Anthony Lynn and Deuce Staley’s arrivals in Detroit to lead a revamped offense have most anticipating a big season for running back D'Andre Swift.
Lynn, the Lions new offensive coordinator, said Wednesday that he believes Swift should be a significant part of the passing game as the lead-back while adding they need to “find someone else to go with him,” indicating adding a bigger-built runner is in the cards for Detroit.
Staley (assistant HC/RBs) added that the Lions’ new staff sees Swift as a special player who could have 25 touches a game.
“A lot of people think you got to go have 20 carries as running back to be successful, and sometimes you do,” Staley said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “But touches, when you have a good back, an electrifying back, touches are definitely more important. You can get 18 carries and seven touches as far as receptions and you have 25 touches, which is what you want from your star back. When I look at D’Andre, I do think he’s a three-down back and like I said, he has some special traits I can’t wait to get my hands on, so I’m excited about that.”
With a new quarterback in Jared Goff and all of its top wide receivers set to be free agents — Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Mohamed Sanu, Jamal Agnew — the Lions offense is in a complete overhaul phase.
While Lynn, a former running back, is viewed by many as a running coach due to his background and the one season running an offense in Buffalo, that’s not how his teams in L.A. operated. With both Philip Rivers and last year with Justin Herbert, the Chargers were a clear pass-first squad.
Lynn told reports he called about a third of the Chargers plays as head coach the past four years. Every season, the Charger finished in the top-10 in passing, including leading the league in 2017. Last year with the Offensive Rookie of the Year in Herbert, L.A. finished sixth in passing yards. Never were they a run-heavy attack.
“I know that being a former running back and all, that narrative kind of has followed me has been a ground-and-pound guy,” Lynn said. “And yes, I’ve rushed for a lot of yards in the last decade, but I believe in this league, the defenses are too good to be one dimensional. You have to be balanced in your attack, in your approach, and that’s going to be our intention.”
How does the public harmonize the offensive coaching staff’s outward praise of Swift coupled with the fact that the NFL is a passing league? Simple: The RB is the Lions’ most talented offensive player.
With Golladay’s future in Detroit in question, at this stage, Swift should be the clear center of the offense. How they get the dynamic Georgia product the ball will be the question. It should be a combination of handoffs and passes, not unlike Austin Ekeler in L.A.
Since Dan Campbell took over Detroit, the refrain has been about utilizing its best players. Swift sits atop that list, so it’s no shock he’s the focal point.
“If we throw got to throw it 50 times, we will. If we got to run it 50 times, we will,” he said. “But we want to just focus on winning.”
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