| Detroit Free Press
Debating Detroit Lions at midseason; what’s on line vs. Washington?
Debating the Detroit Lions’ good and bad at midseason, and what’s on the line vs. Washington this week? Filmed Nov. 12, 2020.
D’Andre Swift called no one.
Not his friends. Not even his dad. No tweets. Nothing.
“I ain’t call nobody,” he said. “There’s no reason to. When I’m in them positions I expect myself — I hold myself to a high standard. When I went out there I wanted them to just see.”
Boy, did they ever.
Swift didn’t just let people see what he could do Sunday. He became a revelation. A dual-threat epiphany, slicing and dicing his way to 149 yards from scrimmage: 81 yards rushing and 68 yards receiving with one touchdown.
The second-round pick from Georgia had already impressed this season. He rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 6.
But this was different. This was Swift making good on the faith his coaches showed in him. Because he knew he had extra to prove after he dropped the ball and cost his team the game in the opener against the Chicago Bears.
“Yeah, I think I needed this kind of performance,” he said. “In my first NFL game I dropped the winning touchdown. So just making sure that when I’m out there and I’m in them types of situations when I’m going to catch the ball or my number’s called to catch the ball, that I do that. So it was a big game for me.”
Not all players are this honest about their shortcomings. But, like any good running back, Swift looked in front of him and knew he could choose a path: one of denial or a path of acceptance. He accepted his failure in the moment because he knew it was just that: a moment.
Swift never pretended it didn’t happen, pivotal as it was.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I know I ain’t that type of player. It’s not me. So just getting back to the fundamentals and the details and just going out there every week, and I’ll produce more than I did before.”
Performances like Swift’s have rarely been seen among Lions running backs recently. It was a dazzling blend of speed and power, finesse and brute force.
In one moment, Swift was leaping over a defender. In another, he was lowering his shoulder and powering his way into the end zone. He ran up the gut and turned short screen passes into big yards.
Lions receiver Marvin Jones lit up when he elaborated on Swift’s inspired performance.
“The dude is a crazy playmaker,” Jones said. “We’ve known that ever since he’s been here and he touches the ground. When the ball is in his hands … I have to keep blocking because you know somehow he’s going to come out of it by making a move, or running somebody over, or jumping over somebody.
“He’s electric and he’s great to watch, but I have to do less watching and more blocking. You never know.”
Jones is exactly right. Swift was enthralling. His 149 scrimmage yards were the most by a Lions rookie since Jahvid Best had 232 scrimmage yards against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 19, 2010. And his debut has been the most exciting and promising by a Lions running back since Best.
Lions coach Matt Patricia, who always emphasizes team success over individual performance, was loath to bestow too much praise on his talented rookie. But he credited Swift for building on his repertoire and showing off the kind of versatility any NFL team would covet in a running back.
“I think for us in the game, we kind of had some space plays that I thought were really good,” Patricia said, “and I thought we were able to get Swift in some space and allow him to run.
“I thought he ran really hard. I thought that was a great thing for us to see, just his physicality of what he was doing, breaking some tackles and just very smart and aware of some of the situations that we had. Thought that was really good. But all of those guys, they play hard. We have great backs.”
The Lions do have a capable stable with Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson in the mix. But on Sunday, Swift began to separate himself. He began to look like a thoroughbred sharing a paddock with draft horses. A young stallion, nickering and champing at the bit, begging for the race to start.
So it finally happened. Swift got his first start Sunday and it’s hard to imagine it won’t happen a lot more.
“Just trying to go out there and show everybody what I can do, know what I mean?” he said. “Because I know what I’m capable of. Just put my faith in God. I knew the time was going to come sometime.
“So just going out there and producing. O-line did a great job today. Thanks to them. (Matthew) Stafford did a great job. So just going out there, they kind of made everything easy.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.