Detroit Lions: This could hurt D’Andre Swift’s production in 2021

SideLion Report

The Detroit Lions made several changes this offseason. The main shift happened under center, with quarterback Jared Goff now replacing Matthew Stafford as the franchise passer in the Motor City.

Throw in a new head coach, coaching staff, and a new offensive coordinator In Anthony Lynn leading the charge, and the Lions’ offense figures to look very different in 2021 with Stafford no longer in the driver’s seat.

The main offensive weapon for the new-look Lions figures to be second-year running back D’Andre Swift. That after a solid rookie season that even had 10-game starter Adrian Peterson wondering why the much younger Swift was only allowed to start in four contests in 2020.

Despite playing in just 38% of the Lions’ offensive snaps last year, the second-rounder out of Georgia was still able to slap together some decent stats. Swift racked up 521 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground with an impressive average of 4.6 yards per carry.

A threat out of the backfield in the passing game as well, and a great security blanket for Stafford to boot, Swift also brought in 46 receptions for 357 yards and two more scores through the air. And it’s that versatility that should help veteran passer Goff in his first season in Motown.

All signs point to Swift have a big second season in Detroit. But there might be two things that could hinder his progress.

Here’s what former NFL running back turned analyst for NFL.com, Maurice Jones-Drew, wrote about Swift recently after placing the young Lions’ star on his list of those poised for a Year 2 breakout in 2021.

“With the change in coaching staff and QB over the offseason, look for Dan 0Campbell’s squad to run the ball plenty with Swift leading the way. He has the tools to double his 2020 production, but there are two potential roadblocks in front of him: free-agent signee Jamaal 0Williams and the fact that this rebuilding team (no disrespect) could often be playing from behind.”

While Swift has been tabbed by many as the workhorse in Detroit this upcoming season, the Lions are excited about the potential veteran running back Jamaal Williams brings to the table. Signed this offseason to a two-year deal worth up to $7.5 million after a four-year run with the divisional rivals, the Green Bay Packers, the coaching staff is reportedly wanting to use both running backs like the New Orleans Saints did with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram back in the day.

If that’s the case, Swift and Williams could combine for massive yards together, but it’s unlikely to do much for fantasy owners and those banking on a breakout performance by the team’s second-year running back.

Also hurting Swift’s chances of becoming the first 1,000-yard rusher in Detroit since 2013 is the fact the Lions could find themselves playing from behind early and often. With so many new and moving pieces on both sides of the ball, you’d have to expect this team will require some time to gel and build their chemistry. If the team struggles to put up points early, that could significantly reduce the team’s reliance on the run game.

If the Detroit Lions find themselves falling behind in games, they’ll have to rely more on their passing game to try and get them back in it. And that means fewer carries for both D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Wiliams if they are unable to control the clock, keep the score close, and keep their last-place defense off the field.

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