Tight-end touchdown record validates Detroit Lions’ huge trade decision

Detroit Free Press

Free Press columnist Carlos Monarrez tackles the tough questions facing the Detroit Lions after their 41-10 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Ford Field:

What did tight end Brock Wright’s two touchdown catches mean?

They were huge in validating one of the franchise’s biggest decisions this season. Not only did the second of Wright’s two TDs set a franchise record as the 12th TD by tight ends this season, but it proved offensive coordinator Ben Johnson’s ability to overcome the loss of a key contributor in T.J. Hockenson. The tight ends weren’t the only positive sign in Sunday’s win; the offense has continued to operate at a very high level without Hockenson, making general manager Brad Holmes’ decision to trade Hockenson at the deadline for a modest upgrade of two draft picks a little less questionable. I still don’t think it was the best move, especially with Hockenson being named to his second Pro Bowl roster last month. But Holmes’ boldness proved his faith in Johnson and the offense was correct and earned him the credibility to make similar moves in the future.

THE GAME:Lions run right through Bears in 41-10 win to keep playoff hopes alive

ON DEFENSE:Why Lions’ Aidan Hutchinson has ‘a lot of juice left to give’ in rookie season

What did you think of D’Andre Swift’s game?

After a wait of 15 weeks, the Lions’ shifty running back had his best game since the season opener, turning in two touchdowns and 117 yards from scrimmage. He was electric and made great moves on runs and catches out of the backfield. Swift’s best play came early in the third quarter when he broke two tackles with a spin move and ran for 35 yards. Swift will fall well short of his preseason pipe dream of a double 1,000-yard season. But it’s enough that Swift learned to deal with his injuries better and work effectively as a change-of-pace back with starter Jamaal Williams. This game gave us a glimpse of the kind of electric ability the Lions haven’t seen often enough from Swift; that ability is still tantalizing and will make his future with the team a more difficult decision.

How fast is Jameson Williams?

In the time it took you to read this sentence, the rookie receiver ran for 40 yards on a sweep in the third quarter. Exotic sportscars don’t accelerate as fast as Williams, who should change his nickname from Jamo to Lambo. But there’s a little problem that comes with that speed. Williams sometimes appears out of rhythm with Jared Goff on passing routes. Most of that is likely due to Williams missing training camp and more than half the season recovering from ACL surgery. On Sunday, Williams went without a catch on three targets. Goff threw behind him once and several yards short another time. It was smart of Johnson to use the sweep to incorporate Williams’ speed. Williams’ play came right after Swift’s 35-yard run, which means the offense gained 75 yards in just two plays. Williams looks like a potent and promising weapon, and if Goff makes working with him his No. 1 priority this offseason, the Lions could have one of the NFL’s most potent QB/WR duos.

Contact Carlos Monarrez: cmonarrez@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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