The Detroit Lions found their second win of the season in Week 6, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-16 on the road. The game should have more implications on draft night than it will in the playoffs, though Detroit did get their season back on track after an early bye week.
Here are a few takeaways.
Return of the big play
The Lions offense has felt lifeless in recent weeks, especially in the second half. In Week 6, they finally resembled the potential big play offense they were projected to be over the offseason.
Rookie running back D’Andre Swift broke free for a 54-yard run late in the first quarter, setting the team up for a touchdown a few plays later. On a free play in the third quarter, quarterback Matthew Stafford found receiver Kenny Golladay for a 48 yard gain, setting up another touchdown.
Throughout the game, Detroit seemed to be attacking downfield more than they have in previous weeks, and it paid off big time. A more aggressive offense scored more points, and led the team to a comfortable victory over a team they clearly are more talented than.
The run defense steps up
James Robinson has been one of the more exciting stories of the NFL so far this season. The Jaguars running back was the first ever undrafted running back to start Week 1 of an NFL season. He has been a key to their offense — especially with DJ Chark suffering an injury early this season — but he got shut down on Sunday.
Robinson finished the day with 12 carries for 29 yards, which is 2.9 yards per carry. Detroit bottled him up and gave him no room to operate. This repeatedly put the Jaguars behind the chains, forcing quarterback Gardner Minshew to make plays with his arm. Forcing Jacksonville into passing downs also allowed the defense to send the blitz after Minshew, getting in the quarterbacks face and never allowing him to settle into the contest.
The pass rush also forced two turnovers — Jahlani Tavai forcing an errant pass by Minshew that was intercepted and Trey Flowers strip sacking the quarterback — showing how important it can be for this team to keep opponents behind the chains by stuffing the run on early downs.
D’Andre Swift is the star of the show
Swift is the new centerpiece of the Lions offense. The running back featured heavily against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4 after playing just a handful of snaps in Week 3. He clearly impressed the coaching staff against the Saints, and over the bye week, and he was the biggest factor in the teams offensive game plan this week.
Swift finished the game with 14 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns, making his game against the Jaguars only the fourth time in nearly seven years that Detroit has had a running back eclipse the 100 yard mark. He got the team out to an early lead, then his hard running in the fourth quarter helped close the game out.
Detroit has rotated their running backs so far this season. Every week they seem to have a new guy shouldering the load, though it seems that Swift is the best of the bunch. Going forward, Swift should be a key part of the offensive game plan in every game. He is the best receiver, and the best rusher, that Detroit has at running back. That is now clear.