If there’s such a thing a SwiftCoin currency, you may want to invest in it now.
On Wednesday, a handful of coaches from the Detroit Lions’ new staff met with the media for the first time, and one main takeaway was the team’s strong faith in second-year running back D’Andre Swift.
Swift was already entering the offseason on a high note, as the young Georgia running back clearly looked the part late in his rookie season when he took over the bulk of the carries for Detroit. Now with a coaching staff that clearly values the running game, Swift could be poised for a big sophomore effort.
Swift has an offensive coordinator in Anthony Lynn who previously played the running back position and helped the careers of athletes like LeSean McCoy and Austin Ekeler become well-rounded backs, capable as both rushers and receivers. It’s clear Lynn views Swift in the same light.
“I think D’Andre can be a three-down back,” Lynn said on Wednesday. “I like his versatility. There are some things we can do with him in the passing game to get him a little bit more involved in that.”
In his rookie year, Swift was not utilized much on third downs, nor in the passing game. The previous coaching staff preferred Kerryon Johnson’s run blocking skills for third downs. Although Swift finished with 46 receptions, half of those came in the final six games.
Swift’s new running backs coach Duce Staley also called Swift a three-down back, and he’s had his eye on him since high school.
“D’Andre is a kid I’ve been watching for a long time,” Staley said. “He’s a Philly native. Being able to go out and watch him in high school, he was super talented in high school. Of course, he’s super talented now. I’m just happy to be a part of his growth and his development for the next couple years or so.”
And while being a three-down back doesn’t necessarily mean being a workhorse back—those are so rare to find in today’s game—Lynn seemed to suggest his usage needs to go way up from last year, when he averaged just over 12 touches a game.
“We have to keep him on the field, and I believe he wants to be on the field,” Lynn said. “And we’ll find someone else to be on the field with him, but I’m excited by what I saw on tape.”
One part of his game Swift may have to work on is his pass protection. He didn’t get much opportunity to showcase that talent last year, but Staley said it’s an essential part to the position.
“I take pride in making sure our quarterback doesn’t hit the ground,” Staley said. “That’s the most important thing for me. You can be one of the most talented runners out there, you could be the most talented route runner out there, but if you can’t block, you can’t play for me. Point blank. Period.”
If Swift can round out that part of his game this offseason, it looks like he’s got a coaching staff ready to maximize his talent.