Running back D’Andre Swift has yet to play in the month of October, after missing the past two games with a nagging shoulder injury, which came after an apparent ankle injury he faced in the first couple weeks of the 2022 NFL season. The Lions currently sit at the bottom of the NFC with a 1-4 record, following three straight losses to the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, respectively. Out of those three losses, Swift only featured in the Vikings matchup; however, the young back was limited to 10 touches for 46 scrimmage yards because of his persistent injuries. In retrospect, Swift has been a catalyst for this dangerous Detroit offensive attack. Chalked full of young talent, Swift seems to be the focal point and commander of this evolving offense; however, will need to demand the ball once he returns from his injuries, which could be as early as this week against the Dallas Cowboys, as Swift is currently listed as questionable on the injury report.
Now to fully grasp Swift’s role and essentiality in this offense, I went back and reviewed each touch and snap that he has played so far to witness the true greatness of the young superstar halfback, and how he gives the Lions the best chance of winning (or does he?).
Week 1: vs. Philadelphia Eagles
To open up his season and the game, Swift took the handoff and exploded for a 51-yard rush, which put the Lions in scoring position right off the bat. For Swift, he is not a runner that uses patience to create big plays or to understand what the defense is sending on any given play. Instead, Swift takes the handoff and immediately has his head up and eyes open. With his football IQ, he tucks the ball and quickly reacts and reads the defense, and breaks through the open gaps that the offensive line creates. Beyond his excellent vision as a ball carrier, Swift’s unique change of pace and shiftiness makes him the elite weapon that he is on offense. Watching Swift burst past the line of scrimmage is a true spectacle and when he is on the field the offensive game plan is more wide open and effective. No wonder Swift and the rest of the Detroit offense had a lot of success against this difficult Philly defense! Behind his quick first step and ability to make big plays, Swift is an instant game changer, and should be once he returns from injury.
Week 2: vs. Washington Commanders
The phrase “he breaks free” is such a common phrase when it comes to Swift’s electric game and despite getting only five carries, Swift went to work and ran for over 50 yards on those touches. In addition to his speed and acceleration, Swift’s ability to get involved in the passing game gives him that additional flare that is needed in modern day running backs. While oftentimes, Swift gets involved through the air of screens or some dumpy checkdown, towards the end of the third quarter, Swift made such a fantastic play. Making the play about five yards ahead of the line of scrimmage, Swift takes a tumble backwards while catching the ball. So wide open, Swift makes the catch, and makes a couple of defenders miss badly and runs into the endzone for the six point score. His agility and creativity once again came up huge for the third year back out of Georgia.
Swift is a huge difference maker in this Lions offense! While Jamaal Williams is a really nice plug-and-play type of guy, who can make some plays, he is no Swift. Williams does not have that same flare, that same magic, or that same big play ability that makes Swift the top-five running back he is. Once Swift is back and fully healthy, the Lions are a team capable of keeping games close and potentially winning those intense matchups. When it comes to most of the offensive questions Detroit has, look for Swift to be the answer moving forward!