The Detroit Lions had a very successful ground game in 2022. It raised some eyebrows when the team swapped out the top two running backs, Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift, after the season.
In their place came prized free agent David Montgomery and No. 12 overall draft pick, rookie Jahmyr Gibbs.
Based on the Week 1 results, the Lions made a smart move.
Montgomery ran well in the Lions win over the Chiefs, charging for 74 yards on 21 carries in the role Williams held a year earlier. In the old Swift role, Gibbs racked up 42 yards on seven carries and added 18 more yards on two receptions.
Williams went to New Orleans and was the Saints primary rusher, but he managed to gain just 45 yards on 18 carries. He also caught two passes for seven yards and had a fumble, which he recovered, in New Orleans’ 16-15 nail-biting win over the Titans. He did not score a touchdown but did effectively end the game with an impressive late pick-up.
In Philadelphia, Swift barely made a dent in the box score. Playing as the No. 2 RB behind Kenneth Gainwell, Swift had one carry for three yards in the Eagles’ 25-20 win over the Patriots. He also caught one pass that didn’t gain a yard. He and Gibbs played the exact same number of snaps (19).
It’s tough to make apple-to-apples comparisons across different offenses in divergent game situations, but the Lions new fruit was a lot riper than the old ones in Week 1.