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Three reasons D’Andre Swift can have a breakout season

D’Andre Swift is entering his second season with the Detroit Lions, with many expectations. And rightfully so.

He showcased flashes of his ability sparingly last season. And those flashes have fans salivating for more. In 13 games, he rushed for 521 yards and eight touchdowns. Swift also caught 46 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season, Swift had his most impressive game of the season in a Week 5, 34-16 win over the Jaguars. He rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 14 attempts. His second-best showing happened during Week 9 in a 30-27 nailbiter over The Washington Football Team. He had 16 carries for 81 yards, and five receptions for 68 yards, and one touchdown.

The kid can ball. 

And for that reason, he’ll be a vital piece to the Lions’ offense this season. Here are three reasons why fans should expect a breakout year from Swift in 2021.

The Detroit Lions’ offensive line is young and promising. 

After drafting Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, the Lions have made one clear–their rebuild will start through the trenches. Scouts and experts predict Sewell to become a generational talent. 

Even T.J. Lang agrees. The former Pro Bowler had high praise for Sewell. Lang said Sewell is the type of player that he’d come out of retirement to play alongside.

With promising talent such as Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai in tow as well, the Lions could end the season with a top-ten offensive line. PFF projects that Detroit is building one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They ranked the Lions’ offensive line 10th heading into this season.

Outside of Jared Goff, D’Andre Swift will be the biggest benefactor from this. However, Tyrell Crosby and Jonah Jackson will have to improve as run-blockers this season. 

Anthony Lynn and Duce Staley will be very instrumental his Swift’s development.

The Detroit Lions gave D’Andre Swift two fantastic gifts this offseason. Their names are Anthony Lynn and Duce Staley. The Lions hiring Lynn as offensive coordinator (OC) was a significant move. And the reason for that is his track record. 

As an OC, Lynn is known for cultivating top-rushing units. During his time as the Buffalo Bills’ OC, they led the league rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per carry. That should be music to Swift’s ears. A respectable rushing attack is one of many things the Lions are missing. 

Then there’s the Staley addition. Poaching him from the Philadelphia Eagles for a lateral position (assistant HC/RB coach) was significant. Like Lynn, Staley carries a reputation for being very demanding of his running backs. It was on full display several weeks ago during Lions minicamp. 

Staley came across as the most vocal coach on the field. And if he wasn’t, he was one of the loudest. Staley barked out orders repeatedly. He grilled his unit during drills until they showed him the effort he wanted. 

And to his credit, the players didn’t fold. They responded with what he demanded, and he credited them appropriately. 

D'Andre Swift
Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) and assistant coach Duce Staley during organized team activities at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 20

Having coaches like Lynn and Staley will be instrumental in Swift’s growth. One person who believes so is LeSean McCoy. During Super Bowl LV media sessions, he detailed how both will help Swift’s development. 

“(Duce is going to) demand a lot of respect from his running backs,” McCoy said. “He’s one of the only coaches I ever had that got the best out of me. And I think the mixture of Coach Lynn and Duce will do some damage.”

McCoy isn’t lying either. His two best seasons (2011 and 2013) came during his time with the Eagles, being coached by Staley. In 2011, he rushed for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns, the most he’s had in any single season of his career. In 2013, he tallied 1,607 yards (career-high) and nine touchdowns. Additionally, McCoy’s second-best season of his career was under Lynn in Buffalo. He rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016 with Lynn as the Bills’ OC.

With both coaches in Detroit, expect Swift to improve.

Having Jamaal Williams in town will be beneficial.

D’Andre Swift knows he can’t lead the Lions’ rushing attack as a solo act. He’s aware he needs help. And that’s a good sign because it’s true. For Swift to be great, he’ll need a dynamic back to split carries with moving forward.

Insert Jamaal Williams.  

Williams, whom the Lions snagged from the division-rival Packers, will be that guy. In four seasons, the former BYU Cougar has showcased the potential to be a great contributor if given an expanded role. Last season, he rushed for 505 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per rush. 

The Lions needed to replace Adrian Peterson’s production after electing not to re-sign him. Bringing in a young back like Williams will take a lot of pressure of Swift needing to be the main focal point of the Lions’ rushing attack. He’ll be a guy who can take the stress off Swift in red-zone situations and as a backfield blocker when they pass. 

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