Westfield, Ind. — D’Andre Swift is looking to join a very elite club.
The Detroit Lions’ third-year running back on Wednesday said that his goals for 2022 are to become just the fourth player ever to finish the season with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards.
“With (Lions running backs coach Duce Staley), the way he’s coaching me and how I know what I can bring to this team, it can be done,” Swift said.
One of the more captivating parts of Tuesday night’s “Hard Knocks” episode was seeing the relationship between Swift and Staley. Staley is hard on Swift. In the episode, Staley pulled up a 15-yard gain by Swift from the Family Fest practice at Ford Field earlier this month and asked Swift why he ran out of bounds instead of going for the end zone.
“You gotta do something, Swift,” Staley said. “Cause guess what, if you woulda stiff-armed him right there, you might have (expletive) scored. You make it too easy for him. They’re already scared of you when you get out there. Finish it. Come on, man. Finish it. Be hungry. Be greedy for every (expletive) yard. Go get it. That’s the mentality. Every yard out there is mine.”
Swift got a chance to share his side of the relationship with Staley — who had a 10-year NFL career of his own — following Detroit’s joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.
“He knows what it takes,” Swift said. “He’s been in the position that I was in, so he’s the type of coach that’s going to push me to my limits and that’s the type of coach I need.”
Swift is a popular pick to breakout as a household name this season. He showed promise in his rookie year, rushing for 521 yards and eight touchdowns, but one could argue that he took a step in the wrong direction in his second year. His yards per carry dropped from 4.6 to 4.1, yards per reception dropped from 7.8 to 7.3 and he finished the season with 617 rushing yards and five touchdowns. His yards after contact also dropped a tick.
Now, heading into his third season, his goal is to become elite. And he likes how Staley is trying to get him there.
“(Staley is) pushing me to my limits, pushing me to my limits in every which way. Learning coverages. Learning defenses. Just detailing my work on and off the field, so when I see it in the game, I done seen it before in practice. One of the best coaches I’ve been around and played for,” Swift said.
“I embrace (the hard coaching). I look forward to it every day. A guy like him that’s going to be on me hard like that, push me to my limits and make sure I can get the best out of myself. Can’t ask for nothing else.”
Tough love is a concept applied by most of Detroit’s coaching staff. Right before the scene in “Hard Knocks” where Staley is going over video with Swift, Staley is shown with the entire coaching staff and members of the front office. He passionately tells the room, “I’ve been around some guys that have been in space — the special ones. He got it.”
As a former player himself, Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that Staley’s hard coaching is “critical” to Swift taking the next step.
“There’s a time to push, there’s a time to pull back, and Duce has played that position and he understands that there’s — the discipline that you have to have with it,” Campbell said. “But also, man, the mentality, because if you don’t have the mentality, especially at that position, because you’re going to take some hits, there’s going to be some ups and downs, but just to push through it. So, Swift, he’s going to be just fine.”
Of course, neither Swift nor Staley is satisfied with “just fine.”
After Swift capped the Lions’ opening drive against the Falcons with a 9-yard touchdown run, he returned to the sideline to find Staley waiting to show him all the ways he could have gotten big yardage earlier in the drive. Like everything else about their relationship, that’s exactly the way that Swift likes it.
“I look forward to it. Like you said, man, there’s a plan,” Swift said.