D'Andre Swift Deserves to Be Lions' Feature Running Back
The bye week sure did the Lions well.
Matt Patricia & Co. needed a victory in the baddest way Sunday, and delivered with a 34-16 win over the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.
Patricia and members of the team's defense -- most notably safety Tracy Walker and defensive end Romeo Okwara -- talked all week long about simplifying things and playing faster.
And boy did they do so in their Week 6 matchup with Gardner Minshew II and the Jaguars.
The ferocity on defense was contagious, as it spread from player to player and led to the Jaguars being on the receiving end of some loud and painful collisions.
Okwara himself contributed a quarterback hit and a tackle for loss, and fellow veteran defensive end Trey Flowers was responsible for the only Detroit sack of the contest.
It wasn't just the defensive linemen that were active for the Lions, either.
The seasoned Jamie Collins was extremely active all day long, and produced seven total tackles, a pass defensed and a QB hit.
Meanwhile, rookie defensive back Jeff Okudah supplied some crushing hits, en route to an eight-tackle afternoon.
While he once again provided some faulty coverage at times, it is important to note that his eight tackles were a team high.
And Okudah wasn't even the best performer of Detroit's rookies on Sunday.
That distinction, instead, belongs to the organization's 2020 second-round pick D'Andre Swift.
His career-high, 116-yard performance on the ground was the story of the day on the offensive side of the ball.
His 54-yard run toward the end of the first quarter was his longest of the afternoon, and was part of a touchdown drive that was capped off by a one-yard rush from the goal line from none other than Swift himself.
His final line also consisted of two touchdowns and a highly impressive 8.3 yards per carry.
His numbers were so good that they caused Barry Sanders' name to be brought up by fans and pundits alike at the end of the game.
Yes, the same Barry Sanders who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and is one of the best running backs in NFL history.
If you're wondering why that's the case, well, it's because Swift became the first Lions rookie back to rush for two scores and at least 100 yards in a game since Sanders did so in Week 14 of the 1989 season against the Chicago Bears (26 carries for 120 yards and two TDs).
Swift's career day should be reason enough for the Georgia product to garner more carries in future weeks.
And sure, you can make the argument that Adrian Peterson did a decent job as the bell-cow back through the first quarter of the season.
However, Swift is easily the most explosive back the Lions presently possess, and he gives Patricia & Co. the best chance to win on a consistent basis moving forward.
He needs to be installed as the team's No. 1 back immediately.
While Patricia didn't commit to Swift being the full-time lead back the rest of the way, he did commend the rookie on his standout day.
"Give him credit. He did a phenomenal job on the line, but I think he (Swift) ran really hard. He ran physical, which was great to see. And we know what a great player he is," Patricia said during his postgame media session. "We've been talking about it for a while that there's certain things that he can do that give our opponents problems. It was a great opportunity for us to take the bye week and really take a look at some of the different plays that we had and how do they all fit together. And I thought, you know, Coach (Darrell) Bevell and his staff did a great job of giving a really good gameplan to the offense, and they went out and executed it."
The bye certainly served Detroit's first-year pros such as Swift and Okudah well, and it perhaps revitalized veterans such as Flowers, as well.
And maybe it's what the Lions needed to play their best brand of football the rest of the way this season.
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