’s a little sad to watch, and while Johnson’s legs are apparently healthy, it doesn’t appear that his psyche and confidence have recovered yet.

Swift beginning to shine for the Lions while other backs are fading

D’Andre Swift got more carries against Jacksonville than in the first four games combined. His first run of the game more than doubled his rushing output for the season so far, and he’s already starting to put some distance between himself and that awful drop in Week One when it comes to name association.

Related Story. Detroit Lions draft regrets: Top 5 ‘ones who got away’. light

One interesting stat from Swift’s big day: the last Lions rookie to rush for 100+ yards and two touchdowns in a single game was Barry Sanders in 1989. The Lions have some very winnable games coming up in the near future, and with many of the longtime veterans struggling on  offense lately, the future is now for youngster D’Andre Swift.