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Detroit Lions midseason superlatives: Who has been the team’s offensive MVP?

Who has been the Lions’ best offensive player through eight games?

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions offense has been pretty atrocious through the first half of the season, if we’re being completely honest. They rank in the bottom five of most statistical categories, their skill position players are mostly underperforming, and the injuries on the offensive line are really starting to impact this team’s ability to function. As a result, head coach Dan Campbell appears eager to get more involved in the game planning and that could mean big changes are coming.

But it hasn’t all been bad. There are some players that are giving their all each week and have done far more positive things than negative ones.

So to kick off our bye week series of 2021 Detroit Lions midseason superlatives, here are our staff’s picks for the midseason offensive MVP.

Note: In order to get these articles submitted on time, some of these responses were given before Week 8’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Who is the Lions’ midseason offensive MVP?

Andrew Kato: D’Andre Swift

The Lions’ second-year running back has more receptions and receiving yards through the first seven games than even T.J. Hockenson. While Jamaal Williams has technically been credited as the starter at running back, Swift has roughly half the team’s carries and rushing yards as well.

John Whiticar: Nobody.

The offense has been so horrific that I cannot justify awarding an offensive MVP. I think some players are putting together a decent season, but the best player isn’t always the most valuable. Penei Sewell is settling in nicely at left tackle, but when Jared Goff is struggling even with a clean pocket, does it really matter? D’Andre Swift is on pace for record numbers as a pass catcher, but how much of that is a byproduct of a passing offense limited to checkdowns? Jamaal Williams has been great as a runner, but a negative game script is limiting his opportunities. Kalif Raymond is putting up career highs, but do secondaries really fear him? T.J. Hockenson is one of the better tight ends in the league, but he isn’t a game-changer. Nobody is elevating this offense, and the Lions’ record is proof of that. I’m being serious when I say Jack Fox was a strong candidate for offensive MVP.

Mike Payton: Swift

I think you have to go with D’Andre Swift here. He’s shown that he could possibly be one of the best running backs in the league sooner than we think. If he can get a healthy offensive line and the Lions' passing game can improve, he will be way more dangerous than he already is.

Morgan Cannon: Swift

One of the few bright spots on the Lions' offense has been the play of second-year running back D’Andre Swift. What he is doing in the passing game is especially impressive when you consider how inefficient the rest of the offense is. Prior to Week 8, Swift led the entire league in yards after the catch and has taken a huge step with his development as a receiving back.

Kyle Yost: Swift

Eagles game notwithstanding, Swift has been the most dynamic skill player on offense. While Jamaal Williams has been a big part of the run game, and the offensive line has been important as well, Swift is the type of complete back that can be the focal point of any team in the league. Given that the Lions are going to be playing from behind every week, the sophomore is the perfect weapon for this situation.

Ryan Mathews: Swift

I suppose you could make a case for T.J. Hockenson considering he’s the team’s leader in receptions and receiving yards at the bye, but I feel like the most valuable player thus far is Swift. He’s an all-purpose threat who leads the teams in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. While his rushing stats pale in comparison to the more efficient Jamaal Williams, his value as a pass-catcher has been one of the sole bright spots of this offense.

Erik Schlitt: Swift

This was surprisingly harder than I thought it would be. The Lions’ top-two offensive players (Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker) are injured, T.J. Hockenson is a contender here for sure, and the fact that defenses have focused on him is telling of who they think is the Lions best player. But I went with Swift because as defenses have focused on taking away Hockenson, Swift has stepped up and managed to produce. Now most of his production is in the passing game and his running output is a bit suspect, but there is not a flawless player on the Lions offense this year, which is a sad reality.

Kellie Rowe: T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson is one of the most reliable elements of the foundation of this rebuild. Even against the Eagles in the 44-6 beatdown, Hock was the only bright spot catching 10 passes on 11 targets for 89 yards. Having success when success doesn’t seem possible seems like a key attribute of a piece I’d want to build around as a GM. I can’t imagine what he’d do with a functioning offense.

Jeremy Reisman: Hockenson.

While Swift has been dynamic in the passing game, his serious struggles as a rusher are frustrating enough for me to give the edge to Hockenson here. While his production has slowed from the first two weeks, I still find it very impressive that Hockenson is pulling in an average of 6.0 catches per game when the opposing defense knows he’s their only true downfield passing threat. He has also already matched his broken tackle record for a season (4) and has yet to be charged with a single drop.

Poll

Who has been the Lions’ midseason offensive MVP?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    D’Andre Swift
    (392 votes)
  • 36%
    T.J. Hockenson
    (323 votes)
  • 3%
    Kalif Raymond
    (28 votes)
  • 16%
    Penei Sewell
    (143 votes)
886 votes total Vote Now