Stafford: Addition Of D'Andre Swift Is 'Huge' For Lions

"He’s a back that can do it all."

Will Burchfield
May 15, 2020 - 2:55 pm
Categories: 

Matthew Stafford has been here before, hoping a flashy new running back can take some pressure off his arm. 

There was Jahvid Best in 2010, Mikel Leshoure in 2011, Ameer Abdullah in 2015 and Kerryon Johnson in 2018, four draft picks taken in the first two rounds. Next in line is D'Andre Swift. 

So forgive Stafford if he's not quite ready to anoint Swift the savior. But from what he saw of the fellow Georgia product in college, there's reason to believe. 

"He’s played really well in some big-time games," Stafford said in a video call with local reporters Thursday. "He’s a back that can kind of do it all. He does a good job out of the backfield, catching the ball, making big plays. They handed it to him a bunch and he was doing a great job running with it." 

D'Andre Swift: A Flashy Pick, And Detroit's Hope For Something New

Swift took the ball 440 times over three seasons at Georgia, and set a school record with 6.6 yards per carry. He was equally dangerous in the passing game. He and Stafford have already begun slinging it around in Atlanta, trying to make the most of an unusual offseason.

When the Lions open the 2020 season, there's a good chance Swift will be their No. 1 back. Either way, the tandem of Swift and Johnson, with a side of Bo Scarbrough, is bursting with potential. 

"As far as adding another guy to the backfield, I think it’s huge," Stafford said, "In the NFL, running backs get dinged up, beat up here and there throughout a season and really throughout games. The more guys you can have back there that can carry the rock and do a good job for you, the better off you’re going to be." 

Swift 'Tried To Emulate' Barry Sanders On Way To NFL

Potential is one thing, results are another. The Lions liked the duo they had last year in Johnson and C.J. Anderson, then Anderson was gone by September and Johnson was on the shelf by October. A rushing attack many expected to thrive under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell finished in the bottom third of the NFL. 

Time will tell if this year's group can deliver. 

But Detroit has more talent in the backfield than it's had in a long while, possibly throughout Stafford's career. Bevell and Matt Patricia remain committed to the run. It all bodes well for No. 9, who was playing at an elite level last season before getting hurt and has a wealth of weapons awaiting him in 2020. 

"I feel like I had a really good grasp on this offense in the first year and I’m hoping to build on that," Stafford said. "We’ve got a lot of really good players on our side of the ball that want to be a great offense, and that’s the first step to it. Make sure that everybody’s on the same page and pulling in the same direction. I think we’ve got that and hopefully we can continue to get better in year two."