On Sunday, Detroit Lions rookie running back D’Andre Swift had his breakout NFL game. Though he only played in 29 snaps for the game, he touched the ball on 17 of those snaps and turned that into over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
It was the first time in Swift’s career that he had more than five carries in a game—he had 14 on Sunday against the Jaguars—and it proved the Lions’ second-round pick is ready for a significant role on this offense.
The question is: How big of a role should that be? We know the Detroit Lions like having a running back by committee. Head coach Matt Patricia has stated several times that there are only a handful of runners capable of being a full-time back, suggesting that he prefers to keep his backs rotating so they can remain as healthy as possible for the entire season.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
How big should D’Andre Swift’s role be going forward?
My answer: He should be seeing at least 60 percent of carries, maybe more.
I know the Lions like their power backs, and I know Adrian Peterson didn’t come here to get completely phased out of the offense. The Lions will continue to give Peterson some carries, and it will likely frustrate the fanbase in the same way that LeGarrette Blount and C.J. Anderson carries did over the past two seasons.
But the Lions need to get over this obsession with power backs—even those as heralded as Peterson—because Swift isn’t only the future... he’s the present. Peterson actually ranks 55th of 56 qualifying running backs when it comes to PFF’s rushing grade (minimum 20% of the team’s carries). Swift, meanwhile, ranks 15th in that metric.
I don’t want the Lions to run Swift into the ground, so I’m cool with a 60-40 split, or even a 60-30-10 split with Kerryon Johnson getting a little love, too. But Swift is healthy, he’s rested, and he’s clearly ready to make his impact on the NFL. Feed him the rock.